Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 8, 1863

September 8, 1863

---Battle of Sabine Pass, Texas:  On September 7, Gen. William Franklin, in an attempt to gain a sheltered port and landing place for an invasion of Texas, sends troops on board transports into the mouth of the Sabine River, which forms the border between Texas and Louisiana.  With 5,000 men transports and four gunboats, the gunboats begin shelling the fort from a distance, but doing no apparent damage.  The Federal ships steam upriver to Sabine Pass and the one Rebel battery there, manned by 41 men of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery, and consisting of 6 cannon.  As the Federal vessels draw near to the pass, where shallow water forces them into a narrow channel close to Fort Griffin, Lt. Richard Dowling and his gunners wait until the Yankee ships were within 400 yards, and open fire with a surprisingly accurate fire.  The Texan gunners load and fire fast, and soon two of the gunboats---the USS Sachem and the Clifton---have been disabled and have struck their colors.  The other two gunboats are damaged, with the USS Arizona having run aground.  The Arizona is eventually pulled free and the flotilla all come about and head back down the river, with the transports, and steam slowly back to New Orleans in defeat.  The Federals lose 200 men killed, wounded, or captured.  The Rebels lose no men, not even wounded.  Confederate Victory.

---George Templeton Strong of New York City writes in his journal about the progress of the war on several fronts, and reaffirms his belief that the Confederacy is far from beaten:

Burnside and Rosecrans seem to have grabbed eastern Tennessee without serious opposition.  Rebeldom asserts itself only in the Chattanooga region, and the decisive battle of this war may perhaps be fought there.  But we have reports this afternoon from “authentic” deserters that the troops of Bragg, Buckner, Joe Johnston & Co. are demoralized, mutinous, deserting in squads, fleeing to the mountains, watching and waiting for the Old Flag.  Maybe so.  Maybe  not.  On Morris Island we hold our own and perhaps gain ground.  But the shattered casemates of Sumter still live and require more pounding.  The pluck and endurance of the handful of traitors that continue to hold it are admirable.

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