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[635] troops who had invaded and then abandoned New Mexico during the preceding spring, under General Sibley, were scattered among various posts; they were assembled at Houston, a small town situated not far from the extremity of the Bay of Galveston, on the main line of the Texas Railway. In order to attack the flotilla which protected the anchorage at the entrance of the bay, two vessels that had escaped from the Federals were fitted out as menof-war; one, the Bayou City, was a large steamer, with several cabin-decks, modeled on the plan of the Mississippi boats; the smoke-stack had been cut down, and a protecting wall of cottonbales, piled up four in height, rose around this frail edifice, reaching to above the upper deck. She carried a thirty pounder, and about a hundred dismounted cavalrymen, supplied by Sibley, had been placed on board to fire from behind the improvised parapet. The other, called the Neptune, of a smaller capacity, was fortified in the same manner, and carried two howitzers. Two or three small vessels, too light to take any serious part in the conflict, accompanied the expedition.

The Federals, after the occupation of Galveston, had suffered themselves to be lulled into a fatal security. If an honorable death, although useless to his cause, did not protect the memory of Commodore Renshaw, we should feel called upon to comment in severe terms upon his want of vigilance. Deceived by the reception he had met with from the inhabitants of Galveston, and deeming it safe to allow them to obtain provisions from the interior which could not be procured from New Orleans without great difficulty, he had consented, by a kind of tacit agreement, to the preservation of the large bridge connecting Galveston Island with the continent. This sort of truce was doomed to silence the guns of the steamer Harriet Lane, which was anchored between the bridge and the town, as well as those of a Confederate battery posted on the mainland, although these guns were levelled against each other at short range. Magruder took advantage of the respite to study the character of the ground, and to establish relations with the inhabitants of Galveston; he quietly collected his forces along the railroad in sight of the town, near the promontory called Virginia Point, where the great bridge joins the main land

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