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Rebel reports and Narratives.

General Magruder's despatch.

headquarters, Galveston, Texas.
This morning, the first January, at three o'clock, I attacked the enemy's fleet and garrison at this place, and captured the latter and the steamer Harriet Lane, and two barges, and a schooner of the former. The rest, some four or five, escaped ignominiously under cover of a flag of truce. I have about six hundred prisoners, and a large quantity of valuable stores, arms, etc. The Harriet Lane is very little injured. She was carried by boarding from two high-pressure cotton steamers manned by Texas cavalry and artillery. The line troops were gallantly commanded by Colonel Green, of Sibley's brigade, and the [343] 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. [344] Magruder firing the first gun. The boats at once put on steam and hurried to the scene. They must have been an hour or so on the way, during which time the artillery duel between the ships and the batteries was one of the most terrific on record. Darkness shut out every thing but the flash of the guns.

The scene was at once sublime and appalling. Our men were once driven from their guns, but rallied and fought nobly on. As dawn approached the fire of the enemy appeared to increase in severity, and fearing that our men would be unable to withstand it after daylight gave the enemy a better view of our position, orders were prepared to withdraw. Just as they were about to be issued, however, at about six o'clock, the welcome announcement was made at headquarters that the Bayou City and Neptune had arrived, and opened on the Harriet Lane. Instantly new vigor was infused in our men; they played their pieces with redoubled energy, and seemed determined that the victory should be ours.

The gunboats paid their first attention to the Harriet Lane, the Bayou City leading the attack. The Neptune, being much the weaker, soon received such injuries as to disable her. The Bayou City, however, gallantly continued the fight, and, running aboard the Harriet Lane, swept her decks by boarding, and took possession of the ship. Captain Wainwright and his lieutenants having been killed, the ship was surrendered by the master's mate.

The Westfield now started off, apparently disabled, and made her way over to Bolivar Channel, between Pelican Spit and Bolivar Point. Here she was subsequently destroyed by the enemy during a truce. The propeller Owasco lay in the channel about three fourths of a mile from the Bayou City and Harriet Lane. As the Lane was boarded, the Owasco steamed up to within two or three hundred yards of them, firing into both. The force of the collision drove the Bayou City's stem so far into and under the wheel and gunwale of the Lane that she could not be got out. The Lane was also so careened that the guns could not be worked, and were consequently useless. They both lay, therefore, at the mercy of the Owasco. Herculean efforts were made to extricate them.

The Owasco, evidently fearing the Lane's guns, withdrew to a position about a mile distant. It became plainly evident that unless the Bayou City and Harriet Lane could be separated, the enemy could escape if they wished. To gain time, therefore, a flag of truce was taken to the Owasco and Clifton, now lying close together, and a demand for a surrender. Time was asked to communicate with Com. Renshaw, who was on the Westfield. A truce of three hours was agreed upon. Previous to this, the Forty-second Massachusetts regiment, quartered on Kuhn's wharf, were charged. They were protected by barricades, and had taken up the planks from the wharf, rendering it impassable, and our forces withdrew.

During the truce with the vessels, the unconditional surrender of these men was demanded and complied with. Their colors consist of a United States flag of silk, and a white flag, having the coat of arms of Massachusetts painted on it with the motto: “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietam” --“Under freedom the sword seeks peaceful quiet.” The appearance of the coat of arms is rather singular. In the centre is an Indian with his bow; at the right corner of the shield is a single star, at which he is glancing askance. We might say the savage was coveting the Texas star. Unfortunately, the star is in the ascendant, and the result proved the vanity of his wishes. At any rate the sword of the Forty-second has found peaceful quiet by the aid of Texas freemen.

Before the truce expired, the Federal gunboats drew off, and escaped out of the harbor, utterly routed and defeated, leaving in our hands the city, the harbor, the Harriet Lane, the two barks and a schooner, and vast stores, valuable artillery, etc.

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