Friday, August 12, 2011

Mobile, AL to Orange Beach, AL - 64 miles

Today we rode to our last rest day location...Orange Beach, AL. I can't believe that there are only 8 riding days left. This trip has just flown by. It took so long for it to start...I remember staring at the map of the U.S. [with the route highlighted with red and black dots] in my cubicle for 364 days, thinking about this trip and now it is just about over. My, how time flies. But on the upside, even though this trip is just about done, I still don't have to go back to work in the puzzle palace. I will be off on another adventure...Route 66, the Pony Express, the Chisholm Trail, the Katy Trail, the Natchez Trace...just to name a few...there are so many places to see and experience...I am excited!

Today one of the places I saw was Ft Gaines, AL which played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War.
Fort Gaines, AL
A view from inside Fort Gaines, AL

Edward Pendleton Gaines

Fort Gaines is a historic fort on Dauphin Island, AL. It was named for Edmund Pendleton Gaines (March 20, 1777 – June 6, 1849), a U.S. army officer who served with distinction during the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars and the Black Hawk War. Established in 1821, Fort Gaines is best known for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War.
There is a huge anchor from the USS Hartford, Admiral David Farragut's flagship on which it is said he he gave his world famous command, "Damn the torpedoes -- full speed ahead!" The most popular accounts of how Farragut came to say these words have been deemed as unlikely by historians. It is doubted that any such verbal communication could be heard above the din of the guns; however it is told that when the Brooklyn slowed when the Tecumseh crossed her path, Farragut asked why she was not moving ahead. When the reply came back that torpedoes were in her path, he is said to have said, "Damn the torpedoes." Some forms of the story are highly unlikely; the most widespread is that he shouted to Brooklyn, "Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead!" More likely, if it happened, is that he said to the captain of Hartford, "Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton." Then he shouted to the commander of Metacomet, lashed to Hartford's side, "Go ahead,Jouett, full speed." The words have been altered in time to the more familiar, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
 The fort also has the original cannons used in the battle, five pre-Civil War brick buildings in the interior courtyard, operational blacksmith shop and kitchens, tunnel systems to the fortified corner bastions, and similar features. The fort was partially modernized for the Spanish-American War. The site is considered to be one of the nation's best-preserved Civil War era masonry forts.

The Battle of Mobile Bay of August 5, 1864, was an engagement of the Civil War in which a Federal fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay.

The battle was marked by Farragut's seemingly rash but successful run through a minefield that had just claimed one of his ironclad monitors, enabling his fleet to get beyond the range of the shore-based guns. This was followed by a reduction of the Confederate fleet to a single vessel, ironclad CSS Tennessee. Tennessee did not then retire, but engaged the entire Northern fleet. The armor on Tennessee gave her an advantage that enabled her to inflict more injury than she received, but she could not overcome the imbalance in numbers.

She was eventually reduced to a motionless hulk, unable either to move or to reply to the guns of the Union fleet. Her captain then surrendered, ending the battle. With no Navy to support them, the three forts within days also surrendered. Complete control of the lower Mobile Bay thus passed to the Union forces.

Mobile had been the last important port on the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi River remaining in Confederate possession, so its closure was the final step in completing the blockade in that region.
This Union victory, together with the capture of Atlanta, was extensively covered by Union newspapers and was a significant boost forAbraham Lincoln's bid for re-election three months after the battle.
Other Names: Passing of Forts Morgan and Gaines
Location: Mobile County and Baldwin County
Campaign: Operations in Mobile Bay (1864)
Date(s): August 2-23, 1864
Principal Commanders: Adm. David G. Farragut and Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger [US]; Adm. Franklin Buchanan and Brig. Gen. Richard L. Page [CS]
Forces Engaged: Farragut’s Fleet (14 wooden ships and 4 monitors) and U.S. army forces near Mobile [US]; Buchanan’s Flotilla (3 gunboats and an ironclad), Fort Morgan Garrison, Fort Gaines Garrison, and Fort Powell Garrison [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 1,822 (US 322; CS 1,500)
Description: A combined Union force initiated operations to close Mobile Bay to blockade running. Some Union forces landed on Dauphin Island and laid siege to Fort Gaines. On August 5, Farragut’s Union fleet of eighteen ships entered Mobile Bay and received a devastating fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan and other points. After passing the forts, Farragut forced the Confederate naval forces, under Adm. Franklin Buchanan, to surrender, which effectively closed Mobile Bay. By August 23, Fort Morgan, the last big holdout, fell, shutting down the port. The city, however, remained uncaptured.
Results: Union victory

Fort Morgan Original Plans 1817

Fort Morgan is a historic masonry star fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay, AL. Some scholars regard it as "one of the finest examples of military architecture in the New World."The post was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan. Construction was completed in 1834 and it received its first garrison in March of the same year.

 Daniel Morgan - Revolutionary War Hero
Daniel Morgan Statue Virginia. Awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for Valor
Congressional Gold Medal voted for General Daniel Morgan by Congress after the Battle of Cowpens, 1781.

A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the U.S. Congress and is, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the U.S. American citizenship is not a requirement.

The Congressional medal presented to General Morgan (1736-1802) was for his extraordinary leadership and tactics he employed at the Battle of Cowpens. The victory he attained in that engagement was the precursor of the final battle, Yorktown. The inscription reads: "Daniel Morgan. Duce Exercitus Comitia Americana — The American Congress to General Daniel Morgan". On the reverse side the inscription reads: "Victoria Libertatis Vindex —Victory, the protector of Liberty". On the bottom: "Fugatis, Caper Aut Caesis Ad Cowpens, Hostibus, 17th January 1781 — The foe put to flight, taken or slain, at Cowpens, January 17th, 1781".
Fort Morgan is at the tip of Mobile Point at the western terminus of Alabama State Route 180. It and Dauphin Island, on which Fort Gaines is situated, enclose Mobile Bay. 

General Gordon Granger

The Siege of Fort Morgan was part of the Battle of Mobile Bay. Union ground forces led by General Gordon Granger conducted a short siege of the Confederate garrison at the mouth of Mobile Bay under the command of General Richard L. Page. The Confederate surrender helped shut down Mobile as an effective Confederate port city.
Richard L. Page

Fort Morgan
Fort Morgan State Historic Site
Fort Morgan Cannon
Farragut lashed to the rigging

An anecdote of the battle of Mobile Bay, that is interesting is it is said that Farragut was lashed to the mast during the passage of Fort Morgan. The image it brings to mind is of absolute resolve: if his ship were to be sunk in the battle, he would go down with her. The truth is more prosaic; while he was indeed lashed to the rigging of the mainmast, it was a precautionary move rather than an act of defiance. It came about after the battle had opened and smoke from the guns had clouded the air. In order to get a better view of the action, Farragut climbed into Hartford's rigging, and soon was high enough that a fall would certainly incapacitate him and could have killed him. Seeing this, Captain Drayton sent a seaman aloft with a piece of line to secure the admiral. He demurred, saying, "Never mind, I am all right," but the sailor obeyed his captain's orders, tying one end of the line to a forward shroud, then around the admiral and to the after shroud.
Later, when CSS Tennessee made her unsupported attack on the Federal fleet, Farragut climbed into the mizzen rigging. Still concerned for his safety, Captain Drayton had Flag-Lieutenant J. Crittenden Watson
tie him to the rigging again. Thus, the admiral had been tied to the rigging twice in the course of the battle
We are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn.
An exterior view
The beautiful gulf coast
Tomorrow is a rest day and then we are off to Fort Walton Beach, FL.

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