On January 21, 1863, a Confederate naval squadron led by Major General John Magruder expelled Union forces from an important port at the mouth of the Sabine River in Texas. The Gulf Coast had figured prominently in Union planning from the beginning of the war. Union strategists hoped to resume the delivery of cotton to Northern textile mills.
They also hoped to deter the French, who had recently invaded nearby Mexico. In retaking the Sabine, Magruder used very similar tactics that had worked in early January when he expelled Union forces from Galveston. This time, boats reinforced with cotton to protect sharpshooters on board forced two Union vessels to surrender. A much larger battle would transpire at the Sabine in September, and again, the Confederacy would prevail.