Alcohol May Have Been Involved. . . .
Over the weekend by colleague, Ed Cotham, offered a sesquicentennial story about a one-armed Confederate scout, collecting intelligence on the position of Union forces in Galveston. It was very nearly disastrous:
As he approached The Strand area, Barnett was carrying a shotgun in his remaining arm. He was also apparently well-fortified with spirits for his scouting assignment. As news reports today might hint, it was strongly suspected that “alcohol may have been involved.” On this night, that decision almost cost Barnett his city and his life. Galveston was in the possession of the Union, the Federal Navy having captured the city in early October. But the Union presence remained almost exclusively a naval one. The infantry forces assigned to Galveston would not arrive for several more weeks. There were, however, a few Union marines acting as sentries along the waterfront. On this occasion, Barnett did not move with the stealth that his job required and was unlucky enough to be challenged by one of the understandably nervous sentries to identify himself. Barnett told the sentry undiplomatically to go to the nether regions and matters went from bad to worse. The two exchanged several off-target shots. Barnett later claimed that he had only fired his shotgun once. This noise, however, drew the attention of the Federal gunboats in the harbor, which became convinced they were being attacked and began firing randomly into the darkened city.