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view of the fort from outside the walls
Closest available address
51 Bienville Boulevard, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528
Open 7 days a week from 9-5.
Best time to visit
winter, spring, fall
Fort Gaines is a brick fort located on Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay. The fort is in excellent condition and highly accessible. A visit here provides an insightful perspective on Civil War fort design and operation.
Construction of Fort Gaines began in the 1820s. It was one of two forts designed to guard Mobile Bay. Construction was repeatedly delayed and poor site selection contributed to flooding issues. In 1854 a new effort commenced to build the fort with more modern designs and weapons. The fort was eventually finished by the Confederacy in 1862 after the Civil War had begun. The Battle of Mobile Bay, a Union victory, was the most important military engagement involving Fort Gaines. It was at this battle that Union Admiral Farragut was reported to have uttered the famous line of “damn the torpedoes.” Following the Civil War, Fort Gaines was modernized for the Spanish American War and served in limited support roles in World War I and II. It opened as a historic site in 1954.
Fort Gaines is a worthwhile visit. It is rich in history and interesting to experience. Nearly the entire fort is open and can be explored via a self-guided tour. Highlights include tunnels leading to the fort’s bastions, a small museum, as well as a room that displays letters from the Civil War era. Also notable is an anchor on display which came from Farragut’s flagship. Blacksmith shop demonstrations are held several times a week. This fort will have a general appeal, not just for history buffs. A causeway connects Dauphin island to the rest of Alabama. If you want to see both Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan (on the east side of the bay), a ferry is the fastest route.
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