The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Sibley's Texans and the Battle of Galveston
DONALD S. FRAZIER*
If I had consulted my personal safety, I should have preferred being somewhere
else.
Pvt. William Randolph Howell
ON OCTOBER 8, 1862, THE CIVIL WAR FINALLY CAME TO TEXAS IN A
dramatic way. The once remote enemy sat anchored in Galveston
Bay: Union warships had come to seize the state's largest city and, al-
though not a grand showing by a large army, the Yankees had come to
stay. A few bystanders nervously watched as a squad of blue-coated
marines disembarked from their launch, climbed up the ladder at
Kuhn's Wharf, and headed for the center of town. No one interrupted
the soldiers as they entered the newly constructed customs house and as-
cended the stairs to the roof. As the citizens looked on, the Stars and
Stripes, a flag that had not flown above the city for more than eighteen
months, unfurled in the wind. Thirty minutes later, the flag came down,
and the Federal landing party returned to its boat and rowed back to
their ship, completing the symbolic capture of the port.'
Union Cmdr. William B. Renshaw, commander of the Federal fleet,
faced a serious problem. Late in August 1862, Adm. David G. Farragut
had ordered him to tighten the blockade along the Texas coast; Ren-
shaw had done exactly that, taking the principal Confederate port,
Galveston, without a casualty. But now he had to hold his gains. The two-
mile railroad bridge connecting the island to the mainland-crossing
water too shallow to be patrolled by his ships-would have to be left
* Donald S Frazier is an assistant professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene. He
received his M.A. and Ph D. from Texas Christian University His first book was Blood and Trea-
sure: The Confederate Empire in the Southwest (Texas A&M University Press, 1995). He is currently
researching Tom Green and southwestern Louisiana in the Civil War.
' W. B. Renshaw to David G. Farragut, "Report of Commander Renshaw, U.S. Navy, com-
manding U.S.S. Westfield," Oct. 5, 1862, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the
War of the Rebellion (31 vols.; Washington, D.C : Government Printing Office, 1894-1922), Ser. I,
Vol. XIX, 254-260 (cited hereafter as OlR, Charles W. Hayes, Galveston- Hzstory of the Island and
the City (2 vols.; Austin:Jenkins Garrett Press, 1974), I, 524.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed July 13, 2014.