As the heart of the Confederacy, Alabama has seven battle sites, historically noted along the state’s Civil War Trail.
These sites include the Battle of Athens, Battle of Day’s Gap, Battle of Decatur, Battle of Fort Blakeley, Battle of Mobile Bay, Battle of Selma and Battle of Spanish Fort.
During the war, Alabama was home to 170 military engagements and the National Park Service recognizes the seven sites including the war’s final engagement at Fort Blakeley on the state’s Gulf coast.
On April 30, 1863 Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest and US Co. Abel Streight’s forces met at Day’s Gap.
Three CSA regiments along with (US) the 51st Indiana Infantry, 73rd Indiana Infantry, 3rd Ohio Infantry, 80th Illinois Infantry and the 1st. Middle Tennessee Calvary made up the battle which began at Day’s Gap and continued eastward to Cedar Bluff.
Straight marched into Alabama with orders to cross the northern portion of the statte and destroy railroads and factories. The troops traveled on mules and were given the name “Lightning Mule Bridage” because of their lack of horses.
During their mission they were pursued and attacked by the swift and horse-mounted troops under Forrest and it was not until May 3 that they gave up at Cedar Bluff.
The next major battle in the state was on January 26, 1864 when 600 Confederate cavalry troops attempted to take back Athens from Union control. The attempt failed and 20 Union soldiers died in the battle along with 30 CSA troops.
In a large, rare and well-known battle, the Confederate forces directed by Adm. Franklin Buchanan and Brig. Gen. Richard Page faced off against US Adm. David Farragut5 and Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger on Mobile Bay.
This was a rare land-sea battle which saw Farragut’s Gulf fleet engaged in battle with the heavily-armed Confederate forts that guarded Mobile Bay. These inclulded forts Gaines, Morgan and Powell along with four Confederate naval vessels and the 18 Union naval vessels.
Farragut succeeded in breaking the Confederate lines and hold as each fort fell into federal hands, cutting off Mobile’s seaport. Confederate causualities ran high with 1,822 dead while 322 Union soldiers fell.
Later in the year between October 26-29 Confederate Gen. John Hood and Union Brig. Gen. Robert Granger’s forces clashed in Decatur.
Hood’s Army of the Tennessee failed to cross the Tennessee River and cut Union General Sherman’s supply line between Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia.
Hood came up against 5,000 Union troops which included the 14th U.S. Colored Infantry. The battle saw 450 CSA troops lose their lives along with 155 Union soldiers.
Another coastal battle occurred between March 27 – April 8, 1865 at Spanish Fort as Confederate troops, slowly pushed away from the edges of Mobile Bay, dug into defensive lines at Spanish Fort which would fall during a Union siege.
There were a total of 1,401 casualties, 744 CSA and 657 Union.
During this same period on April 2, 1865 CSA Lt. Gen. Forrest and Union Maj. Gen. James Wilson’s troops clashed in the Battle of Selma which was a major Confederate weapons manufacturing center and mostly defended by old men and young boys.
Forrest was brought in to assist but Wilson’s Raiders destroyed the arsenal and looted and burned private homes and in the end there were a total of 3,019 casualties – 2,700 Confederate troops and 319 Union.
The very final battle of the entire war happened shortly after Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox when, on April 2-9, 1865 Union forces captured Fort Blakeley. It was the last major battle of the war and African-American soldiers played a major role in the Union victory there.
The six-day battle saw 4,475 casualties with 2,900 Confederate troops and 629 Union.