On 3 August 1864, Union forces laid siege to Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island to help Union Admiral David Farragut and his 18-strong fleet seal the last major southern port from Confederate blockade runners. The runners were moving cotton, weapons and supplies for the Confederate forces through the Gulf of Mexico. On 5 August as Farragut’s fleet entered Mobile Bay, Alabama, it was caught in devastating fire from the coastal forts. Farragut’s fleet was forced to navigate the narrow channel, and negotiate its shallow waters, which were booby trapped with floating mines and rows of stakes. After losing Tecumseh, Farragut’s fleet finally succeeded in entering Mobile Bay, where it engaged with Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan’s flotilla of three gunboats and the ironclad (an armour-plated warship) Tennessee. After the Union fleet blew a hole in the ironclad, Buchanan surrendered. Following the surrender of Fort Gaines on 8 August and Fort Morgan on 23 August, the Bay could no longer be used for blockade running.
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