Tuesday, 19 May 2015

fort morgan or unredoubtable

While visiting Gulf Shores during our Spring Break, we drove up the coast to tour the colossal installation that defended the mouth of Mobile Bay.
The pentagon layout of Fort Morgan with its high masonry ramparts was really impressive and surprising, evoking images of the Vauban fortifications we’ve encountered along French beaches.
This megalithic discovery—which although seeming perfectly in place and familiar was still very unexpected for us in its cavernous extent and location, there, in Alabama—was constructed originally to bolster seaboard defences in the aftermath of the War of 1812 (not the striking back of the British Empire as usually portrayed but the North American theatre of the much broader Napoleonic crisis) in about twenty years, making extensive use of slave-labour.
Soon the bastion constituted a hotly contested strategic nexus that guarded the waterways and thus the supply-lines of the Confederate armies and the launching pad for attempts to break the Union sea blockade during the US Civil War.
This project was one of the first major endeavours of the US Army Corps of Engineers, buttressing existing earthen redoubts, temporary forts, along navigable rivers.  The term national redoubt refers to an area, ideally some place providing protection, where retreating or defeated armies can withdraw and regroup.
This notion of For- tress Amer- ica also con- vokes a metaphorical turning-inward and the US only, unlike many other countries, had to take a last-stand and make a temporary capitol under duress once.
The fort suffered extensive damage but was not long neglected before the citadel was reinforced and batteries added for the conflicts of Filipino and Spanish-American Wars.  Fort Morgan was again activated for the twentieth century’s hostilities but did not again experience the tempo of action it saw during the Civil War and is today preserved as a national park.