The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962

THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. XLV JULY, 1961 No. 1
(ezas Coastal DefeHse, 1861-1865
ALWYN BARR
WHEN ABRAHAM LINCOLN established a naval blockade of
the Southern coast on April 19, 1861, Texas' four hun-
dred mile stretch of beaches and harbors rated second
only to Florida in length. Although somewhat distant from the
fighting fronts, it was of immediate importance to the civilian
population of the state, as well as a source of military supplies
for the Trans-Mississippi region of the Confederacy. Retention of
the Texas coast to keep open trade through nothern Mexico also
became of increasing necessity as the Federal blockade tightened
on Southern ports. The need to hold open all routes for the influx
of goods was compounded by Union conquest of the Mississippi
River, cutting off the Trans-Mississippi area from the Southern
heartland. Blockade running into Texas ports received a further
stimulus from the Federal capture of most other Southern harbors
as the war progressed. Thus the coast of Texas was the scene of
constant activity throughout the Civil War, as its regional impor-
tance steadily increased.
Realization of the need for defense did not create the means.
Texans in 1861 found themselves utterly helpless before a sea
assault, and could breathe only an uneasy sigh of relief because
the original Federal fleet numbered but forty-two ships for the
entire Southern blockade.' Texas ports were guarded by no such
brick fortifications as protected New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah,
and Charleston. Few heavy cannon were to be found in Texas,
none mounted for defense for her coastline, yet the essence of
coastal attack and defense in the 186os still lay in the artillery
iCharles B. Boynton, The History of the Navy During the Rebellion (New York,
1867), 97.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed August 27, 2014.