The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 110
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and so recognized by foreign governments. Although vessels were
dispatched immediately to patrol the Texas coast, there were still
indications in the latter part of the year that the blockade was
In the early part of December, 1861, Galveston was visited by
Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Desperate. The ship stood close in
to the harbor, approaching within four miles of the beach of
the island, and after making her presence known by smoke from
her funnels, withdrew. In reporting the incident, the command-
ing officer of the ship concluded:
But having seen no United States man-of-war there, I concluded
that the port was not effectively blockaded, and it will be my duty
to report the same to my superior officer.1
Although McKean, at that time flag officer commanding the Gulf
Blockading Squadron, was "inclined to doubt its correctness,"2
he reported the information to the secretary of navy and deter-
mined to investigate the situation as soon as he had the oppor-
During the ensuing nine months the blockading squadrons
had difficulties in maintaining an effective blockade, and it was
therefore finally determined that actual reduction of some of the
ports along the coast would pay handsome dividends in the long
run, both in the destruction of blockade-runners and the estab-
lishment of operating bases for the maintenance of the minor
elements of the blockading squadron. As a consequence of this
decision, Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, then the command-
ing officer of the West Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron, ordered
Commander W. B. Renshaw to take his mortar flotilla down the
coast of Texas to destroy the blockade-runners and to make an
effort to enter Galveston Harbor if the conditions seemed favor-
able for such an undertaking.3 In the meantime, Farragut had
received a report on the defenses of Galveston, along with an
'John F. Ross to William W. McKean, December 13, 1861, in Official Records of
the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (Washington,
D. C., Government Printing Office, 19o3), Series I, Vol. XVII, p. 1o. This series
of publications will hereinafter be cited as Official Records.
2Flag-Officer McKean to Gideon Welles, December 20, 1861, in ibid., 9.
Rear Admiral Farragut to Commander W. B. Renshaw, September 19, 1862,
in ibid., Vol. XIX, p. 213. Vol. XIX of this series was published in' 1905.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/152/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.