“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sabine Pass in Jefferson County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Commodore Leon Smith

Commodore Leon Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Anderson, June 10, 2018
1. Commodore Leon Smith Marker
Inscription.  Maine native Leonidas Smith (b. 1829) became a sailor as a youth and, by age 21 commanded the U.S. Mail Packet Pacific along the west coast. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he was sailing out of Galveston, Texas. He served as volunteer naval aide to Gen. John Bankhead Magruder, who commanded Confederate forces in Texas and gave Smith control of the Texas Marine Department. Although Smith remained a volunteer, he was noted in records as Captain, Major or Commodore, and by the nickname "Lion,” for his courage and boldness.

On January 1, 1863, Smith played a decisive role in the Battle of Galveston when, in support of Magruder's plan to drive Federal forces from the island, he led an assault utilizing "cottonclad” steamships armed with field artillery pieces and infantry troops. Smith used the C.S.S. Bayou City to ram the U.S.S. Harriet Lane, disabling the Federal vessel and turning the battle in favor of the Confederates.

While in Beaumont on September 8, 1863, Smith heard cannon fire from Sabine Pass signaling a battle for control of this strategic area. Sending troops aboard the C.S.S.
Commodore Leon Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Anderson, June 10, 2018
2. Commodore Leon Smith Marker
Marker is located along the trail to the right of the photo.
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, he quickly made his way here by horseback to support the Davis Guard of Lt. Dick Dowling during the Battle of Sabine Pass. After the Confederate victory, Smith took charge of bringing captured vessels and men into port, winning praise for his efforts.

Smith returned to California after the war. In 1869, he was killed in Alaska, and his body was moved to San Francisco, California for burial.
Erected 2004 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 15458.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 29° 43.933′ N, 93° 52.392′ W. Marker is in Sabine Pass, Texas, in Jefferson County. Marker is located within the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6100 Dick Dowling Road, Sabine Pass TX 77655, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union Casualties at the Battle of Sabine Pass (within shouting distance of this marker); Richard Dowling (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of Fort Griffin (within shouting distance of this marker); Capture of the USS Morning Light and USS Velocity (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); World War II Coastal Defenses at Sabine Pass
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(about 600 feet away); Fort Manhassett (about 600 feet away); Spanish-American War Fortifications (about 600 feet away); United States Forces at the Battle of Sabine Pass (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sabine Pass.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 14, 2018. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2018, by Brian Anderson of Humble, Texas. This page has been viewed 205 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 14, 2018, by Brian Anderson of Humble, Texas. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 29, 2023