Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Neither courier nor expressman will be permitted to go up by the trains”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on August 29, 2010

At the height of the yellow fever outbreak in Galveston in September 1864, General Walker issued orders regarding travel by rail, as an adjunct to the quarantine he’d ordered six days previously.

Head Quarters, District of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona
Houston, Sept. 22, 1864

Brig. Genl J. M. Hawes,

Trains will leave Galveston hereafter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Neither courier nor expressman will be permitted to go up by the trains, the mails will be delivered to the Conductor, who will also hand the mail from Houston.

When trains are about leaving Galveston, have a guard at the depot to prevent unauthorized persons from getting on board. Trains will also be overhauled at the bridge [connecting Galveston Island to the mainland] and persons without passes taken off.

Captain Smith of the Zephine is permitted to come to Houston upon the condition of changing his clothes at Virginia Point.

J. G. Walker
Maj Genl Cmdg

Zephine was a blockade runner from Havana that had arrived on about September 10. She was a large, iron-hulled sidewheel steamer built by Holland and Hollingsworth of Wilmington, Delaware earlier that year. According to Stephen Wise’ Lifeline of the Confederacy, Zephine carried out over a thousand bales of cotton on her return to Havana, turning a profit of more than $300,000 in gold — enough to pay for the ship, crews’ wages and the inbound cargo in one round voyage.


Images: Cotton train in Texas in the 1870s; Walker order via


7 Responses

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  1. Dick Stanley said, on August 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Lucky, actually, that Galveston still had trains to leave.

    When they were under siege by the Union Navy in October, 1862:

    “In his order for the evacuation of civilians,” Gary Cartwright wrote in his 1998 book Galveston: A History of the Island, “Gov. Francis R. Lubbock asked Galvestonians to kindly burn their city on the way out.

    “Naturally the governor’s scorched-earth policy was ignored but Islanders never forgave Lubbock and helped to defeat him in the next election.”

    • Andy Hall said, on August 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      Most of the people who had the means to leave, did. That includes the local paper, which relocated to Houston for the duration. Those who remained either had business affairs that kept them here, or simply lacked the resources to go elsewhere. I don’t know if there are reliable figures, but I believe more than half of the population departed for other areas.

      The Federal occupation of Galveston (Oct 62- Jan 63) was “minimalist.” They had nthing like the resources needed to occupy the city — only part of one regiment, as I recall, short on supplies and munitions — and so essentially barricaded themselves on one of the wharves at night and sent patrols through town during daylight. But they couldn’t feed the civilian population here, and so had to leave the railroad bridge — a two-mile trestle across West Galveston Bay — intact. That provided Magruder the means he needed to attack the Union troops and retake the city on January 1, 1863.

      Cartwright’s book is a good read, but highly recommended is Ed Cotham’s Battle on the Bay.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      Should’ve also added P. G. Nagle’s Galveston as a fair fictionalized treatment of the time. She relied heavily on historical accounts, and made several historical figures minor characters in the book.

  2. Dick Stanley said, on August 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I just think it’s funny that Lubbock wanted to burn Galveston. Perhaps because it was hard to defend, or just as likely because he didn’t like Galveston.

    It seemed to be a standard Confed “ploy,” setting fire to everything to, ahem, deny whatever it was to the Union troops. Seems like every time the Rebs in Mississippi retreated (quite often, actually) they’d set fire to bridges, rr depots, etc. In the end, they probably did as much, if not more, damage to the state than Union troops did.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 31, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Galveston was impossible to defend in the fall of 1862 — although after recapturing the city on New Year’s Day 1863, Magruder did much to improve the defenses here and that, combined with the sudden, severe rattling they got from the loss of both Harriet Lane and Westfield in the battle, kept the Union navy from re-attempting it before the end of the war. They were content to keep a tight blockade for the rest of the war, although runners got in and out again as late as May 1865.

  3. Dick Stanley said, on August 31, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I doubt it was impossible to defend, but maybe not cost-effective. Cartwright says when Lubbock’s administration refused to send cannon, the wealthier residents bought twelve of their own, but the Confeds insultingly installed them only on the bay side where they would be least effective, and put only Quaker guns on the sea side.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      I was imprecise in my wording — not impossible to defend, just impossible to defend given the measly resources and lack of foresight/preparation made by the fall of 1862. Not sure whether the failure was a lack of willingness or a lack of imagination necessary to see the need to. Not too long before the Confederacy had gambled New Orleans and Baton Rouge on the strategy of stopping Farragut at Forts Jackson and St. Phillip. Once he passed those — literally — it was all over for south Louisiana.

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