Battle of Mobile Bay - Mobile, Alabama
Battle of Mobile Bay - Mobile, Alabama
"Damn the Torpedoes"
Admiral David Farragut gave
his famed "Full speed
ahead!" order while under fire
at Mobile Bay.
Fort Morgan, Alabama
Confederate gunners and
cannon fired from these
arched rooms during the
Battle of Mobile Bay.
The Battle of Mobile Bay - Mobile, Alabama
|The Battle of Mobile Bay
A Confederate cannon aims out over Mobile Bay,
scene of one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War.
Fight for Mobile Bay, Alabama
One of the most dramatic battles of the Civil
War was fought for control of Mobile Bay,
Alabama. After waiting for more than three
years, the Union navy assaulted Confederate
forces at Mobile Bay in 1864, sparking a
battle that shook the Gulf Coast.
The Battle of Mobile Bay was one of the most
significant naval actions of the war. After
assembling near the lighthouse on Sand
Island offshore, the fleet of Admiral David G.
Farragut steamed into the entrance of the
heavily defended bay at 6:30 a.m. on August
The fleet advanced via a channel that took it
directly under the heavy cannon of Fort
Morgan, a powerful masonry fortification on
Mobile Point. The Confederate gunners in the
fort opened fire with artillery barrages that
shook the ground for miles around. Flame
and smoke covered the fort and ships as
Farragut returned fire and the battle raged.
The Union ships had been lashed together
in pairs and were led in the attack by four
ironclad monitors. One of these, the U.S.S.
Tecumseh, was firing on Fort Morgan when
Confederates detonated a mine or "torpedo"
beneath its hull. A massive explosion rocked
Mobile Bay and the Tecumseh capsized and
sank, taking down dozens of sailors with her.
Panic over more mines gripped the fleet and
the ships hesitated while under heavy fire
from Fort Morgan. The Confederate gunners
zeroed in and began to sweep the ships with
canister, mowing down men and drenching
the decks with blood.
Admiral Farragut, tied into the rigging of his
flagship Hartford so he could better observe
the battle, was warned of the presence of
torpedoes in the water. Realizing that halting
under point blank range of the Confederate
cannon would be a fatal mistake, he yelled
out his immortal order, "Damn the torpedoes.
Full speed ahead!"
The fleet again picked up speed and soon
punched its way through into Mobile Bay.
The Federals moved out of range of the
Southern guns and began to clear their
decks when they saw the menacing form of
the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Tennessee,
pouring on steam and closing in on the fleet
from a sheltered position near Fort Morgan.
In one of the boldest attacks of the war, the
Tennessee took on the entire Union fleet. Her
commander, Admiral Franklin Buchanan,
drove in so close that the sides of the his
ship were literally touching those of
Farragut's vessels as they blasted away at
each other with heavy artillery.
The Tennessee was accompanied in her
attack by several smaller gunboats, but these
vessels were of wood and, although they
fought fiercely, could not long stand the
power of Farragut's larger warships. The
Tennessee, however, was a different story.
The massive ironclad fought it out with
Farragut's fleet, turning in circles on Mobile
Bay and fighting as many as seven Union
warships at a time. For a time the Tennessee
gained an advantage, but the massive weight
and firepower of the Union fleet finally took its
Buchanan and many of his men were
wounded, the steering chains of his ship
were shot away, the smokestack was riddled
with shot and shell and heavy cannon shots
had punched through the iron armor of the
vessel, carrying death and carnage to the
Unable to move and barely able to return fire,
the C.S.S. Tennessee surrendered at a point
about one mile north of Fort Gaines. The port
of Mobile was closed to the Confederacy.
The battlefield can be explored at Fort
Morgan and Fort Gaines. A great driving tour
of the Battle of Mobile Bay and Mobile
Campaign has been developed. You can
also Please click here for a preview.
Relics from the Tecumseh can be seen on
the Battleship USS Alabama, which also has
great views looking south over the bay.
Another great way to see the battlefield is
from the rails of the Mobile Bay Ferry. Please
click here for more information.
Anchor of the Hartford
The massive anchor from
Farragut's flagship is now on
display on the parade ground
of Fort Gaines.
Anticipating the Union attack,
Confederate forces built forts
and batteries like this at key
points around Mobile Bay.
Artifacts from the Tecumseh
Equipment salvaged from the
wreck of the Tecumseh is
displayed in a Battle of Mobile
Bay exhibit on board the
battleship U.S.S. Alabama.
|Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 29, 2013
Historic Sites in Alabama