Andrew Schneck, 25, is in federal custody for attempting to blow up the marble statue of Dick Dowling, a Civil War figure who is not well known outside the state of Texas. He is known as having delayed the liberation of the Lone Star State by nearly two years in the Second Battle of Sabine Pass. Schneck was caught planting explosives around the statue, resulting in his arrest, an evacuation of the nearby Houston neighborhood, and a lengthy operation by hazmat and bomb squad officers.

Who was Dick Dowling?

Dowling began the Civil War as a successful Saloon Keeper in Houston, a leading businessman and social leader of the community.

He had immigrated to the United States from Ireland and had wound up in Houston in the late 1850s. Dowling was the commander of a local militia unit that was primarily a social organization comprised of Irish-Americans who were regulars at his saloons.

When the Civil War broke out, Dowling’s militia unit, now called the Jefferson Davis Guards, was integrated into the Confederate Army. By September 1863 Dowling’s men, 47 in all, occupied a fort commanding the approaches of the Sabine Pass. A Union flotilla comprised of 22 gunships and transports carrying 5,000 troops with cavalry and artillery appeared, intent on landing and marching on into Texas. Dowling and his men successfully fought off the attack with superior gunnery, capturing two gunboats, 350 prisoners, and a huge store of supplies and munitions.

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Dowling became a hero back in Houston and earned the only medals awarded by the Confederacy.

Dowling prospered after the war, continuing to run his saloons and starting to dabble in the oil business. However, what would have likely been a long, lucrative career was cut short when Dowling died in 1867 during a yellow fever epidemic. He was just 30 years old.

Schneck’s attempt at vandalism goes sideways

Schneck was confronted at the statue to Dowling in Houston’s Herman Park, near the more famous equestrian statue of Sam Houston that was the scene earlier of a protest after an internet hoax that the Antifa was going to try to take it down. Schneck sought to drink some of the liquid explosives, a terrible idea, but then spat it out. When asked why he wanted to blow up the statue, he claimed that he didn’t like him. By all accounts, in life, Dowling was a very gregarious and friendly Irishman who was well liked by all who met him.

Schneck now faces up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property. One might also say that he missed getting this year’s Darwin award for handling high explosives when he ought not to have.