Monday, June 8, 2009

Old Forts Are Not Forgotten

Over the weekend, I traveled to Mobile Bay, where I saw for the first time what remains of Ft. Morgan. The fortification is located at the very tip of land that stretches across the mouth of the bay like a long, skinny finger. It was built following the War of 1812, and was used up until 1946. Although the structure is merely a skeleton of its former self, it still resembles what, during its day, was an impermeable design. In fact, it probably wouldn't have fallen to Union troops on August 23, 1864 if it hadn't been overrun.

This is where Admiral David Farragut, upon attacking the Confederates at the fort, uttered his famous order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The Union fleet penetrated the fort by blasting past the Rebel vessels and through the minefield, thus taking control of the fort. The U.S.S. Tecumseh monitor was destroyed by the C.S.S. Tennessee, and sank just off the coast, killing 90 of its crew.

The fort was reactivated during the Spanish-American War, and was used as a training base during WWI. In the forties, it was reactivated once again, and manned by the Coast Guard. In 1946, it was deactivated and turned over to the Alabama.

Even though the fort is old and somewhat creepy, with weeds growing up through the handmade bricks that make up the walls, it is a fascinating edifice with an intriguing story to tell. Pieces of rusty cannons lie half-buried in the white sand below the fort, remnants of what was once a magnificent battle. The view from the batteries out over the bay is spectacular. I highly recommend that everyone take the opportunity to see this fort if they can, and/or Ft. Gaines, which stands at the west side of the bay.

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