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Battle of Mobile Bay

The Battle of Mobile Bay of August 5, 1864, was an engagement of the American Civil War in which a Union fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay. A paraphrase of his order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" became famous. Farragut's actual order was "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!". The battle was marked by Farragut's rash but successful run through a minefield that had just claimed one of his ironclad monitors, enabling his fleet to get beyond the range of the shore-based guns; this was followed by a reduction of the Confederate fleet to a single vessel, ironclad CSS Tennessee. Tennessee did not retire, but engaged the entire Northern fleet. Tennessee's armor enabled her to inflict more injury than she received, but she could not overcome the imbalance in numbers, she was reduced to a motionless hulk and surrendered, ending the battle.

With no Navy to support them, the three forts surrendered within days. Complete control of lower Mobile Bay thus passed to the Union forces. Mobile had been the last important port on the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi River remaining in Confederate possession, so its closure was the final step in completing the blockade in that region; this Union victory, together with the capture of Atlanta, was extensively covered by Union newspapers and was a significant boost for Abraham Lincoln's bid for re-election three months after the battle. The city of Mobile is situated near the head of Mobile Bay, where a natural harbor is formed by the meeting of the Mobile and Tensaw rivers; the bay is about 33 mi long. It is deep enough to accommodate ocean-going vessels in the lower half without dredging; the mouth of the bay is marked on the east by a long narrow peninsula of sand, Mobile Point, that separates Bon Secour Bay, where the Bon Secour River enters the larger bay, from the gulf. The point ends at the main channel into Mobile Bay, here the United States government erected a pre-war fort to shield Mobile from enemy fleets.

Across the entrance, the line of the peninsula is continued in a series of barrier islands, beginning with Dauphin Island. Northwest of Dauphin Island is Little Dauphin Island a series of minor islands that are interrupted by a secondary entrance to the bay, Grant's Pass. A few other small islands and shoals lie to the south of Dauphin Island, defining the main channel for as much as 10 mi south of the entrance. Rather early in the war, the Confederate government decided not to defend its entire coastline, but rather to concentrate its efforts on a few of its most important ports and harbors. Following the loss of New Orleans in April 1862, Mobile became the only major port in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that needed to be defended; the city subsequently became the center for blockade running on the gulf. Most of the trade between the Confederacy and other Caribbean ports passed through Mobile. A few attempts were mounted to break the blockade, but they were not large enough to have lasting impact.

Among the most embarrassing episodes of the war for the U. S. Navy was the passage of the raider CSS Florida through the blockade into Mobile Bay on September 4, 1862. Although the orders given to Flag Officer David G. Farragut when he was assigned to command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron had included instructions to capture Mobile as well as New Orleans, the early diversion of the squadron into the campaign for the lower Mississippi meant that the city and its harbor would not receive full attention until after the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863. Given respite by the Union strategy, the Confederate Army improved the defenses of Mobile Bay by strengthening Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines at the entrance to the bay. In addition, they set up a smaller work that guarded the Grant's Pass channel. Grant's Pass was obstructed by a set of piles and other impediments, which had the effect of diverting the tidal flow to Heron Pass. Mobile and Mobile Bay were within the Department of Alabama and East Louisiana, led by Major General Dabney H. Maury.

Although Mobile was the site of the department headquarters, Maury did not exercise immediate command of the forts at the entrance to the bay, he was not present during the battle and ensuing siege. Local command was entrusted to Brigadier General Richard L. Page; the primary contribution of the Confederate Army to the defense of Mobile Bay was the three forts. Fort Morgan was a masonry structure dating from 1834; the fort mounted 46 guns. Its garrison numbered about 600. Across the main channel from Fort Morgan on Dauphin Island was Fort Gaines, containing 26 guns, with a garrison of about 600; when Page was not present, command of the fort fell to Colonel Charles D. Anderson. At the western end of the bay was Fort Powell, smallest of the three, with 18 guns and about 140 men, it was commanded in Page's absence by Lieutenant Colonel James M. Williams. All three forts were flawed in; the raw numbers of troops available do not indicate how they would fight. The war was winding down, assertions were made that the morale of the soldiers was bad.

The judgment is hard to quantify, but it would explain at least in part the poor performance of the defenders. The Confederate

Grotte aux Fées (Switzerland)

The Grotte aux Fées in the cliffs above Saint-Maurice, Switzerland is a natural limestone solution show cave, featuring a 77-metre high underground waterfall, claimed as the world's highest waterfall in a show cave. The cave was the first show cave in Switzerland; the cave was known until the mid 19th century as the Trou aux Fayes or "Sheep Hole," as it was used as a sheepfold. The cave was known from Roman times, but was first publicized in 1863 as a tourist attraction, with the present name being used from 1865; the cave was explored in 1831. From 1863 Professor Chanoine Gard of the Abbey College of Saint-Maurice cleared passageways and conducted tours on behalf of an orphanage that he had founded. From 1865 the cave was operated by the Sisters of Saint-Maurice. In 1925 additional exploration extended the cave network from the top of the waterfall; the network includes the 504 metres tourist gallery, the 1,200-metre Galerie des Morts and the 2,184-metre Fairies' Cave section, with an elevation difference of 122 metres.

A 2010 exploration linked the Grotte aux Fées to the nearby Grotte de Saint-Martin No.1, totaling 3,630 metres in length and 249 metres in elevation. The guided tour follows a 500-metre trail; the waterfall is fed by water from the nearby Dents du Midi peaks. The cave was connected to Fort du Scex, which occupies the same cliff, between 1935 and 1936; the cave in turn was connected to Fort de Cindey between 1941 and 1946, forming part of the fortifications of Fortress Saint-Maurice and providing an underground connection between the two fortifications. The cave and both forts may be visited during summer months. Grotte aux Fées website Grotte aux Fées at speleo-lausanne.com

Cilgerran Hundred

The Hundred of Cilgerran was a hundred in the north of Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was formed by the Act of Union of 1536 from the commote of the pre-Norman cantref of Emlyn included by the Act in Pembrokeshire and is otherwise called in Welsh Emlyn Is Cuch, with the addition of the Cemais parish of Llantood; the area of the commote was about 106 km2: that of the hundred was 113 km2. It was under the control of the medieval borough of Cilgerran, it was occupied by the Normans in the 12th century, made part of the March, but remained Welsh-speaking. In addition to Cilgerran Castle, the Normans constructed at least one other castle in the commote: Castell Chrychydd in Clydau; the commote comprised the parishes of Bridell, Clydau, Capel Colman, Llanfihangel Penbedw and Penrydd, the western part of Cilrhedyn