|Fort Bowyer stood on the site of today's Fort Morgan|
Before New Orleans, however, there was Fort Bowyer. The all but forgotten little fort stood on Mobile Point in Alabama and on September 15, 1814, the men of its garrison withstood a British onslaught to secure a victory that lifted the spirits of Americans far and wide.
|Plan of Fort Bowyer|
In anticipation of their coming move on New Orleans, the British initially planned to take Mobile. Its location and bay made the city ideal for an overland move against Baton Rouge, where the Mississippi River could be controlled to break off supplies and other commerce moving downstream to New Orleans. Such a move would make the Crescent City much easier to take.
|This view shows the route of the British ships.|
Sailing west from Pensacola in early September, British commander Captain William H. Percy put ashore 60 men from the Colonial Royal Marines under Lieutenant Colonel Edward Nicolls. Supported by 120 or so Indians under Captain George Woodbine, this force moved to block land access to Fort Bowyer and Nicolls directed his Marines, almost all of whom were free blacks, to emplace a 5 1/2 inch howitzer on a high sand dune near the fort.
|Cannon on display in Fort Bowyer exhibit at Fort Morgan Museum|
On the afternoon of September 15, 1814, the four British warships, led by the 20-gun Hermes formed in a line and closed in on Fort Bowyer. Major William Lawrence and his garrison from the 2nd U.S. Infantry stood to their guns on the walls of the fort and, when the British came into range at around 4:15 p.m., opened fire.
|HMS Hermes in Action|
For hours the Battle of Fort Bowyer raged at virtually the same site of the later and better known Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. To learn more about the fight, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortbowyer.