Today’s adventure was a road trip to Fort Morgan. A quick history:
“Fort Morgan is a Third System Coastal Defense Fort. It, like all the forts of the Third System, was built after the War of 1812 when Congress realized the need for stronger fortifications along the eastern and southern coastlines.
Designed to control the main ship channel into Mobile Bay, the star shape of the fort allowed its defenders to bring a heavy concentration of artillery fire on an enemy fleet as it approached the fort and to maintain this volume of fire as the enemy force moved into the bay. Because of its isolated position, the fort was also designed with extensive land defenses to enable it to withstand a siege.
During the Civil War, Fort Morgan and all her sister forts were proven to be out of date. Rifled cannon and steam-powered warships repeatedly defeated the old brick forts. This was dramatically demonstrated at Fort Morgan on August 5, 1864 when Union Admiral D. G. Farragut led his fleet past the guns of the fort and into the bay with the loss of only one ship.
Following the Civil War, the Army moved slowly to improve the nation’s coastal defenses. It was not until the 1890s that major improvements were undertaken. This building program, known as the Endicott program, upgraded the nation’s defenses. All the concrete gun positions at Fort Morgan are a part of this program.
While the weapons and gun positions changed, the fort’s goal remained the same – to prevent any enemy forces from entering Mobile Bay. The concrete batteries were built between 1896 and 1905 and were manned during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Fort Morgan was also occupied during World War II, but by that time the concrete batteries, like the brick fort before them, were no longer the primary defensive positions.”
More information can be found here: http://fortmorgan.org/home/
We started out our tour at the museum to learn a little bit about the fort.
This is what the fort looks like from the museum/visitor center:
Then we saw this picture and my first thought was this is what it would have looked like:
Well, I was sure fooled! We walked thru the “postern” which was the connecting tunnel thru the glacis. The glacis is the cleared ground that slopes upward towards the fort. It screened the fort walls from enemy gunfire.
Thru the tunnel, we came upon this – known as the dry moat.
WOW! From there we went thru the main entrance of the fort:
Into the center – it was amazing!
With a few exceptions, we were able to explore the whole fort. The arched rooms are know as casemates. They were designed as protected gun positions for the fort’s cannon, but few cannons were ever mounted in them. They were used for food and equipment storage and occasionally served as living quarters for troops in order to shelter them from enemy bombardment.
In most cases, we were able to go thru almost all the casemates – it was cool!
Once we explored the ground floor, we climbed to the top level both inside and outside of the fort.
This is the hotshot furnace. It was constructed during 1843 and 1844. Solid iron cannon balls would be heated in the furnace until white hot. This “hot”, shot would be fired at wooden ships to set them afire. By the time of the Civil War “hotshot” had been replaced by exploding shells and it was never used in battle at Fort Morgan.
This is the walkway between the bastions – which is the five projecting corners of the fort. Cannons were mounted on top of each bastion to fire over the wall.
This concrete gun emplacement was built across the fort in 1898-1899. It mounted two 12-inch, breech-loading cannons known as disappearing rifles. Lead counterweights weighing 30 tons were dropped to raise the gun into firing position above the concrete wall. When the gun was fired, the recoil would return the gun to the loading position. The gun used 268 pounds of explosive to throw a 1,046 pound shell up to 8 1/2 miles.
Once we thoroughly explored the fort, we took off to explore the rest of the park.
Part of one of the eight mortars that was located here:
Another great learning experience.
We had lunch at this great little spot right outside the park:
What a view – notice the oil rigs:
Our last stop was the wildlife refuge and the Fort Morgan beaches.
Cute little places on the beach:
Beautiful, isn’t it. (The last four pictures are for my cousin Beth. Hang in there, spring is coming – )
We continued our road trip by heading into Gulf Shores. It is very much like a tourist beach town. Gosh, just to park was $6.00 (nope, not for me). So we continued on and made our way home.
What a nice road trip on a beautiful sunny day.