Monday, January 14, 2013


U.S.S. Westfield being blown up by its commander, Commodore
William B. Renshaw, killed accidentally in the explosion,
Jan. 1, 1863 at Galveston. (U.S. Naval Historical Center)
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
January 10, 1863

Latest from New Orleans.
Brilliant naval Exploit.
the "Harriet Lane" captured!
another shipsteamer
Blown up with all on Board.
Mobile, Jan'y 8.
     A special dispatch, dated Jackson to-day, says the New Orleans Delta, of the 6th, received at Ponchtonia, contains the following:
     About 2 o'clock on New Year's morning, four rebel gunboats came down Buffalo Bayou into Galveston Bay, and ran alongside the shipsteamer Harriet Lane, one on each side. The Texan sharp-shooters then commenced an assault on her, and soon succeeded in killing all the gunners and Capt. Wagnewyth, her commander. The assailants then boarded her, and after a desperate struggle, captured the vessel.
     The rebel gunboats were lined and fortified with cotton bales, after the manner of the boats in New Orleans known as the Montgomery fleet.
      The Westfield, under Commander Renshaw, determined not to be taken, and, after a consultation, officers and men all agreeing, they blew her up, with all on board, including the commander. Only eight escaped.
      The balance of the Yankee fleet, and one transport, escaped. Two coal boats at the wharf, with two companies of the 42d Massachusetts Regiment, were captured.
       A Federal vessel was pinched to reconnoitre around the harbor to watch the Harriet Lane and prevent the Confederates sending her to sea.

Official account of the Affair.
      The following official dispatch from Major-Gen. Magruder was received at the War Department yesterday. It came via Natchez:
Maj. Leon Smith, Texas Marine Dept.
(Six Decades in Texas)
Headq'rs Galveston, Texas.
      This morning, the 1st January, at 3 o'clock, I attacked the enemy's fleet and garrison at this place, and captured the latter and the shipsteamer
      Harriet Lane, and two barges, and a schooner of the former. The rest, some four or five, escaped ignominiously under cover of a flag of truce. I have about six hundred prisoners and a large quantity of valuable stores arms, etc. The Harriet Lane is very little injured. She was carried by boarding from two high-pressure cotton steamers, manned by Texas cavalry and artillery. The line troops were gallantly commanded by Colonel Green, of Sibley's brigade, and the ships and artillery by Maj Leon Smith, to whose imitable energy and heroic daring the country is indebted for the successful execution of a plan which I had considered for the destruction of the enemy's fleet--Col. Bagby, of Sibley's brigade, also commanded the volunteers from his regiment for the naval expedition, in which every officer and every man won for himself imperishable renown.
(Signed) J. Bankhead Magruder,

Major General.

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