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150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: Battle of Mobile Bay

Civil War Collection 150th Anniversary

On August 5, 1864, Union admiral David Farragut led his ships into Mobile Bay, Alabama, to battle the Confederates for control of the last major port for Confederate blockade runners.

Farragut’s force consisted of 14 wooden ships and 4 ironclad, while Mobile Bay was protected by only 3 gunboats and 1 ironclad, the Tennessee. However, the bay also had 3 forts and a field of floating mines (called torpedoes) for protection.

Farragut began his attack on the morning of the 5th, entering the bay via a route that avoided the torpedoes by instead sailing within range of Fort Morgan‘s guns, which opened fire on the Federals. However, the lead Union ironclad, which had come too near the minefield, hit a torpedo and sank, causing the next ship in line to hesitate. Farragut, tied to the flagship’s mainmast rigging at this point for a better view, uttered his now-famous order, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

The Union ships were met in the bay by the small Confederate force. The Confederate gunboats were soon forced from the battle, leaving the ironclad Tennessee to fight the Union ships by itself. The Tennessee put up a fight but was eventually too damaged to continue.

In the following weeks, the Union naval force bombarded the three Confederate forts on the bay while Federal army troops attacked from land. By the 23rd, the last fort had surrendered, leaving Mobile Bay in the control of the United States.


  1. I would like to suggest the Canada invasion began with England’s behavior on the “high seas” for some years prior.

  2. I grew up in mobile, al and my wife’s family were from near Spanish Fort one of last battles of the cival war.

  3. Mobile Bay is the final resting place of my three times great grandfather…

  4. Lived in Baldwin County (across the bay) Robertsdale, AL in the 1970’s love that area. So full of history. Spent hours at Fort Morgan. Mobile was also a very large hospital town in 1864. Confederate wounded traveled by rail road from as far away as Atlanta and other places in North Georgia.

  5. My father William Collier was born (1904) and raised on Dauphin Island. Ft Gaines was his play ground.

  6. Shameful and disgusting to Korean Veterans that you fail to list the KOREAN WAR on your Website along side WW1, WW2 and vietnam. No wonder it was the Forgotten War. There are still over eight thousand Missing and never accounted for’ If you want recognision as a History source get it right !!