The governor’s wish that Alabama be defended was soon put to the test. In August 1864 Union and Confederate forces clashed in the Battle of Mobile Bay, the largest naval battle of the Civil War. Since capturing New Orleans in 1862, US Adm. David G. Farragut had wanted to seize Mobile, but he had been preoccupied with the fighting along the Mississippi River for most of the war. Meanwhile, in 1863 the Confederates in Selma were manufacturing another ironclad, the Tennessee, which they intended to use to protect Mobile. Unfortunately for the Southerners, though, the ship was cumbersome and slow-moving. Only slightly intimidated by the ship, Farragut proceeded, and on August 5, 1864, he commenced his attack. The Confederate ships, along with the Tennessee, were outmatched, and Farragut defeated the rebels after only a few hours. But, believing the city of Mobile to be well-defended by fortifications, the Union forces contented themselves with controlling from the sea and holding off on a ground invasion—at least for a while.
By the end of the summer of 1864, the Union naval blockade was complete; blockade running had all but ceased with the capture of Mobile’s port, leaving the Confederacy to suffocate. Elsewhere, the Confederacy was struggling to survive. After occupying Vicksburg the previous summer Union forces had been moving eastward through the Deep South. In Georgia, William Tecumseh Sherman was engaged in his Atlanta Campaign, and in late summer, he would occupy Atlanta and begin his famous march toward the Atlantic Ocean. Further north, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia continued to fight, but after Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Northern Army of the Potomac, his bloody battles were wreaking havoc on the rebel army. As rebel soldiers continued to struggle to defend the Confederacy on the battlefield, on the home front in Alabama, the women who remained attempted to cope with the shortages caused by the blockade.