Tours to mark Civil War battle

By Galveston Historical Foundation
Special to The Daily News

Published December 18, 2009

GALVESTON — The Civil War Battle of Galveston, which took place during the early morning hours Jan. 1, 1863, is widely acknowledged as the most important military event in Galveston’s history.

On Jan. 8, 9 and 10, Galveston Historical Foundation will host a series of tours to commemorate this battle.

Played out on both land and sea, in a drama that unfolded through several months, the Battle of Galveston ended with Confederate forces driving out the Union ships that had held Galveston Harbor since October 1862. As part of the Union blockade of the Texas coast, Cmdr. William B. Renshaw and his squadron of eight Union ships demanded surrender by Confederate Forces of Galveston Harbor, the most important Texas port, on Oct. 4, 1862.

But Confederate Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder led a successful campaign to retake Galveston early on New Year’s morning 1863.

Confederate “cottonclads” struck from the rear of the Union squadron. A naval battle ensued with Magruder’s forces retaking Galveston. Confederate losses numbered 26 killed and 117 wounded. Union losses included the captured infantry and the Harriet Lane, about 150 casualties on the naval ships, and destruction of the Westfield. The port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.

Galveston Historical Foundation’s series of commemorative tours will offer details and descriptions of many aspects of the battle by several experts in the field.

Civil War Historian Edward T. Cotham will lead one-hour walking tours.

His book “Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston,” will be available for sale and signing.

Cotham also researched and wrote the new battle of Galveston harbor tour, which makes its debut during the anniversary weekend.

Cemetery historian Linda McBee will give a one-hour Civil War tour of Broadway Cemetery, which will include visits to Magruder’s grave, the monument to those who perished during the Battle of Galveston and the graves of other notable Civil War figures.

GHF director of Preservation and Conservation Services Brian M. Davis will lead the one-hour driving tour that focuses on Galveston’s unique collection of antebellum architecture. Locations along the waterfront used as forts during the Civil War also will be highlighted.

For information about Battle of Galveston Commemoration tours, call Galveston Historical Foundation at 409-765-7834. To make tour reservations, go to


Battle Of Galveston Tours

BATTLE OF GALVESTON WALKING TOURS: Noon and 4 p.m. Jan. 9 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 10. The one-hour tour begins at 20th Street and The Strand. Advance registration is required. Cost is $10 for GHF members and $12 for nonmembers.

CIVIL WAR CEMETERY TOUR: 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Jan. 9. The one-hour tour begins at Broadway Cemetery, 40th Street and Avenue K. Advance registration is required. Cost is $10 for GHF members and $12 for nonmembers. The tour is free for children 5 and younger.

CIVIL WAR GALVESTON DRIVING TOUR: 4 p.m. Jan. 8, noon Jan. 9 and 4 p.m. Jan. 10. The one-hour tour begins at 1861 Custom House, corner of 20th and Postoffice streets. Advance registration is required. Cost is $20 for GHF members and $25 nonmembers.

BATTLE OF GALVESTON HARBOR TOUR: 4 p.m. Jan. 8, 9 and 10 onboard Galveston Historical Foundation’s motor vessel, Seagull II. The one-hour tour boards at Texas Seaport Museum, Pier 22. Advance registration is required. Cost is $12 for adults, $10 for students 4-17 and free for children younger than 3.


© 2009 The Galveston County Daily News

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