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Alabama Illustrated

“Loading Cotton on the Alabama River” Ballou’s Pictorial, November 28, 1857


The spirited scene on this page was sketched expressly for us upon the spot by Mr. Killburn, and is a correct representation of the manner of loading cotton on board the steamboats that ply on the navigable waters of the cotton region of the South. In the left hand foreground of the picture is seen the bow of a passenger and freight boat, with ladies and gentlemen congregated thickly on the Loading Cotton on AL River, 1857, Harper's Weekly promenade deck, while on the forward part of the lower deck the bales of cotton are rolled on board by a gang of hands. The bales are started from the summit of a high bluff, two negroes with cotton-hooks attending on each to moderate the speed of the descent and guide them on their way. A large quantity is thus laden in a very brief space of time, when the bell rings and the boat resumes her way. The Alabama River, on the banks of which our picture was drawn, is formed by the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, which united ten miles north of the city of Montgomery. It then takes a westerly direction to Selma, below which it pursues a very winding course towards the southwest, until it unites with the Tombigbee, about 4 miles north of the city of Mobile. The river formed by this union is then called the Mobile. The Alabama is an excellent stream for steamboats, being navigable for the largest class of boats through all its extent, and at all seasons of the year, except in instances of extraordinary drought. The length of the main stream is about three hundred miles, and the distance from Mobile to Wetumpka, which is at the head of navigation for large boats, is about four hundred and sixty miles. The region through which it flows is occupied by plantations of cotton, extensive savannahs, and forests of valuable timber. Of cotton, as we remarked in a former article, the exuberant soil of Alabama yields more than any other member of our prosperous confederacy of States. But this, through the staple, is by no means the only valuable agricultural product of a State singularly blessed in fertility. Towards the north, the low mountains are deep in grass, affording abundant pasturage to numerous herds of cattle. The central portion of the State is occupied by fertile prairies, and the southern, though often sandy and inferior in productiveness, has many fertile alluvial bottoms, on which rice is grown. In Marengo and Greene counties there were formerly extensive cane-brakes, which are now nearly cleared, disclosing some of the very best land in the State. Sugar cane grows in the southwest neck, between Mobile Bay and the Mississippi. Alabama produces large quantities of Indian corn, oats, live stock, sweet potatoes and butter; a considerable amount of wheat, rye, rice, wool, hay, peas, beans, Irish potatoes, fruit, market vegetables and sugar; and some tobacco, barley, buckwheat, wine, cheese, grass-seeds, hops, flax and silk. Indigo was formerly cultivated, but being undersold by the foreign article, its culture was given up, though not from want of adaptability of the soil. According to the census of 1850, there were in Alabama 41,954 farms, containing, 4,435,614 acres of improved land, producing 294,064 bushels of wheat; 28,754,048 of Indian corn; 2,965,597 of oats; 892,701 of beans and peas; 261,482 of Irish potatoes; 5,475,204 of sweet potatoes; 225,771,600 pounds of cotton; 8,242,000 pounds of sugar; 83,428 gallons of molasses; 164,990 pounds of tobacco; 657,118 pounds of wool; 4,008,811 pounds of butter; 2,311,252 pounds of rice; 897,021 pounds of beeswax and honey; 32,685 tons of hay; live stock valued at $21,690,112; orchard fruits worth $15,408; market goods worth $84,821; and slaughtered animals worth $4,823,485; value of farming implements and machinery, $5,125,663. Though comparatively little attention has hitherto been paid in the State to manufactures, yet the census of 1850, from which the above statistics were taken, shows that there were 1022 establishments, each producing annually $500 and upwards, of which 12 were cotton factories, employing capital to the amount of $651,000, with 346 male and 390 female hands, consuming raw material worth $237,081, and producing 3,081,000 yards of stuff, and 790,000 pounds of yarn, valued at $382,200; 14 forges, furnaces, etc., employing capital to the amount of $230,125, and 266 male hands, consuming raw material worth $111,883, and producing 2537 tons of castings, pig and wrought iron, valued at $280,876. Capital invested in distilleries, $500; hands employed, 2; product, 3000 gallons. There were 149 tanneries, employing $200,570, and consuming raw material worth $158,247, and producing leather valued at $335,911. According to DeBow, there were 549,499 bales of cotton brought to Mobile in 1851-2, besides what was sent to New Orleans and the ports of Florida. Enough has been said to display the resources of this flourishing State, and in former numbers we have given other details and facts. With such ample resources at her command Alabama is destined to rise to still greater influence in the confederacy of States.

“The Alabama State Fair” Harper’s Weekly, November 27, 1858

The Fourth Annual Fair of the Alabama State Agricultural Society was held in Montgomery, the capital of the State, between the 1st and 6th days of November, 1858. The grounds are beautifully located upon the banks of the noble Alabama, occupying a large, level, grassy plain, to the north of the city. The space inclosed is ample, and the facilities afforded for display are on a scale commensurate with the rapidly improving interests of this young and flourishing State. In addition to a large number of well-arranged stalls for cattle, hogs, and horses, there is a finely graveled training course: a grand Alabama State Fair, Harper's Weekly ampitheatre for the examination of stock, and for the exhibition of hippodromic performances; a commodious two-story edifice for the proper display of mechanical contrivances, as well, also, for the use of exhibitors in the department of the fine arts; a substantial gin-house, for the purpose of testing improvements in the preparation of our guest southern staple, together with fixtures for pressing and baling cotton already ginned.

There are characteristic points of difference between a show of this kind in the Northern, and such a display as we are now describing in the Southern States. In the former, distinctive prominence is given to those mechanical appliances which represent the interests of the mighty grain growing countries of the North and the imperial Northwest. The eye is bewildered by the multiplicity of inventions for reaping, garnering, thrashing, fanning and grinding the exhaustless products of the cereal regions. There, too, are to be seen the infinitely varied modifications of machinery by which the numberless processes of manufacturing operations are carried on. There are more perfect planning apparatus; simpler contrivances for drilling, or boring, or filling; a new cog-wheel; a trifling, yet important readjustment of ratchets and pinions; some novel methods of printing calicoes, or weaving domestics, or spinning cottons; a new waive in an old piston-rod; an ingenious key, or an unassailable lock. There are men from the sooty forge and the clanking anvil; men from the dusty flouring-mill and the odorous laboratory of some noted perfumer; men whose ears are daily stunned by the whirr of spindles and the clatter of looms; men who listen forever to the groaning of ponderous wheels and the incessant puffings of busy steam engines.

At a Southern Fair, on the contrary, the eye at once discerns the habits, tastes, and pursuits of a people wholly given to agricultural and pastoral employments. But few machines are on exhibition, and those relate exclusively to the interests of the farm and to the homely duties of the planter. Here is, perhaps, a corn-sheller and separator, and there is a bit of mechanical ingenuity applied to the grinding of corn and the crushing of the cob. Not only does the visitor discover at a glance that the tillage of the soil is the noble vocation of the sturdy and happy yeomanry around him, but he sees with equal readiness that the one great, engrossing, controlling idea is the growth and culture of cotton. On every hand, in every variety of phase, is this one absorbing topic represented. Here is a long row of beautifully ginned and securely packed cotton bales, with their fleecy samples exposed to view. Read the label on this plow. It is intended for the cultivation of the young cotton plant. Stop to observe this vociferous old man, who industriously plies an ungainly wooden machine to and fro all the day long. “What is that concern fur, Mister?” “That is Carter’s Cotton Planter, the outbeatingest contrivance for evenly drapping and kiverin cotton seed in the world!” What is the use of all these cogs and spirals, and files? The answer shows us how young Elliot goes to the planter’s gin-house, takes his broken, useless gin saws, and in a few hours makes that busy file reset and rewhet every tooth to its pristine sharpness. The crowd rushes toward the discordant creakings of some huge fixture on yonder side of the Fair grounds. I run too, and am “in at the” packing, tying, and discharging of a beautifully compact cotton bale, weighing six hundred pounds. I see a fellow sedulously bent upon twirling a crank for an admiring crowd, and thrusting my spectacles through some cranny in the living wall, I find a man explaining how some cut Yankees, way in Varmount, is trying to “do” the Alabama planter with a cotton-packing contrivance, full of wheels, and screws, and levers. Thus it is on every side; you see the enshrinement of the mighty staple in the central fane of this great, warm, throbbing, Southern heart.

I can not tell you of the various equally characteristic accompaniments. Your readers must imagine the shining faces of the darkeys, their ivory white teeth, and their loud guffaws. You need not hear of the rolling carriages, the flying clouds of dust, the panoramic beauty of gaudy female attire, the bustling throng of amused spectators, the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, and the braying of asinine quadrupeds, the inspiriting strains of the band, in which an important “culled pussun” fiercely struck the clanking cymbals and the thundering drum, the exciting sports of the arena, the air torn with outrageous noise, when some gallant young Godfrey of Boulogne, or Richard Couer de Lion, riding a tilt in frock-coat and standing-collar – alas, Ivanhoe! – bore triumphantly away the suspended ring upon his wooden lance.

A word about this year’s exhibition. It was declared by those entitled to know to be a decided success, a marked advance upon former shows of the kind in this State. Very many fine cattle were on the ground, chiefly Devon, Durham, and Ayrshire breeds. Milch cows fetched at the sales from $60 to $155. Berkshire pigs were sold at $30 per pair. Several fine stallions were in the ring, one valued at $4100. Another splendid Morgan horse, the property of Colonel Ferell of East Alabama, so closely contested the premium with his costly competitor, that skillful judges required time to discuss their points.

But lest you might take is for granted that Alabama is devoted wholly to grosser pursuits, I am constrained to refer to a fine collection of pictures in oil, crayon, and pastel, together with several very creditable specimens of industrial art, such as designs for wall paper, carpets, table-covers, dress goods, etc., all furnished by the pupils of the Tuskegee Female College. This is the first effort to develop this application of artistic pursuits in the Southern country in connection with a literary institution. As an evidence of the favor with which it was received, the executive committee made a special presentation of a splendid silver pitcher to the College, through its President the Rev. Dr. A. A. Lipscomb.

A new product of the laboratory also took a prize before a special committee of scientific men. It is a disinfecting agent, superior, they say, to Labaraques French liquor. The fortunate discoverer is Professor John Darby, of Auburn, Alabama, a man of scientific acquirements of a high order.

In fancy needle-work, in embroideries, in patch work, in home-made counterpanes, quilts, and similar goods, in leather work, wax and fruit ornamentation, in all these departments our fair Alabamians were tastefully represented.

The success of the late fair is due mainly to the energetic efforts of Dr. N. B. Cloud, the indefatigable Secretary of the State Agricultural Society, of whom an excellent likeness accompanies this notice. To him more than to any other single individual, perhaps, is to be attributed the origination and perpetuation of our State Exhibitions. The worthy Secretary is a native of Edgefield District, South Carolina, and removed to Alabama in the spring of 1838 to engage in the practice of his profession. With his professional business he soon associated the pursuit of agriculture, to which he was very successful as a farmer. In 1852 he established the American Cotton Planter in the city of Montgomery. Beginning, under manifold discouragements, with a subscription list of 500 or less, it now stands foremost in the ranks of agricultural journalism in the South, with a growing popularity, and a current list of about 6200 subscribers. Its success is worthy of its active and intelligent editor. Although great and deserved praise is due to Col. Croom, the widely-known President of the Society, as well also to Col. Pollard the Treasurer, and to various other influential members of the Agricultural Associations, yet the chief honor must undoubtedly rest with Dr. Cloud. I would add, that although “bearded like a pard,” and decidedly military in his appearance, the Secretary is one of the most genial, kindly, and affable of gentlemen.  

President J. Davis’s Inauguration at MontgomeryHarper’s Weekly, March 9, 1861

On page 157 we publish a picture of the Inauguration of President Davis, of the Southern Confederacy, at Montgomery, Alabama, on February 18, from a photograph obligingly placed at our disposal. We published part of the inaugural in our last number. A lady who witnessed the scene thus writes to a friend in this city: Pres. Davis Inauguration, Harper's Weekly “The President is a pleasant-looking old gentleman, of about fifty years of age; he was escorted to the Capitol by the military, he being in an elegant carriage drawn by six white horses. After he took his seat on the platform in front of the Capitol, and a short prayer had been offered, he read a very neat little speech, not making promises, but hoping, by God’s help, to be able to fulfill all expectations. He took the oath amidst the deepest silence; and when he had raised his hand and his eyes to heaven and said, “So help me God” I think I never saw any scene so solemn and impressive. He puts me much in mind of General Jackson in appearance and character, though he is much more of a gentleman in his manners than the old General every wished to be. He had a reception last night, which I attended. I walked about and exchanged greetings with my friends, but would not shake hands with the President, for I thought I would not be recognized today, and so would rather wait for a more private introduction. The Vice President is a constant visitor at the house where I stay; he is very slight and delicate looking, has more the appearance of a dead man than a living one, until he begins to speak, when you forget entirely how ugly he is.”

President Davis, at latest accounts, is traveling through his dominions. He has been to Charleston.  

Loading Cotton on the Alabama RiverIllustrated London News, May 4, 1861 Our Number of April 13 contained some Illustrations of the methods of conveying cotton in India to the ports of shipment; and we follow up the subject-of special interest at the present time-by giving this week two companion Engravings illustrating the singular manner in which cotton-bales are sometimes taken on board steam-boats in the Alabama River, in Alabama, one of the seven Southern Confederate States of America. On the Mississippi the bales are merely dragged and trundled over a plank on board ship. But on the Alabama, the banks of which are frequently high and steep, a more dashing style of embarkation is adopted. Of our two Loading Cotton on AL River, 1861, Harper's Weekly Engravings the first represents the “shoot” in extenso, the other the mouth, whence the cotton-bales are projected on board the steam-boat. Mr. F. Bellew, the gentleman to whom we are indebted for our illustrations, supplies the following particulars of the manner in which cotton is taken on board the steam-boats that ply on the Alabama:-“It was on a dark night in February that I jumped off the top of a high bank at Montgomery on to the Magnolia steam-boat, then lying on the turgid bosom of the Alabama River, waiting for passengers going to Mobile. There were many passengers, and plenty of negroes about, but apparently no officers. The superb cabins were brilliantly lighted, and huge volumes of smoke were careering out of the double funnels. Having collected our luggage and seen an elderly clergyman break his collarbone in attempting to leap on board, I went to bed, slept, and awoke next morning to find myself eighty miles down the river. Going on deck, I was not a little surprised to observe our vessel in the act of violating all reconceived notions of aquatic law, by going head first into a partially-submerged forest, crashing and breaking through the young trees with high-pressure indifference: she was merely going to the bank to ship a few bales of cotton, which being done, she backed out and went on her way snorting, every now and then repeating the operation like a big duck seeking food among the sedges. Sometimes the Magnolia would extract a feed of the staple from the most unpromising jungle; at another time an open clearing decorated with a pineshed and a few sleepy [negros] would afford a meal. But the grand repast of our painting vessel was to come. In a certain part of the river, banked by wood-clad mountains, we suddenly slackened our speed opposite a long shed running from the water’s edge to the hill’s summit. The planter, in order to get his produce from the height above to the means of transport below, had constructed an extensive slide, about three hundred and fifty feet in length, and about four feet six inches wide, made of longitudinal plans, with a raised guard on each side to preserve the bales from slipping off in their descent. Parallel to the slide ran a flight of steps, the whole being covered over. Our vessel ran its nose boldly into the shore; a wide gangboard was thrown to the foot of the shoot, making a complete connection with our lower deck, where the busy hands had already constructed a species of barricade of cotton-bales to receive the shock of their coming brother bale. And now the process of loading commenced. At a given signal from below a thousand-pound package of the staple was started at the top of the slide, two hundred and fifty feet perpendicular above the level of the water. Slowly it moved at first, but, gaining momentum as it proceeded, the pace quickened-quicker, quicker, quicker-till at last it fell like a thunderbolt on the deck, knocking the bales of the barricade in every direction. In one moment a dozen black fellows, were upon the new arrival, dragging it out of the way with instruments resembling boothooks, or busying themselves with reconstructing the barricade. The sable workmen having scrambled to places of safety, and the signal “All right!” given, another thousand-pounder came thundering on deck, shaking our big ship from stern to stern, till every beam and rafter trembled to the uttermost end of its two hundred and fifty feet of length. The effect was absolutely terrific, and required some nerve merely to contemplate. If a man gets in the way, as sometimes happens, he is crushed like a fly under the hand of a coalbeaver. However, no accident happened on the present occasion. The Magnolia received her fifty shocks, packed her cargo neatly round the boiler, and steamed onward.” 

The Union Expedition up the Tennessee RiverHarper’s Weekly, March 1, 1862

On this page we illustrate the Welcome of the Union men in Tennessee and Alabama to the gunboats which ascended the Tennessee River, after the fight at Fort Henry. The dispatch to the Associated Press said:

“After the capture of Fort Henry, the Lexington, Conestoga, and Tyler gave chase to the rebel steamer Dunbar, and on reaching the Memphis and Louisville Railroad Bridge set fire to a portion of it, and captured some stores, etc. They then passed on in chase of the Dunbar, but did not overtake her. It is supposed that she escaped by running up some creek.

Union Expedition, Harper's Weekly During the night the gun-boats went to Florence, Alabama, the head of navigation, and two hundred and fifty miles from Paducah. Every where along the river they were received with astonishing welcome by numerous Union families in Southern Tennessee and Northern Alabama, and at the towns along the river the old flag was looked upon as a redeemer, and hailed with loud shouts of joy. The people of Florence are so delighted at finding the Stars and Stripes once more giving protection to them that they were prepared to give a grand ball to the officers of the gun-boats, but the latter could not remain to accept their courtesies.

Wherever our boats landed, and the people became assured that we did not come to destroy, but to save, they seemed to have no means too extravagant to express their delight and joy.

Old men cried like children at the sight of the Stars and Stripes, and invited the officers and men of the gun-boats to their houses, and told them all they had was at their disposal. Large numbers were anxious to enlist under the old flag, and the Tyler brought down two hundred and fifty men to fill up the gun-boats’ crews.

Our officers were assured that if they would wait a few days whole regiments could be raised, and if the Government would give them arms to defend themselves they could bring Tennessee back into the Union in a few months.

They said that when the secession ordinance was passed armed men stood at the polls, and every thing went as certain politicians said.

At Savannah, Eastport, and Florence the officers and men of our gun-boats went ashore without arms, and mingled freely with the people.

 The Union men along the river comprise the wealthy and best portion of the inhabitants, large numbers of whom have American flags. Not a gun was fired either going or coming.” 

The War in North AlabamaHarper’s Weekly, August 16, 1862

We illustrate on pages 513 and 518 some interesting scenes of General Mitchell’s campaign in North Alabama. Our pictures are from sketches by Mr. Hubner, of the Third Ohio, who thus describes them:

Burning the Tennessee Bridge at Decatur

“A part of Mitchell’s division, under command of Colonel Lytle, Tenth Ohio Volunteers, Third Ohio Volunteers, Colonel J. Beatty, Coldwater Battery, Captain Loomis (Michigan Artillery), were sent to Decatur, which place they held until the rebels with overwhelming forces, under command of General Price, advanced on us. We prevented the rebels from following us by burning the bridge, also the railroad depot. Mitchell took possession of every boat, even of the smallest skiff, for twenty miles up and down the river, so the rebels had not the slightest means to cross.

Captain Loomis did good work. His boys are the finest set of men I have ever seen. The bridge was a beautiful one, built of wood and iron, and 1700 yards long.

Defeat of Rebels at Bridgeport

After our arrival at Huntsville our gallant leader, General Mitchell, who was much pleased with our conduct, sent us immediately to Bridgeport, Jackson County, twenty-four miles above Chattanooga (a small place of about six or eight houses), where another force of the rebels, under General Ledbetter, was advancing. We drove them back, burned a small bridge, and Loomis shelled them out of their camp, which was situated about a mile from the shore of the river.

Guerrillas and Bushwhackers

On our way from Bridgeport back to Huntsville two of our men got shot by some bushwhackers, who fired on our train out of the bushes in the vicinity of Paint Rock. Colonel J. Beatty stopped the train and sent several detachments in pursuit of the rebels. One party went to the town and captured four or five of the band; another party, under command of Captain M’Dougal, Company H, Third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, went into a cave which is in the neighborhood of Paint Rock. A slave negro led the way. The entrance of the cave is not easily detected. It is half hidden by bushes and rocks. We had to walk some distance with heads bent; but soon the cave got wider and wider, and looked like a church with fine columns and arches, strange formations of the dropping limestone. The red blaze of the torches produced a strange and beautiful effect. Often it seemed to us that we saw human figures in the deep shadow, often we raised our trusty rifles, but found we were aiming at some curious limestone formation. We went about two miles into the cave, found signs of occasional visits by human beings, and the negro assured us it was in fact a hiding-place of a guerrilla band.

We had to go back when the torches burned down. There are many side caves and abysses, and without light it is a most dangerous place. The cave is five miles long, and has several outlets.

We went back to where our train stopped. The other party arrived with the prisoners. One of them is a captain in some rebel cavalry company. They also found some guns.

The boys were so enraged Colonel B. Could hardly prevent them from hanging the murderers immediately. Some rebel houses were burned.

 Late at night we arrived at Huntsville and delivered the traitors into jail.” 

The Murder of General Robert L. M’CookHarper’s Weekly, August 23, 1862, p. 530

We illustrate on page 541 the brutal and coldblooded murder of General Robert L. M’Cook, who was assassinated by miscreants calling themselves guerillas, near Salem, Alabama, on 5th instant. The correspondent of the Philadelphia Press thus recounts the outrage:

 “Nashville, August 7 Midnight

The city is in a perfect uproar of excitement over the details of the death of the brave General Robert L. M’Cook, of Ohio. His remains arrived in town tonight, and are now lying at the Commercial Hotel.

I write this at midnight, and therefore am unable to send you as full particulars as I could wish. On Tuesday last General Robert L. M’Cook, who was at the time very sick was in an ambulance near Salem, Alabama, on his way to his brigade. The ambulance was traveling over the usual military road, and about ten o’clock in the morning it arrived at a plantation where there was an abundance of water. After refreshing themselves they passed on with the wounded General. Intelligence of his whereabouts and condition was quickly spread, it is supposed; for before the ambulance had proceeded three miles the driver discovered that he was pursued by guerillas.

It was impossible to think of flight, and General M’Cook’s condition prohibited any idea of rescuing him. The guerilla leader ordered the ambulance to stop, the assassins at the same time surrounding it. The vehicle was then upset, and the sick officer turned into the road. While on his knees, helpless and sick, he was fired at by a ruffian, and shot through the side.

The wound was fatal, General M’Cook surviving it but a few hours. He bore his sufferings heroically, and to the last manifested an undaunted spirit. His last words were “Tell Aleck (alluding to his brother, general Alexander M’Dowell M’Cook) and the rest that I have tried to live like a man and do my duty.”

When the news of the murder became known among the camps the excitement was intense. The Ninth Ohio, M’Cook’s own regiment, on learning of the assassination, marched back to the scene of the occurrence, burned every house in the neighborhood and laid waste the lands. Several men who were implicated in the murder were taken out and hung to trees by the infuriated soldiery.”

General Robert M’Cook was one of seven brothers who are or were in the Union service. One of them was killed at Bull Run. Another, the eldest, is General Alexander M’Dowell M’Cook, one of the most distinguished officers in the West. The father of these gallant men is a paymaster in General Buell’s army. The wanton murder of General Robert M’Cook has roused the West to a pitch of ungovernable fury.

Huntsville, AlabamaHarper’s Weekly, March 19, 1864

This town, which is now the head-quarters of General Logan, and a sketch of which we give on page 188, is the only one in the South that I have visited, says our correspondent, that in itself suggests inhabitants of cultivated taste and refinement. The streets are regularly laid out, and well shaded by fine trees. The houses, too, have architectural design-a something that few homes of “ye Tchivalrie” can boast-and have about them gardens well laid out, and very neatly kept. The inhabitants are disposed to be “Union,” but are fearful of the consequence of an avowal in its favor, in event of the reoccupation of the town by the rebel troops. Still there are among the citizens very many stanch Union men, who do not hesitate to say their thought. I have seen but one female endeavor to show her dislike for the “wretched Yank.” This one, after much effort, got up such a visage that I produced sketch-book and pencil to reproduce the novelty; but she would not stay en pose, and for consequence has not the distinguished honor of an appearance in Harper. The Court-house Square is each evening the scene of a dress-parade of the Thirteenth Regulars – General Sherman’s bodyguard, and a splendid regiment – Vicksburg heroes too. The command of a General John E. Smith is in and near the town, in camps that are said to be the very neatest that have ever been seen.

Mobile and its DefensesHarper’s Weekly, March 26, 1864

We give on page 204 an illustration showing the position of the Federal fleet off the harbor of Mobile, together with the defenses of the harbor. At last accounts (25th ult.) Admiral Farragut was bombarding Fort Powell, which commands Grant’s Pass, on the left of the picture. This fort is bomb-proof, but, under the vigorous fire directed against it, could not, it was believed at the date of the latest advices, long hold out. The reduction of this fort is necessary to enable Farragut to send his mosquito fleet through the Pass into the harbor of Mobile, by which he will cut off forts Gaines and Morgan. The distance from Fort Powell is thirty miles, nine of which are through a narrow channel, with its banks fortified the entire distance. Fort Morgan is a very strong work, protected on the sea front by a strong water-battery of masonry and turf. The fort and battery, with their full battery, mount forty-five guns, mostly Columbiads of heavy caliber. Fort Gaines is situated on Dauphin’s Island Point, three miles and one fourth from and nearly opposite Fort Morgan, and is heavily mounted. Vessels drawing more than seven and a half feet are compelled to pass between these forts; and obstructions placed in the channel will make the passage for Farragut still more difficult.

Mobile is one of the largest cities on the Gulf, and is fairly environed by defenses thrown up during the last two years. The authorities, however, do not appeal to feel secure against assault; for on the 25h ult. the Mayor of the city issued a proclamation requesting all non-combatants to leave the city, intimating that its capture was not impossible, and that in any case, if the city should be besieged, suffering might result from the want of supplies.

MobileHarper’s Weekly, September 8, 1866, p. 566

This city is so thoroughly uninteresting that your artist made but one sketch there. That was the picture of the Magnolia Avenue on the Shell Road-or rather what is left of it, for many of the finest trees were cut down in getting rand for the guns which were to defend the city-a needless destruction, as they never fired a shot.

The Magnolia, when old, is a handsome tree. It grows tall, and the deep, glossy green of its leaves is a capital foil to the delicate while of its large and perfumed blossoms. The trees through which the Shell Road passes-the fashionable drive of Mobile-have long been famous, and it is a great pity so many of them have been destroyed.

Mobile was a terribly demoralized city during the war, and it is not to be wondered at. Garrisoned by a large force, which was entirely without occupation till toward the close of the war, such looseness pervaded its society as to make it the subject of repeated strictures in the rebel newspapers. Since it fell into Union hands it has shows itself to be by no means a community where liberal or peaceful sentiments reign; as witness the repeated burnings of colored churches and school-houses, “entirely the work of accident, unless the [negroes] did it themselves,” as I was assured by a citizen. These and other things-the result of bad policy-are driving much of the trade and even the merchants to New Orleans, whither many of the planters of Alabama follow to get their supplies.

 

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