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Operations in Mobile Bay

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The Union naval blockade of the Confederate coast was a critical part of the Lincoln administration’s plan to economically cripple the states in rebellion. Ships carrying cotton and other exports were to be stopped, as were ships carrying weapons and supplies for Confederate armies. Along its 3,500-mile Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, the Confederacy had hundreds of small ports used by shallow-draft blockade running vessels, but only a handful of big port cities, protected by coastal forts, where larger ships could safely load or unload goods. These larger ports became a priority for the Union naval blockade and by the end of 1863, Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans had been captured.

 

In the summer of 1864, the Union was ready to close Mobile Bay, Alabama, to blockade running traffic. The endeavor was put under the charge of Admiral David G. Farragut, commander of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, who had successfully run past the forts and ironclads that protected New Orleans in 1862. Farragut led a land and sea operation on August 3 that reduced several of the forts surrounding the bay allowing Farragut to capture the bulk of the Confederate fleet defending the port. Without the protection of the forts, the bay could not be used to harbor blockade running vessels. The city of Mobile fell to a Union Army expedition eight months later. Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay was one of the badly needed Union victories in late 1864 that ensured President Abraham Lincoln's reelection in November.

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Battle of Mobile Bay
Battle Map
BATTLE MAP | Civil War Trust’s map of the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama on August 5, 1864