Fort Gaines (1)

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Fort Gaines (1821-1946) - Construction on this Third System masonry fort began in 1821 but construction and funding problems prevented completion and a redesigned fort was started in the 1850's. Designed by Joseph G. Totten and named after Gen. Edmund P. Gaines in 1853. The fort was still incomplete in 1861 when the U.S. Civil War began. The fort was occupied by Confederate forces in 1861 and they finished the fort in 1862. Abandoned after World War I and reactivated during World War II it was abandoned after the end of World War II.

Fort Gaines
Fort Gaines Flooded after Hurricane Katrina
Fort Gaines Facing the Gulf


An almost full view of the interior of the northwest civil war era bastion. The access was to the far left, the entrance to the magazine is the doorway to far right

Part of the Harbor Defense of Mobile, Alabama. Established to defend the narrow entrance to Mobile Bay, Alabama along with Fort Morgan (1). Fort Gaines was designed as a regular pentagon with bastions at each corner and ten guns mounted on each of the five walls. Each bastion was to have four flank howitzers. A thirty-five-foot wide dry moat surrounded the twenty-two foot high walls with a drawbridge for access.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Mobile Harbor, 1862
One of the two rifled parrot guns that flank the entrance to Fort Gaines

At the beginning of the U.S. Civil War in 1861, the Alabama State Militia seized both Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan (1) from Federal troops. Fort Gaines remained in Confederate hands until 8 Aug 1864 when it was surrendered after the Battle of Mobile Bay to a Union fleet commanded by Adm. David Farragut. The Battle of Mobile Bay was the occasion for Adm. Farragut's famous order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!", referring to torpedoes (mines) strung across the channel into Mobile Bay.

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

In March of 1898 the fort was reactivated and garrisoned in anticipation of the Spanish American War and as a result of the explosion that sunk the Battleship Maine in Havana Harbor 15 Feb 1898. Construction began on the first Endicott Period battery in 1898. Three Endicott Period batteries were built between 1898 and 1901. The Spanish American War was quickly over but the strengthening of coastal defenses continued.

Fort Gaines Endicott Period Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Battery Cost Notes
Battery Unnamed 2 8" Rodman 1898-1899 $ ? Covered by Battery Stanton
Battery Stanton 3 6" Disappearing 1899-1900-1901-1932 $ 67,250 1 gun removed 1917
Battery Terrett 3 3" Masked Parapet 1900-1901-1901-1917 $ 6,965
Source: CDSG

World War I (1917-1918)

A Coastal Artillery unit manned the disappearing guns during World War I. An anti-aircraft gunnery school operated from Fort Gains during and following the war.

World War II (1941-1945)

The fort was used by the Alabama National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II.

Current Status

The United States sold Fort Gaines to the City of Mobile in 1926. The city in turn gave the property to the Alabama Department of Conservation, which deeded it to the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board.

Location: Eastern tip of Dauphin Island, Mobile County, Alabama.

Maps & Images

Lat: 30.248465 Long: -88.075569

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Visited: 23 Dec 2011, 10 Dec 2009

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