- Military condition explained -- General Magruder assumes command of the district of Texas -- the battle of Galveston -- signal defeat of the enemy.
The following passages relating to military operations are taken from the history of Brig.-Gen. X. B. Debray, who as colonel had been in command of Galveston in July, 1862, and being senior colonel, was called to command the Eastern sub-district of Texas, with headquarters at Houston, leaving the regiment in the efficient care of Lieutenant-Colonel Myers:
Nothing happened for several months to break the monotony of camp life, except patrols on the coast, on which duty landing parties from blockading squadrons in search of fresh meat were captured or otherwise punished, and induced to cease their depredations. . . . In the meanwhile General Hebert having been ordered to send to Arkansas all the infantry stationed in Texas, except two regiments, remonstrated against that disposition, which left the State unprotected. His remonstrance met with the curt answer, “Texas must take her chances.” The authorities at Richmond seemed to have overlooked the fact that the loss of the Rio Grande frontier, the only point to be depended on for obtaining army supplies, might be a fatal blow to the Confederate States. General Hebert, despairing of a successful defense with his reduced force against an attack at sea, ordered the small forts erected at Galveston to be dismantled and their artillery to be removed to the mainland at Virginia point, where sand works had been raised. Indeed, this was an era of despondency and gloom of the people of Texas.  In October, 1862, the Federal fleet entered Galveston bay without resistance. The small force which had been left in the city retired to Virginia point, the city itself being almost deserted by its inhabitants, who had moved with their chattels to Houston and the interior of the State. Communication with the island was maintained by planking over the railroad bridge, and protecting it on the island side with a redoubt and rifle-pits, occupied by a detachment of infantry and artillery. Debray's regiment by frequent patrols day and night satisfied the Federals that we still claimed the city and prevented them from visiting it. A battalion of Federal infantry landed on one of the wharves and took quarters in the warehouses, strongly barricading themselves, but they never ventured into the city. By the close of November, Maj.-Gen. John Bankhead Magruder came to assume command of Texas, relieving General Hebert, who was ordered to Louisiana [and afterward was in command at Monroe]. The new commanding general had acquired fame for the skill with which, on the peninsula of Virginia, he checked for weeks Mc-Clellan's invading army before miles of empty intrenchments, armed in part with Quaker guns, and by continually moving about his small force to multiply it in Federal eyes. Feeling that something must be done to rouse the spirits of the people of Texas, he resolved to try his hand against the enemy's squadron lying in Galveston bay. Under his instructions two steamboats lying in Buffalo bayou at Houston were travestied into rams and gunboats, armed with one gun each and supplied with two tiers of cotton bales to give them, as the General said in confidence to his friends, an appearance of protection. A third boat was to act as tender. The two gunboats were manned by volunteers of Green's brigade, converted for the occasion into “horse marines,” also by a company of artillery—the whole under command of the brave Tom Green. Capt. Leon Smith was the naval  commander. General Magruder at Virginia point was actively organizing his land forces.The recapture of Galveston occurred January 1, 1863, and was reported by General Magruder to Gen. Samuel Cooper, adjutant-general, as follows:
 Rev. Wm. A. Bowen, of Texas, son of Capt. Wm. A. Bowen, pilot of the Neptune, gives information of the naval battle above mentioned, derived directly from his father, that differs from the report in two respects: First, as to the manner in which the Harriet Lane and Bayou City were locked together; second, that it was the Neptune and not the Bayou City that drove her prow into the iron wheel of the Harriet Lane, and was thereby disabled, and not by a shot of the enemy's ship. This was explained as follows by Captain Bowen, an experienced pilot, who lived several years afterward, a respected citizen of Galveston:
When the battle opened, the Bayou City, which had huge steel grappling-hooks, run by the steam ‘nigger,’ with a chain around her capstan, managed to fasten this on the Harriet Lane, and hauled it taut with a view to prevent her escape while the soldiers boarded her. When the Harriet Lane saw the Clifton, Owasco and Sachem going out, in answer to the signal of Commodore Renshaw from the flagship Westfield, then aground at the east end of Pelican island; she started to follow. The Bayou City was being towed, as the grapples were fouled, and could not be cast off. A gun had just burst on her bows, killing the brave Captain Wier and others, and the remainder had no notion of being towed out by the Federal fleet. She seemed doomed when the situation was discovered by Captain Bowen, of the Neptune. He immediately rang the bells to go ahead, and halloed through the speaking trumpet to the engineer (Nelson Henry) to give all the steam she had, as the Yankees were trying to tow the Bayou City outside. He then pointed the bow of the Neptune right for the port wheel of the Harriet Lane, and in a few moments struck with a terrific impact, as she could not be slowed down in time. The shock tore a large section of the Harriet Lane's wheel out, but stove in the bows of the Neptune, so that she immediately began to fill. Captain Bowen saw this, and immediately turned her around, and headed for the flats so as to let her settle in shallow water. She became logged just before reaching the shallow water, sinking in about twelve feet of water, near where the upper (west)  wharf is now. The soldiers and crew all jumped overboard and swam ashore, except Captain Bowen and the carpenter, who remained on board to take the wounded and dead above water.It is not strange that General Magruder was not able to report all the minute details of the confused and desperate conflict, as he doubtless wished to do in order to give every participant the proper credit for his actions in it. As is stated in Debray's history:
General Magruder's success raised popular enthusiasm to the highest pitch and his call for more troops was responded to with alacrity. Debray's regiment and other troops were ordered to re-occupy Galveston, while an appeal to the planters, promptly complied with, brought to the island numerous gangs of negroes who, under the supervision of their own overseers, worked diligently on new fortifications planned by the commanding general. Colonel Debray having been assigned to the command of Galveston island, Lieutenant-Colonel Myers remained in command of the regiment. The blockade of Galveston, forcibly raised on January 1st, was not resumed until the 13th of the same month, when seven gunboats came to anchor about 3 miles from the city, to which they prepared to pay their compliments. A shelling was opened and kept up for six hours, to which the garrison, having no artillery to reply, had to submit good-humoredly. Strange as it may ap-pear, although the Federals covered the whole city with their shells and solid shot, some of which reached the bay, there was no loss of life and the injury to houses was trifling. It will be remembered that on the evening after the shelling, flashes of light were seen, and a rumbling noise resembling broadsides was heard from a distance westward; thereafter a few minutes' darkness and silence prevailed again. Many were the surmises upon this incident, and several weeks intervened before the  sinking of the Federal ship Hatteras by Captain Semmes off St. Louis pass became known on the island. [This refers to the victory of the Confederate ship Alabama in the Gulf, 16 miles from Galveston.] For nine months all was quiet in Texas. The defenses of Galveston soon assumed shape, and Quaker guns, frowning from the crest and casements of the fort, held the Fed-erals in check until real artillery could be placed in battery.