Battle of Galveston Anniversary events (January 14-15, 2012)

January 3, 2012

Battle of Galveston Anniversary events

By:Ed Cotham
Date: Tuesday, 3 January 2012, 11:49 am

Galveston Historical Foundation To Host Battle Of Galveston Civil War Re-Enactment, Tours, Encampments In January
Galveston Island, Texas, December 9, 2011 – Galveston Historical Foundation will mark the 149th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Galveston on January 13-15, 2012. The Battle of Galveston, which took place during the early morning hours of January 1, 1863, is widely acknowledged as the most important military event in Galveston’s history. Commemorative events taking place include battle re-enactments, lectures, living history encampments, a wet-plate collodion photography demonstration and a variety of special tours focusing on Galveston’s part in the 1863 battle. Full details on associated events can be found online at

Battle of Galveston Reenactments

Living history encampments will be established by the 19th-Century Living History Association, Inc. and the 1st Texas Brigade. The public is invited free of charge to visit the encampments from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Union encampment will be located on Postoffice Street at 19th Street. The Confederate encampment will be located on Market Street and 25th Street.

A reenactment of the execution of Nicaragua Smith will be held on Saturday, January 14 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, January 15 at 12 p.m. and is free to the public. Smith, who was found guilty of desertion from his confederate unit, was executed after being spotted by confederate troops after on his return to Galveston. Also free to the public, a re-enactment of the battle itself will occur on Strand Street, between 20th and 23rd streets, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 14 and 1 p.m. Sunday, January 15.

Battle of Galveston Tours

Noted author and Civil War historian Edward T. Cotham, Jr., will be conducting various paid tours visiting the sites of the battle.

Walking tours begin at Strand Street and 20th Street on Saturday, January 14 at 3:30 pm and Sunday, January 15 at 2:30. Walking tour registrations are available in advance for $10 for GHF members and $12 for non-GHF members. Day of registrations will be available for $15 per person.

A harbor tour, scripted by Cotham, will be available January 13-15 for $12. The harbor tour departs at 4 p.m. from the Texas Seaport Museum and will allow participants to envision the battle from the view-point of Galveston’s historic harbor.

In addition to the walking tour, Cotham will be offering a rare “bird’s eye” tour from the 20th floor of the American National Insurance Company. Advance registration is required and costs $18 for GHF members and $20 for non-GHF members.

Cemetery historian Linda McBee will offer a Civil War cemetery tour on Saturday, January 14 and 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Advance registration is $10 for GHF members, $12 for non-GHF members and free for children three and under. The cemetery tour will visit the grave of Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder as well as the monument dedicated to those who perished during the battle.

Galveston’s oldest residence, the 1838 Michel B. Menard House, will be available for tours both Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15 from noon – 4 p.m. Tours of the Greek Revival home, built by the founder of the City of Galveston and used as a hospital in 1862 for Confederate soldiers stricken with yellow fever, will cost $8 for GHF members and $10 for non-GHF members.

Battle of Galveston Lectures at Menard Hall

Ginny Raska, co-editor of The Uncompromising Diary of Sallie McNeill, will share glimpses of Galveston from the perspective of a young woman visiting the island in 1860. Raska’s lecture is Saturday, January 14 at 2 p.m. and is $6 for GHF members or $8 for non-GHF member.

Mark Lardas, author of United States Colored Troops – Black Soldiers in the Civil War and their Contribution to Union Victory, will present a 45 minute power point presentation focusing on the partnerships formed between black soldiers and their white officers. Lardas’ presentation begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 15 and is $6 for GHF members or $8 for non-GHF members.

Packages for both lectures are available for $12 for GHF members or $15 for non-GHF members and include a tour of the Menard House and admission to a lecture.

About the Battle of Galveston

“The Battle of Galveston brings life to an important historic event for Galveston. This year we add new events that bookend the reenactments and help to educate visitors on the strategy employed by each side on January 1, 1863.” says Dwayne Jones, Executive Director of Galveston Historical Foundation. “The participants and spectators really get a first-hand view of this historic event. The 2012 Battle is preparation for the 150 year anniversary in 2013 when we further expand our programming.”

Played out on both land and sea over the course of 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, Commander William B. Renshaw and his squadron of eight Union ships demanded surrender by Confederate Forces of Galveston Harbor, the most important Texas port, on October 4, 1862.

But Confederate Major General John Bankhead Magruder led a successful campaign to retake Galveston early on New Year’s morning, January 1, 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.

For more information about Battle of Galveston Commemoration tours, tour reservations or for information on re-enactor guidelines, go to or call Galveston Historical Foundation at 409-765-3409.

Battle of Galveston ticket site

Reviews and Awards

Chapter on Union Naval Strategy in Texas
"Devotees of American Civil War literature should find their horizons broadened and their understanding of the war enhanced by this book." —Donald S. Frazier, author of Cottonclads
“Ed Cotham has provided for posterity a fine rendering of one of the more amazing battles in American History. Not only was the Battle of Sabine Pass a heroic scale Texan victory, but Cotham tells that larger-than-life story with historical context and clarity that makes the story of Dick Dowling and his stalwarts that much more amazing.” Dr. Don Frazier, Chairman of the History Department at McMurry University and Executive Director of the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation
Released January 2006 by University of Texas Press Reviewers have said this about the book: "Journals of nineteenth-century U.S. Marines are rare, and Henry Gusley's is a truly outstanding account of the shipboard experiences and observation of an enlisted marine...Edward Cotham's scholarship in the introduction and in annotating the journal is outstanding, and he has drawn on the appropriate sources. This is one of the best jobs of editing in the field." Joseph G. Dawson III, Professor of History at Texas A&M University "I found Gusley's notebook fascinating, informative, and ultimately moving...Civil War historians will find the information about the inner workings and day-to-day life aboard U.S. naval vessels patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and the major river systems of the Trans-Mississippi interior highly informative...This book should also find a popular audience. Bright, literate, constantly upbeat, and good-humored despite the many difficult circumstances he found himself in, Gusley is good company for his readers." Patrick Kelly, Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio.