On New Years’ Eve, 1862, Confederate Major General John G. Magruder set sail from Houston, on his way to reclaim the nearby port of Galveston. Magruder’s fleet consisted of two vessels, both reinforced with compressed cotton to protect the invaders inside.
As Magruder’s “Cottonclads,” entered Galveston Harbor, they seemed hopelessly outgunned by six Union vessels. One of Magruder’s vessels was sunk immediately. But, with his surviving vessel, Magruder prevailed on January 1.
Galveston would remain in Confederate hands until the end of the war. After the war, Magruder would flee to Mexico, and serve for a time with Maximilian, the ill-fated emperor who would be executed by Mexican revolutionary forces in 1867. Magruder then returned to Houston, where he died in 1871.