DAVIS GUARDS. The Davis Guards, a Confederate Army unit named for Jefferson Davis and composed of forty-five enlisted men, one engineer, and one surgeon, all Irish and all in their twenties or younger, belonged to Company F, Texas Heavy Artillery, under Capt. Frederick H. Odlum. The recruits were hand-picked from the docks at Houston and Galveston and were known as the Fighting Irishmen. In August 1863 the unit, under command of Richard W. (Dick) Dowling, was ordered to man the guns at Fort Sabine, half a mile below Sabine City. They constructed an earthen-work fort large enough to hold their six guns. In the battle of Sabine Pass, September 8, 1863, in the space of forty minutes, they fired 137 shots without stopping to swab the guns. Although they captured 350 prisoners and killed 50 Union soldiers, the Davis Guards sustained no losses. Gen. John B. Magruder gave them a special citation and presented them with silver medals, said to be the only medals struck during the Confederacy. A benefit performance in Houston raised $3,000 for the Guards, and the Confederate States Congress passed a special resolution of thanks to the unit. The Guards spent the last two years of the Civil War in comparative inactivity at Sabine Pass. A number of them, as well as Dick Dowling, are buried in St. Vincents Cemetery, Houston. The monument erected at Sabine Pass by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1937 bears the names of the Guards.


V. G. Jackson, A History of Sabine Pass (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1930). Thomas Clarence Richardson, East Texas: Its History and Its Makers (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1940). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, "DAVIS GUARDS," accessed July 22, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkd01.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on March 4, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox