Battle of Galveston

The Union army under Commander William B. Renshaw blockaded the Texas coast and took control of the Galveston port. In the fall of 1862, a new Confederate commander Major General John Bankhead Magruder began to organize for the recapture of Galveston. He planned an attack by land and by water. For a naval attack he placed artillery and dismounted cavalry aboard two river steamers. He also gathered infantry and cavalry, supported by twenty light and heavy cannons, to cross the railroad bridge onto the island to capture the Union forces ashore. The Union had six ships that mounted twenty-nine pieces of heavy artillery.

The Confederates entered Galveston on New Year's night, January 1, 1863, and opened fire before dawn. The Confederate attack failed to seize the wharf because of the short ladders provided for the men, and Union naval guns helped drive back the assault. Then the Confederate "cottonclads" struck from the rear. The Union’s flagship, the Westfield, ran aground, and the commander died trying to blow up his ship rather than surrender it. The other Union ships sailed out to sea.

Magruder had retaken Galveston with a loss of twenty-six killed and 117 wounded. Union losses included the captured infantry, about 150 casualties on the naval ships, as well as the destruction of the Westfield. The port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.

Source: Battle of Galveston
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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