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Galveston and the Civil War:: An Island City in the Maelstrom Paperback – September 4, 2012
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As a native Galvestonian with a long-abiding interest in the history of my own home town, I was surprised at how much new material, and new understanding, Jim has brought to this short volume. His closing chapters on the scourge of yellow fever and the arrival of emancipation are particularly important in understanding Galveston's past and the long-lasting legacies of the war here. Jim's dogged research and fine writing skills have combined to produce a volume that is both easily accessible to the casual reader and valuable to the scholar seeking a better understanding of the war on the Texas coast. This book will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in local history, the Civil War in Texas, or the home front in the South during that conflict.
The volume's editor would have done well to consult a specialist regarding proper use of maritime terminology (see the chapter on blockade-running), but a few such errors will not detract from the public's enjoyment and are easily fixed in future printings.
Schmidt makes some profound points. He documents that slavery was central to Galveston which was the main Texas port for the booming pre-war interstate slave trade. Fear that Lincoln would aggressively attack slavery underpinned the strong Galveston secessionist movement. That argument is explored in more depth by David Keehn in “Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War” published after “Galveston and the the Civil War” went to press. The Confederates exploited impressed slave labor to build strong defensive works, a major factor in the decision by U.S. Naval officers not to try to retake Galveston after the Confederates recaptured the city in 1863. Schmidt also shows how this victory benefited the rebels first by boosting morale then after Mobile fell in August 1864 by their use of Galveston as the last Gulf port available to blockade runners. Indeed, Galveston was the only significant rebel held port at the end of the Civil War. The Navy was still engaging blockage runners in May 1865 well after the end or organized Confederate resistance east of the Mississippi.
Schmidt’s perspective is highly localized.Read more ›
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James M. Schmidt has earned a reputation for quality Civil War writing whether it be his medical column in Civil War News, his regularly updated blog Civil War Medicine (and... Read morePublished on November 19, 2013 by Robert Redd