Under the act of cession of Louisiana
the United States
claimed all of west Florida
, including Mobile
A large portion of that territory had been annexed to the Territory of Mississippi
, and in the winter
of 1812, when war had been determined upon, the importance to the United States
of possessing Mobile
was very apparent.
In March General Wilkinson
, in command of the United States troops in the Southwest
, was ordered to take possession of it. Wilkinson
sent Commodore Shaw
, with gunboats, to occupy Mobile Bay
and cut off communications with Pensacola
, then with troops at Fort Stoddart, was ordered to be prepared to march on Mobile
at a moment's notice for the purpose of investing the fort there.
March 29 on the sloop Alligator
after a perilous voyage, reached Petit Coquille, when he sent a courier with orders to Bowyer
to march immediately.
's troops arrived in Mobile Bay
April 12, landed the next morning, and at noon 600 men appeared before Fort Charlotte, commanded by Capt. Cayetano Perez
, and demanded its surrender.
On the 15th the Spaniards evacuated the fort and retired to Pensacola
, and the Americans
Placing nine cannon in battery on Mobile Point
marched to the Perdido
There he began the erection of a fort, but the place was soon abandoned and another was begun and finished on Mobile Point
and called Fort Bowyer
, in honor of the brave lieutenant-colonel of that name.
Such was the beginning of a movement which resulted in the acquisition of all Florida
by the Americans
In 1864, after the destruction of the Alabama
(q. v.), it was determined to seal up the ports of Mobile
against English blockade-runners.
These were the only ports then open to them.
was sent for that purpose to the entrance of Mobile Bay
, 30 miles below the city of Mobile
, with a fleet of eighteen vessels, four of them iron-clad, while a co-operating land force, 5,000 strong, under Gen. Gordon Granger
(q. v.), was sent from New Orleans to Dauphin Island
entered the bay Aug. 5, 1864.
That entrance is divided into two passages by Dauphin Island
On the eastern side of this island was Fort Gaines
, commanding the main entrance; and southeasterly from it was Fort Morgan
, a still stronger work, with a light-house near it. These forts the Confederates
had well earned and manned, and within the bay lay a Confederate flotilla under Admiral Buchanan
His flag-ship was the Tennessee
, a powerful ram, and it was accompanied by three ordinary gunboats.
lashed his wooden ships together in couples, his own flag-ship, the Hartford
, being tethered to the Metacomet
Wishing to have a general oversight of the battle, he ascended the rigging, when Captain Drayton
, fearing he might be dislodged by a sudden shock, sent up a man with a line, which he passed around the admiral and made it fast.
In this position he went into the battle, boldly sailing in between the forts, and delivering terrific broadsides of grapeshot, first upon Fort Morgan
The monitor Tecumseh
, which led the National
vessels, was struck by the explosion of a torpedo directly under her turret, carryingdown with her Commander Craven
and nearly all of his officers and crew—only seventeen of 130 being saved.
ordered the Hartford
to push on and the others to follow, unmindful of torpedoes.
The forts were silenced by the storm of grape-shot poured upon them, but as the National
fleet entered the bay the Confederate vessels opened upon them.
The ram Tennessee
rushed at the Hartford
, but missed her. The fire of the three gunboats was concentrated on the flag-ship.
The fight was short.
One of the Confederate gunboats was captured, and the other two sought safety under the guns of the fort.
Under cover of night one of them
escaped to Mobile
Believing the battle over at dusk, Farragut
had anchored his vessels, when, at nearly 9 P. M., the ram Tennessee
came rushing at the Hartford
under a full head of steam.
The other National vessels were ordered to close upon her. A tremendous fight with the monster at short range occurred, and very soon the Tennessee
, badly injured, surrendered.
Her commander was severely wounded.
The Confederate squadron was destroyed.
The forts were assailed by land and water the next day, and the three were surrendered, the last (Fort Morgan
) on the morning of Aug. 23.
With this victory the government came into possession of 104 guns and 1,464 men, and effectually closed the port of Mobile
This victory, and that at Atlanta
, soon afterwards, together with the hearty response given by the people of the free-labor States to the call of the President
(July 18, 1864) for 300,000 men, gave assurance that the Civil War
was nearly ended.
Gen. J. E. Johnston
was the best-fortified place in the Confederacy
It was garrisoned by 15,000 men, including troops on the east side of the bay and 1,000 negro laborers subject to the command of the engineers.
The department was then (1865) in command of Gen. Richard Taylor
, son of President Taylor
For several months after the harbor of Mobile
was sealed there was comparative quiet in that region; but when Sherman
had finished his triumphal march from Atlanta
to the sea the government determined to repossess Alabama
, beginning with a movement against Mobile
, and by other operations in the interior.
Gen. Edward R. S. Canby
(q. v.), commanding the West Mississippi Army, was charged with the conduct of the expedition against Mobile
, and the co-operating force was that of Gen. J. H. Wilson
, the eminent cavalry leader, under the direction of General Thomas
Early in 1865 Gen. A. J. Smith
's corps joined Canby
at New Orleans, Feb. 21.
That corps went to Dauphin Island
, at the entrance to Mobile Bay
, where a siege-train was organized, consisting of ten batteries.
's cavalry, attached to the corps, marched overland from New Orleans.
Everything was in readiness for an attack on Mobile
by the middle of March, with from 25,000 to 30,000 troops, including cavalry; and the West Gulf Squadron, under Admiral Thatcher
, was ready to co-operate.
It was so strongly fortified by three lines of works on its land side that it was determined to flank the post by a movement of the main army up the eastern side of the bay. The 13th Army Corps began a march on the 17th from Fort Morgan
over a swampy region in heavy rain, and the 16th Corps crossed the bay from Fort Gaines
and joined the other.
At the same time a feint was made on Mobile
to attract attention from this movement.
, with Hawkins
's division of negro troops and some cavalry, had been marching from Pensacola
, 10 miles north of Mobile
, to induce the belief that Montgomery
's real objective point.
On March 25 this force encountered and defeated 800 Alabama
cavalry under General Clanton
The Confederates lost about 200 men killed and wounded, and 275 made prisoners.
found very little opposition afterwards until he reached the front of Blakely
on the east side of the bay pushed on to Spanish Fort
, 7 miles east of Mobile
It was invested, March 27, but its garrison of nearly 3,000 of Hood
's late army, with its neighbors, made it a stout antagonist, willing to give blow for blow.
Warmer and warmer waxed the fight on that day, and before sunset a tremendous artillery duel was in progress, in which gunboats of both parties joined, and kept it up all night.
Then a siege was formally begun (March 28). The Nationals
finally brought to bear upon the fort sixteen mortars, twenty heavy guns, and six field-pieces.
Towards sunset, April 8, Canby
began a general assault by a consecutive fire from all his heavy guns, his field-pieces, and his gunboats.
regiment, encountering some Texas
sharp-shooters, charged upon and overpowered them.
Sweeping along the rear of the intrenchments, they captured 300 yards of them, with 350 prisoners and three battle-flags.
This exploit made the Confederates
evacuate the fort, and by 2 A. M. the next day it was in possession of the Nationals.
The garrison, excepting 600 made prisoners, escaped.
It had expected assistance from Forrest
, but Wilson
was keeping him
Map of defences around Mobile.|
The spoils were thirty heavy guns and a large quantity of munitions of war. Forts Huger and Tracy were also captured, April 11.
The key to Mobile
was now in the hands of the Nationals.
Torpedoes were fished up, and the National
squadron approached the city.
army moved on Blakely
, and on April 9 the works there were attacked and carried.
Meanwhile the 13th Corps had been taken across the bay to attack Mobile
But the army found no enemy to fight, for Gen. D. H. Maury
, in command there, had ordered the evacuation of the city; and on the 11th, after sinking two powerful rains, he fled up the Alabama River
with 9,000 men on gunboats and transports.
On the 12th General Granger
and Rear-Admiral Thatcher
demanded the surrender of the city.
This was formally done the same evening by the civil authorities, and on the following day Veatch
's division entered the city and hoisted the National
flag on the public buildings.
entered the city soon afterwards.
A large amount of cotton and several steamboats were burned by order of the military authorities, before the city was given up. The “repossession” of Mobile
cost the national government 2,000 men and much treasure.
Seven vessels of war had been destroyed by torpedoes.
During this campaign of about three weeks the army and navy captured about 5,000 men, nearly 400 cannon, and a vast amount of public property.
The value of ammunition and commissary stores found in Mobile
was valued at $2,000,000.