On Tuesday, January 19, 1864, just as President Jefferson Davis had earlier predicted, Union naval vessels made a reconnaissance of Confederate Forts Morgan and Gaines which guarded the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
Since the capture of New Orleans by David Farragut, Mobile Bay remained the most prominent port along the Confederate Gulf Coast. Ulysses Grant and other prominent members of the Northern military had urged an attack on Mobile to close the port to blockade running.
Confederate naval forces under Franklin Buchanan could scarcely be expected to blunt an all-out Union assault by Farragut’s Union ships. And given the reputation for action which Farragut had, many Confederates feared an immediate assault against the city. However, the Federal reconnaissance was just that; the anticipated Union attack would not come for months.