"The Shells Were Bursting All Around Us"

"The Shells Were Bursting All Around Us" (HM1MXY)

Location: Gulf Shores, AL 36542 Baldwin County
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Country: United States of America
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N 30° 13.716', W 88° 1.147'

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The Siege of Fort Morgan:

— Stop C4 —

After the surrender of Fort Gaines, U.S. General Gordon Granger prepared to besiege Fort Morgan. On August 9, 1864, he moved by transport to Navy Cove and debarked 2,000 men and his siege equipment at the Pilot Town wharf. By 2:00 p.m. he had occupied a line of 2,000 yards from the fort. That afternoon Farragut bombarded Morgan for several hours from a distance of one thousand yards, and, under a flag of truce, demanded its unconditional surrender. C.S. General Richard Page, though he had no more than 600 men, refused.

From a distance Fort Morgan looked like a pile of sand. But it was no secret that its brick would crumble if hit often enough by the heavy shells the Federals would throw at it, despite its forty foot sand glacis. Inadequate traverse and weak casemates left the men vulnerable, so the garrison worked day and night to strengthen them. Still, the casemates remainded unsafe: "...the shells have no respect for them & roll out of pleasure," noted Page's aide, First Lieutenant Joseph Wilkinson.

Granger's army, by the end of the siege numbering 5,500 men, moved steadily forward. The Yankees completed their first parallel on August 10 and mounted their siege guns, including naval battery. On the 15th they started their second parallel, five to seven hundred yards from the fort. By the 21st the Union sappers approached to within 200 yards of the glacis. Their big guns moved even closer.

After August 9, both sides worked continually under fire from cannon and sharpshooters. At times the bombardment was desultory; at others, intense. But the fire from the monitors seemed always accurate. It frequently struck the ramparts or exploded in the fort. The greatest danger to the men was from flying bricks. "When a shell strikes, they shower in every direction," wrote Lieutenant Wilkinson. Granger's sharpshooters, noted CS Lieutenant Hurieosco Austill, sent "a continuous stream of bullets over the fort." Confederate skirmishers answered in kind, and the Confederate batteries, according to Samuel Crawford of the 20th Iowa, "appeared to be terrible full of fight."

On August 22 the Federals fleet encircled the fort and a furious twenty four hour bombardment began from land and sea. According to one observer, once the Yankee artillerymen got the range, every shell they fired went into the fort, dismounting guns, partially breaching walls, and starting fires. The citadel caught fire and, burning fiercely, threatened the magazine. Page had all the powder brought out and poured into the cisterns.

"This was a terrible job. The powder was in kegs, These we had to roll under the flames of the citadel and knock the heads in, then pour the contents in the cisterns. All this time enemy kept up a continual fire from land and sea. The shells were bursting all around us. by one o'clock we had all the powder under water. There was not enough dry powder to shoot a musket."
Robert B. Tarpley, 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery

At daylight on August 23, Page inspected his casemates and realized that further bombardment would collapse the walls and "inflict great loss of life, there being no bomb-proof in the fort." He raised a white flag at 6:30 in the morning and surrendered unconditionally at 2:00 p.m. on August 23, 1864.
Marker NumberStop C4
Placed ByCivil War Trail Battle for Mobile Bay
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, August 16th, 2015 at 1:03pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16R E 401932 N 3344555
Decimal Degrees30.22860000, -88.01911667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 30° 13.716', W 88° 1.147'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds30° 13' 42.96" N, 88° 1' 8.82" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)251
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 10 AL-180, Gulf Shores AL 36542, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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