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						149
               The Disaster at Galveston.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
Wainright,  and, seizing the rudder, headed his boat
for shore.  Capt. Sumner then ordered him to come
on board the Cumbria.   You have too many blue
coats there for me!  was the answer.   If you ll
follow, I ll pilot you, but I don t care to take the
responsibility of the vessel!    Stand to your guns,
boys! but don t open portholes and give it to them
until the Colonel gives the order!  shouted Capt. Sum-
ner, while a German lieutenant, with equal pres-
ence of mind, ordered the Texas to load their
rifles instantly and to cover the boat.  (The Cumbria,
be it remarked, had neither cannon nor port-holes.)
Seeing that he had no alternative, Payne, with
every mark of unwillingness, came on board the
Cumbria, where he was told to consider himself a
prisoner, and severely questioned by the captain,
Col. Davis, and the Texans, all of whom gathered
about him in anything but friendly mood.  Very
soon, thoroughly alarmed for his own safety, he ac-
knowledged the truth that Galveston was in the
hands of the Rebels, the Harriet Lane captured, the
Westfield blown up and burned, and that the rest of
the Union flotilla had escaped only by flight.  He
added that his intentions as to the Cumbria were to
run her aground on the bar, where she must fall an
easy prey to the bark already approaching and the
boats of the Rebels, and and that the Harriet Lane,
would assist in the feat.  In this final particular he
was indubitably lying; for had the condition of the
latter vessel allowed, she certainly would have been
used by the enemy.  And from the report of the
Owasco, chronicled in my yesterday s letter to THE
TRIBUNE, we know that she had succeeded in dis-
abling the Harriet Lane, after her seizure by the
Rebels, by sending a cannon-shot through her ma-
chinery.
  For some unexplained reason the three accom-
plices of Payne were allowed to escape, their late
companion halloing a farewell to them from the
deck of the Cumbria, and bidding them remit it to
the  boys  on shore.  The Rebel boat then put off,
and the Cumbria, under full head of steam, quitted
the dangerous vicinity.
  Payne, considerably relieved by the fact that he
was not instantly hanged, of which fate he con-
fessed he stood at first in momentary expectation,
avowed himself a thorough Rebel, and gloried in it.
He refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Gov-
ernment which appears to have been rendered him
on the principle of swearing the rattlesnake and
bragged of the recent defeat of the enemy.  From his
subsequent conversations on board the Cumbria in
her return voyage to New-Orleans, were derived
the following particulars relative to the disaster at
Galveston.  They are rendered additionally in-
teresting by the fact of their being the only details
accessible.

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
  On the night before the attack the Union troops
made a reconnoissance, consisting of 25 men, under
Capt. Shreve of the Roxbury City Guard, which
resulted in the discovery of a body of Rebel cavalry
in the western part of the city.  The news being
dispatched to the companies, two platoons of 20 men
each, commanded by Capts. Proctor and Savage,
were detailed to the support of Capt. Shreve, who
had been erroneously reported as captured.  Very
soon he and his company were met falling back to
the wharf, on and by which the United States troops
were encamped.  At 1   o clock the signals of the
Harriet Lane warned the devoted 300 of the 42d 
Massachusetts to prepare for assault.  Almost in-
stantly she found herself engaged by the Rebel bat-
teries, while a scattering fusillade up the dark
streets informed Col. Burrill that his pickets were
driven in, and the enemy approaching in heavy
force.  Under his direction the men had, with ad-
mirable celerity, constructed two barricades of hogs-
heads, barrels, planks, &c., between the pier and
town, and taken refuge upon the extreme end of the 
former, tearing up all but two planks affording ac-
cess to their isolated position, by which the pickets
might reach them.  They had just completed these
preparations when the Rebels opened fire upon 
them with artillery from the upper story of a brick
market-house, at about a quarter of a mile distance,
into which several light field-pieces had been secretly
introduced, brought thither in wagons, laden with
hay, in the daytime, simultaneously from others
placed in the streets leading to the wharves.  At
the same time the blaze of musketry became uni-
versal.
  A few well-directed shots from the Owasco si-
lenced this market-house battery, but the street
cannon were served steadily and continuously, with
what effect is entirely unknown.  But for the ex-
cellent precautions of Col. Burrill, his handful of
men must have been captured or slaughtered at the
outset, the enemy being ten to one.  The Rebel
informant admitted that our soldiers behaved with
the utmost coolness and intrepidity, holding their
perilous position for quite four hours.  Subsequent
to their surrender, when the barricades were exam-
ined by the victors, they found them indented in a
thousand places with bullets.
  After the capture of the Harriet Lane, the Rebels
at once displayed the Union flag, in order to create
the impression that she had surrendered voluntarily.
When the fleet followed the example, Capt. Burrill,
in doubt as to the meaning, ordered Adjutant Chas.
A. Davis to take a boat and two men Union refu-
gees and to endeavor to reach the nearest Union
vessel the Owasco and ascertain it; also to en-
treat her, if possible, to come to the end of the pier
and save his men.  In this perilous adventure, the
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page one hundred and sixty-three
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding the naval disaster at Galveston.
Date:1863-01-08
Subject:Burrill, Colonel; Civil War; Cumbria (Ship); Davis, Charles A.; Davis, Colonel; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Harriet Lane (Ship); Journalism; Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 42nd; New York tribune.; Owasco (Ship); Payne, Captain; Proctor, Captain; Savage, Captain; Shreve, Captain; Sumner, Captain; Wainwright, Captain; Westfield (Ship)
Coverage (City/State):Galveston, Texas
Scan Date:2010-11-18

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" at New Orleans, Louisiana, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; boarding house living; a visit to the Rawlings family; a fight with Mr. Blankman at his boarding house; his journey on the North Star with the Banks expedition; the re-occupation of Baton Rouge by Union forces; a visit to a sugar plantation in Louisiana; and Fanny Fern's daughter Grace Thomson's death.
Subject:African Americans; Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Military; Publishers and publishing; Transportation; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.