Southwestern Historical Quarterly
a background intended to give the battle greater meaning and
perspective. A summary of the military situation in Texas is fol-
lowed by a biographical sketch of Dowling and a history of his
unit, the Davis Guards, including their prior service along the
Texas coast from 1861 into early 1863. This is the weakest portion
of the book. The author would have profited by consulting Lud-
well Johnson, Red River Campaign, for a more varied explana-
tion of the causes for all Union efforts to invade and occupy
Texas. In addition, the claim that Dowling's victory "almost
erased in Texas a deep prejudice against poor Irish emigrants"
also seems somewhat out of proportion. Finally, the account of
the battle of Galveston contains a number of misconceptions
about the course of events and the casualties on both sides.
Chapters four through ten, which concern the Sabine Pass ex-
pedition itself, are much more satisfying. Sketches of the Union
officers and details about the troops and ships under their com-
mand highlight a summary of the Federal invasion plan. The
discussion of its collapse, which follows, includes perhaps the most
complete analysis yet done of the Union failure. A description
of Southern defensive activities at Sabine Pass then balances the
picture of pre-battle preparations. Thereafter, Tolbert provides
a detailed narrative of the battle and of the capture of part of the
invasion force. The central portion of the book closes with ac-
counts of the praise lavished on the Davis Guards for their victory
and the aftermath of recriminations on the Union side.
Two concluding chapters discuss Dowling's life after the Civil
War and describe Sabine Pass in modern times. "The Ballad of
Dick Dowling" by A. M. Sullivan is reprinted at the end of the
The omission of notes, bibliography, and index, which greatly
impairs the usefulness of the book, rests with the publisher. Less
deplorable, but still distracting, are slips in the use of proper
names, misconceptions about some of the ordnance used by both
sides, and misstatements concerning various well known figures
and events of the war. A few typographical errors also mar the
text. Stepping back to view Dick Dowling at Sabine Pass in full
perspective, however, it is quite readable and provides more de-
tail than any account of the battle written to date.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed February 9, 2016.