Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site

Gulf Coast & South Texas

The site of the fort is now offshore, but detailed outdoor displays recall the battle. This 57-acre site offers great views of idle oil rigs and passing ships and has good picnic areas.

During the Civil War, this site was vital, as it allowed the Confederacy to continue its lucrative cotton trade with England and France. Weapons, supplies, medicine and more were bought with the cotton. The Union responded with a fairly effective blockade of Southern ports from Virginia all the way to the Mexican border near Brownsville.

At Sabine Pass, a small fort was built to prevent the Union Navy from gaining control of the waterway. On September 8, 1863, a lone guard, Lt Dick Dowling, saw four Union gunboats approaching. He ran 2 miles into town and summoned 46 additional troops – mostly Irish mercenaries – who were drunk in a bar. Hastening back to the fort and seeing the attacking boats loaded with 4000 Union troops proved sobering. In less than an hour the men used the fort's six cannons to force two of the gunboats aground, and ran off the others. It was a major victory for the Confederacy.

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