Dauphin Island in Mobile County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
“Save Your Garrison.”
Bombardment of Fort Powell:
—Stop E —
The Confederates built Fort Powell on Tower Island, an oyster shell bank fifty feet north of Grant's Pass. The Pass provided an easy route from Mobile Bay to New Orleans through Mississippi Sound. C.S. Lieutenant Colonel James M. Williams, only 25 years old, took command in August 1863. He commanded 140 men. Though Williams worked energetically hauling sand from the mainland, building a bombproof and new earthworks, and mounting guns; the fort was not finished when Farragut forced a passage into the lower bay on August 5, 1864.
That morning, at 8:30 a.m., a squadron of five U.S. Navy gunboats, commanded by Lieutenant Commander James De Krafft, opened on Fort Powell from the Sound. Williams returned a brisk fire with three guns on his west face until about 10:00 a.m. De Krafft continued his bombardment until 12:00 noon, but since shoals prevented him from getting any closer than 4,000 yards, the fort was relatively unscathed. The danger to the fort was not past, however. The fort's east face mounted two guns but lacked parapets and transverses. If attacked from the Bay side, his fort would be fully exposed to enemy fire.
This is exactly what happened. At 2:50 p.m. Lieutenant Commander George Perkins took the USS Chickasaw to within 350 yards of Powell and fired 25 times at its eastern side with shell
"A shell entered one of the sally ports, which are not traversed, passed entirely through the bomb-proof wall. Fortunately it did not explode. The shells exploding in the face of the work displaced the sand so rapidly that I was convinced unless the iron-clad was driven off it would explode my magazine and make the bomb-proof chambers untenable in two days at furthest. To drive it (the Chickasaw) from its position I believed impossible with my imperfect work."
Lieutenant Colonel James M. Williams
That night Williams' command crossed at low tide to Cedar Point. Lieutenant E.G. Jeffers spiked the guns and Lieutenant Thomas J. Savage laid a train of powder to the magazine and lit the fuse at 10:00 p.m. The fort blew up at 10:30 p.m. Williams marched his command to Mobile.
Cedar Point also had a shell battery, mounting three guns. This battery was
Erected by Civil War Trail Battle for Mobile Bay. (Marker Number Stop E.)
Location. 30° 14.929′ N, 88° 4.503′ W. Marker is in Dauphin Island, Alabama, in Mobile County. Marker can be reached from Bienville Boulevard east of Albatross Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is located atop Fort Gaines. Marker is at or near this postal address: 51 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island AL 36528, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Storm Clouds Gather (within shouting distance of this marker); Anchor From U.S.S. Hartford (within shouting distance of this marker); “Damn the Torpedoes!” (within shouting distance of this marker); "To Be Blown To Kingdom Come" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort Gaines (about 400 feet away); 19th Century Shipwreck (about 400 feet away); Noble Leslie DeVotie (approx. 3.4 miles away); 32 Pounder Sea Coast Defense Gun (approx. 3.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dauphin Island.
Also see . . .
1. Fort Gaines. (Submitted on August 16, 2015.)
2. Civil War Trail - Battle for Mobile Bay (Submitted on August 16, 2015.)
Categories. • Forts, Castles • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 15, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 245 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on August 15, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 10, 11. submitted on August 16, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.