On either side of the entrance to Mobile Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, a fort greets sailors and visitors. But these are not just gathering places for friends and family. Both Fort Gaines on the eastern tip of Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan on the western bank of the Fort Morgan Peninsula have storied pasts.
The echoes of history are well-preserved at both of the forts, which were utilized differently in several American wars. When you’re planning a trip to Dauphin Island, don’t forget to take the time to immerse yourself in the valiant past of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines.
The 198-year-old fort was established in 1821, and Fort Gaines is most well-known for its part in the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War.
The fort gets its name from the infamous army commander Edmund Pendleton Gaines, a multi-war hero who famously coined the phrase, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” Gaines was instrumental in the earliest days of the United States Army, fighting in several wars.
And the view from the top of the garrison is one of the best on the whole Gulf Coast! People from all over the world come to Fort Gaines to learn about the infamous Battle of Mobile Bay and enjoy the family-friendly and beautiful Dauphin Island. Weddings, parties, and scouting trips are common at this gorgeous historic monument.
Don’t delay in your visit. Due to coastal erosion, Fort Gaines has been placed on America’s Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The fort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children ages five to twelve.
In the War of 1812, this fort’s site was a nexus of activity, known as Fort Bowyer. It prevailed after a devastating attack from the British naval armada. And in the Civil War, as Fort Morgan, the fort was heavily armed and protected warships passing through the nearby channels.
There are scores of historical facts to learn about and relive when you visit Fort Morgan. In fact, about a decade ago a gigantic 90-pound Union naval shell from an 1864 Parrott rifle, which was still live, was found during a restoration initiative in 2008. Fort Morgan was active until World War II. The view from the site, which is also endangered like Fort Gaines, spans the entire bay. From there, you can see the sites of several naval battles from a slew of wars.
The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the fort is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the summers, the fort stays open until 8:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages six to twelve. Family passes and other special rates are also available.
Both forts feature special events, living history demonstrations, and battle re-enactment days.
Drive along the scenic byway of Alabama’s Coastal Connection and take the Mobile Bay Ferry to explore these today!