Fort Morgan: Guardian of Mobile Bay (Photo Series)

“Damn the torpedos!!!” — Rear Adm. David G Farragut

If you didn’t know, the Battle of Mobile Bay is where this famous saying is said to originate. Rear Admiral David G Farragut the Union Commander of the Battle of Mobile Bay said this due to the torpedos that the Confederacy had dropped into the Bay. Now, at this point in history, torpedos were floating explosive barrels, essentially mines.

The battle lasted from August 2nd to August 23rd 1864, with Fort Morgan ultimately falling to the Union. It was a key component due to it being one of the only two MAJOR ports for the Confederacy. Yet it was one of three Forts guarding Mobile Bay. The other forts being Fort Gaines and Fort Powell. Fort Morgan housed 46 guns, Fort Gaines housed 26 guns, and Fort Powell housed 16 guns. Fort Morgan was the last to fall and the city of Mobile fell in 1865.

Imagine, a 21 day siege with 1,822 casualties out of 7,000 engaged in battle. Not only was Fort Morgan a key player in the Civil War, but it was as well in the War of 1812 (known then as Fort Bowyer as a defense against British attack), the Spanish American War and both World War I and II. Many of the 40+ million bricks placed by mostly enslaved Africans stood through those wars. Keep scrolling to see some images with some more snippets of history.

Entrance to the Guardian

“Since 1834 Fort Morgan has stood as the guardian of Mobile Bay. The military site and National Historic Landmark is located 22 miles west of Gulf Shores.”

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Inside the Guardian of Mobile Bay

“Fort Morgan was seized by troops of the State of Alabama on January 4, 1861. Turned over to the Confederate Army in March of 1861, the fort served as the first line of defense for the city of Mobile and provided protection for blockade runners entering Mobile Bay. On the morning of August 5, 1864, Union naval forces fought their way past the Fort Morgan and defeated a Confederate naval squadron which included the C.S.S. Tennessee, one of the most powerful ironclads constructed in the South during the war. Union land forces commenced siege operations against Fort Morgan on August 9th. On the morning of August 22nd, Union artillery began one of the most intense bombardments of a single fort  recorded during the Civil War.”

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Battery Thomas

“The first of two rapid fire gun batteries, Battery Thomas was named in honor of Captain Evan Thomas, 4th U.S. Artillery, who was killed in action with the Modoc Indians at Lava Beds, California in 1873.In March 1898, as the nation moved towards war with Spain, the Army rushed this battery into service. The concrete platforms were completed on April 26th and two 4.7” Rapid Fire Guns were installed on May 9, 1898. Capable of firing a 45 pound projectile six miles, these guns protected a minefield laid across the entrance of Mobile Bay from minesweepers.”

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Battery Duportail

“…added to historic Fort Morgan after the Spanish American War in 1898 to bolster defenses. The huge concrete structures were designed to hold heavy defensive guns aimed into the waters of the Gulf Coast.”

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I personally thought this was a really cool place to visit. But I grew up with a mother who is a big Civil War buff so I know I’m influenced. That being said, if you like history and you are ever in Gulf Shores, Alabama, make sure you stop in here and learn some about our country’s history. I encourage it. It is fascinating to see a structure such as this and learn its stories.

I hope you enjoyed the photographs. I chose black and white just because of the timeless vibe for such as old and worn structure. I chose the compositions and vantage points because I felt they made the most impact. I felt a “straight on” series would help translate the intimidating feeling the fort puts off into media form.

All the history in those walls…

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