Battery Duportail

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Battery Duportail (1901-1931) - Battery Duportail was a reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 12 inch coastal gun battery on Fort Morgan (1), Baldwin County, Alabama. The battery was named in G.O. 78, 15 May 1903 after Maj. Gen. Louis L. Duportail, Chief of Engineers (1777-1783), Continental Army, who served with distinction during the Revolutionary War and who died at sea in 1802 while en route to France. Battery construction started in 1898, was completed in 1900 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 3 Jun 1900 at a cost of $ 172,646.05. Declared surplus in 1931.

Battery Duportail located inside Fort Morgan Ala
View from the gun level looking across the parade grounds

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Mobile, Alabama.

Originally built as an Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery with two 12" M1888MII guns mounted on M1896 disappearing gun carriages.

View from above

The battery was constructed within the walls of the old Third System Fort Morgan (1) and into portions of the old casemates themselves. Part of the battery structure covers the ground where the original three story citadel stood and some of the citadel foundation rocks can be still be seen on the parade in front of the battery.

This was a two story battery with the gun loading platform on the second level and the magazines on the first level. Hoists were required to move the heavy projectiles from the magazine level to the loading level. The first versions of these hoists were believed to be Hodges hoists which were later replace with Taylor-Raymond hoists in 1918. Powder hoists were contemplated and the structure modified to handle them but they were never installed.

Battery Duportail was equipped with an electrical power plant from the outset. The power plant originally had a single 30KW DC generator to furnish lighting and to power the shell hoists and retracting motors on the gun carriages. This power plant was upgraded to two 25KW gasoline powered AC motor-generator sets in 1917-1918.

Battery Duportail Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
1 12" Rifle 440" M1888MII 6 Bethlehem Disappearing, M1896, #27, Morgan 1901-1931 See note 1
2 12" Rifle 440" M1888MII 7 Bethlehem Disappearing, M1896, #16, Bethlehem 1901-1931 See note 1
Source: RCW Form 1, 31 Dec 1918, RCB, 10 Oct 1903, 31 Dec 1907, 31 Dec 1909, 31 Dec 1910, Coast Defense Study Group, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 138-139, 212
Note 1: Guns and carriages ordered turned over to State of Alabama 24 Nov 1931 CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Battery Duportail Plan

World War I (1917-1918)

The U.S. entry into World War I resulted in a widespread removal of large caliber coastal defense gun tubes for service in Europe. Many of the gun and mortar tubes removed were sent to arsenals for modification and mounting on mobile carriages, both wheeled and railroad. Most of the removed gun tubes never made it to Europe and were either remounted or remained at the arsenals until needed elsewhere. Battery Duportail escaped any loss or transfer of armament during this period and actually gained some additional capability in that two electric motor driven Taylor-Raymond back delivery projectile hoists were accepted for service on 7 Jun 1918 and the power plant was upgraded in 1917-1918.

In 1931 the guns and carriages were ordered to be turned over to the State of Alabama.

Current Status

Part of Fort Morgan State Park, Baldwin County, Alabama. No period guns or mounts in place in the battery.

Location: Fort Morgan State Park, Baldwin County, Alabama

Maps & Images

Lat: 30.227906 Long: -88.02304



Visited: 23 Dec 2011, 10 Dec 2009

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