Lieutenant Dick Dowling was the commander of Fort Griffin on September 8, 1863 when the federal forces under the command of General Nathaniel P. Banks appeared off the Sabine Pass with an invasion fleet of twenty (20) vessels transporting 5,000 troops. Dowling and his men had driven stakes in the mud besides channels in the Sabine estuary to establish exact ranges for their weapons. In the ensuing battle when the six big guns fired 137 times in forty-five minutes, defenders turned back the invasion fleet by disabling Union gunboats and capturing 350 soldiers. General Banks pulled his force away to try somewhere else. Dowling’s unit suffered no casualties in the encounter. The Unionists lost 61 as killed or missing.
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