Second Battle of Sabine Pass
Jefferson County, TX | Sep 8, 1863
With a de facto French government under Maximillian south of the Rio Grande, the Confederates hoped to establish trade between Texas and Mexico to obtain much needed supplies. The Lincoln administration, aware of Confederate intentions, sought to establish a military presence in Texas to discourage Mexican influence. A Union force in place near Beaumont, 30 miles inland from the mouth of the Sabine River, would cut the last railroad between Texas and the rest of the Confederacy and could possibly threaten Houston. At 6:00 am on the morning of September 8, 1863, a Union flotilla of four gunboats and seven troop transports steamed into Sabine Pass and up the Sabine River with the intention of reducing Fort Griffin outside of Sabine City and landing troops there. As the gunboats approached Fort Griffin, they came under accurate fire from the guns there. The fort’s small force of 44 men, under command of Lt. Richard W. Dowling, disabled two ships, captured the gunboat Clifton with about 200 prisoners, and forced the Union flotilla to retire. The Confederate defenders suffered zero casualties and Union operations in the area ceased. The heroics at Fort Griffin - 44 men stopping a Union expedition - inspired other Confederates and became known as one of the most lopsided battles of the war.