Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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The Battle of Mobile Bay was an engagement of the American Civil War in which a Federal fleet commanded by Rear Adm. David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Adm. Franklin Buchanan and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay. Fought on August 5th, 1864, it was crucial because at the time the Union forces were conquering the city of Atlanta.  On paper, the Civil War in the United States was on its final legs.  This cataclysmic war was fought over the expansion of slavery in this country.  The southern states were in favor of this institution continuing.  The northern states felt that it was a disadvantage to the growth of the country.  More people died during this conflict than during many other wars since.

I found out today that Angola was the main source of slaves for Portuguese possessions in the Americas.  It was also, for the entire period of the Atlantic slave trade, the largest supplier of slaves shipped to the Americas in the a 1700's and 1800's.  As our history here in the United States runs in parallel tracks to our African cousins on the continent, I feel a need to point out some of our shared history.  I will write about the voyage of the San Juan Bautista later.  The 350 slaves that left Angola in 1619 might have participated in wars or political actions here on the other side of the Atlantic.

Alabama was one of the most racist states in our country.  If an unfortunate slave, shipped by way of Angola, happened to end up here, it meant a life of unbearable labor and cruelty.  One was expected to pick cotton, rice or tobacco.  The weather was unceasingly hot.  Until our resistance adapted, we succumbed to disease and torture.  We were made to forget any link to Africa and any pride in our history.  Africa was the Dark Continent and was not know for any good thing.  The Europeans were engaged in a war of genocide against Native Americans and controlling us was another step towards Manifest Destiny.

Bataille de la baie de Mobile par Louis Prang (1824-1909).jpg
The Confederate forces were the main defenders of the institution of slavery.  They were also known as the Rebels.  The Union soldiers were the forces fighting for the freedom of the slaves.  It could have been because the northern states were industrialized and didn't need as much manual labor.  People of color suffered at every step of the way during this war.  The CSS Tennessee was an ironclad vessel that gave fits to the north during this struggle.  A Union fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet and started the wheels turning towards a victory for freedom for slaves.  It was not realized for years, but it helped us as a country to overcome the stigma of slavery.

A number of Civil War -era shipwrecks from the Battle and its aftermath remain in the Bay to the present day.  These include the American Diver, CSS Gainer, CSS Huntsville, USS Phillippi, CSS Phoenix, USS Tecumseh and the CSS Tuscaloosa.  It was stated that weather conditions that day were perfect for a climactic battle.  The tides were running in the breeze was blowing smoke away from the battle.  I wonder in Africa how many battles were decided by ideal or less than ideal weather conditions.  Alabama was the site of major civil rights marches almost 100 years later.  This war did not free us or end out troubles here in the US.  It was a major point in ending the Civil War.  I am glad to be able to relay this information to African Dynamo readers.


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