Thursday, February 16, 2017

An excellent day....

Our Location: Bluegrass Rv Park, Foley, Alabama

A cool overnight that made us appreciate the heater. ~laugh~ It did warm up though and except for the small bit of wind it was very nice today, with wonderful blue skies and the big yellow ball throwing off warm rays that helped to warm us!!

Entrance between outer and inner walls, located in the 'ditch'.

Breakfast and a bit of a laze around first thing this morning, as it was too cold to do much outside unless one layered cothing but that made walking tricky as the layers made one too warm but peeling them off made one too cold. Tough decisions. ~laugh~ 

Inside the inner walls of the fort

We loaded ourselves and a change of clothes, the big camera and a few snacks into the Dogsled around 10 am and headed south again to the Back Country Trail in Orange Beach. We normally start walking at the "headquarters' building and walk 1.7 miles to the 'last parking lot' before the gate which stops all vehicle traffic but today we actually parked at this lot and walked a new part of the path which leads to the campground at the Gulf Shores State Park. The walking path is nice, very wide and clearly marked for pedestrians, and cyclists so there are no mishaps of any kind. Marked much like a highway the outer lanes in each direction were for walkers, the inner lanes in each direction were for cyclists. It meandered thru the marshes near the Gulf of Mexico between the Campground at the state park and the inner coastal water way/Canal. Not a lot to see as the marshes are pretty consistent with dead trees, tall grasses, numerous birds, etc. A number of small off shoots with wooden walkways lead to various overlooks into the marshes and small rivers at various points along the path. A couple of benches here and there were available for resting along the way. We passed the cut off to the campground at the State Park and continued along the path which ran just beside the roadway. From there we took an off shoot that took us to the small overlook on a small river. It was nice but nothing spectacular. There aren't enough labels, directions,  and/or names on the pathways here. The maps are difficult to read and the path has no indicators as to names or locations so it's confusing for those using it for the first time or unfamiliar with all the paths. They could do a better job of marking things. 

The Postern or tunnel into the 'dtich' before entering the fort.

The walk as usual took us about an hour and we enjoyed the bright blue skies and near windless conditions. The sun was warm and inviting, and we enjoyed chatting with a few folks along our travels.

One of the many inner rooms looking out into the inner courtyard

Back at the Dogsled we changed clothes as long pants were hot. We kept our long sleeved sweaters near by though, as the wind closer to the water was a bit chillier. 

The ditch or moat between the inner and outer walls of the fort. Known as deadman's land due to it's high walls and almost impossible ability to escape.

From this parking lot we once again drove the few miles to Fort Morgan on the very tip of the strand. The wonderful sunshine, heat and amazing skies invited us to enjoy the Fort and it's history while educational and informative wasn't too overwhelming. The cost to enter was $7 per person and well worth the price. We parked the big Dogsled and hoofed it around the area for a bit, taking in the fort, and the batteries, the scenery, sights and smells all while enjoying the warm rays of the sun.

The Glacis or mounded earth on the outer wall slopes up to the top of the walls which are quite high. The earth helped to protect the walls from damage by cannon balls. A Postern or entry tunnel built into the outer wall and Glacis offered limited access to the inner areas of the fort. The Postern/tunnel could be closed off with two very heavy reinforced doors of which there would be two sets to make a quick entrance was impossible. Inside the outer walls and outside the inner walls was the area known as the ditch or moat. It wasn't filled with water but was barren of all things. It was a wide swath of flat land that was butted on both sides by high brick walls between the outer walls/Glacis and the outer inner walls of the actual building inside. This was known as a dead man space, once in this space the ability to avoid cannon fire, rifle fire and any other kind of weapons was almost impossible as there was truly no where to do. The walls were too high to climb back out and too close to guns to allow you time to do so. IF it was possible to get past the ditch one still had to manage a way into the inner buildings which were also brick and could be defended from both inside and outside the ditch. The inner parts of the fort were also interesting in that all of the walls facing the outer walls were lined with cannon openings, as well as rifle slots so that no area of the ditch was left uncovered. These areas were located in a complete ring of the outer wall which was totally brick while the inner walls that opened into the courtyard were covered with wooden walls and doors. All light came from the gun openings.

One of the gun placements at Battery Dearborn. The gun mounted on this track could be swivelled 360 degrees to face ANY enemy from every direction.

Cisterns were located in the inner courtyard to allow for fresh water. Also located on the inner courtyard was the stairs leading to the top of the wall which offered up amazing views of both the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay. Large movable guns stationed on the top walls helped to guard against attacking forces both in water and on land. These guns could be swiveled 180 degrees due to the track that was laid before gun placement. Took a lot of man power to do so but it was possible.

This yellow marker indicates the place the Tecumseh sank during the battle for Fort Morgan between Union and Confederate troops.

Batteries which is where they stored their powder, shot and cannon balls  were located in various places in and around the fort. Fort Morgan has Battery Duportail, Lighthouse, Schenck, and Thomas inside it's walls and Batteries Bowyer, Dearborn and Federal Mortar near by, as well as the Peace Magazine which also stored shot, gunpowder and cannon balls.  

This heavy gun could be swung around into any position as you can see the arms that would rest on the tracks.

Construction on Fort Morgan began in 1819 but took 15 years to complete it which brought us to 1834. It was built using slave labour leased by the federal Government from southern slave owners. Slaves include men, women and children. They manufactured 30 million bricks by hand as well as all needed mortar. Over 200 slaves laboured either on Mobile Point or within the brick yards and mortar kilns during the construction. Fort Morgan was named after General Daniel Morgan, a hero in the Revolutionary War. The total cost of construction in 1834 was $1,026,777.41. 

The inner courtyard, each arch represents a room in which located at the far end of each was a small cannon as well as two gun slots (those small pieces of light )which all faced into the ditch. The inner arches were covered by wood with small man doors to allow access to the inner yard.

The fort was seized in 1861 by Southern Forces and remained in Confederate hands until early August 1864 when Union Navy troops managed to storm Mobile Bay. The only Union ship lost during the entire siege was the Tecumseh, even though the Rebs poured over 500 rounds into the naval ships. The Tecumseh struck a mine, known at that time as a Torpedo, and sank within a minute taking most of her crew with her to the bottom.

The inner side of the courtyard showing the wooden coverings, and doors.

The Fort was handed over to the state of Alabama in 1946 as a historic site. The preservation is amazing. Well worth a visit.

Views of Battery Schenck and Thomas as well as Mobile Bay
From this bit of sight seeing we headed back to the Igloo with a couple of stops along the way, one at Wally's to pick up a few groceries and the other was a stop at Subway for a sandwich but which ended up being the door before Subway at Papa John's Pizza instead. We grabbed a couple of pizzas and headed home. 

Standing on top of the walls looking out toward the Gulf of Mexico.

After a great lunch of pizza we finished the putting away the groceries and realized it was almost 4 pm. The day was about gone. ~laugh~ Reading and just resting for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening was how we spent the rest of our time. We opted to have some more pizza for dinner and so no one had to cook. Bonus!!!!!

A pelican flying over the waters of Mobile Bay

A quick game of Yahtzee, which Riley won and the night was over. Time to head off and do our own thing. 
Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the visit. Until next safe, take care....

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