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"The Battle of Sabine Pass" as recounted by Rev. Thomas B. Gregory


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"The Battle of Sabine Pass" as recounted by Rev. Thomas B. Gregory


The article is a standard recount of the Battle of Sabine Pass narrative from a San Francisco newspaper, as republished in Confederate Veteran 19, 11. (November 1911): 531.


Gregory, Thomas B., Rev.
Cunningham, S. A., editor
Confederate Veteran


Cunningham, S. A., Ed. "The Battle of Sabine Pass." Confederate Veteran 19, 11. (November 1911): 531.


Digital version published by Rice University.




This material is in the public domain.









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Forty-eight years ago, on September 8, 1863, was fought the battle of Sabine Pass, down in the extreme southeastern corner of the State of Texas. A great many of the histories of the "late unpleasantness" fail to make even so much as a mention of this fight, notwithstanding the fact that it was perhaps the most remarkable of all the twenty-five hundred fights, big and little, that came off during the war.
The military authorities of the Union, perceiving the strategic importance of the possession of the Sabine Pass, leading up, as it did, into the Sabine Lake, and thence into the interior of the Lone Star State, sent against it a large expedition of land and naval forces consisting, altogether, of some ten or twelve thousand men and nineteen gunboats.
No adequate provision had been made by the Confederates to resist such a force, and the only defense of the pass consisted of a small earthwork which was garrisoned at the time by forty-two men and two lieutenants, with an armament of six guns. The officers and men were all Irishmen, the company being known as the "Davis Guards."
Beginning the the attack a little after noon, the Union force rained shot and shell upon the fort for more than two hours without a moment's let-up. The officers in the fort coolly held their fire until the attacking fleet was within good range, and then opened on it with all their pieces. About 5 o'clock the fleet ceased firing and drew off into the Gulf.
The result of the battle was the capture by the little garrison of two gunboats, the Clifton and the Sachem, with eighteen heavy guns and one hundred and fifty prisoners, inflicting upon the attacking force, in the meantime, a loss of fifty-five in killed and wounded. The garrison did not lose a man. Not one of them was even hurt.
The capture of so many men by such a small force made it necessary that the garrison should add to their valor no little strategy, and this is how they did it. A few men were placed on the parapet as sentinels, while the rest marched out as a guard to receive the prisoners and their arms. Thus was concealed the fact that the fort was empty.
All things considered, it was certainly a wonderful piece of work--that defense of the Sabine Pass. It is doubtful if its like can be found anywhere in the annals of war. Certainly there is nothing that even approximates it in the story of the Civil War. Were it no so well attested, it would be next to impossible to believe that forty-two men and a couple of officers, in a rude earthen fort, did actually, without the loss of a man, successfully resist and finally drive off a fleet of nineteen warships, capturing two of them, with eighteen great funs and a hundred and fifty prisoners, besides killing and wounding over fifty of the enemy.

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