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August 5, 1864, saw the Battle of Mobile Bay where Union Rear Admiral David Farragut's fourteen wooden ships and four monitors met Confederate Commodore Franklin Buchanan's one ironclad ram and gunboats. Dauphin Island's Fort Gaines surrendered on August 8th. After withstanding a bitter eighteen day siege, Fort Morgan surrendered on August 23 — after the Fort sustained an interior fire that left it in ruins. Thus, by the spring of 1865, Mobile was the last port held by the Confederates.
Unbeknownst to the soldiers in Alabama, Lee met Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on that same fateful 9th day of April 1865. Union Major General Edward R. S. Canby had amassed about 45,000 troops order to begin land operations against Mobile. The main force of 32,000 under Canby moved from Fort Morgan northward. Steele advanced from Pensacola with about 13,000 Union troops.
In contrast, General Dabney H. Maury had approximately 9,000 troops for the defense of Spanish Fort and Blakeley in Baldwin County, and the goal across Mobile Bay, the City of Mobile. While few in number, the veteran Confederates were defiant under their worn battle flags that recalled the past four years of hard campaigns and the devastation of war. Despite the great disparity between the number of Union and Confederate forces, the fighting along Alabama's coast remained desperate beginning with the March 27th siege of Spanish Fort through the April 9, 1865, battle of Blakeley. Thus, the Battle of Blakeley, the last major battle of the War, began at 5:30 p.m. — some six hours after Lees surrender at Appomattox Court House.
The Confederates that escaped being taken as prisoners to Ship Island, Mississippi, formed a rear guard action for Mobile. With Mobile’s evacuation, General Maury left for Meridian. General Richard Taylor, grandson of the Revolutionary hero Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, and former brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis, surrendered the remaining Mobile garrison on May 4, 1865, at Citronelle, Alabama. These few remaining soldiers were the last of the Confederate Army east of the Mississippi River to be surrendered.
The 36th Alabama was part of the rear guard and the Citronelle surrender. However, due to the efforts of the Regiment's color bearer, Joseph W. Tillinghast, its flag was never surrendered. After the surrender of the troops,
Tillinghast crept back during the night, took the flag from its staff, and wrapped it around himself covering it with his clothes. The flag remained in the family until his son’s widow arranged for it to be delivered to the Alabama Archives on May 28, 1957.
Redoubt No. 4 from the center of the Union 2nd Division, April 1865
Redoubt No. 4, April 2000
Cannon firing from Redoubt No. 4, April 2000
Reserve troops were indeed young by the end of the War.Blakeley -- the historic ghost townOther links to the Battle of Blakeley, Alabama
Blakeley Battle Summary
Detailed Map of the Rebel lines on April 9, 1865
List of Confederate and Union regiments engaged at Blakeley
Mobile Campaign and the Battle of Blakeley
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