As most of you know I am somewhat of a history buff and appreciate our nations events and past. So when I was contacted by Global Marketing Solutions, who manages Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (Alabama) Tourism’s blogger outreach program, in regard to covering the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay celebration, I couldn’t respond quick enough!
This illustrious Naval Battle was an effort by the Union forces to capture the last major port not occupied by the Union Forces. Fort Morgan was on one side of the Bay entrance and Fort Gaines on the other side or entrance to the Bay. The actual battle transpired on August 5th 1864 and involved 5500 Union soldiers and 1500 Confederate forces. The Union Naval forces were led by Rear Admiral David Farragut famous for his quote “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”, as the battle commenced. The Confederates had planted torpedoes below the surface in an effort to destroy ships from the Union Naval forces. The Confederate Naval forces were led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan.
The first night Friday August 1, 2014 was dedicated to the artillery displays, with several cannons re-enacting firing on the Union Naval Fleets. The cannon were fired with the primer, a shot, copper tube filled with powder, which was inserted into the gun’s touchhole with priming wire. Spiking a gun to prevent its use by the enemy was frequently accomplished by driving priming wire, into the gun’s touchhole and bending it with the rammer. Once the touchhole was blocked the gun could not be fired. At Fort Morgan, the touchholes were probably blocked with long, thin metal spikes which would have had to been drilled out, after the eventual surrender of the Confederate forces.
I was able to capture several rounds from the cannons on video and at times the blast literally shook you enough to make one stumble. I was glad to see that the event had safety in mind and kept informing all viewers to remain behind the stripes in the parking lot across from the area where the cannons were fired. Amazingly, many individuals still tried to walk right up in the middle of the action for a close up photo. One young lady journalist kept sneaking around to the side and trying to capture the flames as they exited the cannons. Every time she was apprehended and instructed to move back. Personally I would have gotten very upset, as she could have been substantially harmed and had no regard for her own safety.
It was my first exposure to the period costumes and the fact that many of the re-enactors follow a circuit and make many events each year. They definitely are enamored with this period of history and I was flabbergasted at the financial aspects involved in attending these functions and outfitting themselves. Sometimes they are asked to ensure they have uniforms or costumes for both sides, so double the cost in effect.
I was thoroughly impressed by the event staff and the quality and quantity of the participants. Authenticity was the word of the day. Most of the re-enactors would not have been caught dead with a outfit that didn’t fit the period or the time frame of The Battle of Mobile Bay. After the cannon firing Bobby Horton, a Birmingham, Alabama native performed Civil War-era music. He is known for his authentic Civil War recordings performed with instruments from that era.
***This trip was partially sponsored by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism