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Confederates attack Union forces in Galveston


On this day in 1863, Confederate forces under Gen. J. B. Magruder began their assault on Union forces that had held Galveston since October. Magruder placed artillery and dismounted cavalry aboard two river steamers, the Bayou City and the Neptune. He also gathered infantry and cavalry, supported by artillery, to cross the railroad bridge onto the island. The Confederates entered Galveston on New Year's night, January 1, 1863, and opened fire before dawn. The Union ship Harriet Lane sank the Neptune, but the Bayou City's crew seized the Federal vessel. Union commander William B. Renshaw's flagship, the Westfield, ran aground, and the commander died trying to blow it up rather than surrender it. The other Union ships sailed out to sea, ignoring Confederate surrender demands, while their infantry comrades in town surrendered. Magruder had retaken Galveston with a moderate loss. Although the port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war, only a week elapsed before it was again blockaded.

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