by the Confederacy to guard the entrance into Mobile Bay from the Mississippi Sound. Located at Grant's Pass slightly northwest of Fort Morgan and north of Fort Gaines, the fort was constructed on a half-acre artificial island of oyster shells and sand.
When the Civil War began in April 1861, the Confederacy first attempted to fortify the pass with a battery of three 32-pounder cannon on Grant's Island. Parapets, or walls, of oyster shell and sand shielded the battery, which was later supplemented by an 8-inch Columbiad cannon.
Col. William Llewellyn Powell was in overall command of the lower bay defenses but fell ill and subsequently died on September 25, 1863. In October, Fort Grant was officially
re-named Fort Powell in his honor.
took part in was the Battle of Mobile Bay. Around 7:50 a.m. on August 5, 1864, Farragut and his fleet got past Fort Morgan and engaged the Confederate fleet. The naval battle between U.S. Navy and Confederate ships was finished by 10:30 a.m. At this point, federal forces focused on attacking and capturing Forts Powell, Gaines, and Morgan.
Fort Powell received several hits from federal artillery on August 5, but none of the men inside were harmed. One shell demonstrated the fort's vulnerability by entering one of the sally ports and passing through a bombproof shelter before burying itself in the opposite wall. Meanwhile, shells hitting the face of the fort drastically shifted the sand so quickly that Col. Williams feared he could not hold out long.
William's waited until low tide and marched his approximately 140-man garrison to Cedar Point. The retreating Confederates blew up the fort at 10:30 p.m. on August 5. U.S. military reports show some ammunition and several guns were intact among the rubble, despite the Confederate effort to destroy the fort.
Fort Powell was the only fortification in Mobile Bay constructed by Confederate forces, as well as the only fortification in the lower bay defenses built using sand with wooden reinforcements instead of brick. The cypress plank that this pen is made from was recovered by Larry McCoy from the fort site in 1980 after a hurricane uncovered the island. Today there are no remains of the island showing.
that instigated the Civil War in the United States was the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861. In early 1861 troops of South Carolina erected two 10 inch mortar batteries consisting of two mortars each. The signal shot which opened the bombardment of Fort Sumter and marked the beginning of the American Civil War was fired from the east mortar battery on that fateful day.
( shown in the photo) indicates where the battery was located. The marker stands just a few yards from the powder magazine that dates to about 1830 and is still in great condition. And the entire fortification is known as Fort Johnson and it was located but a few hundred yards from Fort Sumter which was a Federal outpost located on an island in the Charleston Harbor.
Then again on July 3, 1864, Fort Johnson came on the scene when about 130 Confederate troops repulsed an attack of two Union regiments totalling about 1000 men. The on Feb 17, 1865, Fort Johnson was evacuated during the Confederate withdrawal from Charleston harbor.
stands between the historical marker where the first shells were fired and the powder magazine. A dead limb from it was supplied by Katie Hiott of the SC marine biology laboratory who acquired it with a male friend who mounted a ladder and with a saw removed a dead limb. The live oak was just a youngster at the time of the firing of the first shells from Ft Johnson on the shoreline against Ft Sumter on the island
as a strong focal point for International trade. However, late in the war it became obvious to the Union that the entire area needed to be taken. The bay was tightly controlled by the CSA with three forts strategically placed at the entry including Ft Gaines, Ft Powell and Ft Morgan. On the east side of the bay entrance is Ft Morgan which dates to early in the 19th century. Its guns served to severely thwart the main attack of Mobile Bay led by Admiral Farragut in August of 1864. It was here that one of his fleet hit a torpedo that sunk the USS Tecumseh.
“Damn the torpedo's full speed ahead” and the attacking fleet moved into the bay to do battle with the under gunned Confederate navy. Eventually, Federal General E.R.S. Canby landed the 16th U. S. Army Corps at Navy Cove to lay siege to Fort Morgan on August 9, 1864. The fort was taken by Federal Troops on August 23, 1864, the Union soldiers moved northward to camp at Fish River before marching on to capture Mobile. It is also notable that Nave Cove was the site of the launching of the “America Diver” which was a precursor to the famous CSS Hunley the first submarine successfully used in warfare.
are still preserved on the beaches of Navy cove which is adjacent to Ft Morgan. The trees were probably downed from the nasty hurricane of 1906. The Navy Cove pen is made from one of these pine roots. During the Civil War there were no trees in or around Ft Morgan for obvious reasons. The pine roots are heavy laden with resin which had preserved them from decay and this had to be removed before wood turning the pen could be completed.
of the 1st Georgia Infantry in July of 1861. The mostly earthen fort was built to protect Savannah and was the entrance way to the Ogeechee river. The Fort came under attack on July 1, 1862, by the Union gunboat Potomska and was quickly out- gunned. Then again Union gunboats attacked the fort at least 7 times beginning on July 29, 1862, and ending on March 3, 1863, and each time the big guns of the fort repelled them. However, by Dec 13th the luck of Ft McAllister finally ran out as Union General Sherman, in his march to the sea, needed supplies from Union ships anchored off shore.
to take the fort by land with a force of 4,000 infantrymen. The attack lasted all of about 15 min as the Yanks rushed forward thru abatis and torpedoes buried in the sand, and entered the fort. With the lines of supply open, Sherman was primed for the capture of Savannah allowing him to march north through South Carolina and North Carolina.
at Pickett’s Mill, Ga that one or more old live oak trees at Ft McAllister had partly succumbed to a hurricane in 2017. After numerous calls, I was successful in getting the folks there to forward several nice limb pieces of one of these witness live oaks of the type shown in the above photo. The wood is hard and nicely figured and is some of the nicest most beautiful wood that I have in the entire collection.
in late 1864, only the Confederate capital of Richmond was more important to the Confederacy than the port of Wilmington, N.C. The Cape Fear River was absolutely vital to the survival of the South as it provided access to the blockade running ships that were transporting supplies into the interior of the Confederacy. In Jan. and Feb. of 1865, the Union had captured Fort Fisher and the Confederate forces retreated to Ft Anderson. In mid Feb. Union General J. D. Cox demonstrated in front of the fort. In the meantime, federal gunboats shelled the fort. By early morning hours of Feb 19 as the attack continued, the Confederates, under General J. Hagood, evacuated Ft Anderson and the Federals immediately occupied it.
on the old colonial location of the Brunswick Town site as an added measure to the defense of Wilmington.
A live oak tree, growing at the end of the battery was present at Fort Anderson at the time of the events surrounding the battle in Feb., 1865 (see photo). The tree grew slowly as manifested by the extremely narrow annual rings in the wood. A piece of dead limb material provided by Ft Anderson park director – Jim McKee was used to make the pen.
with fungi to cause spalting which has an added favorable benefit in making for a beautiful final product. Also, to this web site we add a very unusual item which is a pen made from heart pine that Jim has found in the soil that was used to support a 32-pound rifled cannon at position 3 on the fort. The pitch in the wood had prevented its decay by soil microbes. A photo of the replica -cannon like the one originally at position 3 is shown here.