|Dick Dowling Monument at Sabine Pass State Battleground.|
(Photo by Mike Jones)
By Mike Jones
The reenactment was small this year but well received by the public. There are big plans for next year to have a 150th anniversary event that will draw hundreds of reenactors. In the actual battle, the Union was planning to invade Texas through Sabine Pass with an initial invasion force of 5,000 troops, four gunboats and 18 troop transports. The expedition was led by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin for the Army, and Lt. Frederick Crocker for the Navy. Sabine Pass was defended by 1st Lt. Richard W. Dowling and his 47-man, Irish-Texan, contingent of Company F (Jefferson Davis Guards) of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery in Fort Griffin, an earthen structure. Dowling had four 32-pounders and two 24-pounders at his disposal to defend against the attack.
|An illustration of how Fort Griffin looked at the time of|
the battle from a park historic marker. (Photo by Mike Jones)
Texas was saved from invasion, and Houston and Beaumont were saved from the fate of other southern cities, like Atlanta and Vicksburg. The battle lasted only about 45 minutes but 56 U.S. sailors and soldiers were killed, about 350 captured, along with the gunboats Clifton and Sachem. Dowling and his men suffered no casualties at all. The Davis Guards received the thanks of their country. Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder, Confederate commander of Texas, honored the men with a special badge and the Davis Guards were presented special medals from the citizens of Houston, the only such medal for valor issued to Confederate soldiers during the war. The Confederate Congress and President Jefferson Davis honored the Davis Guards with a special proclamation. Dowling said the fort fired 137 shells during the short battle.