Sunday, March 6, 2011

Confederate Battle Flag of Fort Morgan

The Battle of Mobile Bay was a naval battle fought on August 5, 1864. Commanding the Union forces was Admiral David Farragut, while Admiral Franklin Buchanan led the Confederate fleet. The battle took place off the coast of Alabama, at the mouth of Mobile Bay, which was defended by two Confederate forts, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, and by a torpedo field (in modern terms, a minefield) that created a single narrow channel for blockade runners to enter and exit the bay.

The biggest challenge for Farragut was entering the bay. With 18 vessels, he commanded far greater firepower than the Confederate fleet of four. The Union fleet suffered the first major loss when the USS Tecumseh was critically damaged by an exploding torpedo after it wandered into the field. Within three minutes, the vessel was completely submerged. 94 men went down with the ship. Under fire from both the Confederate fleet and Fort Morgan, Farragut had to choose between retreating or risking the minefield. He then issued his famous order, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

Farragut took his flagship through the minefield safely, followed by the rest of the fleet. When Union fleet reached the bay, they defeated the Confederate flotilla led by the giant ironclad CSS Tennessee. Buchanan surrendered to Farragut aboard the USS Hartford. After several weeks of bombardment from land and sea resulting in severe damage to Fort Morgan with the citadel being burned and the walls severely damaged by shot and shell, the Confederate Commander General Page surrendered Fort Morgan on August 23rd, 1864 to Federal forces.

This flag relic came from a small section of the Confederate flag shot down over Fort Morgan and retrieved by Fleet Surgeon James C. Palmer upon entry into the Fort by Union forces and is authenticated by his note seen on the accompanying certificate.

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