The entrance into the interior of the fort is gained through a doorway called a Sally Port. Sally Ports frequently have intricate designs that set them apart from the utilitarian design of the fort itself. The date the fort is commissioned is usually placed over the Sally Port. This is a fine example of a Sally Port.
This battery was built in 1899 and house two 4.7 inch quick-fire guns. The battery overlooked the part of the bay where mines were usually emplaced and prevented mine-sweeping ships from clearing the mines.
The building in the right foreground is the hothouse furnace. The cannonballs were heated in here until they were red hot. This meant that when they hit wooden ships they not only damaged the ship but set them on fire. This practice discontinued when metal ships were built.
This concrete gun emplacement was installed during the upgrades between 1898 and 1899. It housed two 12-inch, breech-loading "disappearing Rifles". The gun used 268 pounds of explosive to fire a 1046-pound shell 8 1/2 miles.
These rooms stored the large amounts of black powder required by the fort. The fort had two magazines originally but a third was added in 1870. In 1864 the fort had 60,000 pounds of black powder stored here.
Fort Morgan had what was called a dry moat but it served the same purpose as a regular moat; making it more difficult for the enemy to gain access to the inside of the fort. There were firing positions built into the bastions from where the soldiers could fire on any enemy trying to cross the dry moat.
The cleared ground sloping up to the fort walls is called a Glacis. It helped protect the fort, and its occupants, from gunfire. You will normally see seven flags on display near the entrance representing the groups that controlled the area: France, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, the Alabama Militia, the Confederacy, and the state of Alabama.
There was a guide to the fort, which had numbered stations on it. The first photo shows the back of one of the number signs. The fifth photo has station number 8 and the sign at that station is photo #2.
That sign says: "The Citadel
(1821 - 1865)
The Citadel a large ten sided brick and wood structure, once dominated the Fort's parade ground. Capable of housing 400 soldiers, it served as a defensive barracks for the Fort's garrison.
During the Union bombardment of Fort Morgan on August 22nd 1864 the Citadel roof caught fire and burned out of control. Following the Civil War the structure's gutted ruins were demolished."
But I did them backwards. Battery Schenck (photo1 and 3) sign said "3" Rapid Fire Gun ..(1899-1923)" Battery Schenck, designed to protect the channel entrance from small warships, initialy [sic] mounted two 3" rapid fire guns. A third gun was emplaced in 1903. By 1920, the U.S. Army no longer considered Battery Schenck vital to the coast defense mission and removed two guns. The remaining weapon was removed in 1923 when the Army pulled out of Fort Morgan.
I saw Battery Thomas next, and then I came to a sign (Photo 4) which said "After the surrender of Fort Morgan on 23 August 1864 Union photographers recorded the damage inflicted on the fort during the siege. This photograph, taken from approximately this spot, shows the damage done to this side of the fort, primarily by the monitors of the Union fleet."
I saw some folks coming down the stairs from the top section of the fort, so I climbed up. It was still foggy, so I couldn't see much. The fort had numbered information points, and I discovered that I was going backwards from at Battery Schenck (1899-1923) and Battery Thomas When I was high up on the walls, I could see the beach in front of the fort the present skeleton tower lighthouse and the parking lot of the Visitor's Center, but not across the bay to the other fort and I couldn't really see even to the top of the tower very well.
Now, I couldn't figure out how to get down. Apparently I missed a turn somewhere. I saw Bob cross the dry moat and called to him, and he said just to come down the brick ramp. But it was quite steep - It was not was really meant for people to climb up and down it, it was to get ammunition up to the cannons on the ramparts - and I thought I might slip and fall, so I was cautious.
Fort Morgan was built in 1832, but it wasn't named until 1833. The handrails on the edges of some areas were bent, and wiggly with sharp rusted edges. They not only provided no support, but I think could injure someone. The bricks had great amounts of efflorescence and some areas like the stonework above the sally port were stained with black - probably mold. Not damage that I would attribute to the hurricanes - more to general neglect.
I caught up to Bob on the parade ground in front of a sign about the Citadel (1821-1865) which had housed up to 400 soldiers at this spot. It burned at the end of 1864 and no longer exists except in photographs.
Bob went on up to the walls of the fort where I had been (only he went the correct way to go up - not the way I came down and it had cleared a little so he could see the light at the top of the tower), and I looked at the reconstructed commissary and ammunition stores. We exited the fort about 4:42, and drove out of the park grounds at 4:47. It got even foggier on the way back.
Fort open Nov. 1–Mar. 31 8–5, Apr. 1–Oct. 31 8–7; museum year-round 9–5.
The Visitor's Center had some exhibits on the various local lighthouses including two fresnel lenses one of which was the 2nd order lens from Sand Island Light which was taken out an buried during the Civil War. The keeper's quarters were washed away during the hurricane of 1906 drowning the keeper and his wife. The other lighthouse - Mobile Bay light - was severely damaged during the Civil War by Union shelling. There was a furnace next to it for heating cannon balls to use against the wooden ships of the day.
The rest of the information was about the Civil War. The fort was the source of the famous Admiral Farragut quote, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". The Mobile harbor was mined, and in those days, mines were called torpedoes. One of the first ships in the Union fleet to attempt to enter Mobile Bay was severely damaged by a mine. The admiral's decision was to try to get past the guns of the two forts guarding the bay entrance as quickly as possible regardless of the mines.
There was also a "Discovery Cove" area for children which had a interesting mural depicting various local history and landmarks.
Across from the entrance to the fort is a nice museum with several displays showing the history of the fort and the area.
Around the fort are displays showing the different types of canons and guns used through the years at the fort.
This is where they would observe the mined area of the bay and set them off when enemy ships approached.
This battery got its name because there used to be a lighthouse mounted in the center. This emplacement was built in 1843.
These flank casements are placed so that a heavy concentration of fire can be brought on any enemy soldiers attempting to cross the ditch and gain entrance to the fort.