HISTORICAL HAUNTS: FORT MORGAN, AL
October 13, 2010 5 Comments
Fort Morgan sits at 30°13′41″N 88°1′23″W at the mouth of Mobile Bay, AL.
Prior to Fort Morgan, the land at the above coordinates belonged to a smaller redoubt fort made of earth and wood. That particular fort was known as Fort Bowyer taking its name from the colonel John Bowyer who completed construction of the fort in 1813. About a year after completion of the fort, Americans abandoned the structures but found their way back to garrison it in 1816 under Major William Lawrence.
The fort’s curved front faced the shipping channel into Mobile Bay while on the landward side there was a bastion flanked by two smaller bastions. Fort Bowyer was designed to keep British soldiers from invading the port through the Gulf Coast during the war of 1812. The British made 2 attacks on the fort, their first unsuccessful and their second was successful though celebration was short-lived. Upon seizing the fort, the British received word of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which signified the end of the war. The British troops turned around and headed home just two short days after raising their flag over Fort Bowyer.
The British lost 32 lives in the land and naval attacks on Fort Bowyer while the United States lost only four lives.
After the seizure of the fort during the War of 1812 the U.S. decided that strengthening their seacoast defenses was of vital importance. In 1818 The U.S. contracted Benjamin Hopkins to start construction of Fort Morgan on Mobile Point working from drafting plans by Napoleon’s former military engineer Simon Bernard. However, little was accomplished on the fort when Benjamin Hopkins succumbed to yellow fever. The government then brought in Samuel Hawkins to complete the design but he died before he completed any work at all.
The task of completing the fort was ultimately handed over to the Corps of Engineers who, using slave labor, completed the fort in 1834 and handed it over to the 2nd US Artillery Division. The unit remained at the fort for less than 2 years before being called away to assist in the Second Seminole Indian War.
During the Civil War the Fort fell to Union soldiers during the battle of Mobile Bay that raged from August 2nd – August 23 of 1864. The battles resulted in the loss of approximately 1,822 lives with the Union suffering 322 losses and the Confederacy suffering a staggering 1,500. The exact number of lives lost at each fort is undetermined as a majority of loss most likely took place in the bay between the forts.
Though Fort Morgan fell in the battle, the city was never captured.
Between 1845 and 1900, Fort Morgan was fortified with 5 concrete batteries with the latest in fire-power, electric, and top-tier communications. Fort Morgan was hit by several natural disasters in the form of hurricanes between 1906 and 1916 which caused major damage to the structure and officers quarters along the coast and though the fort remained operational it was the beginning of the end of an illustrious fort that had served the military proudly.
The fort served as a training ground for artillerymen when war was declared on Germany in 1917. Seven short years later, the U.S. Army abandoned the fort and it quickly fell into disrepair. Life returned to the fort for a short 5 years starting in 1942 around the start of World War II and it received several weapons fortifications before it was abandoned once more and handed over to the State of Alabama in 1946.
Fort Morgan was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 but little was done to preserve the fort and in 2007 the Civil War Preservation Trust named the fort “One of the Nations 10 Most Endangered battle Sites”.
The historic fort is now a popular tourist destination for those visiting the gulf shores. Over the years there have been reports of tourists encountering otherworldly activity within the dark recesses of the former stronghold of Mobile Bay.
One female tourist recalls seeing shadow figures looming about a dark corridor. She thought they were part of her tour group and as she descended further into the near pitch-black room she discovered that her tour group was not there and she was alone. Still, she could see the distinct shapes of people moving about the dark room.
Other reports from visitors claim to feel a heavy sensation within the fort. An oppressive sensation of dread and fear and anger, and it seems to proceed the appearance of an apparition dressed in “old-time” clothing. Could this figure be the lost soul of one of the battles at Fort Morgan or does he hang around from his service at the former Fort Bowyer?
Other visitors have reported seeing strange mists, glowing lights and hearing odd sounds from disembodied voices and whispers to scratching and moaning. One startling report from a visitor to the fort claims that he was physically thrown tot he ground by something unseen.
The Fort’s staff is quick to denounce any rumors of a haunting and insist the claims are just the over-active imagination of people visiting a place that has seen war and war related deaths. They claim that the place is rife with shadows because of the lack of lighting in the Fort and of course there is going to be ambient noise as the structure is not in the best condition.
The Spirit Seekers’ founder Alan Lowe believes that something is not at rest at the old fort. A previous tour of the fort yielded an experience that he can not quite explain away so easily. Convinced that what he saw was paranormal he contacted the proprietors of the fort and sought permission to bring in a team of investigators. He was granted permission and an investigation is just three short days away at the time of writing this article. In time we will know the answer as to whether or not Fort Morgan is haunted.
Please check back often for details on this SPIRIT Seekers landmark investigation into Fort Morgan and follow along with the investigators as they tweet live from the investigation.