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Monument at Sabine Pass, Texas Memorial to the Davis Guards

The Texas Centennial Sabine Pass Monument

for


DICK DOWLING and THE DAVIS GUARD


This image is from a "ShiniColor" postcard.

The Texas Centennial Monument Erected in Honor of
DICK DOWLING and THE DAVIS GUARD
at Sabine Pass, Texas.

In the spring of 1936, the Centennial Year of Texas Independence, Texans thoughts turned again to their heritage. As one of many such projects throughout the state, the Texas Centennial Commission brought to reality a longstanding dream of the United Daughters of the Confederacy by commissioning a monument to the memory of Lt. Richard W. (Dick) Dowling, the commander of the Davis Guard at the Battle of Sabine Pass on September 8, 1863. This monument, to be funded by the Commission at a cost of $ 7,500, was to be erected on the site of Fort Griffin, the earthen fortress he commanded during the battle. A national competition was held to select a sculptor for the memorial, and the winner was Beaumont, Texas resident Herring Coe.

Coe's design consisted of a seven-foot bronze statue depicting a bare chested grimly determined Dowling, torch in one hand and field glasses in the other, in the act of touching off the first of the artillery fire that routed four Union gunboats an won the Battle of Sabine Pass for the Confederacy. The base of the monument, of Texas granite, would list the names of the battles's participants accompanied by the words, "Texas remembers the faithfulness and valor of her sons and commends their heroic example to the future generations."

In the ensuing months, the Dick Dowling monument was erected on the site of the fort, purchased in the 1936 by Jefferson County and on May 22, 1937, seventy-four years after the battle, it was dedicated. Sculptor Coe was in the audience. Dowling's son-in-law, Judge W.S. Robertson, unveiled the statue in the absence of his wife, who was unable to attend because of illness, and historian L.W. Kemp, chairman of the Texas Centennial Historical Advisory Board, presented the monument to the County.

Today, the statue of the Confederate hero stands on the site of Fort Griffin looking southeast over the Sabine ship channel, keeping guard over the Pass he defended successfully many years ago. Five Texas State Historical markers complement the Statue by underscoring the importance of the event.

In 1971, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department bought 54.12 acres adjoining the existing 1.88 acre fort site to create the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Park. At that time as part of a master plan delineating the Park's development, the land containing the Dowling monument and the fort site were designated as a historic area. The plan has since been implemented to provide picnic facilities, a boat launching ramp, RV accommodations, a primitive campsite area, historical markers, and a replica of the fort. Future plans for the park include an interpretive pavilion highlighting the historical significance of the site.

Click here to go to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Park Page


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