Battery Duportail - Ft. Morgan, AL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member hummerstation
N 30° 13.683 W 088° 01.384
16R E 401551 N 3344498
Quick Description: Battery Duportail mounted two 12" disappearing guns when it was in service.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 4/11/2014 7:16:56 PM
Waymark Code: WMKGDJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:
Fort Morgan, Alabama was built as a coastal defense fort, completed in 1834. In 1885 President Grover Cleveland ordered the creation of a fortification board, under the direction of Secretary of War William Endicott, to report on the present state of fortifications and to make recommendations for the implementation of a modern coast defense program. The Endicott Board recommended a $127 million construction program made up of an integrated network of dispersed reinforced concrete artillery batteries to be constructed at 29 strategic locations along the U.S. coast. These concrete gun positions were to mount a small number of large breech-loading rifled guns, heavy rifled mortars, or small caliber rapid-fire guns.

On March 18, 1898, $50,000 was allotted from the National Defense Act of March 9, 1898 for the construction of a concrete battery at Fort Morgan that was to mount two 12-inch breech-loading rifled guns. Due to the urgency caused by the Spanish American War, materials intended for the Corps of Engineers’ Tombigbee River improvement project were transferred to Fort Morgan for use in the construction of the battery. By 1900 the structure was almost complete with the exception of the installation of its two 12-inch rifles. The gallery contains a 14" Disappearing Gun (Source: Wikipedia) as an example.

On June 4, 1900 the battery was turned over to the Artillery by the Corps of Engineers and was named Battery Duportail to honor Major-General Louis Duportail who was chief engineer of the Army from 1777 to 1783. Battery Duportail’s design followed a common practice of the Endicott system of incorporating modern concrete batteries into existing, outdated masonry fortifications. The battery was constructed across the fort’s parade ground and utilized the old structure to provide additional protection. After the battery was completed, the southern half of the old fort, along with the dry moat, was filled with earth and rubble. At the same time the breast-height wall and the gun emplacements that ran along the southern half of the fort were leveled to clear an unobstructed field of fire towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Battery Duportail mounted two Model 1888, 12-inch Breech Loading Rifles on Model 1896 Buffington-Crozier carriages. These powerful artillery pieces were over 36 feet long and weighed 52 tons. With a powder charge of 268 pounds the gun could fire a 1,046 pound projectile eight and one half miles. The Buffington-Crozier carriage was named for the two American ordnance officers who perfected the design, but it was more commonly known as the “disappearing carriage.” The carriage consisted of two massive swing arms that supported the gun. The swing arms elevated the gun into firing position above the battery’s concrete wall by the release of a 30-ton counterweight into a pit beneath the carriage. Upon firing, the recoil pushed the gun to the rear and downward into the loading position behind the concrete wall. This concealed the gun from the view of an enemy at sea and protected its crew from enemy fire. Battery Duportail served as a major component of Fort Morgan’s defenses until it’s decommissioning in 1923. The battery’s two 12-inch guns remained in place until 1942 when they were scrapped.

Most of the above came from the link. (visit link)
Year photo was taken: 1937

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