Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mobile Bay Falls

In the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5th, David Farragut ran his ships past the forts and sunk the Confederate flotilla, but he still had to deal with three Confederate forts. Forts Gaines and Morgan guarded the entrance to the bay, and the smaller Fort Powell was positioned inside. Powell was the first to fall. Lt. Col. Williams, her commander had been ordered to hold out as long as possible, but, “when no longer tenable, save your garrison.” It did not take Williams long to decide it was untenable. Without even undergoing heavy pressure from the Federals he spiked his guns, blew up his powder and waded to the mainland with his men.

Fort Gaines
Fort Gaines was under the command of Colonel Charles Anderson. He had 818 troops in the garrison while Major General Gordon Granger had 3,300 troops besieging him. The fort had also been badly positioned. The sand dunes on the island offered cover for the Union troops to approach very close to the walls. Brigadier General Page, the Confederate commander in Mobile, ordered that the fort not be surrendered, but Anderson ignored him. He sent out a flag of truce, and surrendered to Granger and Farragut on August 8th.
Fort Morgan
After Fort Gaines surrendered the Federal infantry was moved to face the last Confederate fort – Fort Morgan. It was an old massonry force garrisoned by 618 men under General Page himself. The Federals began a formal siege with regular lines of approaching trenches. Meanwhile, several of the monitors bombarded the fort, along with the Tennessee, which had been repaired and assimilated into the Federal fleet. On August 22 cannon and mortars on land joined the ships, and the fort was subjected to a day long bombardment. Page was afraid that the Union balls would hit his magazines, so he ordered them to be flooded. The next day he decided that further resistance was useless. He spiked his guns and raised the white flag.
After Page surrendered he was arrested by the Federal forces. They accused him of violating the laws of war by destroying the guns and ammunition of the fort after he surrendered. A court of inquiry was formed in New Orleans to investigate. They found him not guilty, determining that he had destroyed the equipment of the fort before its surrender,.

The surrender of Fort Morgan marked the completion of the Federal capture of Mobile Bay. With Union ships holding the mouth of the bay, they could stop the flow of blockade runners coming too and fro. The town itself was still in Confederate hands, and would remain so until the next year.

Fort Morgan Today


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