Battle of Fort Blakely
African American unit that was part of the Mobile Campaign
Battle Painting featured in Harper's Weekly newspaper
Chart of USCT Regiments
Backstory and Context
Fort Blakely was a small fort in Alabama around the town of Mobile. In 1865, General E.R.S. Canby began the campaign to take the city of Mobile and end the Civil War. As a protecting fort, Fort Blakeley was targeted to be attacked first in order to gain access to the city. Fort Blakeley along with Spanish Fort protected the eastern side of Mobile. Following the defeat of Confederate troops at Spanish Fort, the remaining forces fell back to Fort Blakely.
Fort Blakely wasn't a typical fort in the sense of a fort. It’s position was mostly a flat terrain that offered no visual advantages for the defender. The fort, however, was to block off the town of Blakely from Union forces. Blakely was a small town that gave advantages to the sea and could have advanced the attack on Mobile by being a formidable town to launch attacks. Fort Blakely had an advantage with a strong front line of defense, but breakthrough of the front line would result in the falling of the entire battlement. No reserve positions were behind the front line to prevent a break in the line. One break would result in the crumbling of the fort.
General Canby decided to hit the fort at the strongest and most crucial position known as Redoubt #4. A small skirmish close to Redoubt #4 led to the digging in of Union troops to prepare an attack. Artillery fire allowed Union troops to get in close on the enemy position. Following an artillery battle and the taking of Spanish Fort, the 83rd Ohio began an attack on the Confederate position on April 9th. The 83rd Ohio and some supporting units swarmed the Confederate troops at Redoubt #4. The remaining forces at the entrenchment had to surrender.The following battles to take other positions at the fort also went extremely easy for Union forces. Two of these Redoubts were assaulted by black troops. Half of the attacking forces at Fort Blakely were USCT units. Eleven USCT units were involved in the attacking of Fort Blakely. Eight of these units were from the state of Louisiana, one from the state of Mississippi, one from the state of Missouri, and two were mixed troops from Louisiana and Missouri. These units led and took Redoubts #1 and #2 defending Fort Blakely. Many Confederate troops ran, surrendered to white troops, or fought to the death rather than surrendering to black troops.