Mobile, Alabama

Mobile was founded by the Le Moyne brothers in 1702, on a bay bearing the same name. The Le Moynes were French adventurers and traders who also founded the city of New Orleans. The population of Mobile grew quickly because of its trade with Spanish ports in America, and in 1763, when the city was ceded to the British after the Treaty of Paris, it had some 700 inhabitants. Along the river, the French had constructed a brick fortress, which they named Fort Condé. It was renamed Fort Charlotte by the British, and then Fuerte Carlota by the Spanish.

Mobile (La Mobila, in Spanish, at the time) remains a major global commercial port. In 2005, it was severely crippled during Hurricane Katrina, as were other cities along the Gulf of Mexico. However, today, the city has recovered fully and is once more a hub for the naval and aeronautics industries, with a wide transportation network. It, too, is known—as is its sister city, New Orleans—for its carnival celebration, Mardi Gras.

In 1780, Bernardo de Gálvez led an attack on Mobile with troops arriving from Cuba and New Orleans aboard ships and on foot. After a two-week assault on Fort Charlotte, which involved digging trenches and positioning cannons, the Spaniards breached the walls of the fort. Lieutenant Colonel Elias Dunford, at the head of some 350 British soldiers, militiamen, and African Americans, surrendered on March 13. The first Spanish governor was José de Ezpeleta, colonel of the Navarra Regiment. After their loss, the British attempted to retake the city with a surprise attack on January 6, 1781. The Spanish outposts, manned by some 200 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Ramón de Castro of the Príncipe Regiment, were barricaded in a place known as Frenchtown or The Village, on the other side of the bay. The British pounced on the Spanish post, but the Spanish, who outnumbered their opponents three to one, launched a fierce bayonet counterattack, scattering the attackers. The head of the enemy troops, Colonel Von Haxleden of the German Waldeck regiment, an ally of the English, was killed in battle.

Fort Condé has been partially restored and is now a cultural and tourist attraction. _Nearby is the History Museum of Mobile, where one can see a diorama of the Spanish attack. A plaque, installed in 1996 on the corner of Royal and Theater Streets, commemorates Gálvez’s victory. Eastward, across the bay, in an area known as the Spanish Fort, is another plaque memorializing the defense of Frenchtown or The Village. Both plaques are the result of an initiative by the Sons of the American Revolution, and they recall that the Battle of Mobile opened the way for the Victory of Pensacola in 1781, which effectively ended all British threats to the area.

José Manuel Guerrero Acosta
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