Galveston. (M. Jones collection)
Galveston Historical Foundation will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Galveston on January 11-13, 2013. The Battle of Galveston, which took place during the early morning hours of January 1, 1863, is widely acknowledged as the most important military event in Galveston’s history. Commemorative events taking place include battle re-enactments, lectures, living history encampments, a wet-plate collodion photography demonstration and a variety of special tours and programming focusing on Galveston’s part in the 1863 battle.
Living history encampments will be established by the 19th-Century Living History Association, Inc. and the 1st Texas Brigade. The public is invited free of charge to visit the encampments, located in Galveston’s historic downtown, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Noted author and Civil War historian Edward T. Cotham, Jr., will be conducting various paid tours visiting the sites of the battle. Cemetery historian Linda McBee will also offer a Civil War cemetery tours of Galveston’s historic Episcopal cemetery on Broadway. Tours, lectures and other programs are currently being developed and will be announced soon.
“The Battle of Galveston brings life to an important historic event for Galveston. This year we add new events that bookend the reenactments and help to educate visitors on the strategy employed by each side on January 1, 1863.” says Dwayne Jones, Executive Director of Galveston Historical Foundation. “The participants and spectators really get a first-hand view of this historic event.”
Played out on both land and sea over the course of several months, the Battle of Galveston ended with Confederate forces driving out the Union ships that had held Galveston Harbor since October, 1862. As part of the Union blockade of the Texas coast, Commander William B. Renshaw and his squadron of eight Union ships demanded surrender by Confederate Forces of Galveston Harbor, the most important Texas port, on October 4, 1862.
But Confederate Major General John Bankhead Magruder led a successful campaign to retake Galveston early on New Year’s morning, January 1, 1863. Confederate “cottonclads” struck from the rear of the Union squadron. A naval battle ensued with Magruder’s forces retaking Galveston. Confederate losses numbered 26 killed and 117 wounded. Union losses included the captured infantry and the Harriet Lane, about 150 casualties on the naval ships, and destruction of the Westfield. The port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.
For more information about Battle of Galveston Commemoration tours, tour reservations or for information on re-enactor guidelines, go to www.galvestonhistory.org or call Galveston Historical Foundation at 409-765-3409.