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Galveston in the Civil War

             Galveston is one of the best documented but least appreciated American Civil War sites. The number of books written about the Civil War may seem infinite, but most histories of the war almost ignore the island entirely. From the appearance off its shores in 1861 of the first blockading Union gunboat to the surrender of the last major Confederate force in 1865, Galveston was the focal point of the Civil War activity in the southwest. Today among the 57,000 inhabitants, there are many people who are thankful of what their descendants did to the Federal navy on New Years day of 1883.1.
             Galveston found itself at the center of a conflicted struggle thanks to the geographic landscape that stimulated settlement of the island. A gap between the southern tip of Bolivar Peninsula and the northern tip of the island leads into what is believed to be one of the finest natural harbors on the entire Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Bay.2 Using to the natural advantages of this harbor, the city of Galveston then established a railroad that would be used to transport its goods, and in the end would help the city grow to be the second-largest city in Texas.3 During the period from 1858-1860, the commercial traffic in and out of Galveston had been growing by an average of fifty percent per year. The ports of the Island City served as the most important place in Texas at which cotton was gathered and then exported. Other exports included sugar, molasses, wool, deerskins, hides, and tobacco.4 It is also true that the ports of Galveston had seen its fair share of slave trade, and was claimed that the island served as a favored destination for slave smugglers.5 To accommodate ship passengers who visited the island, Galvestonians had opened a variety of hotels and entertainment facilities. The city also had a number of doctors, lawyers, and craftsman. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Galveston did not decay like other southern ports.

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