Re: [civilwarwest] Fort Manhassett, Texas
- Hi John -
Thanks for the welcome. The fort that I am describing isn't anything like
Pickens or Barrancas, those are large masonry fortresses. Manhasset's
redoubts were holes in the ground with 6-8 foot high parapets made from
clamshell, sand, and dirt. All five were surrounded by rifle trenches and
abatis, and were connected by trenches. Their sillhouettes were low and
blended in easily with the flat, dull marsh that they were built on. The
only traces of them today are a species of high grass which grows on their
outlines. They weren't ever intended to be permanent fortifications. Years,
weather, and dozens of hurricanes have eroded the once-proud fortress to the
My home got some slight damage but the surrounding area was hit very hard by
wind. It was powerful enough to uproot a 70 year old pecan tree in my
grandmother's yard. The town of Sabine Pass was virtually wiped off the map
for the third time in its history. I'm sure that Manhassett's quiet remains
are still much like they always have been since the war ended. It's an
amazing thought that the last human contact the area had was when the
garrison marched off to Beaumont to be paroled.
>Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Fort Manhassett, Texas
>Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2005 14:38:33 +0000
> I have particular interest in your description. I live next to Stones
>River Battlefield but also spend time at my place on Pensacola Beach on
>"Sabine Bay" and regularly visit Ft. Pickens (Fed) and Ft. Barancas(
>Conf.). The engineering and design of these forts are remarkable. One
>design I will mention are the reverse arches that were used to combat the
>sand base. I here Sabine in the Hurricane reports and hope you and the
>forts faired well.
>-------------- Original message --------------
>I am a native of southeast Texas. I live only a few miles from the site of
>the battle of Sabine Pass and about an hour's drive from Galveston. I've
>long been interested in the Civil War and in the last few years I've come
>realize the significance of Sabine Pass during the war. It is that
>realization that drove to me to seek out this forum.
>Almost everyone is familiar with the famous battle at the Pass, where 42
>Irishmen under the command of Lt. RW Dowling, with six 32-pounders in a
>and clamshell cremaillere fort defeated a Union invasion fleet of five
>gunboats and nineteen transports carrying an estimated 15,000 men. These
>brave men, former dockworkers from Galveston, single-handedly halted Banks'
>attempted invasion of Texas.
>What almost no one, including residents of Sabine Pass, knows is that
>Dowling's Fort Griffin and the original Fort Sabine were not the area's
>defenses. After the attempted invasion in September 1863, Confederate
>officials were worried that the Union might try it again on the relatively
>undefended Texas coastline. Consequently, work was completed in October of
>1863 on a series of five earthern redoubts, redans, and lunettes,
>collectively known as Fort Manhasset. The fort owed its name to a Union
>ship which grounded near its site during a storm while the forts were being
>built. The ship was cut up and used in the construction of the earthworks.
>Nothing major happened at Fort Manhasset during the war. In 1864, much of
>its garrison and a few of its guns traveled to Calcasieu Pass in Louisiana
>and captured two Union gunboats in a sharp engagement, that, sadly, much
>like Fort Manhasset, has been forgotten and almost lost to posterity. When
>the war ended, Manhasset's garrison buried their cannons, powder, and ammo
>and abandoned the fort.
>The area where the fort is located is a flat, marshy prairie just inland of
>the beach. On its rear is located a huge shallow lake called Knight's Lake.
>The forts were arranged in a pentagon shape spread out over a mile of land.
>When US 87 was built, road machinery started digging up cannonballs and
>of powder. In all about 300 shells were unearthed. The shells came from
>was once Redout A, the one closest to the beach. Read about it here -
>Today, Fort Manhassett's remains still exist. Sadly, Redoubt A was
>by the building of Highway 87. Redoubt C, the northernmost fort, is
>underwater, having been consumed by the marsh and eventually claimed by
>Knight's Lake. That leaves Redoubt B and Flank Defenses I and II,
>by human develoment since their men deserted them in 1865, on private land
>which is host to a herd of cattle.
>I have wanted to build a scale diorama of the redoubts but I have trouble
>envisioning what might they might have looked like in their day. Can anyone
>point me to some resources that will help me draw a picture of a quiet day
>of scanning the Gulf horizon, maybe servicing the guns, gunners performing
>Thanks in advance.
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