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Fort Gaines listed among nation's top 10
endangered Civil War sites

Thursday, March 19, 2009

By DAVID FERRARA, Staff Reporter

Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island has been listed as one of the nation's 10 most endangered Civil War battlefields, according to a report released Wednesday.

"That designation could draw national attention to the fort and help facilitate an effort to stabilize eroding shores on the barrier island," Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said.

In the Civil War Preservation Trust's 2009 report, "History Under Siege," the site on the east end of the island was listed as one of the most threatened and most historically significant battlegrounds among the top 10.

"It is definitely a plus when it comes to the fort itself," Collier said. "It validates the importance and the historical significance of Fort Gaines in the war and the importance of it being protected and preserved for future generations. It will bring a heightened level of awareness that the fort is being threatened."

Constructed in the mid-1800s, the pentagon-shaped fort was seized by Union troops in August 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Collier said Dauphin Island leaders are trying to secure an engineering plan to replenish the beaches on the east and west ends, and he hopes to use this week's report to leverage support in funding such a project.

Mike Henderson, director of the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board, said that recent efforts to protect the fort are "Band-Aids" that will not last. The report, he said, shows that erosion is "a real problem. It's not just a few people on Dauphin Island dreaming things up."

Collier said the work must be done soon. "The wild card here is the fact that nobody knows when the next hurricane is going to come," he said. "If we were to have a major storm, we don't know what would happen. The fort is an integral part of the island ... and we need it and we need to preserve it."
2009 Press-Register. All rights reserved.

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