The History Of Blakeley Park
Battle of Blakeley. Source: (PBworks)
The last major battle of the Civil War in the United States was fought in what was once known as the town of Blakeley named after Josiah Blakeley.
In the 1820s, there were over 4,000 people that resided in the town. As the population slowly declined until it was almost completely abandoned, it then became a place to house the Confederate troops and became known as Fort Blakeley. During the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers fought here against the Union army and the battle known as the Battle of Fort Blakeley took place in April of 1865. It happened just hours after General Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. That day, out of 16,000 soldiers, more than 4,000 were killed in battle.
The town itself no longer exists but there are many remnants that do such as the old oak tree that was used by the court system for hangings, a brick kiln, war equipment, and other monuments.
Before Blakeley was established, there was a Native American village on the land as well as a large plantation after that.
Fort Blakeley became a park in 1976 that was first a private and not-for-profit park in order to preserve the history of it. Later, in 1981, the park became a state park and was named Blakeley State Park. In 1995, Blakeley State Park was named as part of the Civil War Discovery Trail. In 2011, the park began to be funded completely by private contributions and money collected as admissions because the state no longer was funding it.
There are over 10 miles of hiking trails all over the land which are not only perfect for hiking but also camping as well. In fact, there are camping sites for campers as well as areas for those who want to stay in tents. Picnic tables are located throughout the park as well as fire pits.
The 1,400-acre park is located just off of Highway 225 near the Tensaw River delta and just outside of Spanish Fort in Baldwin County, Alabama. Mobile, Alabama can be seen across the river from it. There is also a cruise boat that tourists can take to ride on the river.
Battle of Blakeley
It was on April 8, 1865, when the Union army, who was under the orders of Major General Frederick Steele, overtook and captured Spanish Fort and was able to fortify their forces at Fort Blakeley. The garrison at Fort Blakeley held about 2,700 Confederate troops who were under the command of General St. John Liddell. The final attack by the Union was on the next day, April 9, 1865, as they focused on the Confederate’s Redoubt #4. The Union troops were able to succeed and capture about 3,050 Confederates.
History of the Battle of Blakeley has been preserved by keeping this battlefield in its natural state with many rifle pits, bunkers, gun batteries, trenches, and redoubts. A redoubt was a fort that was outside of another larger fort made out of stone, brick, or earthworks used for defensive purposes. The Confederates also had many siege mortars with 35 artillery pieces.
Log fortification and earthwork created a fallback position for the Confederate troops in 1864. The fort contained nine redoubts connected with four miles of rifle pits and earthworks. Along the Tensaw River, these nine fortifications were built in a half-circle backed up along the bank. The swampy areas of the river provided extra protection.
Today, the locals perform re-enactments of the Battle of Blakeley on a regular basis along with other forms of entertainment. Outdoor concerts, cruises along the river, and other events are also held regularly.