Battle of Galveston

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Battle of Galveston
Part of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the
American Civil War
CS Bayou City captures USS Harriet Lane during the Battle of Galveston
DateJanuary 1, 1863 (1863-01-01)
Result Confederate victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America Confederate States (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Isaac S. Burrell
William B. Renshaw 
John B. Magruder
Leon Smith
Units involved
West Gulf Blockading Squadron
42nd Massachusetts Infantry
Department of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona
Texas Marine Department
6 gunboats
unknown infantry
2 gunboats
unknown infantry
Casualties and losses
ca. 420 captured
1 gunboat captured
1 gunboat destroyed
26 killed, 117 wounded
Map of Galveston Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program.

The Battle of Galveston was a naval and land battle of the American Civil War, when Confederate forces under Major Gen. John B. Magruder expelled occupying Union troops from the city of Galveston, Texas on January 1, 1863.

After the loss of the cutter Harriet Lane, the Union Fleet Commander William B. Renshaw blew up the stranded vessel USS Westfield to save it from falling into enemy hands. Union troops on shore thought the fleet was surrendering, and laid down their arms. The battle is sometimes called the Second Battle of Galveston, as the Battle of Galveston Harbor (October 1862) is sometimes called the First Battle of Galveston.


Two Confederate cottonclads, CS Bayou City and the CS Neptune commanded by Leon Smith, sailed from Houston to Galveston in an effort to engage the Union Fleet in Galveston Harbor, which consisted of USS Clifton, USS Harriet Lane, USS Westfield, USS Owasco, USS Corypheus and USS Sachem.[1] Outnumbered six to two by the Northern ships, Neptune was severely damaged by the Union Fleet and eventually sank. While Neptune was quickly disabled, Bayou City succeeded in capturing USS Harriet Lane.[2]

During this time, USS Westfield was grounded on a sandbar. A three-hour truce was called for by Magruder, but Union Fleet Commander William B. Renshaw, ignoring the negotiation offer, attempted to destroy the grounded Westfield with explosives rather than let it fall into enemy hands.

Reanshaw and several Union troops were subsequently killed when the explosives were set off too early. Union troops on shore were convinced that their own ships were surrendering and, therefore, laid down their arms. The remaining U.S. ships did not surrender and succeeded in retreating to Union-controlled New Orleans.[3][4]


The Union blockade around the city of Galveston was lifted temporarily for four days, and Galveston remained the only major port that remained in Confederate hands at the end of the war. The Confederate Congress stated this on the successful recapture of Galveston:

The bold, intrepid, and gallant conduct of Maj. Gen. J. Bankhead Magruder, Col. Thomas Green, Maj. Leon Smith and other officers, and of the Texan Rangers and soldiers engaged in the attack on, and victory achieved over, the land and naval forces of the enemy at Galveston, on the 1st of January, 1863, eminently entitle them to the thanks of Congress and the country... This brilliant achievement, resulting, under the providence of God, in the capture of the war steamer Harriet Lane and the defeat and ignominious flight of the hostile fleet from the harbor, the recapture of the city and the raising of the blockade of the port of Galveston, signally evinces that superior force may be overcome by skillful conception and daring courage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 774.
  2. ^ "Confederate Ships - C.S. Army gun boat Bayou City". Naval Historical Center, Department of the U.S. Navy (13 October 2000), Archived from the original on 2001-11-15. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  3. ^ Alwyn Barr. "Galveston, Battle of". The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Assoc. (June 6, 2001), Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  4. ^ "The Battle of Galveston (1 January 1863)". Lone Star Junction (1996), Retrieved 2007-04-10.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°20′22″N 94°46′01″W / 29.339536°N 94.767036°W / 29.339536; -94.767036