To get to Fort Morgan, you must first drive through about twenty miles of tangled vegetation and sand dunes to the very end of a narrow spit of land that stands guard across Mobile Bay. The peninsula is hardly more than a sandbar at some points, and remote–defenseless against storm, salt, and southern sun. It is hard to imagine how hundreds of people worked and survived out here while the fort was under construction between 1819 and 1834.
Battles fought and lost…
While battles had been fought on this sand since the war of 1812, the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War is the one the fort is most known for. Walking around, you can almost hear the footsteps of the soldiers as they run to load the cannons and brace for impact. The siege lasted from August 5 to August 23 of 1864. The walls of the fort still bear the scars of the cannons…
Fort Morgan was in service through WWI and WWII as well, but has been largely abandoned now for over half a century.
The fort is full of echoes–breezes–the sound of dripping water. It has suffered the ravages of two centuries of hurricanes, heat, and briney sea air. Years have woven moss, salt formations, weathered brick, and sand into a strange and colorful tapestry. The shadowy casemates of Fort Morgan sometimes open up into grassy courtyards or sometimes into dead ends.
Everything contributes to kind of an eerie ambiance.
A troubled history…
One room in particular felt ominous. The walls inside the room are covered in dark, sooty hand prints. One lone white hand print is eye-level on the interior face of the door. I couldn’t find any information about the origin of these hand prints on the internet, but one reviewer said they had been there since at least the 1970s. Common sense would say they’re just a bit of vandalism, but…..
Let me just mention that the fort was constructed through leased slave labor. And the on-site museum contains artifacts from a freak cannon accident that blew a commander’s head to pieces (a twisted fragment of his upper denture remains on display)…and I’ll let your imagination do the rest.
If you go to Fort Morgan….
Fort Morgan is open to the public from 8AM-5PM daily with admission of $7.00 per adult (discounts for kids, seniors, and veterans). A gift shop and museum is on the premises with A/C and water, but the fort itself is very open to the weather so come prepared!