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XV. the Department of the Gulf--Port Hudson--Texas.

Galveston has one of the very few tolerable harbors which indent the continental shore line of the Mexican Gulf. The sand, everywhere impelled landward by the prevailing winds and currents, and almost everywhere forming a bank or narrow strip of usually dry beach closely skirting the coast, is here broken through by the very considerable waters of the rivers Trinity and San Jacinto, with those of Buffalo bayou, which unitedly form Galveston Bay; and the city of Galveston is built on the sand-spit here called Galveston Island, just south-west of the outlet of the Bay. It is the natural focus of the commerce of the larger, more fertile, more populous half of Texas, and by far the most considerable place in the State; having had, in 1860, regular lines of steamers running to New York, to New Orleans, and to the smaller Texan ports down the coast, with a population of 5,000, a yearly export of nearly half a million bales of cotton, and a very considerable trade. Plunged, with the rest of the State, into the whirlpool of Secession, it had many Unionists among its people, who welcomed the reappearance of the old flag when their city, after being once idly summoned1 to surrender, was at length occupied,2 without resistance, by a naval force consisting of four steam gunboats under Commander Renshaw--the Rebel municipal as well as military authorities retiring to the main land.

The possession thus easily acquired was as easily maintained to the close of that year: Gen. Banks, at the request of Renshaw, sending down from New Orleans the 42d Massachusetts, Col. Burrill; whereof three companies, numbering 260 men, were actually debarked,3 and encamped on the wharf, the residue being still on their way; while our gunboats Westfield, Clifton, Harriet Lane, Owasco, Coryphaeus, and Salem (disabled), lay at anchor in the harbor — Renshaw in chief command. Some of these boats had been down the coast during the summer, and exchanged compliments with the Rebel batteries at Corpus Christi4 and Lavacca,5 without inflicting or receiving much if any harm. Since then, they had lain quiet in the harbor; their commander maintaining the most intimate and cordial relations with the leading Rebels adjacent, who were in and out of Galveston at their convenience; having a pretty full use of that port without the trouble of defending it.

Maj.-Gen. Magruder having, about this time, succeeded to the chief command in Texas, reports that he found matters along the coast in a very unsatisfactory state — the harbors virtually or actually in Federal possession, from the Sabine to Corpus Christi, and the valley of the Rio Grande almost abandoned. So, after stopping but a day or two in Houston, lie went down to Virginia Point, opposite Galveston; thence coolly

1 May 17, 1862.

2 Oct. 8.

3 Dec. 28.

4 Aug. 16-18.

5 Oct. 31.

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