History of the Medals of Sabine Pass
The Medals Presented to Sabine Pass Veterans
President Jefferson Davis was elated when he heard the news of the victory
September 8, l863, at Sabine Pass.
He sent his personal congratulations and
ordered a medal to be struck for the Davis Guard (as Lt. Dowling's men
styled themselves). This medal was the only honor of its kind known to have
been bestowed on Confederate soldiers during the war.
The Davis Guard medal was fashioned from a Mexican silver peso, each side
smoothed off and engraved. The obverse side was inscribed in three lines,
Sabine Pass / Sept 8th / 1863. In honor of the company's Irish heritage, a
kelly green ribbon was attached to the suspension loop.
According to the October 12, 1863, Houston Daily and Tri-Weekly Telegraph,
grateful citizens of Dowling's home town of Houston raised money to fund the
manufacture of the silver medals. For the officers, a similar medal was cast
in gold, for which Houston ladies contributed their jewelry and men their
watch cases to provide material and funds. On the 8th of September, 1864,
the first anniversary of the battle, the ladies of Houston presented a medal
to each member of the Davis Guard. Years later, in his memoir, Rise and Fall
of the Confederate Government, President Davis devoted four pages to the
Battle of Sabine Pass, listing the name of each officer and enlisted man who
received this medal. He wrote that the heroics of the Davis Guard were
"without parallel in ancient or modern war."