Digging All Night and Fighting All Day: The Civil War Siege of Spanish Fort and the Mobile Campaign, 1865

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Paul Brueske
Pub Date:
Fall 2024
52 images; 9 maps; 256 pp.

eBook coming soon!

About the book

The bloody two-week siege of Spanish Fort, Alabama (March 26-April 8, 1865) was one of the final battles of the Civil War. Despite its importance and fascinating history, surprisingly little has been written about it. The fall of the fort was considered by many the key to the surrender of the important seaport of Mobile, which fell to Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby on April 12, 1865. Paul Brueske’s Digging all Night and Fighting All Day: The Civil War Siege of Spanish Fort and the Mobile Campaign, 1865 is the first full-length study of this subject.

General U. S. Grant had long had his eyes set on capturing Mobile. Its fall would eliminate the vital logistical center and put one of the final nails in the coffin of the Confederacy. On January 18, 1865, Grant ordered General Canby to move against Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, and destroy anything useful to the enemy’s war effort. The reduction of Spanish Fort, along with Fort Blakeley—the primary obstacles to taking Mobile—was a prerequisite to capturing the city.

After the devastating battles of Franklin and Nashville in Tennessee in late 1864, many Federals believed Mobile’s garrison—which included a few battered brigades and most of the artillery units from the Army of Tennessee—did not have much fight left and would evacuate the city rather than fight. They did not. Despite being outnumbered about 10 to 1, 33-year-old Brig. Gen. Randall Lee Gibson mounted a skillful and spirited defense that “considerably astonished” his Union opponents. The siege and battle that unfolded on the rough and uneven bluffs of Mobile Bay’s eastern shore, fought mainly by veterans of the principal battles of the Western Theater, witnessed every offensive and defensive art known to war.

Paul Brueske, a graduate student of History at the University of South Alabama, marshaled scores of primary source materials, including letters, diaries, reports, and newspaper accounts, to produce an outstanding study of a little-known but astonishingly important event rife with acts of heroism that rivaled any battle of the war.









As a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast, Paul Brueske became fascinated with studying the Civil War history of northwest Florida and south Alabama. He is the President and founder of the Mobile Area Civil War Round Table and regularly gives talks on Gulf Coast-related Civil War topics. He is currently the Head Track & Field Coach at the University of South Alabama. Brueske is also a member of the Friends of Historic Blakeley State Park, and Friends of the History Museum of Mobile. He is also the author of The Last Siege: The Mobile Campaign, Alabama 1865 (2018).