The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 399
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The Battle of Sabine Pass
should be as prompt as possible."4 On August io, Halleck sent
to Banks more complete orders in which he recommended a
campaign up the Red River; however, he again left the choice
of action to Banks.
Banks selected for his first objective Sabine City, situated at
the mouth of Sabine River some thirty miles southeast of Beau-
mont. This river was, writes one historian, "a line of great stra-
tegic importance to the forces of the United States; as its pos-
session would give to their forces short lines of operations against
the interior of Texas."6 In Banks' instructions to Major General
William B. Franklin, in whose hands he placed the tactical com-
mand of the expedition, Banks wrote:
.. you will proceed to Sabine Pass ... disembark your whole force as
speedily as possible ... and if you can safely proceed as far as the rail-
road from Houston to Beaumont, you will seize and hold some point
on that line. Beaumont is probably the preferable point. ... After
seizing such [a] point on the railroad, you will make reconnaissances
in the direction of Houston.,
Thus it is seen that Banks intended to utilize Sabine City as a
base for operations in eastern and central Texas or, as one writer
puts it, the capture was "doubtless intended as the first step in a
campaign the results of which promised to be of the most brilliant
and lasting character.'7
Besides the strategic motive for the capture of Sabine City
there was perhaps an economic motive as well. A British Lieu-
tenant Colonel Fletcher writes that near Sabine City there were
forty thousand bales of cotton, the capture of which would have
been very lucrative to the Federals." As Banks and certain other
Federals did on occasions speculate on cotton, Fletcher's words
are probably well founded.
To partake in the expedition Banks assigned the entire Nine-
4Halleck to Banks, August 6, 1863, Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies (Washington, 188o-190o1), Series I, Vol. XXVI, Part I, 672. Hereinafter cited
Official Records .. Armies.
5J. Thompson Scharf, History of the Confederate States Navy (New York, 1887),
OBanks to Franklin, August 31, 1863, Official Records ... Armies, Series I, Vol.
XXVI, Part I, 287.
7Frank Moore (ed.), The Rebellion Records (New York, 1864), 426.
8Lieutenant Colonel Fletcher, History of the American War (London, 1866), 128.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/408/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.