Reminiscences of the capture of Mobile
By Willis V. Tichenor
Twenty-eight years ago on this day which we commemorate as the birthplace of the Father of our Country, the 28th Regt. Of Wisconsin Infantry with which I had the honor of serving during our late unpleasantness, was ordered to embark on ship at Algiers, La., to join the forces then gathering at Mobile Point, Alabama, this force to combine against Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, which were still in the hands of the Rebels, and were the keys to the city of Mobile. Having completed the loading of men, mules, rations, ammunition, etc., we started in a pouring rain for our destination via the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico; the storm was so severe on our arrival at the Mouth of the river, that a consultation was held to decide whether it was safe to enter the Gulf; it was concluded to make the venture. In a few hours we were sorry that we had no anchored in the River and waited until the weather was more favorable. The storm increased with such rapidity that we were in a genuine hurricane; nearly everyone on board was sea sick; about midnight the Captain of the ship wished to throw over the mules, wagons and heavy ordinance, but the commanding officers of the troops would not consent; the anchor was cast and we lay tossed by the waves and dragging until morning; at dawn of the day we discovered that we were but a short distance from the breakers: this fact was reported to the officer in command who immediately ordered the Captain of the shop to take up anchor and steam for Mobile Point. Arriving safely at our destination that day, we disembarked and went into camp near Fort Morgan, one of the Forts captured a few weeks before by Admiral Farragutt; those of you who were so fortunate as to hear Maj. Dane's lecture will remember his brilliant description of the destruction of the Rebel Gun Boats and capturing of the Forts on the Mississippi River and at the mouth of Mobile Bay; these victories enabled us to enter Mobile Bay. After remaining in Camp about three weeks, we began our march against Mobile. The men were heavily loaded with clothing, ammunition and rations. March 17th, we broke camp and started for Fish River. Soon after starting the Soldiers commenced to unload the surplus clothing by throwing away everything not absolutely necessary. The first camp made after leaving Fort Morgan was on the shore of Oyster Bay, a part of Mobile Bay, used for oyster fishing. As soon as camp was established there was a general rush for oysters and in a very few minutes the bay was full of men fishing with their hands in the sand for oysters, and I believe everybody has a sufficient supply of the bivalves.
On the second day we arrived at the bottomless pit of Alabama and from that time until we arrived at Fish River; which took us several days, our time was employed in hauling wagons and guns and falling trees to make cordory (sic) roads. I believe it was estimated that we built about fifteen miles of this road, between the point of commencing our second day's march and Fish River.
Arriving at Fish River we rested a day or two then commenced our march for Spanish Fort. We very soon found this fort and had our batteries and mortars playing on the Works; infantry in the mean time had established rifle pits around the Fort; this Fort faces on Mobile Bay, but the channels in the bay were so filled with torpedoes that our gun boats were unable to get within several miles of the Work; this point if captured at all must be done by land forces. After remaining nearly two weeks under constant fire working our pits gradually nearer the Fort, we were ordered to assault the works, which was successfully accomplished and the Fort was ours. As soon as this Fort had fallen into our hands, our Division was ordered to Blakely the other key to Mobile. This Fort was besieged by another of our armies under command of Genl. Fred Steele. We started for this Fort, distant ten miles, expecting to arrive in time to take part in its capture; but Gen. Steele had been two weeks hammering away with cannon and mortars at this fortification and had concluded to charge their works with the troops he had; on our arrival we found him in possession of the Fort, and Mobile City was ours.
|From Harper's Weekly, May 27, 1865: The Fight before Mobile - The Storming of Fort Blakely|
Captain Willis Tichenor of Company G wrote and presented the following at an unknown event in 1893. This transcript of his original speech notes was found at the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives.