Sunday, September 22, 2013


Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, wounded
severely in the battle but recovered.
(Library of Congress) 

The Richmond Daily Dispatch - Sept. 23, 1863.

The battle in East Tennessee.
           Thus far Gen. Bragg seems to be completely victorious. The results are greater than those of any battle fought by the Duke of Wellington in Spain, so far as the loss of men inflicted upon the enemy is concerned, with the single exception of Salamanca, and, so far as artillery is concerned, with the single exception of Victoria. In no one battle in the Peninsula, except Salamanca, did Wellington ever capture 4,000 prisoners, and in no one battle, save Victoria, did he ever capture as many as 30 pieces of cannon. What the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded amounted to, we have no means of ascertaining; but when we consider that Rosecrans had sixty thousand men, it is not to be supposed that he would have yielded, after two days fighting, and left 4,000 men, 30 pieces of artillery, and all his dead and wounded in our hands unless he had sustained a loss in the latter of at least 15,000 men. His entire loss, therefore, can fall very little short of 20,000 men — killed, wounded, and prisoners, and these are Western men, the very flower of the whole Yankee army. There can be no doubt, therefore, that thus far Gen Bragg's success has been brilliant, and that it goes far to redeem all the errors imputed to him on former occasions.
Nevertheless, there is still a feeling of uncertainly in this community, who but too well remember Murfreesborough, and how the glorious promise of one day was turned to sorrow by the dispatch of the next. They see Chattanooga, in all its strength, directly in front of Bragg, and they wait to see it retaken before they give way to joy. For the relief of such doubters, we are happy to announce that Chattanooga is defensible only against an enemy on the opposite side of the river. Against an enemy on the same side with itself, especially if he come from the cast, as Bragg does, it is altogether indefensible. The mountains terminate just there, and present numerous elevated positions, which command the place. The probability, therefore, is that Rosecrans will not attempt to make a stand there, but will continue his retreat to Nashville. It will all depend, however, on the vigor with which he is pushed by Bragg. That General will shortly receive, or possibly has received, heavy reinforcements, and he has had bitter experience of the evils resulting from delay in this war, in which procrastination has always been the object of the enemy. We trust and believe, therefore, that the enemy will be allowed no time to rest. Every consideration points to continued operations. The enemy evidently does not mean to advance from Tennessee into Alabama and Georgia during the present season. Rosecrans's plans is to get possession of the whole of Tennessee, and render it impregnable in the first place. Thence, having the best possible base, he will advance next summer upon Georgia and Alabama. He had already stolen ten thousand horses, upon which he designed to mount infantry this winter, and scour the whole North of Georgia and Alabama. It is to be hoped that he will be disappointed in these views. Gen. Bragg has at least made a good start in the attempt to disappoint him. Unless, however, he be driven back across the river our late victory will have been of no value.
          It will be seen from a dispatch from our own correspondent, dated at Ringgold yesterday,
Gen. Braxton Bragg, Confederate Cmdr.
at the Battle of Chickamauga.
(Library of Congress)
that there was no battle on Monday and but little skirmishing, and that yesterday an advance of our troops was to be made on the enemy, who is supposed to be in position on Mission Ridge, twelve miles from Chattanooga. From this we infer that Rosecrans fell back during Monday, without being fiercely pressed by our troops. Of the assault on his present position, which was to have been made yesterday, we may get the result to day.
          The Yankees never have beaten and never will beat our armies in the field. In every instance in which they have claimed the victory, their only show of right to do so has been the retreat of our troops at the very moment when they were preparing to retreat themselves.--McClellan had already commenced retreating from Sharpsburg, and Meade was already retreating from Gettysburg, when our General began to fall back, and this was the signal from them to sneak back and claim a victory.  At Murfreesborough, every officer in Rosecrans's army, except Rosecrans himself, was in favor of a retreat. "Wait a little while," said Rosecrans, "and you will see the enemy himself retreating."And so it turned out. In all three of these battles we fairly beat the enemy, and if we had but known it he would have retreated, and we have saved the honor of our arms.
            While exulting in our success we cannot but pause to pay a passing tribute to those brave officers who paid for our success with their lives. Of General Hood, in particular, it grieves us to record the serious nature of his wound, although we hope it is not mortal, as one account represents. He was one of the best officers and noblest spirits in the whole army — brave as the sword he wore, chivalrous as Bayard, humane as a professed philanthropist, beloved by his brother officers, adored by his men. We fervently hope the country may not be called on to deplore the loss of this noble-hearted man. There are others in the list, all of whom were an honor to the country in whose cause they fell.--But we leave their names to be recorded by other pens. Of Hood we have known and heard so much that we could not do less than bestow upon him this feeble tribute.
          P. S.--A dispatch has been received announcing the death of Gen. Hood.

Friday, September 20, 2013

150-years-ago BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA, Ga.

(Excerpted from Battle of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park National Park Service By James R. Sullivan)

The Battle of Chickamauga
SEPTEMBER 18—PRELIMINARIES. On the morning of the 18th the three advanced brigades of Longstreet's Corps from Virginia arrived at Ringgold. One brigade immediately joined Bushrod Johnson's division as it prepared to cross Chickamauga Creek at Reed's Bridge. Union cavalry under Col. Robert H. G. Minty and mounted infantry under command of Col. John T. Wilder, guarding the bridges, offered stout resistance and delayed the crossing of the southern troops for several hours. During the skirmishing, Minty's men dismantled Alexander's Bridge and forced Walker to proceed to Lambert's Ford, a half-mile downstream. The Confederates used other fords and crossings throughout the late afternoon and night as all of Bragg's forces, except three divisions, crossed to the west side of Chickamauga Creek.

The Union forces were not idle, and during the night Rosecrans moved Thomas' corps northeastward above and back of Crittenden, so that Bragg would not outflank the Federal line. Negley's Division remained near Crawfish Springs (now Chickamauga), Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds' Division near Widow Glenn's, and Brigadier Generals Absalom Baird's and John M. Brannan's Divisions covered the roads leading to Reed's and Alexander's Bridges. General McCook's Corps moved to position in McLemore's Cove.

The situation at dawn on the 19th found the two armies facing each other over a stretch of several miles along the banks of the Chickamauga. Rosecrans had been able in a short rime to maneuver the Army of the Cumberland into position so that it interposed between Bragg and Chattanooga. His Reserve Corps under General Granger was at McAfee's Church, near Rossville. Thomas' Fourteenth Army Corps composed the Union's left a few miles south of Granger, and formed a southwesterly line to Crawfish Spring where it joined McCook, forming the right in McLemore's Cove. Crittenden's Twenty-First Army Corps remained concentrated at Lee and Gordon's Mills, somewhat in front of the other two corps, to protect the Union center.

Bragg's Army of Tennessee, except three divisions was concentrated on the west side of the Chickamauga from Reeds Bridge almost to Dalton's Ford, near Lee and Gordon's Mills. The divisions had been shuffled around during the night, and remained so for the first day's battle. Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry held the right flank at Reeds Bridge; then, in succession toward the left (south), were Walker's Corps; Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham's Division (Polk's Corps); Longstreet's Corps (under Maj. Gen. John B. Hood); and Buckner's Corps. On the east side of the stream and forming the right were Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne's Division (Hill's Corps), preparing to cross at Tedford's Ford; Maj. Gen. T. C. Hindman's Division (Polk's Corps) opposite Lee and Gordon's Mills; and Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge's Division (Hill's Corps) forming the extreme left opposite Glass' Mill. Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry, stationed at the upper fords of the Chickamauga, held the left flank.

Neither army knew the exact position of the other as they maneuvered for position during the night. The densely wooded area, covered with tangled undergrowth, brambles and cedar thickets, prevented easy movement or good observation, and many of the officers had difficulty keeping in touch with their own commands.

The armies were so close to each other, in some instances only a few hundred yards apart, that it was inevitable a clash would soon take place, but at what point no one could say.

SEPTEMBER 19—FIRST DAY. Early in the morning of September 19, Thomas ordered Brannan forward to reconnoiter the Confederate forces which had crossed the Chickamauga. In this manner, Col. John T. Croxton's brigade of infantry accidentally ran into some of Forrest's cavalry, which were dismounted and serving as infantry, at Jay's Mill near Reed's Bridge. And so the battle began.
Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas
Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, "The Rock of Chickamauga."
Courtesy National Archives.
Croxton drove Forrest back, but reinforcements hurried to the latter forced Croxton to give ground. Suddenly the commanding generals realized that a major conflict was upon them, and they hurriedly sent troops into the fight as first one side and then the other gained the upper hand. Rosecrans, by rapid and forced marches, brought up his troops from Crawfish Springs. Bragg ordered his left wing divisions to cross to the west side of the Chickamauga. By mid-afternoon major fighting had spread along a jagged line some 3 miles in length. All the Union divisions, with the exception of Granger's reserve force, became involved. The Confederate troops were also largely engaged, except Hindman and Breckinridge who crossed over during the late afternoon and night.

When the battle ended for the day, little progress could be shown by either side. The fighting had been furious and without much plan. Bragg's troops had reached the LaFayette-Chattanooga Road but were not able to hold the position. Neither side could claim a victory. Bragg had failed to crush the Union left, and Rosecrans remained in possession of the roads to Chattanooga. The losses on both sides were heavy.

As night fell and darkness settled over the battlefield the fighting stopped, but there was little rest for the weary soldiers. Rosecrans brought the Army of the Cumberland into a more compact defensive line; Thomas' Corps, heavily reinforced, formed the left in a bulge east of the LaFayette Road at Kelly's Field.

Throughout the night the Confederates heard the ring of axes as the Union troops cut trees and logs to form breastworks. McCook's Corps in the center faced LaFayette Road; Crittenden's Corps on the right was a little withdrawn west of the road.

During the night, Longstreet arrived with two more brigades ready for action. Bragg then decided to form the Army of Tennessee into two wings for offensive action the next day. He placed General Polk in command of the right wing and General Longstreet the left. The Confederate Army, facing west between Chickamauga Creek and the LaFayette Road formed a line more or less parallel with the road.

Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.
Courtesy National Archives.
Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk
Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk.
Courtesy National Archives.
SEPTEMBER 20—SECOND DAY. General Bragg issued orders to his subordinates to resume the battle at daybreak. On the Confederate right Breckinridge's Division was to begin the attack which would be taken up by successive divisions to the left. Sunday morning came. Daylight began to creep over the battlefield. The sun rose, but no attack came. Bragg waited impatiently. Finally, the orders reached Hill at 7:30 a. m. Further delay followed as the troops moved into position. About 9:30 a. m. Breckinridge advanced to attack, followed by Cleburne. The extreme left of the Union line fell back, but the fire from the Union breastworks halted further Confederate advance. Reinforcements hurried to Thomas. In further fighting at this part of the line neither side made any considerable gain, as Rosecrans sought to hold his left against Polk's furious attacks. Almost equally matched, neither Thomas nor Polk could show any appreciable gains throughout the morning. About 11 o'clock a lull occurred as Longstreet's wing prepared to move against the center in Bragg's plan of attack.

The Union center at which Longstreet pointed his attack was held by Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood's Division which had replaced Negley's Division in the line when the latter had reinforced Thomas early in the morning. To the immediate left of Wood were the troops of Brannan's Division, and on Brannan's left, Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds' Division.

An hour before noon as the Confederate right wing poised to strike, an irreparable blunder occurred on the Union side. A staff officer riding from Thomas' headquarters near Kelly Field reported to Rosecrans that he had noticed Brannan's Division was out of line and believed "General Reynolds' right was exposed." Rosecrans, without further investigation, immediately ordered Wood to "close up on Reynolds as fast as possible and support him." In order to do this, Wood had to pull his division out of line and march behind Brannan's Division toward Reynolds. Wood's division had left its place in the line, creating a true gap where none had actually existed before, and had started to march northward behind Brannan when Longstreet's column of five divisions accidentally struck into the gap.
map of The Battle of Chickamauga
(Click on map for enlargement)
Longstreet's attack hit Wood's and Brannan's Divisions on their exposed flank and drove them from the immediate field of battle. On the other side of the gap the Confederates struck Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis' Division, which was marching up to take Wood's place in the line, and Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's Division in flank. In a very short time the entire Union right flank was in disorder and driven from the field. Wilder's brigade on the extreme right made a valiant stand for a while, employing to good effect the heavy fire power of the Spencer repeating carbine with which it was armed. Nothing, however, seemed to daunt the onrush of the Confederates, and Wilder withdrew for fear of being cut off from escape.

The routed divisions from the Union right withdrew northwestward through McFarland's Gap to Rossville. Generals Rosecrans, Crittenden, and McCook were caught in the breakthrough and fled the field. General Thomas was now in command of the Union forces left there.

The altered conditions of the battlefield now dictated a change in Confederate strategy. The original plan of enveloping the Union left changed to a sweep from the Union right to the left. A pause in the fighting enabled Thomas to form a new line quickly to his rear on Snodgrass Hill, almost at a right angle with the Union left. From this vantage point he met the onslaught of Longstreet's troops with such stubborn and determined resistance on that Sunday afternoon that he earned the name "Rock of Chickamauga."

The Union line on Snodgrass Hill was composed of Brannan's Division with fragments of Wood's, Negley's and Van Cleve's Divisions. Longstreet vigorously assaulted the line again and again and nearly succeeded in enveloping Brannan's right. Confederate success seemed assured as Thomas' troops were hard hit and were short of ammunition, but at this moment unexpected reinforcements reached General Thomas.

General Granger, without orders and following the sound of battle, had hastened to the aid of Thomas. He arrived at Snodgrass Hill at a very opportune moment and just in time to stop the Confederates from enveloping Brannan's right. A fierce engagement took place as Brig. Gen. James B. Steedman's Division of Granger's Corps forced the southern troops from the crest of the hill.

Midafternoon found Longstreet once again attempting to wrest the hill from Thomas' troops, using McLaw's, Hindman's, and Bushrod Johnson's Divisions, and again he was repulsed. Later in the afternoon, Longstreet asked Bragg for reinforcements but was told none were available and that the right wing "had been beaten back so badly that they could be of no service" to him. Longstreet determined to make one more effort. He formed a column of such troops as were available and again assaulted the hill. The fight was desperate and lasted until nightfall. The Union troops repulsed some of the Confederate charges with the bayonet as their ammunition was nearly exhausted. Finally, Longstreet pushed Steedman back to the next ridge and occupied the ground to the right of Brannan.

The left of the Union line around Kelly Field spent a relatively quiet afternoon compared to their comrades on Snodgrass Hill. However, a bout 4 p. m., the divisions of Hill's corps and part of Walker's again assaulted the Union positions there. By 6 p. m., Cheatham's Division had joined the attack. This attack succeeded in enveloping the Union left, and the road to Rossville, through Rossville Gap, was cut off for the moment.

In the meantime, Thomas received orders from Rosecrans to "Assume command of all the forces, and with Crittenden and McCook take a strong position and assume a threatening attitude at Rossville." Although Thomas received these orders with little delay, it was late afternoon before he sent instructions to Reynolds to begin the withdrawal and move into position to cover the retirement of the other troops on the left. In executing this movement, Reynolds was forced to drive off the Confederate troops who had begun to envelop the Union left. The Union army withdrew in relatively good order. The troops holding Kelly Field moved out first, followed by those who had stubbornly resisted Longstreet's attacks upon Snodgrass Hill.
Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger
Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, Reserve Corps, Army of the Cumberland, at Rossville Gap. The house was built by John Ross, Cherokee Indian Chief who lived in it until 1832. Ross gave his name to the village in the gap.
From Elson, The Civil War Through the Camera.
While the retreat from the battlelines may have been in "good order," General Beatty's description of the march to Rossville amply describes the scene: "The march to Rossville was a melancholy one. All along the road, for miles, wounded men were lying. They had crawled or hobbled slowly away from the fury of the battle, become exhausted, and lain down by the roadside to die." Beatty reached Rossville between "ten and eleven" and reported, "At this hour of the night (eleven to twelve o'clock) the army is simply a mob. There appears to be neither organization nor discipline. The various commands are mixed up in what seems to be inextricable confusion."

Nevertheless, Thomas placed his forces at Rossville Gap and along Missionary Ridge in preparation against further attacks. The morning of the 21st found the Union Army of the Cumberland more or less reorganized. With the exception of some skirmishing, the Union forces were not molested.

The losses on both sides were appalling and the percentages surprisingly equal. The following tabulation of casualties at the Battle of Chickamauga is based on Thomas L. Livermore's Numbers and Losses in the Civil War in America, 1861—65:
Lee and Gordon's Mills
Wartime view, Lee and Gordon's Mills, Chickamauga Battlefield.
Courtesy National Archives.

Monday, September 16, 2013


September 4, 1863

Color Presentation.

            On Wednesday evening there was quite a display in our city, caused by the presentation of a
Maj. Gen. J.B. Magruder was
present for the ceremony.
(Author's  collection)
beautiful stand of colors to the 3d Texas Regiment.  This regiment has been until recently stationed at Brownsville.  Some months since, the citizens of that place, desirous of giving the regiment a testimonial of their appreciation of the good behavior and gallantry of the regiment, determined to present them a flag.  Quite a number of the citizens claimed the privilege of contributing. They made up a purse and sent it to Havana.  On inquiry it was found there was no means of having the flag made there. Some patriotic ladies of New Orleans, who were then in exile, driven from their homes by Brute Butler, came forward and offered their services, claiming the privilege of making not only a regimental, but a battle flag also, and sending them to the soldiers.  The result was the beautiful flags we mentioned the other day, which were publicly presented to the regiment on Wednesday morning.
            At 4 P.M., the regiment, dressed in complete uniform, marched up Main street from their camp across the bayou, to the Academy square, where they underwent inspection and review.  This over, they were marched into the Academy yard, and formed in front of the academy by their commander, Lt. Col. E. F. Gray.  Quite an array of officers, including the Commanding General and his Staff were upon the balcony of the Academy, also many ladies and citizens, while a large crowd were assembled outside to witness the ceremony.
            The flags were brought forward and presented, with an appropriate address by Mr. Mott, of New Orleans, in the name of the fair ladies who sent them.  Mr. Mott gave a history of the flags as we have given it above, and, in the name of the ladies, called on the men to see that no stain of disgrace ever befell the work of their hands.
            Capt. H. B. Andrews, in behalf of the Regiment, received the colors, and, while paying an eloquent tribute to the ladies who sent them, promised that they would be borne to victory or death.  The brief oration of Capt. A. was full of enthusiasm, and was received with loud applause.
            The colors were then handed to Col. Gray, who committed them to the Color Guard, with an admonition to bear them in the battle's front, and relinquish them only with their lives.  The colors were received by the regiment with loud cheers.
            Gen. Magruder was then called upon, and came forward, addressing the regiment in a patriotic and telling speech. He warned them to beware of demagogues.  He told them what the war was for, and what they could only expect if conquered.  He appropriately alluded to the recent difficulties in the regiment, and to the orders that had been made separating them; and wound up by announcing a change of orders, and that they should march together a band of brothers to the northern frontier, where they would meet the enemy, and prove their devotion to their country in the battle field.  His remarks were received with hearty cheers; and at the close Col. Gray called for three cheers for Gen. Magruder, which were given with a will that showed no trace remaining of the ill feeling that had been heretofore thought to exist.
            Gen. Luckett then added a few words to his old regiment, and the ceremony was closed.  Altogether it was a fine display and calculated to have the best effect both on soldiers and people.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



The Battle of Sabine Pass, Texas/Louisiana

By Mike Jones

Photos by Mike Jones at the 150th Anniversary Reenactment
of the Battle of Sabine Pass, Texas/Louisiana.

SABINE PASS, Tex./La. -- The Battle of Sabine Pass took place on September 8, 1863 on the Texas and Louisiana border. A Federal invasion fleet, consisting of 22 U.S. Navy gunboats and transports and 5,000 northern invasion troops, was attempting to invade and subjugate the people of Texas.
     The fleet was under the command of Major General William B. Franklin and the four gunboats participating in the action were the U.S.S. Clifton; the U.S.S. Sachem; the U.S.S. Arizona, and the U.S.S. Granite City. The initial landing at the pass was to be led by Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel and 500 troops from the 75th New York Infantry. Troops from the 75th New York and the 161st New York were also manning the decks of the gunboats as sharpshooters.
     The Confederate defense was anchored on Fort Griffin, several miles upstream from the mouth of the pass into the Gulf of Mexico. The fort was unfinished, but well designed by Col. Valery Sulakowski and Maj. Julius Kellersburg, both outstanding military engineers. The fort was manned on that day by 1st Lt. Richard William "Dick" Dowling, and his 41 men of Company F, "Jefferson Davis Guard," of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery. Dowling and his men had six old heavy artillery pieces to fire, two 24-pounder smoothbores, two 32-pounder smoothbores and two 32-pounder brass howitzers.
Maj. R.W. "Dick" Dowling
      Dowling was very alert and had the pass well posted by pickets who immediately spotted the advance ships of the Federal fleet when they arrived off the pass on September 7. The pickets spotted the signal lights flashing between ships that night. Dowling kept watch on the morning of Sept. 8 while putting his men in the bombproof bunkers at the fort. They were to stay concealed until he was ready for them to man their pieces. At 6:30 o'clock that morning of Sept. 8, the Clifton came up the pass and stopped by the Sabine Pass Lighthouse, about two miles from the fort, to bombard the fort and see what reaction it got and gauge its strength. The gunboat was commanded by Lt. Frederick Crocker, a former New England whaler. Dowling concealed himself in the fort but where he could watch the Federal ship, and endured the bombardment for about an hour. The Federal gunboat was out of range of the fort's old smoothbore cannons. Dowling said that 26-shells fell during that initial bombardment, mostly going over the fort or falling short. But one of the shells fell in the fort but did no damage.
       During the lull in the battle between that morning bombardment and the final assault that afternoon, there was a "line in the sand" type event in the fort. Dowling called his men out of their bunkers, lined them up and explained to them the gravity of the situation. He gave them the choice between either staying and fighting, and probably dying, or retreating  and waiting for reinforcements. The Irish-Texans did not hesitate, they refused to abandon the fort. Their motto was "Victory or Death!"
      The Federal Army and Navy were still trying to finalize their attack plans, which delayed the main assault. A long oyster reef running up the middle of the pass complicated the Federal approach to the fort. The plan they finally decided on was for the Sachem and Arizona to steam up the Louisiana channel of the pass as the first movement. Then, when the Confederates were concentrating their fire on the two gunboats in the Louisiana channel, the Clifton would then make a fast dash on the Texas side blasting the fort with its heavy naval artillery and the army sharpshooters picking off the Confederate gunners.
     When the small Confederate gunboat, Uncle Ben, made a move toward Fort Griffin at 11 o'clock, the Sachem unleashed a three-shell barrage at it. The Confederate cottonclad was not hit, but returned to its dock.
      Dowling and his men were confident and ready for what was approaching them. They had put range marker stakes out in the pass and had been drilling for months under the supervision Captain Frederick Odlum, who was an old U. S. Army veteran artilleryman. They would be able to zero in on the enemy warships as soon as they passed the range markers. Captain George H. Bailey, Confederate assistant surgeon at Sabine City, came to the fort to assist any casualties that may occur, but ended up helping with artillery and firing "Magruder pills" (a euphemism for cannon balls) to the attacking gunboats. Also helping attend the guns was 1st Lt. N. H. Smith of the Confederate engineers. Dowling called the men to their posts and, leaping upon the breastworks, rammed the fort’s battle flag deep into the sand, and then said, "Dick Dowling is a dead man before that flag comes down!"
      At about 4 p. m., the gunboats entered the pass with the Sachem and Arizona steaming up the Louisiana side firing away at the fort with their heavy guns. The Sachem was in the lead and when it got to the first range marker, Dowling yelled, "Fire!" and the  Irish-Texan cannoneers began blasting away at the two gunboats. Also, Major Leon Smith, commodore of the Texas Marine Department, Captain W.S. Good of the Confederate Ordnance Department, and Captain Frederick Odlum, all arrived in the fort. When they saw Dowling had the situation well in  hand, they all decided not to interfere, even though they all outranked him.
      Dowling narrowly escaped death when, just after siting his gun, an enemy shell struck and knocked off the site just has he had stepped back from it. The gun crews were firing rapidly and  took the dangerous chance of not swabbing the guns in between firings. Dowling ordered gunner Private Mike McKernan, the best of the gunners, to aim for the Sachem's steam drum. McKernan did so and scored a direct hit. The steam drum exploded, scalding numerous soldiers and sailors to death, and causing other to abandon ship. The captain of the Sachem then had the shop's colors lowered and surrendered. The Arizona had run aground on the reef and was struggling to get off while under fire, but was effectively out of the battle.
       The Clifton rushed toward the fort with guns blazing, but its tiller rope was severed by a Confederate shot, and it ran aground on a reef about 500 yards from the fort. One of Dowling's 32-pounders was dismounted while recoiling and was out of the battle. The Clifton kept up its fire on the fort but its decks were raked by anti-personnel grapeshot which swept the deck clean of naval gunners and army sharpshooters. The steam drum of the ship was pierced and scalding steam started spewing everywhere. Like on the Sachem, the men jumped overboard to save themselves. The Federal warship soon surrendered. The Davis Guards had fired 137 shots from the old cannons during approximately 40 minutes—an almost unheard of rate of fire.
       During this time, the Granite City was escorting the troop transport that was supposed to be landing troops. But when Franklin and Weitzel saw the disaster befalling the Navy, it was decided to cancel the invasion and the troops were never landed. The Granite City and troop transport retreated back to the gulf. The Arizona was eventually pulled out of the mud and towed out of the pass.  The Confederates captured the two enemy gunboats, killed about 50 northern invaders and took 350 prisoner. The Confederates suffered zero casualties, no killed and no wounded. This great Confederate victory boosted the morale of the South after the disasters at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The Confederate Congress passed a resolution of thanks and tribute to the Davis Guard for their victory. President Davis compared the victory to Battle of Thermopylae in Ancient Greece. The Davis Guards were presented specially made medals by the grateful citizens of Houston, in appreciation for the Irish-Texans having saved their city from the horrors of northern invasion and occupation. Dowling is also the recipient of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' highest award for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of life, in combat with the enemy—the Confederate Medal of Honor.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


SABINE PASS, Texas - The Battle of Sabine Pass will be reenacted on the weekend of September 7 & 8 at the actual battlefield about 30 miles south of Port Arthur, Texas.

The event marks the Sesquicentennial of the battle, when, on Sept. 8, 1863, a Federal fleet of some 22 gunboats and transports and about 5,000 troops tried to invade Texas. A small contingent of 47 mostly Irish-Texans under the command of 1st Lt. Richard W. "Dick" Dowling of Company F, 1st Texas Heavy Artillery, stopped the fleet with six old cannons. Two Federal gunboats were disabled and the rest of the fleet repulsed and sent back to its starting point, the New Orleans area. About 50 Federal soldiers and sailors were killed or missing, 350 captured, along with the two disabled gunboats. 

Please stop by registration at the Community Center when you arrive. You can't miss it. If you arrive in the wee hours, proceed on to the site. There will be signs directing you to the camps once you enter the battleground and staff will be present.
Thursday; Friday the 5th; 6th     Participant; Vendor Arrival, Site Prep,; Setup
Saturday 9-7-13                          
  7:00           All vehicles; trailers out of period areas       
  8:00           Officers Call
  8:30           Artillery Drill; Safety Inspections
  9:00           Gates open to the public            
 10:00          Court Martial; Execution
 11:00          150th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony
                     Lone Star Pipe Band
                     Color Guards
                     Speaker: Historian Edward Cotham
                     Speaker: State Rep. James White
                     Rifle and Artillery Salutes
  2:00           Battle:    Union Attack & Occupation of Sabine City   
  3:00           Jed Marum in Concert
  6:00           Catered BBQ for Reenactors (Not Public)
  7:00           Dance: 3rd Texas String Band, Awards (Not Public)
Sunday 9-8-13       
  7:00           All vehicles; trailers out of period areas 
  8:00           Formal Posting of the Colors; Officers Call
  9:00           Gates open to the public            
  9:00           Church Service
 10:00          Court Martial; Execution
 11:00          Jed Marum in Concert
  2:00           Battle:  Union attack on the Garrison at Sabine City
Registration, the art show; relic museum will be at the Sabine Pass Community Center.
Spectator parking will be at the high school stadium with free shuttles running to the battleground.
Reenactor, staff, motorcycle, and special needs only parking at the battleground.

Due the tight parking, here will be a designated area to drop artillery and horse trailers. If you are "motel militia" and don't have a lot of gear to carry, please consider using the shuttles.