By ALLISON HARRELL
Texian Time Machine & Outreach Coordinator
A blockade is a war tactic where one side will block all of the ports and trade posts of the other in an attempt to keep any goods from getting to the other side.
History: Galveston During the Civil War
On October 4, 1862 William B. Renshaw sailed into Galveston harbor with eight ships and demanded that the port surrender. Colonel Joseph J. Cook (the Island's Confederate commander), managed a four-day truce while he evacuated his men. By December 25, Union reinforcements had taken the town.
Then, on January 1, 1863, the Confederates entered Galveston Bay before dawn and a battle began. By the time the fighting was over, the Confederates had lost 26 men and had 117 wounded men. The Union, however, lost 150 men plus a number of captured infantry, the Harriet Lane and the Westfield. The Confederacy held Galveston for the rest of the Civil War.
History: The 'Anaconda Plan' Blockade
Union General Winfield Scott came up with the “Anaconda Plan,” which included blockading the South’s ports to strain the South’s economy. The blockade started April 19, 1861 (a few weeks after the war started). Five hundred Union ships were allocated to patrol from Virginia to Florida and from Florida to Texas. The blockade covered 3,500 miles of coast and 180 ports and was intended to stop the export of cotton and in the import of ammunition and war supplies.
Some Southerners attempted to run their ships through blockade; surprisingly, about 80% were successful and made it through!
Ready to give it a try? Set up a blockade in your bathtub and see if your ships can make it through the Union blockade!
Activity: Bathtub Blockade!
Funding has been provided to the Fort Bend History Association from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Fort Bend Museum Staff