It was 1863. Union gunboats were a threat to the Texas interior because of rivers that emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. A fort built was at one of these vulnerable points: Sabine Pass, where two rivers meet the Gulf.
A Texas artillery unit was sent to man the fort. It was not long before four Union gunboats appeared, escorting troop transports up the river – a total of 5,000 Federals. The Texans numbered 42. The situation appeared hopeless, so top command ordered the Guards to destroy the fort and retreat.
The Texans talked it over and decided to fight. After all, it was just a few thousand Yankees.
The gunboats started firing, the fort taking hits. The Texans blasted two of the gunboats, two other vessels got grounded, and the whole thing was a mess for the invaders. Most of the Union force withdrew, two boats surrendered, all with no casualties to the Rebels. But the surrender was a problem: the Texans didn’t need hundreds of prisoners marching up to the fort, only to discover a few dozen men. So the Texan commander waded out into the river to accept the Union surrender and arrange for their custody without risk to the fort.
An overwhelming force had been defeated, perhaps the most lopsided victory of the war. And an invasion stopped in its tracks.
Forty-two Texans can sure make a statement.
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