Operations in Mobile Bay | American Battlefield Trust
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Operations in Mobile Bay

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The Union naval blockade of the Confederate coast was a critical part of the Lincoln administration’s plan to economically cripple the states in rebellion. Ships carrying cotton and other exports were to be stopped, as were ships carrying weapons and supplies for Confederate armies. Along its 3,500-mile Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, the Confederacy had hundreds of small ports used by shallow-draft blockade running vessels, but only a handful of big port cities, protected by coastal forts, where larger ships could safely load or unload goods. These larger ports became a priority for the Union naval blockade and by the end of 1863, Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans had been captured.

In the summer of 1864, the Union was ready to close Mobile Bay, Alabama, to blockade running traffic. The effort was put under the charge of Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, commander of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, who had successfully run past the forts and ironclads that protected New Orleans in 1862. Farragut led a land and sea operation that began on August 3 to reduce the forts guarding the bay, allowing Farragut to capture the Confederate fleet defending the port. Farragut successfully entered Mobile Bay on August 5 and the forts surrendered by August 23. Without the protection of the forts, the bay could no longer harbor blockade running vessels. The city of Mobile fell to a Union Army expedition under Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby eight months later after the surrender of Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort at the north end of the bay.

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Battle Map
BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama on August 5, 1864