TwHP Lessons

Fort Morgan and the
Battle of Mobile Bay

[Cover photo] Fort Morgan today.
(Fort Morgan State Historic Site)


nder the early light of dawn, Union Adm. David Farragut began his attack on Mobile Bay, Alabama. Aware of the danger near Fort Morgan, Farragut ordered his captains to stay to the "eastward of the easternmost buoy" because it was "understood that there are torpedoes and other obstructions between the buoys."¹ Unfortunately, the lead ironclad, the USS Tecumseh, unable to avoid the danger, struck a mine and sank into the oceans depths. Yet, against all odds, the seasoned admiral ordered his flagship, the Hartford, and his fleet to press forward through the underwater minefield and into Mobile Bay.

Although Farragut was a champion of the "wooden navy," he agreed to include four new ironclad ships modeled after the USS Monitor in his attack fleet. It was widely believed that these warships were unsinkable. But the Tecumseh indeed sank that summer morning, August 5, 1864, unexpectedly killing the majority of its crew and demonstrating the deadly effects of advances in technology such as the torpedo. For in the words of one Confederate soldier reminiscing on the ill-fated ship, "She careens, her bottom appears! Down, Down, Down she goes to the bottom of the channel, carrying 150 of her crew, confined within her ribs, to a watery grave."¹

¹Official Records. Navies, vol. 21, 398.
²"Fort Morgan in the Confederacy: Letter by Hurieosco Austill." Alabama Historical Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 2, (Summer 1945), 256.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. The blockaded coasts
 2. Mobile Harbor and vicinity

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The Battle of Mobile Bay
 2. The Defense of Fort Morgan:
 The Report of Brig. Gen. Richard L. Page

 3. Personal Account of the Battle of Mobile Bay
 by Harrie Webster, USS Manhattan

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Ironclad monitor
 2. USS Monitor watercolor
 3. Battle of Mobile Bay
 4. Plan of the battle
 5. The gulf side of Fort Morgan
 after the battle

 6. Lighthouse and hot shot furnace
 after the battle

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Decisions in Warfare
 2. The Perils of New Military Technology
 3. Building a Fort

Supplementary Resources

How to Use a TwHP Lesson

Lessons on Related Topics

TwHP Home

National Register Home

About the National Register

How the National Register
Helps Teachers

Contact TwHP

This lesson is based on Fort Morgan, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



Comments or Questions
Privacy & Disclaimer
Site optimized for V4.0
& above browsers

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.