Notes and Documents
A Federal Naval Raid into Galveston Harbor,
November 7-8, 1861: What Really Happened?
MITCHELL S. GOLDBERG*
A FTER PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN ISSUED HIS BLOCKADE PROCLA-
mations of April 19 and 27, 1861, the small United States Navy
slowly extended the blockade to the major ports of the Confederacy.'
Galveston was not blockaded until July 2, 1861, when the U.S.S. South
Carolina" arrived off the port. On September 17 she was relieved by
the frigate Santee," commanded by Captain Henry Eagle.' In early
November, Lieutenant James E. Jouett," an officer on board, volun-
*Mr. Goldberg is a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of New
'The proclamation of April 19 covered only the ports from South Carolina to Texas.
On April 27 the blockade was extended to Virginia and North Carolina. Roy P. Basler
(ed.), The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols.; New Brunswick, 1953), IV,
338-339, 346--347. On March 4, 1861, the United States owned ninety warships. Of this
number, forty-two were in commission, most of which were serving on foreign stations.
Twenty-seven others were in ordinary (mothballed) and twenty-one were listed as un-
serviceable. U.S. Navy Department, Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Oficers
of the Navy of the United States, including Officers of the Marine Corps and Others, for
the Year i86 (Washington, 1861), 95-97. References to this work are hereafter cited
as Navy Register, I86z.
'U.S.S. South Carolina: screw steamer, purchased by the U.S. Navy on May 3, 1861,
at Boston; cost, $172,500; tons, 1,150; length 217'111/2"; beam, 33'6"; depth, 25'; draft,
14'6"; speed, maximum, 12 knots; guns, 5; crew, 115. Official Records of the Union and
Confederate. Navies in the War of the Rebellion (31 vols.; Washington, 1894-1927),
Series I, XVI, p. xx; ibid., Series II, I, 211. References to these records are hereafter
cited as O.R.N.
8U.S.S. Santee: sailing frigate, launched February 16, 1855, at Portsmouth Navy Yard;
cost, $229,o22; tons, 1,726; length, 2o2'6"; beam, 47'; guns, 50; crew, 427. O.R.N., Series
I, XVI, p. xx; Series II, I, 2oo.
'Henry Eagle was a 6o-year-old New Yorker, who had been in the U.S. Navy since
1818. He retired from active duty in 1863 and served as prize commissioner in New
York (1864-1865) and lighthouse inspector (1865-1866). He died on November 26,
1882. Lewis R. Hamersly (comp.), The Records of Living Oficers of the U.S. Navy and
Marine Corps (4th ed.; Philadelphia, 1890), 442; "Henry Eagle," The National Cyclo-
pedia of American Biography (52+ vols.; New York, 1892-present), III, 278-279.
'James E. Jouett, 33-years old, came from Kentucky. He had been in the Navy for
twenty years and rose to the rank of rear admiral in 1886. Hamersly (comp.), The
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/. Accessed November 26, 2015.