Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Battle of Mobile Bay
The Battle of Mobile Bay was a naval battle of the American Civil War that occurred on 5 August 1864. Commanding the Union forces was Admiral David Farragut, while Admiral Franklin Buchanan led the Confederate fleet. The battle took place at the mouth of Mobile Bay on the coast of Alabama.
The entrance to the bay was guarded by two confederate forts, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, and by a torpedo field (in modern terms, a minefield), creating a single narrow channel for blockade runners to enter and exit the bay.
The biggest challenge for Farragut was entering the bay. With eighteen vessels, he commanded far greater firepower than the Confederate fleet of four. The Union fleet suffered the first major loss when the USS Tecumseh was critically damaged by an exploding torpedo after it wandered into the field. Within three minutes, the vessel was completely submerged. Ninety-four men went down with the ship. Under fire from both the Confederate fleet and Fort Morgan, Farragut had to choose between risking the mine field or retreat. This is the point when Farragut allegedly shouted, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."
The Union won the battle. Buchanan surrendered to Farragut aboard his ship. In addition to shutting down one of the two remaining Confederate ports, this battle (together with the battle of Atlanta) is thought to have boosted Abraham Lincoln's bid for reelection.
The Union Navy had 14 wooden ships:
- USS Brooklyn (screw sloop)
- USS Octorora (981-ton "double-ender" side-wheel gunboat)
- USS Hartford (2900-ton screw sloop; Farragut's flagship)
- USS Metacomet (1173-ton Sassacus-class "double-ender" steam gunboat)
- USS Richmond (screw sloop)
- USS Port Royal (sidewheel steamer gunboat "double-ender")
- USS Lackawanna (1240-ton steam screw sloop-of-war)
- USS Seminole (screw sloop)
- USS Monongahela (screw sloop)
- USS Kennebec (gunboat)
- USS Ossipee (1240-ton steam screw sloop)
- USS Itasca (gunboat)
- USS Oneida (screw sloop)
- USS Galena (950-ton ironclad gunboat/screw steamer)
- USS Tecumseh sunk by torpedo (iron-hulled, single-turret monitor)
- USS Manhattan (2100-ton Canonicus-class monitor)
- USS Winnebago (1300-ton Milwaukee-class ironclad river monitor, twin-turrets)
- USS Chickasaw (1300-ton Milwaukee-class ironclad river monitor, twin-turrets)
The Confederate Navy had four ships:
- CSS Tennessee (1273-ton ironclad ram; Buchanan's flagship)
- CSS Morgan (863-ton side-wheel gunboat)
- CSS Gaines (863-ton side-wheel gunboat)
- CSS Selma (320-ton side-wheel gunboat)
Paintings of the battle: 
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