On August 23, 1864, Fort Morgan was forced to surrender. Fort Morgan is located at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama. Today Fort Morgan has fallen into disrepair, but the Alabama Historical Commission has a new plan to make repairs to the fort but will require state funding.
The United States took control of the bay during the War of 1812 and in 1819 construction began on Fort Morgan.
A great battle took place, which was called the Battle of Mobile Bay. This was a naval battle that was fought on August 5, 1864. The Union forces had already shut down one of the two Confederate ports; the other port was Savannah, Georgia.
Admiral David Farragut was the commander of the Union forces and Admiral Franklin Buchanan was the commander of the Confederate fleet. On August 5 Admiral David Farragut defeated the Confederate Navy at Fort Gaines in Mobile Bay. The battle between the two forces took place at the mouth of Mobile Bay, which Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines was controlled by the Confederates. They also controlled a narrow channel that was lined with torpedoes to block ships from entering and exiting the bay.
Farragut’s challenge was entering the bay. He had 18 vessels, which was greater than the Confederate’s fleet of four. Wandering into the narrow channel damage the Union fleet loosing the first vessel, the USS Tecumseh, by a torpedo exploding; in three minutes the vessel sank and 94 men went down with the ship all were lost.
Both the Confederate fleet and Fort Morgan was firing upon Farragut so Farragut had to choose retreat or risking his vessels within the minefield. This is when he issued his famous order, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”
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Farragut took his fleet through the minefields safely and reached the bay. The Union ironclad CSS Tennessee led the way and defeated the Confederates. Abroad the USS Hartford, Buchanan surrendered to Farragut. Within a three-week time the Union Navy and one Army division had captured the two forts.
Even though the Confederates remained in control of the city of Mobile, this was the last port of the Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi. The Union forces took the city of Mobile at the Battle of Fort Blakely in 1865.
Fort Morgan received its name from Daniel Morgan. Daniel Moran was a Revolutionary War hero, pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia. He was a gifted battlefield tactician of the American Revolutionary War.
Fort Morgan was a large brick fort completed in 1834. It served the Spanish-American War and both World Wars. It was garrisoned in March of 1834; General Richard L. Page, cousin of Robert E. Lee, was the commander of the fort in 1864. 600 men manned the fort; a powerful for but the fortification was outdated. The Union land forces lead by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger joined by Farragut, attention turned to Fort Morgan east of Fort Gaines.
Granger’s men began moving siege artillery within firing range of Fort Morgan; along with Farragut’s gun ships. From August 9 to the 16th, heavy artillery fire took place. On the 16th the Confederates, located on the two outer batteries, abandoned the defenses. Granger was able to move his mortars within 500 yards of the fort. He moved his 30-pounder rifled guns 1,200 yards of the fort.
General Page surrendered the fort on August 23, unconditionally. He was to surrender his sword to the Federals but instead he broke it over his knee. He was also charged with destroying munitions and works within the fort after he surrendered. He was arrested and imprisoned.
General Page was imprisoned until July 1865. There was an inquiry as to the charges brought against Page, but Page was not found guilty. There was a fire in the citadel, which brought the ammunitions and works within the fort after he surrendered.
Fort Morgan, a National Historic Landmark, is on the 10 a most endangered battle site of 2008 by the Civil War Preservation Trust. It would be a tragedy if America lost one of its historical sites where men fought for a cause they believed in.