Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Galveston and the Civil War by James M. Schmidt

Galveston and the Civil War by James M. Schmidt 

I certainly learned a lot about the history of the city where I was born and grew up.  It is rather embarrassing that I had given virtually no thought to the fact that Galveston was a prominent slave market.  What little I thought about slavery, I thought that it was of little importance in Texas.  But that was far from the case. Slavery was a major factor in the economy of Texas, both as a market for the buying and selling of slaves and as the producers of the export products of Texas, namely cotton.  As the Civil War approached and began, much discussion was given to whether Texas should join the Confederacy or simply leave the Union and revert to its prior state as an independent republic. And slavery would continue on either path.  The citizens of Galveston voted in a referendum overwhelmingly to leave the Union and thereby assure themselves of the continuation of slavery. 

Galveston fell to the Union in 1862 but was recaptured by the Confederates on New Years Day, 1863 and remained so for the rest of the war. As the war progressed, first New Orleans fell to the Union and then Mobile, Alabama fell, leaving Galveston the only major port on the Gulf Coast remaining in Confederate hands.  Galveston was a major center of blockade running until the very end of the war.  

Food and medical supplies became more and more scarce for both soldiers and civilians as the war dragged on. To make matters infinitely worse in the summer and autumn of 1863, Galveston was hit by one of its periodic epidemics of yellow fever. 

The war finally ended and on June 19th the slaves were formally emancipated.  Juneteenth is still celebrated by African-Americans in Texas.  The re-building of Galveston began immediately. 

I enjoyed this book because it gave me information on a subject that I really had given very little thought to about my hometown.  


Leora said...

Hm, sounds like an interesting book. I tend to like history books. They feel more "real" than fiction. And are sometimes stranger.

Jim Schmidt said...

Dear Florence - thank you so much for the kind review of my book - I'm happy and humbled and am so glad you learned something new. Take Care

Florence said...

It was an interesting book, Leora. Well researched and well written.

Thank you for stopping by Jim. Hope to read more of your work.