Battle of Spanish Fort
A bold stand by Confederates
against overwhelming odds
at Spanish Fort delayed the
Union advance for a week.
Touring the Mobile Campaign
Interpretive panels like these
have been placed at sites
around Mobile Bay to help
visitors retrace the campaign. - Mobile Campaign, Alabama - Mobile Campaign, Alabama
The Mobile Campaign - East Shore of Mobile Bay, Alabama
Earthworks of the Mobile Campaign
A Union battery at Historic Blakeley State Park is
among the remaining sites of the Mobile Campaign.
The Campaign to take Mobile
Once Admiral David Farragut forced his way
past Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines on August
5, 1864, in the
Battle of Mobile Bay, the real
task of capturing
Mobile began.

The old French city on the Gulf Coast of
Alabama was one of the best fortified cities in
the Confederacy. The city itself was ringed by
multiple lines of redoubts, batteries and
breastworks, while key points up and down
the bay had been heavily fortified. Every land
and water approach to the city was defended
by Southern troops and heavy artillery.

It did not take Union forces long to force the
surrender of
Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island
and a nearby smaller work named Fort
Powell. Both fell within three days of the
Battle of Mobile Bay.

Fort Morgan, across the bay on Mobile Point,
proved a tougher nut to crack. Federal forces
laid siege to the powerful masonry fort and
fired 3,000 shells into it within 24 hours
before the garrison finally hoisted the white
flag on August 23, 1864.

The capture of the coastal forts gave the
Union army bases from which to operate as
it began its advance up the bay.

The Federals carried out several small raids
during the fall of 1864, but it was not until
March of 1865 that they were finally ready to
begin the primary land campaign against

Command of the operation was assigned to
Major General E.R.S. Canby, who assembled
45,000 men at Forts Gaines and Morgan as
well as at Fort Barrancas near Pensacola.

The main body of 32,000 men, led by Canby
himself, began moving to a jump off point at
Fish River on the east side of the bay on
March 16, 1865. Some of the men went by
water while others marched overland.

The second Union column, commanded by
Major General Frederick Steele, marched
north from Pensacola Bay on March 19th,
fighting with resisting Confederate cavalry
across much of northern Escambia County,
Florida. After cutting Confederate telegraph
and rail connections at Pollard, Alabama, he
turned his column west toward Fort Blakeley,
a key Mobile Bay defense.

Canby's column, meanwhile, pushed up the
East Shore of Mobile Bay and closed in on
the massive Confederate defenses at
Spanish Fort. Resisting Southern troops
withdrew into their fortifications.

The two forces battled back and forth from
March 27th until April 8th, when Canby finally
opened a massive bombardment of the
Spanish Fort works with 90 pieces of artillery.
The Confederates returned fire with 46 guns.
The 8th Iowa Infantry broke through on the
Confederate left that evening and the
defenders evacuated the Spanish Fort during
the night. With only a couple of thousand
men, they had delayed Canby's advance for
more than a week.

While Canby was trying to take Spanish Fort,
Steele had laid siege to
Fort Blakeley. On
April 9, 1865, he launched his final assault
on the Confederate works. His 18,000 men
captured 3,700 Confederates and 40 pieces
of artillery. Some Southern soldiers were
reportedly killed after they surrendered.

The fall of the major installations at Spanish
Fort and Blakeley opened the city of Mobile
itself to attack. Unwilling to expose the civilian
population to a long and bloody siege,
Confederate General D.H. Maury prepared to

The evacuation of Mobile began on April 10,
1865, the same day that Robert E. Lee
surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia,
and continued through the 12th. Forts Huger
and Tracy, Confederate defenses near
Spanish Fort, engaged Union batteries on
the 11th to cover the movement. Both forts
were evacuated and blown up that night.

Mayor R.H. Slough surrendered the city of
Mobile at 12 noon on April 12, 1865.

Interpretive panels now point out key points
of the Mobile Campaign.
Click here to learn
more about the driving tour of the campaign.
Mobile Bay
The Union's naval superiority
enabled the Federals to move
troops and warships to key
points up and down the bay.
Southern Defenses
Confederate troops had built
an array of fortifications to
defend the land and sea
approaches to Mobile.
Earthworks at Blakeley
Miles of Civil War defenses
can be explored at Historic
Blakeley State Park, site of the
Battle of Fort Blakeley.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.