HISTORY OF SPANISH FORT
FROM 1712 TO THE CIVIL WAR
Spanish Fort’s history dates back to 1712, when Jean-Baptiste Bienville of France founded the City of Mobile. Originally, Spanish Fort was the site of a trading post established by the French during their occupation of Mobile. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War, a large portion of the Gulf Coast, including the land which Spanish Fort now occupies, was ceded to the British when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763. During the American Revolutionary War (1774-1783), after the Spanish took Mobile and the surrounding areas in the Battle of Charlotte in 1780, a Spanish military fort was built on the site of that old French trading post.
This “Spanish Fort” was the site of a counter attack by British forces dispatched from Pensacola, Florida in 1781. At this time, the British were unsuccessful in their attempt to recapture the area. At the conclusion of the War of 1812, Spanish Fort was officially the property of the United States. The “original trading post” location is at the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Highways 98 and 31.
SPANISH FORT AND THE CIVIL WAR
During the American Civil War, Spanish Fort was heavily fortified as an eastern Confederate defense for the Mobile area. Fort Huger, Fort Tracey, Fort McDermott, Fort Alexis, Red Fort, and Old Spanish Fort were all part of the Mobile defenses. The Battle of Spanish Fort took place from March 27 – April 8, 1865, during which the Union Forces embarked on a land campaign in an attempt to capture Mobile from the East. Union Major General E.R.S. Canby’s XIII and XVI corps traveled along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, forcing the Confederates back into their defenses and making Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley the focus of their efforts. March 27, 1865 marks the siege of Spanish Fort as Canby’s forces rendezvoused at Danley’s Ferry. By April 1, they enveloped the fort and captured it on April 8, 1865. Most of the Confederate forces, under the command of Brig. Gen. Randall L. Gibson, escaped by fleeing to Mobile.
After Spanish Fort’s fall on April 8, 1865, and Gen. Robert E Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Fort Blakeley remained the last organized resistance to Northern occupation east of the Mississippi River. On April 9, 1865 Fort Blakeley fell to the Union troops in the Battle of Fort Blakeley. The fall of both Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley allowed Union troops to enter Mobile unopposed after the conclusion of the Civil War. After the Civil War, the area lost population and remained largely undeveloped until the 1970s when development began to increase.
1993 TO THE PRESENT
Spanish Fort is a young city, having been established on July 19, 1993. The residents of this thriving community saw the possibility of annexation by the a nearby city and, alternately, welcomed the idea of forming their own new city. The spirit of community which was evident then remains the backbone of Spanish Fort. We are a community of residents with our focus on small town values and with an eye to the future. The Mayor and Council Members continually strive to maintain the managed growth of our City while keeping our village atmosphere.
A CITY RICH IN HISTORY
Spanish Fort rests on a hill overlooking Mobile Bay, just 10 miles east of Mobile. A city rich in history, Spanish Fort has adopted the title, “A City of Spirit”. Our City Seal displays the six flags which have flown over our city during its long history. Historic plaques dot our streets, especially in Spanish Fort Estates, where many streets have names associated with the Civil War. Street names include General Canby Drive, General Gibson Drive, Bugle Retreat, Rally Road, Artillery Range, Confederate Drive, Soldier’s Route, Blakeley Way, Union Pass, and Cavalry Charge. Remnants of breastworks from the Civil War still remain throughout our area subdivisions.
A GROWING CITY
Since incorporating in 1993, three mayors have served the City of Spanish Fort. Under their leadership, the City annexed the State Hwy. 90 Causeway into the City limits, was instrumental in bringing two large retail developments and their tax revenue to the City, and annexed a large-scale Planned Unit Development, the Highlands Of Spanish Fort, into the City. These decisions have increased our City’s footprint from 1,542 acres in 1995 to approximately 17,561 acres today. As we look forward to the future, we anticipate continued emphasis on providing big city services as our small town continues to serve its residents well.