Submitted by C.J. Johnson
On September 8, 1863, a small group of Rebels at Fort Griffin, Texas held off the Union army’s attempt to invade Texas by way of Sabine Pass, on the line between Texas and Louisiana. Union General Nathaniel Banks began the effort to regain Sabine Pass following Confederate General John B. Magruder’s capture of Galveston, Texas on January 1, 1863, as well as Magruder’s successful efforts to drive Federal forces away from Sabine Pass in late January 1863.
On September 7, a Union force of more than twenty vessels and about 6,000 troops arrived in the area of Sabine Pass, under the command of General William B. Franklin. The battle started on the afternoon of the 8th, with the Rebels at Fort Griffin in perfect position to hit the Yankee flotilla with their cannon as the Yanks proceeded through the Pass.
After Rebels seriously damaged two Union ships, Franklin decided to quit while he was ahead. Fort Griffin’s 47 Irish soldiers had defended Sabine Pass against enormous odds. There were no Confederate casualties. However, twenty-eight Union soldiers were killed, 75 wounded, and 315 captured – an embarrassing defeat for the Union.
A day later in Tennessee, on September 9, 1863, Union General William Rosecrans captured Chattanooga, having marched his troops from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Chattanooga, by way of Tullahoma, which had been abandoned by the Confederates. Union General Rosecrans outmaneuvered Confederate General Braxton Bragg in this successful campaign, with Bragg first leaving Tullahoma to defend Chattanooga, then losing Chattanooga.
Bragg’s force moved from Chattanooga back into the northern section of Georgia. Without any major fighting, the Confederates had given up both Tullahoma and Chattanooga. However, one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the War Between the States was just a few days away – the Battle of Chickamauga, Tennessee.