Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Battle for Decatur 2 - Federal Defenses at Decatur

Marker ID:  
Location: intersection of Bank Street and Vine Street Northwest, Decatur, Alabama
County: Morgan
Coordinates: N 34° 36.746    W 086° 59.129
  34.61243333    -86.98548333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


“A Hard Nut to Crack” - Federal Defenses at Decatur
“A Hard Nut to Crack”
— The Battle For Decatur —

Decatur played a key role in the Federal defenses of the vital rail lines in North Alabama. These defenses were configured in a three-tiered system. First, a number of lightly armored gunboats, constructed on the Tennessee River and nicknamed"tinclads,” patrolled the river to intercept Confederate raiders attempting to cross. These gunboats regularly visited Decatur to obtain fuel, supplies and ammunition. The second component of the defensive line was garrisons stationed at strategic points on the Tennessee River. Finally, Federal units guarded the railroad in small stockades or blockhouses at important locations such as bridges.

The most prominent Federal garrisons in North Alabama were located at Stevenson, Bridgeport, Huntsville, and Decatur. The Federal garrison at Decatur consisted of 1,800 infantry and cavalry and 17 pieces of artillery, and was the only post south of the Tennessee River. At Decatur, substantial earthworks and two artillery forts extended in a 1,600 yard arc from river bank to river bank. Fort Number One was located on the southwestern corner of the works, and Fort Number Two was located on the southeastern corner. The area surrounding the breastworks had been cleared for 800-1,000 yards. At some points in front of the breastworks an abates had been established, as described by Orderly Sergeant Daniel L. Thomas of the 68th Indiana Infantry, “…a line of small trees, placed with the tops pointing outward, and the limbs trimmed with the sharp points toward the enemy, to check them when they were assaulting the works, so that…under a galling fire, they would become confused and retreat.” The garrison was commanded by Colonel Charles C. Doolittle, and Decatur was under the overall command of Brigadier General Robert S. Granger, responsible for all of North Alabama.

You are at the center of where Fort Number Two stood 1864-1865.

Erected by City of Decatur. (Marker Number 2.)

End of The Battle for Decatur 2 - Federal Defenses at Decatur