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Fort Morgan (Alabama)

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Fort Morgan (Alabama)

Fort Morgan
Original plan for the fort, dated 1817.
Location Western terminus of AL 180
Gasque, Alabama
Built 1819-1834
Architect Simon Bernard
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 66000146
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL December 19, 1960[2]

Fort Morgan is a historic Fort Bowyer, an earthen and stockade type fortification involved in the final land battles of the War of 1812. Construction was completed in 1834 and it received its first garrison in March of the same year.

Fort Morgan is at the tip of Mobile Point at the western terminus of State Route 180 (Alabama). It and Dauphin Island, on which Fort Gaines is situated, enclose Mobile Bay. The Alabama Historical Commission maintains the site.


  • War of 1812 1
  • Construction 2
  • Civil War 3
  • Late 19th century 4
  • 20th century 5
  • Recent developments 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

War of 1812

After the departure of the Spanish from Mobile in April 1813, the Americans built an earth and wood redoubt on Mobile Point, ultimately naming it Fort Bowyer after Col. John Bowyer, who completed the construction before leaving in 1814. In September 1814 the fort withstood a British naval and land attack, known as the First Battle of Fort Bowyer. The British returned in February 1815 after their defeat at the Battle of New Orleans and again launched an attack that became known as the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer. This time they were successful, with its American garrison surrendering the fort. Before the British could continue their attack towards Mobile they received word that the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war, had been signed on Christmas Eve, 1814. When word of the treaty's ratification arrived shortly thereafter, the British withdrew. The site was a logical one for a more substantial fort that could defend itself from landward and protect the entrance to the bay, leading to Fort Morgan replacing Fort Bowyer.


After the War of 1812, the U.S. embarked on a program to strengthen its seacoast defenses. As part of this program, in 1818 the U.S. contracted with Benjamin Hopkins of Vermont to build a large masonry fort on Mobile Point after a design by Simon Bernard, who had been a military engineer for Napoleon. However, Hopkins died a year later in a yellow fever epidemic, having accomplished little. The next contractor, Samuel Hawkins of New York, died in 1821, before accomplishing anything on the project. The Army turned the task over to the Corps of Engineers under Capt. R.E. DeRussey. Using slave labor, DeRussey was able to make some progress before he took ill in 1825 and turned the work over to his deputy, Lieut. Cornelius Ogden. Ogden completed the work in March 1834 and turned the fort over to Capt. F.S. Belton, commander of Company B, 2nd US Artillery. This unit remained at the fort for about a year and a half before its transfer to Florida to assist in the Second Seminole Indian War.

Civil War

Eight days before Gaines and Selma, all under the command of Admiral Franklin Buchanan.[4]

During the war, Fort Morgan provided protective fire for blockade runners. All 17 vessels that ran out of the Bay eluded capture, as did 19 of the 21 that attempted to enter.[5]

During the

  • Official website
  • , a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan”Fort Morgan and the Battle of Mobile Bay”

External links

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ a b "Fort Morgan". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  3. ^ "ADAH Historical Markers—Baldwin County: Fort Morgan". Texts of historical markers placed by Alabama Historical Society. Alabama Department of Archives & History. Archived from the original on 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  4. ^ Jack Friend. 2000. "The Civil War". In Bob England, Jack Friend, Michael Bailey, and Blanton Blankenship. Fort Morgan. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia), p. 21.
  5. ^ Jack Friend. 2000. "The Civil War". In Bob England, Jack Friend, Michael Bailey, and Blanton Blankenship. Fort Morgan. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia), p. 22.
  6. ^ a b c d """The Siege of Fort Morgan: "The Shells Were Bursting All Around Us. Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Citadel (1825-1865)". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "6.4" (100 pounder) Parrott Rifle / 7" Brooke Rifle". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Bob England, et al. 2000. Fort Morgan. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia), p.100
  10. ^ WUR Fort Morgan, Alabama. 1924 list of Government Land and Ship Radio Stations, U.S. Department of Commerce
  11. ^
  12. ^ Blanche Higgins Schroer (October 4, 1975) National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort Morgan, National Park Service and Accompanying 25 or so photos, aerial, exterior and interior, from 1864, c. World War II, 1959, 1974, 1975 and 19.
  13. ^ "Civil War Preservation Trust Unveils Report on Most Endangered Battlefields". Press Release. Civil War Preservation Trust. 2007-03-13. 
  14. ^ Kenny Smith (June 23, 2008). "Workers discover cannon shell". Press-Register. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 


See also

Historic and modern views of Fort Morgan
View of Fort Morgan in 1864, after its surrender. 
View of Fort Morgan in 1864. 
View of Fort Morgan in 1864. 
August 23, 1864 - Damage to the Citadel. 
Fort Morgan in 2008. 
The entrance in 2008. 
Fort Morgan, April 2002 

In June 2008, a 90-pound live Union naval shell was uncovered at the site. The shell was from a Parrott rifle on a U.S. Navy warship and was fired at the fort in the summer of 1864. The discovery came during excavations as part of a project meant to repair cracks in the walls.[14]

In 2007 it was listed as "one of the nation's 10 most endangered battle sites" by the Civil War Preservation Trust in History Under Siege: A Guide to America's Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields.[13]

Fort Morgan was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.[2][12]

Recent developments

In April 1942, the Army re-occupied the fort and constructed an adjacent airfield.[11] Initially, the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps itself in 1950.

During Fort McClellan, Alabama.

After the US declared war on Germany in April 1917, the fort took on the task of training men of the Coast Artillery in modern weapons. The fort also trained field anti-aircraft batteries. In 1920 the fort received four British 9.2-inch howitzers. These guns were abandoned and later scrapped in 1924 when the Army abandoned the fort. Thereafter, the base deteriorated quickly.

In 1915, the New YorkUSS and the USS Arkansas, shell the battery for two days to see how well it would survive, which it did with remarkably little damage. The gun was removed shortly after the tests.

Hurricanes in 1906 and in July 1916 caused a great deal of damage to the wooden houses at Fort Morgan along Officer's Row. The wide porches that helped cool the buildings in summer proved particularly vulnerable.[9]

20th century

The fifth battery was Battery Schenk, named for Lieutenant William T. Schenck, who was killed in action in Luzon in 1900 during the Philippine-American War. The battery initially held two, later increased to three, 3-inch rapid-fire guns. It too protected the ship channel.

The fourth battery was Battery Thomas, named for Captain Evan Thomas, who had been killed in the Battle of Sand Butte in 1873 during the Modoc War. This battery's armament consisted of two British 4.7-inch rapid-fire Armstrong guns. The battery's role was to prevent smaller enemy vessels from passing through the ship's channel in front of the fort. The battery was deactivated in 1917 and its guns removed.

The third battery, also completed in 1900, was Battery Duportail, named for Major General Louis Duportail. Its armament consisted of two 12-inch breech-loading rifles on disappearing carriages. The battery was decommissioned in 1923. The Army removed the breechblocks and plugged the breeches before abandoning the guns in place. The Army scrapped the guns in the early 1940s.

The second battery, completed in 1900, was Battery Dearborn, named for Major General Henry Dearborn. The battery had eight breech-loading 12-inch mortars in two four-gun pits. The intent was that should enemy vessels approach, the mortars would rain down shells on the vessels' less heavily armored decks.

At beginning of the Spanish-American War, Fort Morgan also received eight 10-inch smooth-bore muzzle-loading cannon, converted to 8-inch rifles with the insertion of a barrel sleeve. This was a makeshift and the Army later gave the guns away to cities for Civil War memorials.

The first battery, Battery Bowyer, was operational during the Spanish-American War. It had four 8-inch breech-loading guns on disappearing carriages. The battery was closed in 1917 and the guns removed for conversion to railway guns for service in Europe.

During a renovation project in the 1870s, the fort received 12 200-pounder Parrott rifled cannon.[8] Eventually, however, the US Government abandoned the fort, letting it fall into disrepair. Then under the presidency of Grover Cleveland, Secretary of War William Endicott chaired the Endicott Board, which led to a program of building new, concrete batteries. Between 1895 and 1900, Fort Morgan received five concrete batteries, supported by the latest in fire control, electricity, and communications.

Late 19th century

Once the fort was in Union hands, the Union used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

the fort's guns. spiking after first [6], commander of the fort, felt compelled to surrender. He did so on August 23, 1864,Richard L. Page After two weeks of bombardment from sea and land, Major [7] Rather than restore it, post-War crews used the ruins as a brick source for repairing the fort. The remains of the Citadel were razed in the 1880s for use as a breakwater.[6], a ten-sided barracks located in the center of the fort used to house the enlisted men, caught fire and the structure was badly damaged.Citadel During the siege, the wooden roof of the [6]

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