Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Battle of Mobile Bay

Marker ID:  
Location: on the grounds of Fort Morgan State Historic Park, 51 Highway 180 West, Gulf Shores, AL
County: Baldwin
Coordinates: N 30° 13.688    W 088° 1.404
  30.22813333    -88.0234
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


The Battle of Mobile Bay
“Now I Am In The Humor, I Will Have It Out!”
Civil War Trail Battle for Mobile Bay

As the Hartford and Brooklyn steamed into the lower bay, the Tennessee tried to ram both in succession but was too slow and had to let them pass. Admiral Buchanan then exchanged broadsides with the rest of Admiral Farragut's ships as they ran into the Bay.

At the same time, the Rebel gunboats Selma, Gaines, and Morgan, retreating up the Bay before the advancing ships, imposed a galling fire upon the enemy for fifteen minutes.

When the Federals won space to maneuver, the course of the battle changed. The Metacomet, cut loose from the Hartford, chased the Selma up the Bay. The Gaines, badly damaged, hauled off, followed by the Morgan. The Selma resisted the Metacomet valiantly but soon had to surrender to the Union gunboat. The Gaines, attempting to shelter under the guns of Fort Morgan, sank before she could reach safety. Only the Morgan escaped.

When Lieutenant Murphy of the Selma went aboard the Metacomet to surrender, he offered her commander, J. E. Jouett, his sword. Jouett, an old friend, took the sword hurriedly and exclaimed,"Pat, don't make a fool of yourself. I have had a bottle on ice for the last half hour!” Jouett, who had been planning this for days, treated his friend to a sumptuous breakfast of oysters, crabs, and beefsteaks.

Buchanan drew off and returned to Fort Morgan, having done much harm to the Federals but taking little damage himself. Advised not to renew the struggle, Buchanan said,"No I will be killed or taken prisoner, and now I am in the humor, I will have it out at once.” As Buchanan approached the Union anchorage, Farragut, aware that he must capture or destroy the monster ram or lose the Bay, scrambled his fleet against the Tennessee and again jumped into the rigging. The Monongahela, Lackawanna, and Hartford rammed the Rebel ironclad and fired broadsides at her in vain but did much damage to themselves. The Lackawanna"tore to atoms her solid oak bow for six feet as if it had been paper” and took a shell that exploded on her berthing deck, wiping out the powder division and catching the magazine afire. But before the Tennessee struck the Hartford, she was beset by the Manhattan.

[Splinters were pieces of wood or iron knocked loose from ships and sent flying by shot and shell. They were often quite large and were always deadly.]

“…A hideous-looking monster came creeping up on our port side, whose slowly revolving turret revealed the cavernous depth of a mammoth gun. 'Stand clear of the port side!' I shouted. A moment after a thundering report shook us all, while a blast of dense, sumptuous smoke covered our portholes, and 440 pounds of iron, impelled by 60 pounds of powder, admitted daylight through our side where, before it struck us, there had been over two feet of solid wood, covered with five inches of solid iron.”
Lieutenant A. D. Wharton, aboard the Tennessee

After hitting the Hartford, the ram turned to the south and took fire from the Brooklyn and the Lackawanna. By now the monitors Chickasaw and Winnebago came up and began banging away at the Confederate ship. The Chickasaw, firing solid and steel shot from only fifty yards away, hit the Tennessee's stern casement eleven times in thirty minutes. Iron splinters went flying through the ship, killing and wounding several men, including Buchanan, whose leg was broken. Four of ten of the Tennessee's gun port shutters were jammed, her smoke stack was knocked down, and her rudder chains were cut. Surrounded by no fewer than seven ships and unable to steer, fire or even move, the Tennessee's Captain, Commander James D. Johnston, with Buchanan's permission, surrendered his ship at 10:00 a.m.

Erected by Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. (Marker Number Stop C2.)

End of The Battle of Mobile Bay