The Second Battle of Sabine Pass took place on September 8, 1863, and was the result of a Union expedition into Confederate-controlled Texas during the American Civil War. It has often been credited as the most one-sided Confederate victory during the conflict.
During the summer of 1863, the president of Mexico, Benito Juárez, was overthrown and replaced by the emperor Maximilian, whose allegiance was with France. France had been openly sympathetic to the Confederate States of America earlier in the war, but had never matched its sympathy with diplomatic action. Now that a French government existed just south of the Rio Grande, the Confederates hoped to establish a fruitful route of entry for much-needed matériel.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was well aware of Confederate intentions and sent an expedition into Texas to establish a military presence and to discourage Maximilian from opening trade with the Confederacy. The Federal force was under the command of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, a political general with little discernible command ability. Banks's original intent was to lead a combined army-navy expedition from the Mississippi River into the Red River. However, low water in the Red River prevented the Union gunboats from entering it. As a consequence, the expedition entered the Sabine River from the Gulf of Mexico. Banks ordered his subordinate, Major General William B. Franklin, to defeat a small Confederate detachment at Fort Griffin near the mouth of the river and capture Sabine City. The detachment consisted of 46 infantrymen of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery and six guns manned by the Jeff Davis Guards — all under the command of Lieutenant Richard "Dick" Dowling. Considering the prominent size of the Union expeditionary force, disposing of this fort was not expected to prove any great challenge.
On the day of the battle, U.S. Navy Captain Frederick Crocker entered the Sabine River with four gunboats, accompanied by eighteen troop trans...