“Damn the Torpedoes…”

For the history buffs among you, visiting Fort Gaines while on Dauphin Island is a bonus. Fort Gaines stands at the eastern tip of the island, where you can not only get a panoramic view of the bay and Gulf of Mexico, but also be immersed into the historical and thrilling account of the Battle of Mobile Bay.

English: Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama
English: Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On August 5, 1864 the US Navy attempted to run the gauntlet between Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, in what is now known as the Battle of Mobile Bay.  The passage between the forts was protected by the guns of the forts themselves, torpedoes (also called mines) and other obstructions.  While running the gauntlet the navy warship USS Tecumseh struck a mine and went to the bottom in seconds.  It was at this point that Admiral David Farragut reportedly uttered the famous words, “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!’  The navy pushed on, and the 3-week naval and land battle resulted in the capture of Fort Gaines and the Confederate Fleet by the union forces.

East Bastion

It was cool and breezy as we followed the self-guided walking tour of the fort, which was built in the 1800s.  Exploring the original tunnels, bastion, blacksmith area and multiple huge canons really gave us a feel for what it may have been like here during the heat of battle.

Steve enjoyed the museum, learning about the many types of weapons and ordnance used at the time.

It cost only $6.00 per person to visit the Fort, and Steve was happy to find a nice Hanes Daupin Island T-shirt for only $10.00.  Not bad!

A day of history lessons was just enough reason to take another long walk on the beach, as we had been doing every day.  Several visits to the sanctuary and other bird sites yielded no migrant birds yet, but the resident birds were merrily chirping away.  Click here for the birds I managed to capture at Dauphin Island.

Now about where we stayed.  Folks have already asked about the accommodations, so we’ll give the best report we can.

There are really only two options for where to park your RV, Dauphin Island Campground on the east end or Pelican Nest near the center of the island.  Nina of  Wheeling It wrote a thorough review of the Dauphin Island Campground that you may want to check out – it was fully booked when we were there.  So, we stayed at Pelican Nest RV Resort Park, which has only 12 sites and is located right across the street from the center of the beach and pier.  We liked this park a lot during the first few days, but when the weekend rolled around with beautiful warm weather it got busy and noisy on the road out front.  They also re-opened a restaurant next door and it was VERY loud on the weekend nights.  It may come down to deciding how much the noise will bother you in return for the fantastic beach access.  The road noise will be reduced some if you can get a spot behind the office – sites #7-10.  Try to NOT get #1 next to the road, which is where we stayed.

We really enjoyed our week on Dauphin Island – it’s small, relatively quiet and less touristy than some other places in this area. This island has a popular bakery full of yummy goodies and a fresh seafood store.

And finally, another day another beautiful Alabama sunset.

Dauphin Island





  1. You always have such interesting posts. The Ft would definitely be a place my husband would enjoy. Love your sunset photo, as well as the photos of the fort.

  2. Great pictures, I had googled the island and wondered where you’d land. Thanks for all the insight….place looks like a great adventure. Thank you!!

  3. Thanks for the history lesson as we know virtually nothing about this area of the US. Long walks on the beach and that sunset sounds like the perfect day to me! You are getting quite the bird collection. 🙂

  4. Hey! From the Alaskan Coastline to the Florida Coast – you guys are busy!! Pensacola – we stayed at Pensacola Beach (on the Gulf Island National Seashore a short bridge ride away). Fort Pickens is a federal park so your National Park Pass can be used there. The beaches are stupendous. The best food on the island (I think we ate their 5 times in a two week period!) is at Peg Leg Pete’s. The owners have a fishing fleet and everything is brought in fresh. My mouth is watering….

  5. Also, there is the Fort to explore and a few nature walks. And quiet at the park. Quite a difference from the frenetic activity on the rest of the island!

  6. Beautiful sunset. Dauphin Island’s fort sounds similar to Ft Pickens. Too bad about the noisy weekend crowds … par for the course, I guess … especially this time of the year; but we don’t have to like it.

Comments are closed.