Entrance to Fort Morgan
A long tunnel leads through
heavy earthen embankments
to the main entrance or sally
port of the fort.
Casemates of Fort Morgan
Smoke and fire filled these
vaulted rooms during the
Battle of Mobile Bay.
Fort Morgan State Historic Park - Gulf Shores, Alabama
FORT MORGAN STATE HISTORIC PARK
Gulf Shores, Alabama
|Fort Morgan, Alabama
This walls of Fort Morgan still bear the marks of shell
impacts the sustained during both the Battle of
Mobile Bay and subsequent siege.
Alabama's Citadel on the Gulf
Fort Morgan State Historic Park near Gulf
Shores preserves the battle-scarred remains
of an important coastal fort.
In fact, Mobile Point where the fort stands is
one of the most historic sites in Alabama. An
earlier fort named Fort Bowyer was built here
in 1813 and was the scene of two important
battles of the War of 1812.
The most fierce of these engagements took
place on September 15, 1814, when British
ships attacked the little earth and wood fort.
Hours of cannon fire rocked both the fort and
the ships until finally, with their flagship
destroyed and second ship badly damaged,
the British withdrew. News of the victory led to
widespread celebrations across America.
Please click here to learn more about the
Battle of Fort Bowyer.
After the War of 1812, the U.S. Government
realized the strategic importance of Mobile
Bay and undertook the construction of two
major forts to protect its entrance. The first of
these, Fort Morgan, was begin in 1819. The
other, Fort Gaines, was built later and can be
seen across the bay on Dauphin Island.
Construction of the massive fort on Mobile
Point began continued until 1833, when, as
the work neared completion, it was named
Fort Morgan. The name honors General
Daniel Morgan, the hero of the Battle of
Cowpens during the American Revolution.
In 1836 and 1837, Fort Morgan became an
important stop on the Trail of Tears as the
Creek Indians of Alabama were forcibly
removed to new lands west in what is now
Oklahoma. Among the grieving people that
camped briefly at the fort was Milly Francis, a
woman remembered today as the Creek
The fort was placed in caretaker status in
1842 and was not garrisoned again until
Southern troops seized it in January of 1861.
When Alabama seceded from the Union, its
state government was quick to move to
secure possession of both Fort Morgan and
Fort Gaines. After the Confederacy was
formed at the State Capitol in Montgomery,
Confederate troops occupied the fort.
Due to its position overlooking the main ship
channel into Mobile Bay, Fort Morgan was
considered a key to Southern control of
Mobile. Dramatic steps were taken to
strengthen it. Earthwork water batteries were
constructed outside the main walls of the fort.
Mines, then called torpedoes, were placed in
the channel. They could be triggered from the
So strong were the defenses at the entrance
to Mobile Bay that Union forces did not test
them for the first three years of the war. That
changed on August 5, 1864, when the fleet of
Admiral David G. Farragut stormed into
Mobile Bay from the Gulf.
The engagement is remembered as the
Battle of Mobile Bay and Fort Morgan bore the
brunt of the Union attack. The cannon fire of
the battle rocked the ground for miles around.
Led by four ironclad monitors, Farragut's fleet
steamed within range of Fort Morgan at 6:30
a.m. and massive sheets of flame erupted
as the gunners in the fort opened fire. The
ironclad U.S.S. Tecumseh was blown up by a
mine or "torpedo" off the fort and the entire
Union fleet came to a halt within point blank
range of the heavy Confederate cannon.
For a few moments it appeared the attack
might fail and that the guns of Fort Morgan
might turn back the Union fleet.
It was at this critical moment that Admiral
Farragut gave his famed orders to "Damn the
torpedoes. Full speed ahead!" The fleet
surged forward and into the bay.
As the Union warships moved out of range of
the guns of Fort Morgan, however, the
Confederate ironclad CSS Tennessee came
out from a sheltered position near the fort
and engaged the entire Union fleet.
In one of the most dramatic naval battles of
the war, the Tennessee battled thirteen U.S.
warships, at one point fighting as many as
seven ships at a time. Severely battered but
game until the end, the Tennessee was a
smoking wreck by the time she surrendered.
Fort Gaines surrendered three days later, but
Fort Morgan held out. Union troops landed
east of the fort and began a formal siege on
August 9, 1864.
Entrenchments were dug and artillery placed,
but for two weeks the fort held out. After days
of sporadic firing, the combined forces of the
Union army and navy opened a devastating
bombardment of Fort Morgan on August
More than 3,000 where fired into the fort,
shattering brick whiles and dismounting
Confederate cannon. Flames reached into
the sky over the fort and General Richard L.
Page was finally forced to accept defeat. After
spiking his remaining guns and destroying
thousands of pounds of powder, he raised
the white flag on August 23, 1864.
Fort Morgan continued to serve as an
important military post until World War II.
Modernized over the decades following the
Civil War, the historic site today displays
fortifications from various eras of American
Open daily, Fort Morgan Historic Park is at
the western tip of Mobile Point. To reach the
fort, follow Alabama Highway 180 west from
Gulf Shores for roughly 18 miles. The
entrance will be straight ahead just past the
Mobile Bay Ferry.
Please click here to visit the official site for
hours and fees.
This gun is one of the original
flank howitzers of the fort. It
could fire down the exterior
walls on attacking infantry.
West Wall of Fort Morgan
Cannon along this wall were
heavily engaged with the
Union fleet during the Battle of
Restored Water Battery
The earthwork water battery
built by Confederate forces
has been restored. The
cannon is a 32-pounder.
|Copyright 2012 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: July 27, 2014
Battle of Mobile Bay
The Union ships charged
forward through the waters
seen here. The ironclad USS
Tecumseh strike a mine near
the left center of the photo.
Historic Forts of Alabama