History Under Siege - 2009 Most Endangered Battlefields
Battle of Sabine Pass
Anxious to prevent a viable Confederate trade route through Mexico, President Abraham Lincoln sent a force to capture Sabine Pass, near the Louisiana border, and begin the occupation of Texas. The only Confederate line of defense at the pass was Fort Griffin, with a few dozen artillerists manning six cannons.
On the morning of September 8, 1863, four Union gunboats, followed by transports carrying several thousand Union soldiers, steamed into Sabine Pass. Fort Griffin’s artillerymen — who held frequent target practice to pass the time at this quiet post — pounded the Union gunboats with deadly accuracy. So lethal was their fire during the second battle of Sabine Pass that the Union flotilla was forced to retire after losing two gunboats and 200 men. The successful defense by the outnumbered Texan defenders resulted in one of the most lopsided victories of the Civil War.
The 2005 hurricane season dealt the Gulf Coast as devastating a barrage as any artillerist. Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site received an almost direct hit from Hurricane Rita, causing damage so severe that the site was closed for years to the public. Efforts at repair were further hampered when Hurricane Ike made landfall in September 2008. The site is currently closed again, but will re-open to the public in April or May 2009.
On January 1, 2008, the 58-acre Sabine Pass State Historic Site and 17 other sites across the state were transferred from the cash-strapped Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to the Texas Historical Commission for management and rehabilitation. Funding has been provided by the State of Texas through a bond issue to improve the site’s historic interpretation and facilities. In February 2009, Texas history lovers founded the Friends of Sabine Pass Battleground to support rehabilitation and interpretation of the site.
CWSAC has classified Sabine ass as a Priority II, Class B battlefield.