Monday, January 24, 2011

Fort Morgan in 1861 - An Eyewitness Account

Fort Morgan
Even before Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, state militia forces began moving against U.S. military installations in the state. Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay, for example, was occupied by Alabama troops on January 5, 1861.

Built on Mobile Point in 1819-1833, the massive brick fortress was designed - along with Fort Gaines across the channel - to turn back any attempt to invade Mobile Bay by a foreign enemy. The fort was in caretaker status when Alabama troops moved in, but that situation soon changed. As the month of January 1861 progressed, state forces worked non-stop to mount cannon and prepare the huge fort for battle.

The following account originally appeared in a Mobile newspaper, but was republished by the Richmond Daily Appeal on January 29, 1861:

Casemates of Fort Morgan
Marks of industry and system were visible everywhere about the fort, which is now occupied by about 480 troops, besides upwards of 150 laborers. To accommodate this increased force, a suitable number of the casemates have been planked up and converted into very comfortable quarters. The ramparts on the channel side have been sodded to a considerable extent with sand bags, and the work will be completed in the same style. Sods have been cut from the fosse to be applied to other faces of the works. Trenches have been cut at the foot of the scarp in necessary places, which have filled with the water percolating through the soil, thus converting the fosse into something like a wet ditch, and adding to the security of the works. All the guns for which there are carriages have been mounted, and some attention has been paid to artillery practice, in which the boys show increased proficiency. The garrison are in excellent spirits, and good health prevails, except that most of the newly arrived troops have to go through a course of seasoning which generally attacks them after the first twenty-four hours and leaves them after about the same length of time. The cisterns, by-the-bye, have been thoroughly cleansed, and the rains have since filled them with excellent water, and the health of the garrison has greatly improved in consequence. Tenders of the services of negro laborers by planters in the interior have been accepted, and some four hundred hands are expected to arrive in a few days.- Richmond Daily Appeal, January 29, 1861.

 If you would like to learn more about Fort Morgan, please visit

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confederate Memorial Park - Mountain Creek, Alabama

Original Flag in Museum
With the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War now underway, many people across the nation are focusing on the past and the events that took place from 1861-1865.

In Alabama, one of the best places to learn about the role of the state in the brutal conflict is the museum at the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek. The park is located off U.S. 31 between Montgomery and Birmingham and offers a museum that is among the finest in the state.

Museum at Confederate Memorial Park
In addition to weapons, original flags and other artifacts, visitors can trace the history of the Civil War in Alabama to learn about the events that took place in the state as well as the service given by Alabama's soldiers on fronts throughout the South. The museum also traces the history of the Old Soldiers Home for Confederate Veterans that once stood on the grounds of the 102 acre park.

The park includes ruins of the Old Soldiers Home, two cemeteries containing the graves of hundreds of Alabama's Confederate veterans, as well as several historic structures including the old Mountain Creek Post Office.

To learn more about the park, please visit

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alabama State Capitol & the Secession of Alabama - Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama State Capitol
It was 150 years ago this week that delegates meeting at the historic State Capitol in Montgomery voted to approve Alabama's secession from the Union.

The secession vote took place on January 11, 1861, as Alabama became the fourth state to leave the Union. South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida had already done so. The Alabama secession document holds a unique place in Southern history, however, as it also included an invitation for other Southern states to convene in Montgomery on February 4, 1861, to consider measures for the "common peace and security." This invitation, of course, led to the formation of the Confederate States of America and the designation of Montgomery as the first capital of the new nation.

The Alabama Ordinance of Secession was also unique in that it specifically named the election of Abraham Lincoln as President and Hannibal Hamlin as Vice President as the primary reasons for the state's departure from the Union.

Where Jefferson Davis took the Oath of Office
The Alabama State Capitol stands today as one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the nation. Built in 1851 on "Goat Hill" at the end of Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, the structure includes an interior spiral stairway built by noted African-American engineer and builder Horace King. It is noteworthy that King had received his freedom from slavery through a special act of the Alabama State Legislature.

Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as President of the Confederacy on the front portico of the building (a bronze star marks the spot) and it was hear that decisions were made leading to the firing on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 that officially ignited the Civil War (or War Between the States).

The Alabama State Capitol later played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement and remains in use today as the center of government in the state. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To learn more, please visit

If you are interested in learning more about the events of the War Between the States as they happened, please follow this link to check in daily with our new online journal: Civil War Daily!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coldwater Covered Bridge - Oxford, Alabama

Coldwater Covered Bridge
Visible from the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 at Oxford, the Coldwater Covered Bridge is the oldest covered bridge in the State of Alabama.

Although some believe it was built as early as the 1830s, the bridge can be documented back as far as 1850 when it was a popular crossing over Coldwater Creek between Oxford and Talladega. Traditionally built by a freed slave, the bridge is a rare example of the Multiple Open King Post through Truss design which uses heavy posts raised on beams to support the apex of a triangle formed by the trusses of the bridge.

Coldwater Covered Bridge
Sixty-three feet long, the old bridge was used daily until around 1920 when it was damaged by fire. The damage was superficial, fortunately, and the bridge was repaired and continued to carry traffic over Coldwater Creek until it was replaced by a concrete structure in the modern era.

The Coldwater Covered Bridge then became the focus of a noteworthy local preservation effort which culminated in 1990 when it was moved to its present location at Oxford Lake Park and carefully restored. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of the best preserved and most accessible covered bridges in Alabama.

To learn more, please visit