On September 8th, 1863, 47 Confederates led by Richard Dowling defeated an attempt by 5,000 Union troops to invade Texas by sea.
A federal fleet sailed toward the Sabine Pass, a commonly used sea lane by which smugglers delivered goods to the blockaded Confederacy. The soldiers would then disembark and invade Texas – or so they thought.
The Confederates stationed at Fort Griffith, which guarded the Sabine Pass, were no professional soldiers. These men, mostly Irish immigrants, had been dock workers before the war, and their assignment to the fort was a punishment for infractions. Their commander Richard Dowling, who had owned several saloons in Houston before the war. Some of the men he now commanded were old customers of his.
Fort Griffith was, in essence, a penal station. Dowling would not put this time to waste, however. During their long months stationed at Fort Griffith he had colored markers placed in the Sabine Pass and passed time using them for target practice. In time, these Irish misfits, who called themselves the “Davis Guards,” became damned good at firing accurately and quickly. It was now time for them to prove their worth to their adopted country.
Once the enemy sailed
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