Fort Gaines - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Gaines

Dauphin Island, Alabama, United States

Fort Gaines was a fortification used in the American Civil War.

Image Credit: George Dodd III/

About Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines is a nineteenth century fortification on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

History of Fort Gaines

The island itself has a rich history, having been a French, British and Spanish colony and once having been called “Massacre Island” due to the large number of remains found there by a sixteenth century French explorer. It came under American control in 1813.

Construction of Fort Gaines began in 1821, as part of the Third System plan to shore up the country’s seacoast defences. The fort was plagued with problems, not least that it was often flooded. Thus, Fort Gaines was later rebuilt between 1853 and 1862, the latter part of the work done by Confederate soldiers due to the breakout of the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, Fort Gaines played an important role in the Battle of Mobile Bay, where Admiral Farragut shouted his now-famous order, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”. Fort Gaines went on to have roles in the Spanish-American War and as a base during the First and Second World Wars.

Fort Gaines today

Today, Fort Gaines is under the remit of the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board. The well-preserved ramparts of Fort Gaines have guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay for more than 150 years. Now a historic site, the Fort stands at the eastern tip of Dauphin Island where it commands panoramic views of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The fort has original cannons, a blacksmith shop, kitchens, a museum, gift shop, and tunnels. Fort Gaines provides guided tours for groups of 15 people or more with at least two weeks in advanced notice for booking and that they are done by our own soldier in period uniform which will bring history to life including cannon firing demonstration and blacksmithing.

The Fort was recently designated as one of the Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites in America due to on-going shoreline erosion.

Getting to Fort Gaines

The address of Fort Gaines is 109 Bienville Blvd. Dauphin Island, AL 36528. Located on Dauphin Island in the The Gulf Coast Area, there is limited public transport to this venue. Travelling by car is advised. If you are looking to travel from overseas, the nearest commercial airports are in Atlanta in Georgia or Dallas, Texas.

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