The African Barracoons at Key
Africans arrived at Key West on April 30th, and by
May 4th, under the direction of US Marshal Fernando
Moreno, three acres of land had been surrounded with a six-foot
fence. Within this area a wooden barracks 140 feet long, a
hospital 75 feet long, a kitchen, and quarters for guards were
built. This complex, the barracoons, was located at along
the southern shore Whiteheads Point, very near Ft. Zachary
Taylor. At the end of the large lot, fences were made which
extended some distance out into the water to afford bathing
facilities, as there is a smooth, white beach there, wrote
John McCalla upon a visit there. By the end of May, nearly 1,350
people were living in this compound.
Africans left Key West, Moreno petitioned the government to keep
the buildings, in case other slavers might arrive. In March of
1861, the War Department asked the Department of the Interior
for permission to tear down the barracoons. Permission was
granted, but it is not clear when they were destroyed.
for the Africans at Key West
Covered Tin Pail 1
Covered Wood Pail - 1
Iron spoons 60
Tin Basins 7
Tin Pans 21
Bakers Pans 2
Cook Knife 1
Coffee Pots 4
Nutmeg Grater 1
Tin Spoons 1206
Wooden Spoons 1296
Table Spoons 3
Tin Can 1
Corn Mills 4
Tin Dippers 2
Tin Can for Lard Oil 1
Tin Pans 240
Wood Pumps 3
Cords of Wood 17
Axe Handles 3
Corn Brooms 44
Hickory Brooms 6
Oil Feeder 1
Soap 174 lbs. + 6 bars
Salt Water Soap 174 lbs. + 8 bars
Castile Soap 3 lbs.
Globe Lamps 6
Balls of Lamp Wick 8
Lamp Feeder 1
Pipes 4 ½ boxes
Tobacco 236 lbs.
Snuff 1 dozen bottles
Oil Can 1
Marine Clock 1
Water Casks 34
Crash 16 yards
Duck 4 yards
Memorandum Book 1
Bottle Ink 1
Manilla 5 Ό lbs.
Queen Paper 1
Paper Tacks 1
Cork Screw 1
Powder 1 ½ lbs.
Sulphur 2 lbs.
Hemp Twine 10 ½ lbs.
Ball Twine - 7
Cotton Twine 2 Ύ lbs.
Spun Yarn 3 ½ lbs.
Razor Strop 1
Deck Buckets 1
Chain Two pieces
Cusares 35 packages
Slack Lime 2 Barrels
Bale Hay 1
Iron Boilers 3
24,727 lbs. + 6 casks from Havana
Corn Meal 1656 lbs. + 1 barrel + 1 peck + 18 bushels
Pilot Bread 18,403 lbs.
Navy Bread 8026 lbs.
Flour - 13 ½ barrels
Soda Biscuits 14 lbs.
Potatoes 21 barrels
Mess Beef 12 Barrels + 25lbs.
Jerked Beef 2283 lbs.
Fresh Beef 1453 ½ lbs.
Bacon 2033 Ό lbs.
Bacon Shoulders 1031 lbs.
Codfish 3626 lbs.
Split-peas 24 bushels
Peas 1 ½ barrels
Cowpeas 106 bushels
Beans - 6742 ½ lbs.
Lard Oil 56 gallons
Brown Sugar 305 lbs.
Crushed Sugar 320 lbs.
Molasses 14 gallons
Salt 14 ½ bushels
Cayenne Pepper 2 dozen boxes + 23 bottles + 9 cans
Vinegar 1 barrel + 10 gallons
Pepper 104 lbs.
Cloves Ό lb.
Tamarinds 1 bushel
Black Tea 24 lbs.
Ice 725 lbs.
Water 72,461 gallons
Whiskey 30 gallons
Cuba Rum 20 gallons
Brandy 6 ½ gallons
Stops 1 lb.
46 + 492 pair
Shirting 14 pair
Hickory Shirts 854
Check Shirts 132
Mens Shirts 576
Boys Shirts 24
Blue Flannel Shirt 1
Chemises and Trimmings 638
Boys Pants 2
Boys Caps 2
Gunny Cloth 1299 yards
Cotton 220 yards
Bleached Cotton 283 Ύ yards
Calico 964 yards
Muslin 20 yards
Red Flannel 3 yards
Thread 3 ½ lbs. + 59 spools
Shoes 2 pair
Empty Bags - 25
Sponge 2 Ό lbs.
Arrowroot 45 lbs.
Wine Glasses 2
Chamber Pots 30
Castile Soap 3 lbs.
Brandy 4 ½ gallons
Medicine Chest 1
Oil 1 bottle
Crushed Sugar 20 lbs.
Flapseed 2 lbs.
Claret Wine 6 bottles
Bottles 1 dozen
Fernando J. Moreno, United States
Fernando Moreno was
the US Marshal for the Southern District of Florida in 1860, and was
the person responsible for the Africans during their stay at Key
Moreno was born in
Pensacola in 1824, and made his way to Key West at the age of 16 to
visit his oldest sister who had married Stephen R. Mallory. Moreno
found employment as cashier with the prominent merchant Wm. H. Wall,
and within a few years was made junior partner. He married a cousin
of Walls wife in 1852, and they had five children. Moreno
remained with Wall and Co. for nearly 50 years. He also served as
legal representative for many leading Key Westers including Mallory,
John Simonton, and James Fitzpatrick, though he was not a lawyer.
Moreno could speak,
read, and write in Spanish, French and English. He was a musician,
and played guitar. He lost much of his hearing after an illness
contracted during the great hurricane of 1846, and carried a silver
Moreno had a very
active political career. At the age of 21 he was appointed
vice-consulate at Key West for the government of France, and later
served in that same capacity for Germany, Great Britain and Spain.
In 1853 he was elected Mayor of Key West. He served as US Marshal
during the Administration of James Buchanan (1857-61), and also for
a brief period under President Cleveland in 1888. He was elected
State Senator for the 24th district in 1887, and served
for one term. Moreno was an active Democrat, and supporter of its
southern wing at the outbreak of the Civil War. He was a
slave-owner, and sympathetic to the Confederacy, though he did take
the oath of allegiance to the Union in 1861. Despite the oath, his
family was to be exiled to Hilton Head by a local Union commander,
and they were already on board the ship, when a superior officer
arrived and rescinded the order. Moreno spent many thousands of
dollars of his own money to aid the Africans in 1860, but because of
his political leanings, the government refused to compensate him for
this. He unsuccessfully petitioned for reimbursement for the rest of
1890, Moreno left Key West for Pensacola. He died in New Orleans in
Key West on the Eve of the Civil War
Because Key West
was a maritime town, and populated by people with a wide variety of
backgrounds and values - Southern and Northern Whites, Free Blacks,
Slaves, Bahamians and Cubans - it was quite divided politically.
Because of its remote location most matters of concern in its early
history were local. But with the growing divide between the North
and South, the political view expanded in 1860.
the men of wealth, power and influence on the island were
sympathetic to the growing Southern cause. Most of these men were
also slave owners. On May 23rd, 1860 with a meeting of
the local Democratic Party for the nomination of delegates to the
convention, the issues dividing the country began to come out into
the open. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, these
apparently became only stronger, and on November 15th,
Lieuts. Craven and Stanly took it upon themselves to position the
steamers Mohawk and Wyandotte in front of forts Taylor
and Jefferson, to prevent them being taken by bands of lawless
men. A meeting of the islands prominent citizens occurred
on December 12th the largest ever held up to that
time to elect delegates for the State convention decide the
issue of secession. Three men, Winer Bethel, William Pinckney, and
Asa Tift were selected to cast votes in favor of disunion.
eventually seceded on January 11th, 1861, Key West remained in Union
hands. While the city slept during the night of January 13th,
1861, Captain James Brannan quietly marched his troops from the Army
barracks to Fort Taylor and took possession of it, preempting any
Confederate action. Key West was to prove a strategic position for
the Union in its control of the Gulf of Mexico and blockade of the
The Africans at Key West - A
November 1859 The US Navy steamers Mohawk, Crusader,
Wyandotte, and Water Witch are given orders to patrol
the waters surrounding Cuba in order to suppress the slave trade.
March 6, 1860
The Cuba squadron is given notice of the suspected slaver William
bound for the island.
April 26, 1860
Mohawk intercepts and seizes the Wildfire off Nuevitas with a
cargo of 540 Africans
April 30, 1860
Mohawk arrives at Key West with Wildfire in tow.
May 1, 1860
The first African dies at Key West, and is buried there.
May 4, 1860
After the construction of baracoons and a hospital, 507 Africans
are delivered to US Marshal Fernando Moreno.
May 9, 1860
Wyandotte captures the William off the Isle of
Pines with 570 Africans onboard.
May 12, 1860
Wyandotte arrives at Key West with the William and
May 19, 1860
President Buchanan addresses Congress regarding the Africans at Key
West, and asking for their cooperation in funding transportation of
them to Liberia.
May 22, 1860
Buchanan sends another message to Congress relating the arrival
of the William, and the urgency of the situation at Key West.
May 23, 1860
Crusader captures the Bogota near Lobos Island on the
May 25, 1860
Crusader brings Bogota to Key West with 411
May 28, 1860
A boy is born at Key West to a woman rescued from the Wildfire.
May 30, 1860
A contract is signed between the United States and the American
Colonization Society to send the Africans to Liberia.
June 7, 1860
Wildfire is ordered condemned by Judge William Marvin.
June 10, 1860
Moreno notes that 133 Africans have died.
June 25, 1860
222 Africans are dead.
June 30, 1860 -
Ship Castilian, after arriving at Key West, takes 400
Africans to Cape Mount, Liberia.
July 14, 1860 -
Ship South Shore takes aboard 385 Africans for Liberia. Two
drown before embarkation.
July 19, 1860
Ship Star of the Union takes on 383 Africans, the last group,
for Liberia. A total of 295 Africans died while at Key West.
August 26, 1860
Castilian arrives at Cape Mount with 308 Africans.
South Shore arrives at Gran Bassa with 233 Africans. Star
of the Union arrives at Sinoe with 320.
Charges are dropped by the Grand jury against Phillip Stanhope for
his participation in the slave trade as Master of the Wildfire.
Washington Symmes of the William is found Not Guilty.
March 26, 1861
Permission is given by Secretary of the Interior Caleb Smith to the
Army to tear down the African baracoons at Key West.