A Painting Of The Battle Of Sabine Pass by Andrew Jackson Houston, Son Of Sam Houston
This image courtesy of the San Jacinto Museum Of History Houston, Texas
While some historians question details of the fort, the visualization of what the Davis Guard saw before them - six gunships and over 20 transports all getting up steam and coming in, loaded with men and equipment dedicated to over running their position, is well portrayed
While stuck to the bank, the Clifton was easy prey for the gunners in the fort. The Davis Guard poured round after round into the ship. Several rounds hit the Clifton's steam drum. Crocker still had the steam up trying to get off the bank. Boiling water and steam cleared her decks of all sharpshooters as it had on the Sachem. Somehow, the Clifton gunners hung on. The Clifton was a big ship, two hundred seventy feet long. It would not go down easily. Several fires broke out. Crocker directed them to be put out as he kept firing at the fort. The forward nine-inch gun was temporarily knocked out.
(this illustration is also from Lovett's work for the True magazine article)
An Harper's Weekly illustration of the Clifton aground and the Sachem burning
A colorized version of the picture
This Don Troiani drawing of another Confederate artillery battery in action may help the reader imagine the scene from the Confederate side.
The drawing below is taken from cover art of the book, Texas and Texans in the Civil War by Ralph Wooster and published by Eakin Press (1995). It depicts a bare chested Dowling with his sabre drawn and raised on high celebrating the surrender of the Sachem. The field piece that was disabled just before the Sachem raised the white flag is to his left.
One of the Clifton's other guns was permanently destroyed, killing all its crew. One of the officers of the Clifton hauled down its colors to stop the killing. Crocker reprimanded the officer and ordered the flag put back up. Half of the gun crews, and many of the sharpshooters however, seeing the flag lowered, abandoned ship. Seeing half his men leave, the Arizona not coming forward, the Granite City still remaining out of the fight, as did the General Banks, Crocker belayed the order. With only half the gun crews left, he decided to save his valiant men. He ordered the white flag raised after all.
Meanwhile, the Arizona was stuck in mud. It saw the white flags on the Sachem and Clifton. ................The USS Arizona >
Knowing the deadly guns would next be trained on her. The Arizona, also, ran up a white flag.
Another Harpers Weekly illustration of the battle in which you can see all four Union gunships engaged with the fort and catching a lot of lead while reinforcements aboard the Confederate cotton clads are coming across the Sabine Lake and down the river. You can also see the view the Sabine Pass lighthouse had of the action.
Go to a map of the Battle of Sabine Pass >