South Alabama Civil War battlefield being preserved

Published 4:47 pm Sunday, December 20, 2020

A south Alabama battlefield where thousands of Black Union troops help defeat Confederate forces in the final days of the Civil War is being protected with a $300,000 grant, preservation groups announced.

While the state already owns about 40% of the 2,000-acre battlefield around Fort Blakeley, located near Spanish Fort north of Mobile Bay, the money will allow for the preservation of about 60 additional acres where some of the most significant action occurred, according to a joint announcement by The Conservation Fund, the American Battlefield Trust and the University of South Alabama.

Union soldiers, including 5,000 members of the U.S. Colored Troops, overran the Confederate fort at the site on April 9, 1865, the same day Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House. The heavy concentration of Black troops was among the most in any battle of the war, the announcement said.

The site being protected is “one of the last critical pieces of the war’s most poignant battles,” Mobile-area writer and naturalist bill Finch said in the statement.

“The result is one of the region’s largest, best-preserved and most significant Civil War parks,” Finch said.
A National Park Service grant of $293,000 will be used for long-term protection of the land, which is located in the environmentally sensitive Mobile-Tensaw Delta and owned by The Conservation Fund. The area is just a few miles from the resting place of the Clotilda, the ship that was scuttled after bringing the final shipload of African captives to the United States as slaves before the war.