As you walk through what remains of Fort Morgan, you feel as though you can hear echoes of soldiers singing that old song, “Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave, Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore, Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave. Oh! Hard times come again no more.”
- Fort Morgan is a pentagonal fort that was constructed between 1819 and 1834.
- The U.S. Army garrisoned Fort Morgan as a staging area for Creek Indians who were being removed to Indian Territory in 1837.
- When Alabama politicians prepared to debate secession, the state militia seized Fort Morgan on January 5, 1861, and it remained under Confederate control until August 1864. After the Battle of Mobile Bay, Union land and naval forces subjected Fort Morgan to a siege of more than two weeks before its commanding officer surrendered on August 23, 1864. Although the Corps of Engineers had repaired the severely damaged structure by 1867, it and other harbor defenses languished in the years after the Civil War.
- The fort was used as a training facility during World War I, but the War Department declared Morgan obsolete in 1923 and sold it to the state of Alabama in 1927 for use as a state park.
- Fort Morgan was briefly activated during World War II to counter the German U-boat threat in the Gulf of Mexico.
While exploring Mooresville, Alabama I almost passed by this church without taking a photo. It seemed so simple. But every church has a story and this one involves a future President of the United States. Mooresville Church of Christ has held services in this building since 1854. Future president James A. Garfield preached a sermon in the building when he was stationed nearby as a federal soldier during the Civil War. Glad I took photos of this place…it’s a historical treasure.
Christ Church Frederica, on St Simons Island in Georgia, was established in 1808 and is the 2nd oldest church in Georgia. The original church building was constructed in 1820 but was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. In 1884, Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, lead the rebuilding of the church as an act of love and remembrance of his wife, Ellen, who had died recently. The church still stands today as a memorial to her. Ellen is buried beneath the alter. The author, Eugenia Price, brought the Dodge family and so many other interesting and inspirational families to life on the pages of her St Simons Trilogy. She’s buried here as well. Highly recommend her books if you love St Simons and the Savannah area and you appreciate novels that are inspired by real people.
Researchers at Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana have been studying and interpreting the slave experience in Creole Louisiana for more than 20 years. It is a part of the history of the plantation and when you visit you will leave more informed about the slave experience on this plantation and their lives beyond the Emancipation Proclamation.
The tour is incredibly educational and really helps you to understand that although slaves were freed by the law of the land, their circumstances and ties to the plantations and lands where they worked didn’t allow many former slaves to experience freedom in their life.
Visiting Rodney, Mississippi takes some patience and intention. If you get there, you were headed there. The drive involves back roads and some dirt roads and once you arrive you have no cell service. But once you see this old place and the architectural treasures and historic sites here, it’s worth the bumpy roads! There are two old churches here including Old Rodney Presbyterian Church that holds a unique connection to the Civil War.
When I was standing in front of the church taking photos I heard a fellow visitor ask a friend “Why on earth would someone attack a church?” He was responding to someone’s mention of Confederate troops shooting in Old Rodney Presbyterian Church. It really happened. The reverend of this church invited crew members of the Union’s USS Rattler to join the church service on Sunday, September 13, 1863. After all, there was a Sunday truce in place and the reverend believed he was doing the right thing. Confederate scouts heard there were Union troops in the church and showed up at the door to demand they leave. When the troops refused to leave, the Confederates starting shooting into the church. Retaliation from the Union followed soon after when they fired a cannonball at the church and damaged the front. And that cannon ball is still in the church. You can see it above the window in the photo below.
Rodney is one of those places where you feel like time stood still. And you can clearly hear and see history here because there are few distractions and little noise to cover up the story of what happened here. If you plan a trip to Rodney, do not rely on your GPS. Look up directions and screen shot them like I did. Or follow the basic direction below. You may need a back up because at some point your phone will not have service.
From US 61 go west on 552 towards Alcorn. Turn left on Fellowship Rd (it’s a big hill) and then take Firetower Rd to Rodney Rd on right. Go 10 mi., Rodney Rd is paved until near Rodney.
The Butler Island Plantation are located just south of Darien, on what is now US Highway 17. The site is owned by The Nature Conservancy, and the land is open for picnicking, fishing and birding.
This was once one of the largest plantations in the South. The story of the plantation and former owners is an interesting one that began in the 1790s with Major Pierce Butler, an officer of the American Revolution who helped to draft the U.S. Constitution. Butler planted rice on his land on the Altamaha Delta. The marshlands and surrounding area provided perfect conditions for growing rice which led to a wealthy Southern enterprise.
When Major Butler died in 1822, the Butler Island Plantation passed to his grandson, Captain Pierce Butler. He was married to the noted English actress and writer Fanny Kemble who became a major advocate for the slaves on the plantation. She deplored the living conditions of the slaves on the farm and complained to her husband about the horrible treatment of the slaves by his manager, Roswell King, Jr. Kemble became an advocate for the abolition of slavery which created ongoing tensions with her plantation-owner husband. He threatened to take her daughters away from her if she published her views about slavery. Following their divorce, and after her daughters were grown, Kemble published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation.
At the time her book was published, Great Britain was considering the possibility of intervening in the Civil War, on behalf of the South. Kemble’s book is credited with persuading the British to oppose slavery and ending any possibility of the British joining the Confederacy’s fight during the Civil War.
(Source: Explore Southern History)
The beautiful and haunting Old Sheldon Church ruins. The pre-existing building was originally known as Prince William’s Parish Church, built between 1745 and 1753. But Prince William Parish Church was to be a casualty of not one war, but two. First, the Revolutionary War, when British troops burned down the church as well as the plantations around it. The church was rebuilt (and renamed Sheldon Church) in 1826. Forty years later it would be caught up in the Civil War. Markers on the church today will tell you that Sherman’s men burned down the church, but some historians think that the building was looted by locals, who tore out the interiors and stole materials so that they could rebuild the homes and communities destroyed by Sherman’s armies.
What is old has been made new by visitors who come here to roam the grounds and see these ruins that continue to stand the test of time.
Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee is one of the most expansive and well preserved civil war battlefields in the country. This battlefield, and the Union victory here, was important to the Civil War. But considering what unfolded here 155 years ago, you may just feel the echoes of the past giving you chills.
On April 6 and 7 of 1862, one of the major engagements of the Civil War unfolded at Shiloh. Confederates launched a surprise attack on Union forces. Confederates were unable to hold their positions, were forced back, and the Union won the battle. The battle was violent which led to 23,000 casualties. At the time this was the bloodiest battle in American history.