Monday, April 18, 2011

Going to Pot

Last week I was in L.A. -- that's Lower Alabama -- on a press trip and one of our stops was Fort Gaines at the mouth of Mobile Bay on the west side. Fort Morgan is situated on the east side. During the Civil War, these forts were held by Confederate forces.

We had a marvelous interpreter in the person of Park Ranger Joseph Everett, dressed as a Confederate soldier, rank of private, from Louisiana. Seeing military sites usually makes me long for a nap but Ranger Everett gave such a lively account that I found myself enjoying the experience.

And it was impossible to sleep when he fired off this cannon. His tip to those of us who couldn't handle our cameras and cover our ears -- "Keep your mouth open." Guess it worked.

This was the location of the Battle of Mobile where southern forces held the Bay. It was here that Admiral Farragut broke through the blockade with "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Everett explained that the torpedoes were not fired from ships but were floating mines -- something I didn't know before. He also told us that a requirement for soldiers was two front teeth -- necessary to bite the paper end off the cartridge before firing a rifle.

In the blacksmith shop, we were given a demonstration of the smith's craft. Ralph -- I didn't catch his last name -- made several items that would have been used during the Civil War period. He first made a nail and told us that round-nail-making machines weren't invented until the 1890s. Then he fashioned an S-hook, handy for hanging items.

I have to admit that my sense of humor is about the level of a 5th grade boy and my favorite spot was the 10-holer latrine! Talk about togetherness! There were no party poopers -- pardon the expression -- in our group and everyone gamely posed for a group photo.