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The Galveston Weekly News, Wednesday, January 11, 1865

Much of the material published in 19th century Texas newspapers was copied from other cities' newspapers.  In this case, the News managed to acquire an article from the New York Times, which appears to have been written by an officer or seaman stationed aboard U.S.S. Bienville off Galveston.  

Bienville was launched by Lawrence & Foulkes Shipyard of Brooklyn, New York in 1860.  She was taken over by the U.S. Navy in August 1861.  She was present at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.   Decommissioned in 1865 and sold out of the Navy in 1867, she burned in the Bahamas in 1872.


news04.jpg (114418 bytes) The Galveston Blockade

(Correspondence of the New York Times)

U.S. Ship Bienville, off Galveston, Texas
November 6th, 1864

Much has been said and written about, and many have experienced the dreary monotony of blockading duty, especially on isolated stations, but for a fuller experience this is the place, above all others, where it may be acquired. The same uninteresting view greets the vision morning, noon and night. All around is "wide waste of waters," relieved only by a narrow strip of low, sandy shore, sprinkled with a few white, deserted looking houses. Seagulls hover round us all day, longing to pick up the crumbs from the refuse thrown overboard, uttering continuously their discordantly plaintive notes. Our sole occupation is drilling with the big guns and small arms, and getting up anchor twice a day, morning and evening, to take our "station" - each vessel having a day station and a night station. A lookout is kept at the masthead, night and day, who, with a powerful spyglass, scans the horizon, but rarely, indeed, is the welcome sound of "sail ho! " to be heard, but when such is the case it seems to infuse new life and animation into our humdrum, listless community, and, should it prove to be a mail or supply boat, the effect is electric.

All minor grievances are temporarily ignored and cheerful countenances and pleasant greetings are the order of the day, for it rarely happens, however humble or obscure the individual, but he has not some friend or acquaintance to correspond with; and then all are anxious to hear the "news" -- perhaps a month old by the time we receive it, but yet news to us.

Very few prizes have been captured by this fleet; and yet, judgi ng from appearances, and from what deserters, whom we occasionally pick up tell us, quite a brisk trade is carried on, and that, too, with a regularity and precision of arrival and departure of which not every Northern city can boast; and I must say, managed with much tact and skill, as our vessels form a cordon round the channel through which they have to pass. Nevertheless, it seems they systematically elude our utmost vigilance if we are to believe those who have been here residing since the blockade was institued. Very often the night signal is made from some vessels of the enemy running out, and then as we are the fastest, we invariably slip cable, and in the darkness of the night, following in their course, but so far, we have not been successful in confiscating them. Why an effectual stopper is not put to their proceedings by the occupation of the city or forts, of course it is not for me to judge, but that such could be easily accomplished is perceptible to all, as it is only defended by a few small batteries.


Thanks to Valerie Buford of Galveston, Texas.

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The U.S. Coast Survey and the Blockade, 1861 | The Ship's Library: Recommended Reading
Running the Blockade Into Galveston: A Personal Narrative | Denbigh Day-by-Day
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Credits & Thank-Yous

J. Barto Arnold et al. 1998-2000, The Denbigh Project, World Wide Web,
Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University, E-mail: (  
Monday, July 03, 2000 Revision.

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