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Text for Page 155 [01-07-1863]

              141
                 The Disaster at Galveston.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
held merely by the naval arm.  Two regiments had
been ordered thither, the 42d Massachusetts, Col.
Barrill, the 23d Connecticut, Col. ���, with one
battery, the 2d Vermont, under command of Capt.
Holcomb; also a fraction of the 1st Texas cavalry,
the expected nucleus of a regiment.  Of these
troops only the 42d Massachusetts embarked for
Texas on or before the 25th of December, the 23d
Connecticut remaining at Ship Island, where it still 
is.  The first-mentioned regiment went in three
transports, under the respective charges of its Colo-
nel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major.  The vessels
being slow, only three companies of this regiment,
under Col. Burrill, had arrived, landing on a wharf
near the upper part of Galveston.  There they took 
possession of one of the churches as a look-out and
waited the arrival of their comrades.  They were,
in all, about 300 men, not enough to establish pickets.
They relied entirely on the vicinity of the gunboats
for their safety and protection.  The Saxon, which
had brought them, still lay in the harbor, outside
the bar in shoal water, with Commodore Ren-
shaw�s flag-ship Westfield, the gunboats Clifton
and Owasco, in addition to the Harriet Lane, keep-
ing watch and ward over the silent city�each was
the condition of Galveston up to the 30th of Decem
ber.  I append a brief list of the armament of the
vessels in order to complete this part of the subject:
  Flag-ship Westfield, Commodore Renshaw�2 9-inch guns,
4 68-pounders, 2 rifled guns.
  The Harriet Lane, Capt. Wainwright�3 9-inch guns, 1 30-
pound rifled gun, 4 20-pounders.
  The Clifton, Capt. Law�2 9-inch guns, 4 32-pounders, 1 
pivot rifled gun.
  The Owasco, Capt. Wilson�1 11-inch gun, 1 30-pound rifled
gun, 4 24-pound howitzers.
      VOYAGE OF THE MARY A. BOARDMAN.
  The Mary A. Boardman, the Honduras, and the
Cumbria were expected.  The first (a propeller,
built for Chinese water) was laden with stores and
forage; the second carried the Vermont battery be-
fore spoken of; and the Cumbria (captured off
Charleston) contained a number of Texas refugees,
Embryo United States cavalry men, with 1,000 stand
of arms for the use of their loyal countrymen.
These vessels were to have left New-Orleans on or
About Dec. 27.  None of them, however, got off
Until two days later, when, as already related, the
Mary A. Boardman steamed southward for Gal-
veston, and with her the Honduras, leaving the
slower Cumbria to bring up the rear, full forty-
eight hours subsequent.  The Mary A. Boardman
parted with her companion at the Delta of the Mis-
sissippi, on the bar of the South-West Pass, and
henceforward held on her way alone.  At 4 o�clock
on the afternoon of Dec. 31 she arrived off Galves-
ton.  Here an ominous sight awaited her in the
ruined light-house on Bolivar Point�a long sandy
reach stretching toward the town from the east.
The upper portion of the tower, of whitewashed
brick, had been destroyed, the light extinguished,
the house below burned, as afterward appeared, on
the night of Sunday, the 28th, by the Rebels, in an-
ticipation of the arrival of Union troops.  The sig-
nal of the Mary A. Boardman being answered by
the flag-ship Westfield, that vessel came out to meet
her, and Com. Renshaw sent an officer and pilot on
board, when the Mary�s crew learned for the first
time that Magruder was in command at Virginia
Point, with heavy re�nforcements, threatening ac-
tive hostilities.

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
                IN GALVESTON HARBOR.
  The Mary A. Boardman crossed the first bar of the
harbor in company with the Westfield, just at sunset;
the day dying magnificently, the declining sun light-
ing up the windows of the city with dazzling luster.
Passing the inner bar, she came to anchor up Boli-
var�s Channel, on the eastern side of Pelican Island,
in the still water below the town, the flag ship do-
ing the like, within hailing distance, only a little
nearer to Bolivar�s Point.  Seaward, further down,
lay the Saxon.  A fine, calm, moonlight night suc-
ceeded the day; it was a little hazy, but without
fog, and very quiet; one could see objects distinctly,
hear the dash of the waves on the beach, and their 
ripple on the bay.  And so the last night of the year
settled down on Galveston.
                               DANGER.
  Up to 2 � o�clock, a. m., everything remained tran-
quil, but just then, when the moon was disappearing
in the western haze, and the specks of light on the
vessels burned all the brighter for the gathering
darkness, the Harriet Lane signaled suddenly, an-
nouncing danger.  From her post at the inner ex-
tremity of the town she had discerned an uprising
within it�an attack upon our three hundred Massa-
chusetts soldiers.  Almost simultaneously, four Rebel
gunboats were discovered, either by the Clifton or
Westfield, coming down the bay.  Immediately the
signaled vessels answered, and the Westfield, haul-
ing up her anchor, got under way, intending to cross
the Pelican Spit and run up to the wharves, abreast
the town.
                   THE FLAG SHIP AGROUND.
  A fatal mischance!  Drifted by the current directly
on to the island, in shoal water, at full tide, there she
struck on her bows and there remained.  A thousand
tun boat, one of the best of our blockading fleet,
with a rudder at each end, double boilers, and sev-
enty feet breadth of beam, she lay in the sand, im-
movable.
  And first she signaled to the Clifton (another ves-
sel of the same sort, and, like the Westfield, well
known to Staten Islanders and holiday New-York
ers), to come alongside and tug her off, and the Citi-
zen tugged and tugged, and could not effect it.  At
this juncture Commodore Renshaw sent a warning
to the Mary A. Boardman concerning the Rebel gun-
boats and resumed his pilot, Mr. Davis, who had re-
mained on board the former.  Leaving the Westfield
for a while, until the tragic interest of the scene
shall calumiate in her, let us turn our eyes (still from
the deck of the Mary A. Boardman), to what is
transpiring elsewhere.
                             IN THE TOWN.
  The fighting began in the town at from 3 to 3 � a.
m., and raged furiously.  It appeared in the upper
portion, where Col. Burrill�s men were encamped,
above the gas works, at three wharves distance be-
low where the Harriet Lane lay.  From ware-
houses, wharves, windows and house-tops, a hellish
fire of musketry had opened upon the devoted three
hundred of the 42d Massachusetts, white light artil-
leery raked the streets leading to the water side.  To
this the Harriet Lane responded, first by throwing
solid shot from her two nine-inch guns, and then by
shell from her rifled cannon and twenty-pounders, 
throwing them in the direction of the railroad bridge,
by which it was only too evident that the rebels
were swarming to the attack.  Their batteries�the
four before mentioned�were all active.  They had               
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