Outer Works of the Fort
To provide an additional layer
of defense, Fort Charlotte was
surrounded by outer works
that were manned by infantry.
The Battle of Fort Charlotte
A marker adjacent to the
reconstructed fort tells the
story of Mobile's little known
Revolutionary War battle.
Battle of Fort Charlotte - Mobile, Alabama
Battle of Fort Charlotte - Mobile, Alabama
|Site of the Battle of Fort Charlotte
A reconstruction of Fort Conde, which later became
Fort Charlotte, stands on the battlefield in Mobile.
American Revolution in Alabama
In the shadow of the growing skyline of
Mobile, Alabama, can be found traces of a
battlefield of the American Revolution.
The Battle of Fort Charlotte was fought from
March 10-13, 1780 for control of a sixty year
old fort on the waterfront of the former French
city. It was one of two significant Alabama
battles of the Revolution and opened the
door for the most significant British defeat on
the Gulf Coast.
On January 11, 1780, Spanish General
Bernardo de Galvez sailed from New Orleans
with warships and troops for a planned
assault on Mobile Bay. Spain had allied with
the fledgling Continental government in its
war for independence against Great Britain.
Galvez had already driven the British from the
lower Mississippi River and he now set his
sites on Mobile and Pensacola. His plan was
to capture Fort Charlotte at Mobile as a final
step prior to laying siege to the West Florida
capital of Pensacola.
Originally begun by the French in 1723, Fort
Charlotte had once been known as Fort
Conde. The name was changed after the
British gained control of Mobile Bay in 1763
at the end of the French and Indian War. At
the time of Galvez's attack, the fort was
occupied by a garrison of British troops led
by Captain Elias Durnford.
Despite weather damage to his ships,
Galvez entered Mobile Bay by February 13,
1780. He had lost many of his supplies due
to bad weather, but was pleasantly surprised
to receive reinforcements and additional
supplies on the 20th of the month. He had
been considering a return to New Orleans
when he learned that help was on the way.
Moving up the bay, Galvez opened a friendly
but ominous exchange of letters with
Durnford on March 1st. The British captain
declined the opportunity to surrender his fort.
The Spanish moved artillery into position and
began to prepare siege works. On March 10,
1780, they opened fire on Fort Charlotte,
initiating the long-awaited battle.
Determined to hold out until reinforcements
of his own could arrive from Pensacola,
Captain Durnford destroyed the entire city of
Mobile. His explanation was that the houses
and shops of the town might provide cover for
the attacking Spanish troops. It was a terrible
loss for the citizens of Mobile, many of whom
fled in the face of the impending battle.
The move proved futile, however, when the
relief column from Pensacola was delayed
by swampy terrain and it became apparent to
Durnford that no help was coming for his
trapped garrison. With only around 267 men
at his command, the captain new he could
not hope to hold against the overpowering
Spanish force of more than 750 men.
On March 13, 1780, the British surrendered
Fort Charlotte to Bernardo de Galvez, ending
forever England's claim to the modern state
Spain now occupied Fort Charlotte, renaming
it Fort Carlotta. It was the third identity for the
fortress built to guard what was once one of
France's most important settlements on the
In addition to placing a garrison in Mobile,
Galvez ordered the construction of a new fort
on the bluffs across the bay at the site of
today's community of Spanish Fort. This work
withstood a later British attack and gave the
community the name that it bears today.
The site of the Battle of Fort Charlotte is
located in downtown Mobile. About one-third
of the fort has been restored on an 80%
scale and, once again known as Fort Conde,
serves as the official welcome center for the
city. Visitors are welcome to explore the
reconstructed ramparts on a daily basis.
A marker interpreting the battle stands at the
southeast corner of the reconstructed fort.
British Cannon in Mobile
This British cannon dating
from the American Revolution
can be seen at the Conde-
A Revolutionary War Siege
Spanish troops besieged the
British garrison of the fort for
three days in March of 1780,
forcing its surrender.
|Copyright 2012 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: May 11, 2014