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Mobile Bay, Battle of

Mobile Bay, Battle of (1864).Confederate Mobile, Alabama, was a major port, ranking second to New Orleans on the gulf. After New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi fell to the Union in 1862, Adm. David Farragut moved into Mobile Bay early in August 1864, countering the most serious threat from that quarter, the formidable Confederate ironclad Tennessee.

Three wooden gunboats completed the Confederate squadron, which patrolled more than twenty miles from Mobile south to Fort Gaines on the eastern tip of Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan on the western end of Mobile Point. They guarded a three‐mile passage into the bay, which had been narrowed with pilings and a minefield to force approaching ships toward Fort Morgan.

Farragut sent 1,500 soldiers to engage Fort Gaines on the night of 4/5 August. At 5:30 A.M., a floodtide helped propel eighteen Union ships along a west‐east course toward Fort Morgan. The first rank of four turreted monitors could fire head‐on; then seven warships could fire broadside at the fort as they steered sharply to port into the bay. Lashed to the port side of each warship was a smaller gunboat with guns trained west on Fort Gaines.

Tecumseh, the lead U.S. monitor, hit a mine and sank while steaming toward the Tennessee. The lead ship Brooklin deployed nets to sweep for floating mines (then called “torpedoes”), but her commander hesitated, prompting Farragut to order his flagship Hartford forward with his legendary “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

By 10. A.M., the Union force had captured the Tennessee and routed the wooden defenders. Farragut's effort sealed off the port, and the naval victory, together with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's capturing of Atlanta a week later, contributed to the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln.
[See also Civil War: Military and Diplomatic Course; Confederate Navy; Mines, Naval; New Orleans, Siege of (1862); Union Navy.]

Bibliography

Emory M. Thomas , ‘Damn the Topedoes’: The Battle of Mobile Bay, Civil War Times Illustrated, vol. 16, no. 1 (1977), pp. 5–9;
Ivan Musicant , Divided Waters: The Naval History of the Civil War, 1995.

Maxine T. Turner

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Mobile Bay, Battle of

MOBILE BAY, BATTLE OF

MOBILE BAY, BATTLE OF (5 August 1864). A Union fleet of four monitors and fourteen wooden vessels under Adm. David G. Farragut forced an entrance into Mobile Bay in Alabama through a narrow passage protected by mines, the guns of Fort Morgan, and the iron-clad Tennessee and three small wooden gunboats, commanded by Adm. Franklin Buchanan. The Union monitor Tecumseh was sunk by a mine; "Damn the torpedoes!" cried Farragut, as his Hartford took the lead. Surrounded, the Tennessee was forced to surrender. Farragut lost fifty-two killed, ninety-three drowned, and 170 wounded. Buchanan lost twelve killed and twenty wounded. Fort Morgan surrendered on 23 August and the city of Mobile was completely blockaded.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duffy, James P. Lincoln's Admiral: The Civil War Campaigns of David Farragut. New York: Wiley, 1997.

Hearn, Chester G. Mobile Bay and the Mobile Campaign: The Last Great Battles of the Civil War. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1993.

Lewis, C. L. Admiral Franklin Buchanan. Baltimore: Norman, Remington, 1929.

Mahan, Alfred Thayer. Admiral Farragut. New York: Appleton, 1892, 1895, 1901; New York, Greenwood Press, 1968.

Charles LeeLewis/a. r.

See also"Damn the Torpedoes" ; Navy, Confederate ; Torpedo Warfare ; Warships .

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