Monday, September 10, 2012
September 8 1863 SABINE PASS
AT 3:40 P.M. the Union gunboats began their advance through the pass, firing on the fort as they steamed forward.
Under the direction of Lt. Richard W. Dowling the Confederate cannoneers emerged to man their guns as the ships came within 1,200 yards. One cannon in the fort ran off its platform after an early shot. But the artillerymen fired the remaining five cannon with great accuracy. A shot from the third or fourth round hit the boiler of the Sachem, which exploded, killing and wounding many of the crew and leaving the gunboat without power in the channel near the Louisiana shore.
The following ship, the Arizona, backed up because it could not pass the Sachem and withdrew from the action. The Clifton, which also carried several sharpshooters, pressed on up the channel near the Texas shore until a shot from the fort cut away its tiller rope as the range closed to a quarter of a mile. That left the gunboat without the ability to steer and caused it to run aground, where its crew continued to exchange fire with the Confederate gunners. Another well-aimed projectile into the boiler of the Clifton sent steam and smoke through the vessel and forced the sailors to abandon ship.
The Granite City also turned back rather than face the accurate artillery of the fort, thus ending the federal assault. The Davis Guards had fired their cannon 107 times in thirty-five minutes of action, a rate of less than two minutes per shot, which ranked as far more rapid than the standard for heavy artillery.
The Confederates captured 300 Union prisoners and two gunboats.
The Davis Guards, who suffered no casualties during the battle, received the thanks of the Confederate Congress for their victory.