This plan of Fort Gaines shows the general shape and outline of the fort. You can also see the outline of the tip of the island where the fort is located as it was when the fort was constructed.

Construction of Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines, constructed in the 1850’s, was designed by Joseph G. Totten. Totten was, along with Simon Bernard, one of the original members of the board of engineers placed in charge of fortifications. Totten designed many of the later fortifications of the Third System, and was the foremost fortification engineer in the United States during this time. Fort Gaines shows a different design philosophy than many of the earlier fortifications, and is much simpler than many of the Third System forts. This is because the Fort Gaines defended a minor channel into Mobile Bay, while Fort Morgan was located very close to the main channel.

Much like Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines has two distinct eras of fortification, the original Third System fort, and later Endicott period gun batteries. These will be covered together, since the Endicott batteries are not very extensive.

Fort Gaines is an interesting example of a late Third System fortification. Although less elaborate than some of the earlier fortifications, it has many unique and interesting features. Fort Gaines is an Alabama State Park, and is located on the eastern tip of Dauphin Island, near Mobile, Alabama.

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