(Fort Morgan State Historic Site)
nder the early light of dawn, Union Adm. David Farragut began his attack on Mobile Bay, Alabama. Aware of the danger near Fort Morgan, Farragut ordered his captains to stay to the "eastward of the easternmost buoy" because it was "understood that there are torpedoes and other obstructions between the buoys."¹ Unfortunately, the lead ironclad, the USS Tecumseh, unable to avoid the danger, struck a mine and sank into the oceans depths. Yet, against all odds, the seasoned admiral ordered his flagship, the Hartford, and his fleet to press forward through the underwater minefield and into Mobile Bay.
Although Farragut was a champion of the "wooden navy," he agreed to include four new ironclad ships modeled after the USS Monitor in his attack fleet. It was widely believed that these warships were unsinkable. But the Tecumseh indeed sank that summer morning, August 5, 1864, unexpectedly killing the majority of its crew and demonstrating the deadly effects of advances in technology such as the torpedo. For in the words of one Confederate soldier reminiscing on the ill-fated ship, "She careens, her bottom appears! Down, Down, Down she goes to the bottom of the channel, carrying 150 of her crew, confined within her ribs, to a watery grave."¹
¹Official Records. Navies, vol. 21, 398.
²"Fort Morgan in the Confederacy: Letter by Hurieosco Austill." Alabama Historical Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 2, (Summer 1945), 256.