Start: 1863-10-16 End: 1863-10-18
The Battle of Fort Brooke was a minor engagement fought October 16–18, 1863, near Tampa, Florida, during the American Civil War.
Two Union Navy ships, the USS Tahoma and the USS Adela, bombarded Fort Brooke on October 16, 1863.
Two days later, on October 18, 1863, as conflict continued, the Battle of Ballast Point took place. A Union raiding party, under Acting Master T.R. Harris, disembarked at Ballast Point, landing at the current intersection of Gandy Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. Under the protracted diversionary bombardment of the city of Tampa and Fort Brooke by two ships, the USS Tahoma and the USS Adela, the Union divisions marched 14 miles to the Hillsborough River near the site of today’s Lowry Park Zoo. They surprised, captured, and burned two notorious ships, the blockade runner Scottish Chief, a steamship, and the sloop Kate Dale a few miles up the river. The ships were owned by the future mayor of Tampa, James McKay. Escaping capture by mere minutes, with members of his crew in tow, James McKay sped to the city of Tampa and warned all of the landing party and the fate of his ships.
After the burning of the ships, the Confederate forces were alerted to the raiding party’s location, and commenced pursuit. Harris’ Union forces were surprised by a detachment of the garrison, the 2nd Florida Infantry Battalion. A brief but sharp exchange resulted in a few casualties before the Union troops returned to sea.
A Confederate cavalry unit, the Oklawaha Rangers, finally caught up with the Union raiders, and a full engagement ensued. The union soldiers came under direct fire as they boarded their dinghies in a tactical retreat. The Confederate defenders destroyed the steamer A.B. Noyes to preclude her capture.