Fort Morgan on the Mobile Bay in Alabama exemplifies the utilitarianism and functionality of military architecture during the 19th century. Named for Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan, the fort was opened in 1843. Eight days before Alabama seceded from the Union, Colonel John B. Todd took four companies of volunteer men and captured the fort before dawn on January 3, 1861. Fort Morgan enabled the Confederate army to embolden their defense of Mobile Bay, a key victory in inhibiting Union enforcement of crushing blockade against Alabama. Fort Morgan was able to provide suppressing fire for Confederate blockade runners. All 17 vessels that ran out of the bay eluded capture, as did 19 of the 21 that attempted to enter Alabama via Mobile Bay. Unfortunately for the Confederate army, during the Battle of Mobile Bay, Fort Morgan was eventually captured by the Union army, as the last Confederate stronghold on the Bay. On August 23, 1864, Confederate General Richard L. Page felt compelled to surrender the fort to Union soldiers. After Fort Morgan was in Union hands, it became a useful base for reconnaissance raids and as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, both occurring days before General Robert E. Lee's formal surrender at Appomattox, thus ending the Civil War.
Fort Morgan in the Civil War
What Grant Funding Did for Fort Morgan
Federal funding for Fort Morgan enabled numerous repairs. Because Fort Morgan is considered by scholars as "one of the finest examples of military architecture in the New World," it was important to the Alabama Historical Commission to maintain its historical and architectural integrity. The fort is a historic masonry star fort, therefore, a study of the masonry was first conducted in order to allow the repairs to be completed with the highest level of authenticity. The grant funding was then used to complete the physical repairs needed at the fort, thereby allowing it to maintain its exemplary status as a gem of military architecture from the nineteenth century.