Fort Griffin


Fort Griffin: Sabine Pass in Jefferson Co. at Dick Dowling Park

Renowned for brilliant Civil War victory, Sept. 8, 1863. Confederates in this fort repulsed a fleet seeking to land thousands of Federal Soldiers.

Lt. Richard W. Dowling (1838-1867), in civilian life a Houston businessman, commanded the fort during the enemy assault. His men, mostly Irishmen from Galveston and Houston, had been comrades in arms since Feb. 1861.

Sabine Pass, where Dowling's men (Co. F, Texas Heavy Artillery) were assigned in 1863, was a center for blockade-running, whereby Confederacy exported cotton and obtained in exchange vital goods such as medicines and arms. Here Co. F built Fort Griffin, named in honor of Lt. Col. W. H. Griffin, Confederate commander at Sabine City, and designated by Col. Valery Sulakowski, formerly of the Austrian Army.

Fort Griffin was an earthwork strengthened with railroad iron and ship's timbers. It was unfinished when Confederates learned of the approach of 22 ships.

Dowling kept watch, but ordered no response to the early shelling by the Federals. When first ships entered range of Fort Griffin's guns, however, the battle began. Dowling himself served as one of the gunners. The fort sent 137 shells toward the targets. Dowling monument (near here) tells of the victory.

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