Fort Morgan (1) (1819-1946) - Construction began in 1819 and continued until 1834 on this Third System Masonry fort designed by Simon Bernard. Named after Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan in 1833. Abandoned after World War I and reactivated during World War II, it was returned to the State of Alabama after the end of World War II.
Fort Morgan (1) History
Part of the Harbor Defense of Mobile, Alabama. Established to defend the narrow entrance to Mobile Bay, Alabama along with Fort Gaines (1).
Fort Morgan was constructed of brick as a regular pentagon with bastions at each of the five corners and a large ten sided citadel in the center. The three tiered citadel housed the troops and was the largest of any Third System fort. The sea coast batteries were mounted on the two primary and two secondary fronts of the fort. Other land batteries were placed to protect against assault from the landward side. The entrance to the fort was a tunnel under the gorge protected at both ends by large doors.
For several months in 1837 the fort housed over 3000 Indians who were being relocated from the Montgomery area to the Indian Territory now known as Oklahoma. William T. Sherman was stationed at Fort Morgan in 1841-42 as a 1st Lt.
At the beginning of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 the Alabama State Militia seized both Fort Gaines (1) and Fort Morgan from Federal troops. Fort Morgan remained in Confederate hands until 23 Aug 1864 when it was surrendered after the Battle of Mobile Bay to a Union fleet commanded by Adm. David Farragut. The Confederate defenders managed to sink the Federal monitor Tecumseh in the battle and the fort sustained more than 3000 cannon ball impacts on 22 Aug before surrendering on 23 Aug. The Battle of Mobile Bay was the occasion for Adm. Farragut's famous order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!", referring to torpedoes strung across the channel into Mobile Bay.
After the U.S. Civil War the garrison was withdrawn and the fort was placed in caretaker status 31 Dec 1867.
In March of 1898 the fort was reactivated and garrisoned by Battery I, 1st U.S. Artillery 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, Battery Bowyer in 1898. A total of six Endicott Period batteries were built between 1898 and 1901. Only Battery Duportail was built inside the Fort Morgan walls. The Spanish American War was quickly over but the strengthening of coastal defenses continued.
During World War I Fort Morgan was used as a training base. After World War I Fort Morgan was again deactivated and placed in caretaker status 1 Apr 1923. Subsequently abandoned 15 Oct 1931.
At the onset of World War II the fort was reactivated and manned in April 1942 by Battery F, 50th U.S. Coast Artillery Corps. In 1946, after the close of the War, the fort property was returned to the State of Alabama and became Fort Morgan State Park.
Current view of the Post Site
Fort Morgan State Park operated by the Alabama Historical Commission.
- U.S. Civil War Armament on display (from the CDSG Representative Site Report):
- one 32-pounder Columbiad on a seacoast carriage
- two 24-pounder flank howitzers on carriages
- one 100-pounder Parrott on a concrete pedestal
- one 7” Brooke rifle on a concrete pedestal
- one fieldpiece in the ordnance casemate
- two 20-pounder Parrott rifles temporarily mounted on concrete blocks
- No Endicott Period weapons on display
- World War II armament on display
- 1918M1 155mm gun on a Model 1918 carriage.
- Weaver, John R. II, A Legacy in Brick and Stone: America Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System, Redoubt Press, McLean, 2001, First Printing, ISBN 1-57510-069-X, page 171-175
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 10-12
Visited: 23 Dec 2011, 10 Dec 2009
Fort Morgan (1) Picture Gallery
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View of Main Entrance to Fort Morgan from inside the fort.
32 pound gun mounted on a Barbette carriage
The remains of the peace magazine used to store power during peace time conditions at Fort Morgan Al. Time and hurricanes have not been kind to this building.
The Hospital Stewards Quarters, at the far east end of Fort Morgan Al. just to the west was the site of the old hospital and to the south was the morgue and hospital storeroom.
Looking east from the troops barracks area (the foundation in the foreground was the 39th Company quarters, built in about 1910) in the center distance is the post bakery with Battery Bowyer in the far distance.
Looking east down the old Officers row at Fort Morgan Al. in the foreground is the cooking/mess area of the destroyed Senior Officers Quarters, to the east in the distance is the surviving Seniors Officers Quarter)
Looking south at the Senior Officers Quarters, towards the right center is the mess area and foundation of the second Senior Officers Quarters (the bakery can be seen in the distance)
Exit point for cables used for the mine operations from Battery Thomas viewed from the interior
Exit point for cables used for the mine operations from Battery Thomas viewed from the exterior
View of the inside of Fort Morgan Al
Fort Morgan viewed from the southwest gulf side
Fort Morgan view from southeast gulf side