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Fort Taylor is a United States fortification located in Key West in the Florida Keys.

It was located within the Department of Florida under overall command of Colonel Harvey Brown who’s headquarters was at Fort Pickens in Pensacola Florida.

Fort Taylor was commanded by Union Major French. Florida seceded from the Union on January 10th 1861.

Key West is a small island far from the Florida mainland. It was controlled by the Union from Fort Taylor.

The people of Key West began to agitate and show signs of wanting to secede.

Residents flew rebel flags over their homes and businesses, talked openly about anti-government feelings and even showed up at the fort in protest against the government.

It was only under the firm control of Major French at Fort Taylor that the secession tendencies in Key West were stopped.

Commander of Fort Taylor suspended Habeas Corpus

Major French suspended habeas corpus on the island. He did it because the local newspaper Key of the Gulf was printing articles in support of the rebellion. These articles inflamed the local citizens and increased the secessionists tendencies on the island. Major French first warned the newspaper to stop printing pro Confederate articles. He was given assurances that they would be stopped.

Fort Taylor in Key West, FL

Fort Taylor in Key West, FL

Only days later was this promise broken and again another pro Confederate article appeared in the paper. Major French after conferring with local authorities authorized the suspension of habeas corpus on the island of Key West.

This allowed him to suppress and stop the newspaper from printing the treasonous articles. The editor of the paper, the local magistrate and several other influential members of Key West left the island. In their place Major French appointed pro Union officials. Key West officially became loyal to the Union.

On June 8th 1861 the United States setup a naval blockade of Key West. The blockade did not allow any trade or ships in or out of Key West. It only allowed trade between loyal states, Cuba, and any West India islands.