Sabine Pass: The Confederacy's Thermopylae

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bdtex

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Finished this one last night. Thanks to @AndyHall for the book recommendation back in July after I posted about my visit to Sabine Pass Battleground State Park.

The book is 288 pages. 215 pages of text,a coupla very readable,enjoyable appendices and accompanying footnotes. The rest is footnotes,bibliography and index.

Very enjoyable and easy read. It grabbed my attention from the start with a description and excerpts of a speech Jefferson Davis gave in New Orleans in 1882. The title of the book comes from the speech. There are several chapters devoted to the history of Sabine Pass beginning in about 1830,how it came to be chosen as a point of attack and who chose it. That includes a history of the actions by Confederate and Union forces along the Texas and Louisiana coasts prior to the battle,the building of the forts there,Lt. Richard Dowling and the Davis Guards who manned Fort Griffin during the battle and the Union commanders and forces involved in the battle. There were actually 2 forts built there and 2 battles fought there and both are described in the book. A good part of the book was about 2 engineers who were immigrants and actually designed and built Fort Griffin and fortifications in Galveston. I'll post their names when I get home tonight. @Pat Young may know about them or be interested in them. There was even some good stuff about the 2 battles of Galveston in the book.

The chapters about the 2nd Battle Of Sabine Pass(September 8,1863) were great reading. I learned a lot that you just can't get from visiting the park. The only criticism I have of the book is there wasn't much about the treatment of the wounded or handling of the prisoners after the battle. The tiny garrison at the Fort and population of the small town of Sabine City were not prepared for the number and kind of Union casualties. Many of the wounded were badly burned by scalding water and steam when the boilers on the Clifton and Sachem were hit by artillery shells.

The final coupla chapters are about what happened to the Fort,Sabine Pass and the combatants on both sides in the rest of the war and after the war.

Good book.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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I had the opportunity to have lunch with Ed Cotham and Andy when I visited Houston. Definitely a high point of a trip already filled with many high points... Sabine Pass is great history, well-understood and well-told.
 

bdtex

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I had the opportunity to have lunch with Ed Cotham and Andy when I visited Houston. Definitely a high point of a trip already filled with many high points... Sabine Pass is great history, well-understood and well-told.
Now I'm jealous. I've read Andy's book too. I started Sabine Pass on Saturday night and finished last night. Got to bed late every one of those nights too. :smile:
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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It was pretty memorable. We ate at a restaurant just past the San Jacinto monument overlooking the ship channel... I may have been in danger of Texas overload. :laugh:
 

bdtex

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It was pretty memorable. We ate at a restaurant just past the San Jacinto monument overlooking the ship channel... I may have been in danger of Texas overload. :laugh:
The Monument Inn.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Sounds right. Either just before or just after that, I visited the battleship Texas; and I was down there to meet Henry Walke's great-great- (and great-great-great-) grandson, who lives in Houston. Was quite a trip. Sorry to thread-jack!
 

bdtex

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Sounds right. Either just before or just after that, I visited the battleship Texas; and I was down there to meet Henry Walke's great-great- (and great-great-great-) grandson, who lives in Houston. Was quite a trip. Sorry to thread-jack!
'S ok. Love those stories too.
 

bdtex

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Oh yeah: The last chapter of the book also describes 5 other monuments erected elsewhere besides the battleground park honoring Lt. Dowling and The Davis Guards. More local places of interest for me to visit.:D
 

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@bdtex , there is an annual ceremony at the Dick Dowling statue, near the entrance to the Houston Zoo, on the Sunday prior to St. Patrick's Day in March. You'd enjoy it; it's a long-standing tradition for Houstonians of Irish extraction and Irish ex-pats.
 
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bdtex

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@bdtex , there is an annual ceremony at the Dick Dowling statue, near the entrance to the Houston Zoo, on the Sunday prior to St. Patrick's Day in March. You'd enjoy it; it's a long-standing tradition for Houstonians on Irish extraction and Irish ex-pats.
That sounds great.
 

bdtex

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@Pat Young . Col. Valery Sulakowski immigrated from Poland in the late 1840's-1850's and had a distinguished career as an engineer in the Confederate Army. He was involved in building fortifications on the Virginia Peninsula to protect Richmond. He designed and built the fortifications in Galveston after Confederates retook the city and Fort Griffin at Sabine Pass. Major Julius G. Kellersberg fka Julius G. Kellersberger immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1840's,also had a distinguished career as an engineer and was instrumental in the design and construction of fortifications at Galveston and Sabine Pass. Lotta material on both in the book I reviewed.
 
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AndyHall

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Kellersberger has a translated typescript memoir in the collection at Rice University, but I understand that there are serious doubts about the accuracy of the translation. As of three or four years ago, Caleb McDaniel at Rice was looking to get a new translation done of the original, German-language edition. That will be a really useful addition to the history of the conflict in this region.
 

bdtex

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Kellersberger has a translated typescript memoir in the collection at Rice University, but I understand that there are serious doubts about the accuracy of the translation. As of three or four years ago, Caleb McDaniel at Rice was looking to get a new translation done of the original, German-language edition. That will be a really useful addition to the history of the conflict in this region.
I love the part of the book that describes how he located and excavated the 2 cannons at the site of the old fort and refurbished them in Galveston for use at Fort Griffin.
 

Pat Young

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@Pat Young . Col. Valery Sulakowski immigrated from Poland in the late 1840's-1850's and had a distinguished career as an engineer in the Confederate Army. He was involved in building fortifications on the Virginia Peninsula to protect Richmond. He designed and built the fortifications in Galveston after Confederates retook the city and Fort Griffin at Sabine Pass. Major Julius G. Kellersberg fka Julius G. Kellersberger immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1840's,also had a distinguished career as an engineer and was instrumental in the design and construction of fortifications at Galveston and Sabine Pass. Lotta material on both in the book I reviewed.
I will have to look into the two of them.
 

bdtex

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Bump on the battle anniversary. Really good book. One of the best I read that year. Probably one I will re-read at some point. Sabine Pass State Historic Site is about an hour,15 minutes from where I live.
 

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I haven't had a chance to read the book yet. Is there anything about a possible reinvasion of sorts. I read somewhere that General Macgruder felt the Union Army just might "try again." And he had the fort garrisoned with several companies from the 3rd Texas Infantry for a while.
 

bdtex

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I haven't had a chance to read the book yet. Is there anything about a possible reinvasion of sorts. I read somewhere that General Macgruder felt the Union Army just might "try again." And he had the fort garrisoned with several companies from the 3rd Texas Infantry for a while.
I don't recall that but it has been awhile since I read the book.
 

Polloco

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. This battle fascinated me as a young boy just learning about the Civil War. Maybe cause it was one of the very few in the history books that happened in Texas.Most of the Great Battles of the Civil War happened in a "differant world".
 

bdtex

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. This battle fascinated me as a young boy just learning about the Civil War. Maybe cause it was one of the very few in the history books that happened in Texas.Most of the Great Battles of the Civil War happened in a "differant world".
Galveston is about 40 minutes from me. The Battle of Galveston and Battle of Sabine Pass are of particular interest to me.
 
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