Monday, November 10, 2008

Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores Alabama

At the end of our recent trip to the Alabama coast, on our way home, we decided to visit Fort Morgan. The fort is at the western end of Highway 180, 22 miles west of Highway 59. It is actually a part of the city of Gulf Shores, but most people consider it a separate entity because of the distance from Gulf Shores city center. Fort Morgan can also be reached from Dauphin Island by ferry across the Mobile Bay.

Fort Morgan National Historic Landmark is a 500 acre site located at the end of a long narrow peninsula with the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Mobile Bay to the north.

Visiting Fort Morgan is a nice day trip for visitors to the Alabama beaches. There is a small entrance fee to the fort grounds. The entrance to the fort is just past the Fort Morgan ferry dock.

Construction was completed on the Fort in 1834, and it was first garrisoned in March of that same year. It was named for Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan.

Fort Morgan was used during four wars — the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. The fort is most famous for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. If you've ever wondered where the saying "Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead" originated, it was at Fort Morgan during Civil War's Battle of Mobile Bay.

Upon entering the bay, the USS Tecumseh was sunk when it hit a minefield, taking ninety-four men down with it. Taking enemy fire from both the Confederate fleet and Fort Morgan, Admiral David Farragut chose to keep moving into the bay through the minefield. The rest of the Union fleet followed the lead ships into the bay and defeated the vastly outnumbered Confederate fleet led by the giant ironclad CSS Tennessee.

There is a small museum on the grounds where many relics from the fort's past are displayed along with period photos. It only takes about a half hour to visit the museum and it is well worth the visit.

For those who would enjoy more frivolous activities with their history lesson, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, and swimming is allowed. In fact, fishing is very good at Fort Morgan and the entrance fee screens out most of the competition. The beach area is rarely crowded.

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