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THE ALABAMA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

Historical Marker Program

Mobile County

Battle of Mobile Bay

One of the fiercest naval actions of the war was fought off this point August 5, 1864. The mighty Tennessee, an iron-clad ram built at Selma shipyards with six guns, was last of four-ship Confederate fleet defending, with troops in Ft. Morgan, the bay and entrance to Mobile. Adm. Farragut ('Damn the torpedoes') commanded 17 ships with 199 heavy guns.
Adm. Buchanan alone attacked Federal fleet; furious close-quarter fighting followed. Encircled and taking heavy fire, Tennessee's crew inflicted losses until, rudder chains and smokestack shot away, she was rammed at will and drifted helplessly but with guns and armor intact. Farragut then landed troops who took Ft. Morgan after 19-day siege. Mobile, last fortified port, fell in 1865.

 

Bayou La Batre

Originally called "Rivere D'Erbane," the bayou acquired present name from French-maintained battery of artillery on West Bank for defense. First permanent settlement on south Mobile County mainland. Founded 1786 when Joseph Bouzage (Bosarge), 1733-1795, moved into the area and was awarded a 1259 acre Spanish land grant on West Bank.
Born Poitiers, France, Bouzage came to Gulf Coast ca. 1760. Married Catherine Louise Boudreau 5 June, 1762. Father of seven children including one son, Jean Baptiste.
City of Bayou La Batre incorporated 1955.

 

British West Florida

1763-1780. 1763 Florida and Louisiana, east of the Mississippi, ceded to England by Treaty of Paris. 1763 George III of England created West Florida as a new colony; this included all of present South Alabama. 1768 Elias Durnford, provincial engineer, made the first survey of the bay and published his Admiralty Chart. 1778 William Bartram, eminent botanist, explored the plant life of this area. 1780 Spain having declared war on England, Governor Galvez from New Orleans invaded the bay with 2000 men. They captured the British garrison at Mobile after a siege of two weeks. General George Washington regarded Galvez as an ally.

 

Early Alabama

1813-1861. 1803 Mobile Bay area claimed by U.S. under terms of Louisiana Purchase, although occupied by Spanish garrisons. 1812 Added to Mississippi Territory by act of Congress. 1813 Seized from Spanish garrison by military force on order Pres. Madison. 1817 Alabama Territory created by act of Congress. 1819 Alabama admitted to Union. 1861 Alabama seceded and joined Confederate States of America.

 

Early Spanish Florida

1519-1561. Explorers, Conquistadors, Colonizers. 1519 Pineda explored this coast, made maps, and spent several months in this bay refitting his ships. 1528 Narvaez's storm-wrecked expedition sought refuge here. De Vaca survived to reach Mexico. 1539 Maldonado explored coast and recommended rendezvous here with De Soto. 1540 Maldonado returned with ships to remove De Soto's army. But De Soto, after Indian Battle of Mauvilla, turned northwest still seeking gold. 1558 Bazares explored bay area by order of Spanish king and reported conditions favorable for colonization. 1559 De Luna with 1500 settlers and soldiers landed here, established main colony at Pensacola, and moved into interior along Alabama River. 1561 De Luna colonists, after many hardships, descended the Alabama River and re-embarked for Mexico.

 

Ellicott's Stone

Marks 31 North Latitude erected 1799-1 miles-Stone marked boundary between U.S., Spanish Florida from the Mississippi east to Chattahoochee River. Ellicott, U.S. Surveyor General, did this first Alabama boundary survey. Basis of all South Alabama surveys. His survey defined southern boundary of Mississippi Territory created in 1798.
[Before 1965: U.S. Highwy 45]

 

Emerson Institute

On this site stood Emerson Institute, Mobile's first school for the formal education of African-Americans in Alabama. Founded 1865 by the Freedmen's Bureau, the school was run by the American Missionary Association from 1866 until 1927 when it became a Mobile County public school. First located in the "Blue College" on Government Street, the school moved in 1877 here to 266 Scott Street after a disastrous fire. Many of its students had careers of local and national distinction. Emerson closed in 1970 and its buildings were demolished as part of the city's plan for urban renewal.
[1995: Scott St., Mobile]

 

French Louisiana

Louis XIV, Grand Monarch of France, sought to wrest Gulf Coast from Spain and to defeat British pretensions west of Appalachian Mountains. Under vague terms of Peace of Ryswick, 1697, France claimed all west of Perdido River, by explorations of LaSalle. 1699 Iberville, with colonists and soldiers, cast anchor here. They made temporary settlements on Dauphin Island and at Biloxi. 1702 Mobile, Capital Louisiana Province, founded at 27 Mile Bluff. 1711 Mobile removed to present site. 1711 British privateers from Jamaica made destructive raids on French in lower Mobile Bay. 1719 With Spain and France at war, the Spaniards from Cuba twice attacked and pillaged settlements of lower bay. 1756-1763 British fleet blockaded entrance to bay and stifled French trade. 1762 French ceded Louisiana Province to Spain by secret treaty. 1763 Florida and Louisiana Province, east of the Mississippi ceded to England by Treaty of Paris.

 

Mobile Bay Area

History Under Six Flags. 1519-1699 Spanish Florida by discovery, exploration and conquest. 1699-1763 French Louisiana by colonization, exploration and trade. 1763-1780 British West Florida by treaty, occupation and administration. 1780-1813 Spanish West Florida by invasion, seizure and treaty. 1813-1861 United States by invasion, seizure and treaty. 1861 Independent State of Alabama. 1861-1865 Confed. States of America. 1865-United States.

 

Mount Vernon Arsenal and Barracks

Established 1828 by Congress to store arms and munitions for U. S. Army. Original structures completed 1830's. Arsenal appropriated by Confederacy 1861; equipment moved to Selma facilities. After Civil War used as U. S. Army barracks; from 1887-1894 served as holding ground for Apache Indian prisoners. Deeded to State of Alabama 1895.
Josiah Gorgas, later Chief of Ordnance of Confederacy, stationed here 1850's; Dr. Walter Reed, conqueror of yellow fever, served as post surgeon 1880's; Apache chieftain, Geronimo, prisoner here 1887-1894.

 

Oakleigh

Started in 1833 by James Roper on a Spanish land grant, "Oakleigh" was named for the magnificent oaks around it. The "T" shaped dwelling with elegant parlors and curved outside stairway from the brick terrace to front gallery was well suited for a semi-tropical climate. Many famous visitors, including President James Garfield, were entertained here. It was included in the Historic American Building Survey and the National Register of Historic Places. Acquired by City of Mobile in 1955. Now operated as a museum by Historic Mobile Preservation Society, it reflects antebellum life in this city.
[Oakleigh Place, Mobile]

 

Searcy Hospital

Mt. Vernon Hospital established 1900 by State of Alabama. Served as mental hospital for care of Black citizens. Name changed 1919 to Searcy Hospital honoring first superintendent, Dr. J. T. Searcy. Treatment for all citizens began 1969. Nine of structures dating from 1830's still in use, including Superintendent's House, Tower Building, and Library. Enclosing wall dates from 1830's.
[Mt. Vernon]

 

Spanish West Florida

1780-1813. 1780 Spaniards invading from New Orleans seized this area from British. 1783 Treaty of Versailles confirmed West Florida to Spain without defining north boundary. This led to a long dispute with the United States. 1795 By treaty, 31 latitude was made boundary between United States and Spain. 1803 United States claimed Mobile Bay as part of Louisiana Purchase, but Spanish garrisons remained in possession. 1806 Spanish troops stationed at Mobile Point. 1812 Congress authorized President Madison to use army and navy to occupy Mobile Bay.


Other Mobile County pages:

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Updated: September 13, 2012