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Fort Gaines Historic Site -- Dauphin Island AL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 30° 14.886 W 088° 04.492
16R E 396587 N 3346766
Quick Description: The Fort Gaines state historic site is listed on the US Civil War Discovery Trail
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 2/25/2015 11:34:08 AM
Waymark Code: WMNE3C
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:
Alabama's historic Fort Gaines was the site of intense fighting during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. That battle, in which Confederate soldiers in possession of the Fort engaged in a gun battle with ironclad union Navy gunboats, was an important victory for the United States, and gave us one of our most famous historical phrases: "Damn the torpedoes!! Full speed ahead!"

From the US Civil War Discovery Trail website: (visit link)

"Fort Gaines Historic Site
51 Bienville Boulevard
Dauphin Island, AL 36528, USA

Established in 1821, Fort Gaines is a pre-Civil War masonry Fort best known for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay ("Damn the Torpedoes- Full Speed Ahead!"). The site consiste of five buildings inside the exterior walls, tunnel systems and corner bastions with spiral stone staircases to the gun placements above. Fort Gaines is famous for displaying the cannons that were actually used in the battle and the anchor from Admiral Farragut's flagship, as well as maintaining its operational blacksmith shop and kitchens. Described as one of the best preserved 19th century shoreline fortifications in the east, it is located within feet of the Gulf of Mexico. After its capture by Union forces, it was used in planning and staging the final attack on Mobile. More recent modifications include "disappearing guns" and bunker systems constructed during the Spanish-American War. All guests are given a detailed self-guided tour and history brochure. Guided tours are available with advance notification and include cannon firing, blacksmithing, etc. An excellent Museum portrays not only the Civil War, but the fascinating history of Dauphin Island including its French colony in the 1600s and its role as Capital of the Louisiana Territory. A gift shop with an excellent selection of history books and additional exhibits are also provided."

A more detailed history of Fort Gaines can be found at Explore Southern History website here: (visit link)

Guardian of Mobile Bay

The well-preserved ramparts of Fort Gaines have guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay for more than 150 years. Now a fascinating historic site, the fort stands at the eastern tip of Dauphin Island, Alabama, where it commands panoramic views of the bay and Gulf of Mexico.

Named for General Edmund P. Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812 and major figure on the early frontiers of the United States, Fort Gaines was one of two major forts built to defend the entrance to Mobile Bay. Fort Morgan, also a preserved historic site, stands across the entrance of the bay from the Dauphin Island fort.

Construction of the fort began in 1819, but the work quickly ran over budget and the foundations proved to be so close to Mobile Bay that water flowed into them at high tide. A series of other problems followed and it was not until 1853 that the project again showed progress, but under a completely redesigned plan.

Fort Gaines was considered a state of the art defense by the time it neared completion in 1861. Southern troops seized the fort that year and its construction was completed by them in 1862.

The prospect of facing the powerful guns in Forts Gaines and Morgan kept Union forces at bay until August of 1864, allowing Mobile Bay to serve as a key port for blockade runners and Confederate warships until nearly the end of the Civil War.

On August 3, 1864, however, 1,500 troops landed on Dauphin Island and moved down the island toward Fort Gaines. Confederates from the fort skirmished with them as they advanced, slowing their progress and giving additional reinforcements time to come down from Mobile.

Meanwhile, the Union fleet of Admiral David Farragut assembled offshore in anticipation of an attempt to fight its way into Mobile Bay.

The naval attack, remembered today as the Battle of Mobile Bay, began at 6:30 a.m. on August 5, 1864. Led by four ironclad monitors, Farragut's ships were lashed together in pairs and moved into the mouth of the bay via the channel near Fort Morgan. The Southern gunners in that fort opened fire and Mobile Bay shook from the thunder of the massive artillery barrages.

The Union ironclad USS. Tecumseh steamed directly over a Confederate torpedo (or mine) and went down so fast that only a few men escaped. The disaster caused the Union fleet to stall directly under the guns of Fort Morgan.

When Admiral Farragut asked the reason his ships were slowing under heavy fire he was told that there were torpedoes in the water. Realizing that the critical moment of the battle was at hand, he called out one of the most famous orders in naval history: "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!"

The ships picked up speed and surged forward. Confederate gunners showered shot and shell on the fleet, but Farragut's bold gambit succeeded. Despite heavy fire from batteries and forts on land, the Union fleet broke through into the bay.

The Battle of Mobile Bay, however, was far from over. One of the most dramatic ship to ship engagements of the War Between the States (or Civil War) was about to take place.

The courageous crew of the Confederate ironclad CSS Tennessee drove into the heart of the Union fleet., battling as many as seven Union ships at once. The Tennessee fought until all hope was gone and she was just a wreck of her former self.

The ship's steering and power systems shot away and its sides riddled with holes. With no other option left but to die, her officers raised the white flag. The surrender took place in the bay about one mile north of Fort Gaines.

The fight now focused on Fort Gaines itself. The fort was bombarded for three days by the Union army and navy. Union ironclads moved to within point blank range and blasted away.

Confederate defenders fired every gun they had at the enemy, but the cannon fire from Fort Gaines ricocheted harmlessly from the iron armor of Farragut's warships.

Colonel Charles Anderson was in command of Fort Gaines and soon realized that he and his 800 men could not hope to hold out. He surrendered the fort on August 8, 1864.

Union troops held the fort for the rest of the war and it remained an important U.S. military installation until the end of World War II. New concrete fortifications were added during the Spanish American War, but Fort Gaines never again came under enemy fire."
Type of site: Museum

51 Bienville Rd
Dauphin Island, AL

Admission Charged: More than $5

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
To reach the fort from Interstate 10 in historic Mobile, take Exit 17-A onto Highway 193 South. Follow 193 to Dauphin Island and turn left onto Bienville Boulevard at the water tower. Then just follow Bienville until you see the fort on your right.

Phone Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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Benchmark Blasterz visited Fort Gaines Historic Site -- Dauphin Island AL 12/31/2014 Benchmark Blasterz visited it