THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY
USS MOBILE BAY takes its name from the famous Civil War naval battle between Union
forces under the command of Admiral David Farragut, and Confederate forces, under
Admiral Franklin Buchanan. As "Freedom's Flagship," MOBILE BAY proudly carries on
the tradition of patriotism and courage displayed by the ships and sailors in the historic
battle.
By 1864, Mobile, Alabama, was the last Gulf Coast port of any consequence still
remaining in Confederate hands. The only entrance to Mobile Bay was a channel
running between Forts Morgan and Gaines, reduced to a width of 150 yards by
Confederate mines and obstructions. Such Southern strategy forced Admiral Farragut
to place his eighteen-ship force within easy range of Fort Morgan's heavy guns.
Embarked in the flagship USS HARTFORD just outside Mobile Bay, Farragut scrutinized
the forts and other bay defenses, sending in small boats by night to chart obstructions
and mines.
Admiral Buchanan, the ranking officer of the Confederate Navy, was ordered to Mobile
from Hampton Roads, Virginia, following his battle with USS MONITOR. He began to
frantically work to organize a fleet in hopes of countering the imminent Union attack. The
monitor CSS TENNESSEE had been floated down river to receive armor. Along with the
monitor came three small, old wooden gunboats: MORGAN, GAINES, and SELMA. The
group of four Confederate ships was all that stood between the Union Fleet and the port
of Mobile.
On the morning of 5 August 1864, the Federal Fleet, led by the monitor TECUMSEH,
entered the channel. Abreast of Fort Morgan, TECUMSEH veered from its course and
dashed at TENNESSEE. When just 100 yards from TENNESSEE, TECUMSEH ran into a
mine that exploded and ripped out its bottom. The ship sank almost instantly, its stern
rising out of the water so that the propeller was seen turning in the air as it slipped
beneath the waves. The battle line broke and ships backed up on one another. With fire
from Fort Morgan raining upon them, they tangled in the channel. Then Farragut,
lashed in the rigging of the HARTFORD, "damned the torpedoes" and moved into the
bay at full speed.
TENNESSEE and its three tiny gunboats moved down to meet them, 20 guns against
200, and four ships against seventeen. MORGAN, GAINES, and SELMA were quickly
out-of-action, leaving TENNESSEE to stand alone against the entire Union Fleet.
Farragut's ships converged upon the great ironclad, firing broadsides and ramming it at
full speed with their prows. After two hours, TENNESSEE was dead in the water, its
steering gone and stack shot away, filling the gun-deck with suffocating heat and
flames. Only then did the wounded Admiral Buchanan give the order to surrender.
TENNESSEE's colors came down, concluding one of the most important battles in the
Civil War.


A combined Union force initiated operations to close Mobile Bay to blockade running.
Some Union forces landed on Dauphin Island and laid siege to Fort Gaines. On August
5, Farragut's Union fleet of eighteen ships entered Mobile Bay and received a
devastating fire from Forts Gaines and Morgan and other points.  After passing the
forts, Farragut forced the Confederate naval forces, under Adm. Franklin Buchanan, to
surrender, which effectively closed Mobile Bay. By August 23, Fort Morgan, the last big
holdout, fell, shutting down the port. The city, however, remained uncaptured.
At Mobile, a small but powerful squadron of ironclads and gunboats, commanded by
Adm. Franklin Buchanan,
Buchanan, Franklin
1800–1874, American naval officer, b. Baltimore. Appointed a midshipman in 1815,
Buchanan rose to be a commander in 1841. He was chief adviser to Secretary of the
Navy George Bancroft in planning the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and was its first
superintendent (1845–47). In Sept., 1861, he took the rank of captain in the
Confederate navy, commanding the Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) against the Union
blockading squadron in Hampton Roads (March 8, 1863). Wounded in that
engagement, he took no part in the battle of the Monitor and Merrimack the next day.
Promoted to ranking officer in the Confederate navy, he was forced to surrender to
David G. Farragut in the battle of Mobile Bay (Aug. 5, 1864).
achieved this defensive objective with great effectiveness by keeping a large Union
blockading fleet at bay for three and one-half years. This tactic allowed scores of
blockade runners to enter and leave Mobile Bay, almost with impunity.
The vast quantity of war material and supplies brought in by these fast, sleek vessels
contributed greatly to the effectiveness of Southern armies and, no doubt, prolonged
the war. Although military victory was virtually impossible for the Confederacy after
Gettysburg, a negotiated peace settlement remained a possibility.
The South's obstinacy, together with mounting Union casualties and the wartime
suppression of civil liberties, resulted in widespread discontent throughout the North. So
great was the unrest that President Lincoln faced possible defeat in the November
election of 1864. If Lincoln lost, the Democrats, prompted by a strong peace faction,
were prepared to negotiate with the Confederates.
In the spring of 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, the newly appointed general-in-chief of all
Northern armies, knew that time was running out for the Union. Only a succession of
victories would keep Lincoln in the White House and prolong the war until the South was
ready to stop fighting. Grant did something that somehow had eluded his predecessors:
He developed a plan for a coordinated, simultaneous offensive by all Union forces -
army and navy - to bring the South to its knees. Grants objectives were twofold: a thrust
into the South's heartland via Atlanta and Mobile; and continuous, unrelenting pressure
on Robert E. Lee's army in Virginia.
The only advantage the Confederates had was the 180 mines that blocked the channel,
their effectiveness attested to by the loss of the powerful ironclad Tecumseh. During the
Civil War, it had been demonstrated that forts and earthworks could damage ships, but
the had difficulty sinking them, particularly if ships were moving. As such, Farragut was
reasonably certain that he could withstand the fire of Fort Morgan and pass into the
bay, which was after all, his primary objective. The mines, however, caused him concern
even though he had a good reason to believe that most of them were duds.
When the Confederate ram Tennessee surrendered around 10:15 a.m., following its
final, single-handed foray against 17 ships, the Battle of Mobile Bay ended. Just as the
Germans would do 52 years later after their defeat at Jutland, the Confederacy took
solace in the damage and casualty comparisons; two Union ships sunk (Tecumseh and
Philippi), totaling 2,411 tons, compared with the Confederate loss of one ship sunk
(Gaines)
CSS GAINES was hastily constructed by the Confederates at Mobile, Ala., during 1861-
62, from unseasoned wood which was partially covered with 2- inch iron plating. GAINES
resembled CSS MORGAN except that she had high pressure boilers. Operating in the
waters of Mobile Bay, under the command of Lt. J. W. Bennett, CSN, she fought gallantly
during the battle of 5 August 1864 until finally run aground by her own officers to avoid
surrender to the Union forces.
and two captured (Selma and  Tennessee), totaling 2,456 tons - an even swap. A
comparison of killed and wounded, however, overwhelmingly favored the Confederacy -
13 to 145 killed and 20 to 170 wounded, for an overall casualty exchange of one to 10.
But the winner of a battle is the side that commands and holds the territory after the last
shot is fired. By this standard, Mobile Bay was an undisputed Union victory. Neither the
dramatic escape of the Confederate gunboat Morgan
CSS MORGAN was a partially armored gunboat built at Mobile, Ala. in 1861-62. She
operated in the waters around Mobile from the time of her completion early in 1862 to
the close of hostilities. One reference of October 1862 gave her name as ADMIRAL.
MORGAN, Comdr. G. W. Harrison, CSN, took an active part in the battle of Mobile Bay
on 5 August 1864. Situated well to the right of the Confederate line of battle as the
enemy proceeded up the channel she was able to deliver a telling broadside raking fire
against USS HARTFORD and others. Toward the end of the engagement she was
pursued by USS METACOMET but succeeded in driving her off. MORGAN, attempting
to avoid capture, then turned toward shallow water, grounded briefly, but continued on
her perilous route and reached the guns at Fort Morgan. She dispatched a boat which
effected the destruction of a Union gunboat PHILIPPI below the fort. Captain Harrison
then saved MORGAN by boldly running the gauntlet up to Mobile. Although hotly
pursued and shelled by cruisers for a large part of the 26-mile star-light voyage, she
reached the outer obstructions near Mobile at daybreak and that afternoon was
permitted to pass through.
nor the brief defiance of Fort Morgan offset the presence of nearly 40 Union warships,
transports and supply vessels that now moved freely around the waters of Mobile Bay,
Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.


      
 Land Operations-Mobile Campaign: March 17-April 12, 1865
                                    CONFEDERATE FORCES
(Approximately 12,000 troops.)
Maj. Gen. Dabney H. Maury
(Commanding District of the Gulf)
Thomas's Brigade
Brig. Gen. Bryan M. Thomas
1st Alabama Reserves-Col. Daniel E. Huger
2nd Alabama Reserves-Lt. Col. Junius A. Law
21st Alabama Infantry-Lt. Col. James M. Williams
Gibson's Brigade
Brig. Gen. Randall L. Gibson
1st, 16th & 20th Louisiana Infantry-Lt. Col. Robert H. Lindsay
4th Louisiana (battalion) & 25th Louisiana Infantry-Col. Francis C. Zacharie
19th Louisiana Infantry-Maj. Camp Flourney
4th, 13th, 30th Louisiana Infantry- --- ---
Battalion Sharpshooters-Col. Francis L. Campbell
Taylor's Command
Col. Thomas H. Taylor
City Battalion & Special Service (4 Cos.)-Maj. William Hartwell
Pelham Cadets Battalion-Capt. P. Williams, Jr.
Holtzclaw's Brigade
Brig. Gen. James T. Holtzclaw
18th Alabama Infantry-Capt. A. C. Greene
32nd & 58th Alabama Infantry-Col. Bushrod Jones
36th Alabama Infantry-Col. Thomas H. Herndon
38th Alabama Infantry-Capt. Charles E. Bussey
Sappers & Miners
Capt. L. Hutchinson
Hutchinson's company-Lt. R. Middleton
Vernon's company-Lt. J. Armstrong
French's Division
Brig. Gen. Francis M. Cockrell
Cockrell's Brigade
Col. James McCown
1st & 3rd Missouri Cavalry (dismounted)- Capt. Joseph H. Neal
1st & 4th Missouri Infantry-Capt. Charles L. Edmondson
2nd and 6th Missouri Infantry-Lt. Col. Stephen Cooper
3rd & 5th Missouri Infantry-Capt. Benjamin E. Guthrie
Steede's (Mississippi) Cavalry battalion-Maj. Abner C. Steede
Abbay's battery-Capt. George F. Abbay
Ector's Brigade
Col. David Coleman
29th North Carolina Infantry-Capt. John W. Gudger
39th North Carolina Infantry-Maj. Paschal C. Hughes
9th Texas Infantry-Col. Miles A. Dillard
10th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)-Capt. Jacob Ziegler
14th Texas Cavalry (dismounted)-Lt. Col. Abram Harris
32nd Texas Cavalry (dismounted)-Capt. Nathan Anderson
Sears's Brigade
Col. Thomas N. Adaire
4th Mississippi Infantry-Maj. Thomas P. Nelson
7th Mississippi Infantry (battalion)-Capt. Samuel D. Harris
35th Mississippi Infantry-Capt. George W. Oden
36th Mississippi Infantry-Lt. Col. Edward Brown
39th Mississippi Infantry-Capt. C. W. Gallaher
46th Mississippi Infantry-Capt. J. A. Barwick
Clanton's Brigade
Brig. Gen. James H. Clanton
3rd Alabama Reserves-Major Strickland
6th Alabama Cavalry-Lt. Col. Washington T. Lary
8th Alabama Cavalry-Lt. Col. Thomas L. Faulkner
Keyser's detachment-Capt. Joseph C. Keyser
Armistead's Cavalry Brigade
Col. Charles G. Armistead
8th Alabama Cavalry-Col. Charles P. Ball
16th Confederate-Lt. Col. Philip B. Spence
Lewis's battalion-Maj. William V. Harrell
Maury's Command
Col. Henry Maury
15th Confederate-Col. Henry Maury
Tobin's battery-Capt. Thomas F. Tobin
ARTILLERY RESERVES, ETC.
Left Wing, Defenses of Mobile
Col. Charles A. Fuller
Artillery
Maj. Henry A. Clinch
1st Louisiana (Co. C)-Capt. John H. Lamon
1st Louisiana (Co. I)-Capt. Edward G. Butler
Coffin's (Virginia) battery-Lt. J. B> Humphreys
State Reserves-Capt. William H. Homer
State Reserves-Lt. R. H. Bush
Barry's battery-Lt. Richard L. Watkins
Young's battery-Capt. Alfred J. Young
Batteries
Lt. Col. L. Hoxton
Dent's battery-Capt. Staunton H. Dent
Douglas's battery-Lt. Ben Hardin
Eufaula battery-Lt. William H. Woods
Fenner's battery-Lt. W. T. Cluverius
Garrity's battery-Capt. James Garrity
Rice's battery-Capt. T. W. Rice
Thrall's battery-Capt. James C. Thrall
Right Wing, Defenses of Mobile
Col. Melancthon Smith
Trueheart's Battalion
Capt. Charles L. Lumsden
Lovelace's battery-Lt. William M. Selden
Lumsden's battery-Lt. A. C. Hargrove
Cobb's Battalion
Capt. Cuthbert H. Slocomb
Phillip's battery-Capt. J. W. Phillips
Ritter's battery-Capt. William L. Ritter
Slocomb's battery-Lt. J. Ad. Chalaron
Gee's Battalion
Maj. James T. Gee
Perry's battery-Capt. Thomas J. Perry
Phelan's battery-Capt. John Phelan
Turner's battery-Capt. William B. Turner
1st Alabama Artillery (detachment)-Lt. P. Lee Hammond
Grayson's Battalion
Capt. John B. Grayson
Cowan's battery-Capt. James J. Cowan
Culpeper's battery-Lt. J. L. Moses
Tarrant's battery-Capt. Edward Tarrant
Winston's battery-Capt. William C. Winston
BATTERIES, ETC.
Col. William E. Burnet
Battery McIntosh
Maj. W. C. Capers
1st Louisiana Artillery (Co. A & D)
1st Mississippi Artillery (Co. L)
Battery Gladden
Capt. Richard C. Bond
2nd Alabama Artillery (Co. C & E)
1st Louisiana Artillery (Co. B & G)
Battery Tilghman
Green's (Kentucky) battery-Lt. H. S. Quisenberry
Battery Missouri
Capt. James Gibney
22nd Louisiana Regiment (Co. E & K)
Holmes's light battery
Picket Fleet
1st Mississippi Artillery (4 Cos.)-Maj. Jeff. L. Wofford
Battery Buchanan
Crew-Gun Boat Gaines-Capt. P. U. Murphy, C.S. Navy
3rd Missouri Light Artillery-Lt. T. B. Catron.

                                                         
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