The History Behind Fort Morgan, Alabama

Tucked away on the southern edge of Alabama at the mouth of Mobile Bay lies Fort Morgan, an illustration of rich and epic Civil War-era history.

To get to Fort Morgan, you have to head to the very end of the peninsula, past Gulf Shores beachfront rental homes, and further on through the mangroves until the land becomes water.

Thousands come every year to visit this majestic, though rustic, 19th-century fort.

So, what makes Fort Morgan one of the best attractions for visitors to Gulf Shores? This iconic fort is an open book of tales of war and adventure. Simply read the plaques on the walls and speak with the staff, and walk through the fort’s rooms and hallways to unveil this vivid piece of American history.


Building the Fort

The fort was built to support the sea defense in the northern Gulf following the War of 1812. While the initial concept and planning began in 1818, it took 16 years for the building to be fully erected, partially because those building it kept falling ill. Lieut. Cornelius Ogden finally completed the fort’s construction in 1934, but he left shortly after to pursue work in Florida.

Fort Morgan and the Civil War

With the fort officially constructed, it spent decades manned and well-stocked. But the onset of the Civil War in the late 1800s gave the fort new importance.

A week after Alabama declared secession from the Union, a group of volunteer soldiers, led by Col. John B. Todd, took over the fort. This domination served one purpose: to secure the Gulf of Mexico from invading parties. Col. Todd was able to build a significant stronghold over Mobile Bay and the northern gulf thanks to Fort Morgan.

He blocked major interior passageways with an impressive cannon arsenal. Blockade runners were well-protected leaving the bay, and incoming vessels were easily apprehended in their attempt to enter. The fort was even a lookout for land observation, more than once proving useful in spotting and apprehending enemy spies.

Trading Hands

Towards the end of the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, naval forces from the Union managed to overtake the fort by sea, opening the door for Union troops to ambush Fort Gaines a little further inland, just over the border in the state of Georgia.

The Union maintained control of the fort until the end of the war, using it primarily as a home base for surveillance and for preparation for the Battle of Fort Blakeley.

The Quiet Century

Following the Civil War, the fort was hardly used. It was well-stocked for the Spanish-American War but saw little action. The fort underwent five battery installments and was stationed with enough men to avoid being captured during the war.

In the intervening years, the fort was used almost exclusively as a training base. It was an invaluable training resource during the First World War, and again for coast artillery training during the Second World War.

Plan Your Adventure

With gorgeous beaches, family fun, and tons of historic sites to see, Fort Morgan is a truly exciting vacation destination. Book your trip today and make some incredible memories with your family!

Fort Morgan Today

Fort Morgan became a National Historic Landmark in 1960. One of the main attractions in the fort is the Totten Hotshot Furnace, where iron was heated to make cannonballs. Tours are available, though not necessary. The fort sits on an open field and features simple, winding pathways, so you can enjoy ocean views as you ponder the past.

The fort officially seized all operations in 1944 following World War II and is now open to the public as a historic site and tourist destination. The fort is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Civil War saw Fort Morgan at its peak. It was an era of unending controversy and bloodshed that today is a historic wonder. Visit one of the best Gulf Shores attractions on your next Alabama vacation, and experience this prominent preservation of American history.

If you are interested in seeing the fort for yourself, contact us at 800-959-7326. Explore our available Gulf Shores rental homes with a pool and get access to Fort Morgan, an impressive fort that oozes Civil War history.