On This Day in History -
Captain Elias Durnford was in charge of the British garrison at Mobile with about 300 men. He had already been strengthening Fort Charlotte's defenses after hearing of Galvez's campaign in Louisiana. On the arrival of Galvez's fleet, Durnford quickly sent word to Pensacola requesting reinforcements.
Durnford also burned down the entire town of Mobile, causing great distress to the inhabitants, in order to prevent the Spanish foes from using the houses and shops of Mobile for cover or as a base of operation. A large British force from Pensacola was sent overland to help, but they got bogged down in the swampy bayou. It soon became apparent that no reinforcements would arrive.
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Fort Conde, downtown Mobile
Site of the Battle of Fort Charlotte, 1780
Meanwhile, Galvez built entrenchments around the fort and began a cannon siege on March 10. With no reinforcements, Captain Durnford knew his 300 men would not be able to stand long against Galvez, whose force was more than twice the size of his own. Within a few days, the walls of Fort Charlotte were breached. Captain Durnford surrendered the garrison on March 13, ending British rule in Mobile, forever.
Governor de Galvez renamed Fort Charlotte Fort Carlotta and began making plans to conquer Pensacola, the last British stronghold in West Florida. The British made an attempt to retake Mobile the following January when Galvez was gathering together his Pensacola invasion force in Havana, but this attempt was quickly repulsed. Pensacola fell to Galvez March 9, 1781 bringing British rule in West Florida to an end forever.
The foundations of Fort Charlotte were discovered in downtown Mobile and about one third of it was reconstructed in the 1970s. Today, the site goes by the name of Fort Conde, which was the French name for the fort, and houses the official welcome center for the city of Mobile.
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