ships and artillery by Major Leon Smith, to whose indomitable energy and heroic daring the country is indebted for the successful execution of a plan which I had considered for the destruction of the enemy's fleet. Colonel Bagby, of Sibley's brigade, also commanded the volunteers from his regiment for the naval expedition, in which every officer and every man won for himself imperishable renown.
J. Bankhead Magruder, Major-General.
Houston telegraph account.
Huston, Texas, January 5, 1863.As General Magruder was on his way to Texas, accompanied by Judge Oldham, Major Forshey and others, the subject of retaking Galveston Island was brought up. The difficulties of the undertaking were canvassed, and the question came up whether the work was feasible. Major Forshey observed: “General, I think the best plan is to resolve to retake Galveston any way, and then canvass the difficulties.” The General replied that he thought so too, and from that point began the undertaking. Arrived in Texas, the first thing the General set about was a thorough examination of the ground, and a full canvass of such plans as presented themselves for the work. He also gathered all the forces from the various parts of the State that could be spared from other lines of defence. He might have got ready sooner but for the want of field-artillery, which Major Bloomfield, Chief Quartermaster, was pushing from the Mississippi as fast as he could. They reached here only last week. On Thursday, December twenty-fifth, it was determined to delay no longer, and orders were at once issued to prepare for the attack. It was then hoped that every thing might be got ready by Saturday night, which would have given four hours of darkness for the attack, the moon setting at about two A. M. But the gunboats could not be fixed in time. The utmost energy was displayed, but the work of putting up the bulwarks was not completed in time. It was found that all things could not be got in readiness before the thirty-first of December, and the night of the thirty-first was fixed for the attack. The Bayou City, a Houston and Galveston packet, had been taken by the State, and fitted up as a gunboat, under charge of Captain Henry Lubbock. She was armed with a thirty-two pounder rifled gun on her bow-deck. Bulwarks of cotton-bales were built on her sides, and a force of one hundred men put on board of her, and on Tuesday she left here to await orders at the head of Galveston Bay. Captain Weir, of company B, Cook's regiment, commanded the gun, and it was manned by a portion of his men and Captain Schneider's, Captain Schneider being second in command. Colonel Green commanded the sharp-shooters, who were detailed from his regiment. The Neptune, another bayou packet, was taken on the twenty-sixth, and, under direction of Major Leon Smith, fitted up as a gunboat as well as it could be done in the brief time. Bulwarks of cotton-bales were built up also on her guards, and she had much the appearance, when she left here, of a well-loaded cotton-boat, taking her cargo down to Galveston for shipment. She was armed with two howitzer guns, and commander by Captain W. H. Sangster. Captain Herby, of the C. S. Navy, commanded her guns; Lieutenant Harvey Clark being second in command, and Colonel Bagby, of the Seventh cavalry, commanded the detail of his men who were on board as sharp-shooters. The men were detailed from the Sibley brigade; all the brigade having stepped forward on a call for volunteers, and being anxious to take part in the affair. Beside these, there were several volunteers from among our citizens. The full number of men was about one hundred and fifty. The Neptune left here the morning of the same day with the Bayou City. The Lucy Gwin accompanied the expedition as tender, under command of Major A. McKee, and the John E. Carr, also tender, under command of Captain John Y. Lawless. On the Carr there were a number of troops and volunteers, and on the Gwin quite a number of spectators, who went prepared to take a hand in the fight if their services were required. In addition to these there were some other vessels — the cuter Dodge, the Royal Yacht, etc., that did not come into the action. The whole naval force was under the command of Major Leon Smith, who was admirably fitted for the command of the expedition, by his experience as a sailor. In fact, better men for all the stations could not have been picked anywhere. It was ordered that the boats should get in position by twelve o'clock, and await the signal from the land forces for the attack. They went down, and after midnight arrived close by the fleet. They were discovered, and signal-lights from the fleet at once showed that the enemy were awake and watching for them. They looked anxiously for the signal from shore. Meanwhile the land forces, consisting of detachments from some four or five regiments, under command of Brig.-General Scurry and Col. X. B. De Bray, were moved at about dark from Virginia Point. This is on the main land, and from it a bridge two miles in length crosses Galveston Bay to Galveston Island, being about five miles distant from the city. The battle took place at the city, the gunboats lying along in front of the city in the bay, on the landward side of the island. Colonel De Bray commanded the attacking force, while Gen. Scurry was in command of the reserves. From the bridge they moved down to the city, but met with unexpected delays, and did not reach their position until after four o'clock. In the mean time the boats had withdrawn to Half Moon Shoals, twelve miles distant, and awaited signal. At about five o'clock (General Magruder says three, and a spectator says four, but we timed it by telegraph and are exact — it was eight minutes before five, Houston time,) all things on shore being in readiness, the ball opened, Gen.