The Calvin Shedd Papers > Background > Captain Jerome B. House

Captain Jerome B. House

Colonel William Wilson

Colonel William Wilson

Uniform of the Wilson Zouaves

Uniform of the Wilson Zouaves


Attack on Camp of Wilson's Zouaves, on Santa Rosa Island

Date(s) of Letter(s) From: Schmidt, Lewis G.  The Civil War in Florida:  A Military History.   Vol III: Florida's Key's & Fever.  Allentown, Pa: L. G. Schmidt, 1989.

Little, Henry F. W.  The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion.  Concord, NH:  Seventh New Hampshire Veteran Association, 1896. 

Harper's Weekly. Volume V, no. 254.  November 9, 1861.

March 6, 1862
March 15, 1862
In July, 1861, companies B and E of the 6th New York's Wilson Zouaves arrived at Fort Jefferson to garrison the place.  Company A of the regiment was ordered to duty at Fort Taylor.   "The Zouaves were tough customers, being made up of in part from the rough element of New York City.  They were in a most pitiable plight at landing, having been three weeks on the ocean in a scow.  Arnold made them take off the Zouave uniform and burn it, and supplied them with the regular uniform of the United States Army....The Zouaves were two or three times as numerous as the regulars, had never been subordinate to anybody and threatened to wipe [the regulars] off the face of the earth....Arnold tamed these men into a body of docile and well-drilled soldiers."   (Schmidt, p. 66)

"The three companies of 'Billy Wilson's Zouaves,' stationed here, soon left us to join the remainder of their regiment near Pensacola, Fla.  These Zouaves were truly a hard looking crowd, and though they took kindly to our volunteers they always took every occasion to annoy the regulars, even putting themselves to considerable inconvenience to do so."  (Little, pp. 39-40)

Harper's Weekly, on November 9, 1861, relates the incident of the fight on October 9th on Santa Rosa Island, involving Wilson's 6th New York Zouaves.  The Zouaves were encamped on Santa Rosa Island, about a mile from Fort Pickens, to guard entrance to the fort.  On a very dark night, about 1,500 rebels surprised the picket guard, who could not sound an alarm in time.  The camp was burned before Fort Pickens could send reinforcements to drive the rebels away.  The article reports that it was felt that Colonel Wilson had very little control over his volunteers and their inefficiency and lack of skill were the cause of the confusion and destruction of the camp. (Harper's Weekly, p. 705)