THE PARLEY

When it was obvious the Clifton was not able to pull the Westfield free, Commander Renshaw ordered the Clifton back to the fight. When the Clifton passed Fort Point on its way back to the city docks it fired at the Rebels there and then took a position off Kuhn's Wharf just as dawn broke.

Commander Renshaw then had the transport, Mary Boardman, try to pull the Westfield off the split, but that failed as well. Commander Renshaw ordered all equipment that could be easily moved to be quickly put aboard the Mary Boardman. He then signaled for the other transport, the Saxon, to come assist and receive some of the supplies and equipment. Having salvaged what they could, Renshaw then ordered all the men of the Westfield aboard the Mary Boardman and the Saxon.

Meanwhile, "Major" Leon Smith sent the Captain of the Buffalo Bayou, James H. McGarvey, along with the still dazed acting master of the Harriet Lane's crew to the Owasco for the parley. The boat left the Harriet Lane with Mister Hannum in the forward part of the boat holding aloft his sword to which was tied a white handkerchief. Truce flags went up on the Owasco and the Clifton. The Captain of the Owasco directed the boat to proceed on to the Clifton as the second in command for all Union ship's in the harbor, Commander Richard L. Law was aboard her. McGarvey informed Commander Law the Harriet Lane and four other steamers would next move on the Clifton. The officers and crew of the Harriet Lane, who were in custody, would be kept unprotected on the deck of the Harriet Lane during the engagement. Those not killed by Union fire would be shot at the rate of five for every Union round fired. The alternative was for the Union forces to consolidate in one vessel, leaving the others in good order, and depart Galveston!

<Captain James H. McGarvey in a photo provided by his Great Grand Daughter, Patricia McGarvey Rosendahl

A three hour truce was agreed to allow Commander Law to confer with Commander Renshaw. The acting master of the Harriet Lane, Mister Hannum, was then paroled to the Union representatives, until the truce was over. Hannum was kept unaware the Buffalo Bayou was stuck fast to the Harriet Lane. Smith knew he would tell the Union officers that the Harriet Lane was being made ready to attack the Union ships. Having witnessed Captain Wainwright's demise, he would also confirm the Rebel's resolve to place the prisoners on the decks. All boats and ships were pledged to remain as they were until the truce was over. White flags went up on all the vessels.

THE 42nd MASSACHUSETTS

The 42nd Massachusetts Regiment companies meanwhile, were under constant and increasing fire from the shore batteries. When the cannon support from the ships ceased, Colonel Burrell raised a white flag and asked for a parley of his own. Colonel Burrell asked the Confederates what was happening aboard the ships. He was allowed one half hour, during which, one man could go to the Owasco. Colonel Burrell sent his adjutant with instructions to find out what was going on and to get the navy to embark his men from the wharf. The Captain of the Owasco told Burrell's adjutant the U. S. Navy was unable to embark the 42nd Massachusetts Regiment as all ships were to hold their current positions during the truce period. The half hour was winding down. Colonel Burrell was frustrated and in a quandary.

Captain McGarvey came ashore and told Burrell the three hour ceasefire negotiated with the navy did not apply to the land battle. Burrell could see General Magruder consolidating men and artillery for an assault on Burrell's men. The U.S. Navy's supporting fire would be unavailable for another two hours of the truce. Colonel Burrell feared the Confederates could overcome the clever defense in front of the regiment in that time. His men could move neither forward or backward off the pier. When the half hour was over, Magruder demanded Burrell's surrender. Burrell refused and returned to his men. There was some initial sparring, but when it was clear the U.S. Navy was honoring the terms of the parley, Colonel Burrell surrendered. The 42nd Massachusetts Regiment was marched off to a position in the rear. This took some time because of the single planking on the wharf.

Because of the excellent defense work none of the Massachusetts men were killed and only fifteen were wounded. Colonel Burrell was forced into a position of having to surrender to an enemy force that sustained approximately 75 dead and more than a hundred men wounded.

Among the Confederate dead was Lieutenant Sidney Sherman, son of General Sherman. He died in the arms of Mother St. Pierre, co-foundress of the Ursiline Academy hospital which during the war was known as the Confederate Hospital. Mother St. Pierre was born into this world as Margaret Harrington.

THE RUSE' RESULTS

At approximately 7:45 AM, Major Leon Smith, Tom Green and others took a boat from the Harriet Lane to the Owasco. They went to receive the Union's answer as the truce was due to expire within the hour.

Meantime, Commander Renshaw decided to reject the Confederate proposal. The transfer of the Westfield's company to the Saxon and Mary Ann Boardman was complete. Commander Renshaw ordered the Westfield scuttled, not just sunk but blown up. Renshaw's last order was for all the ships to clear the harbor as soon as the transfer was complete. Renshaw personally set the slow burning fuse to the magazine of the Westfield.

As he was starting down the ladder to his gig, Commander Renshaw, the gig and its men, and most of the Westfield, disappeared in a terrific explosion. It was about 8 A.M.

 

In this Harper's Weekly drawing of the explosion, the Confederate cotton clads are shown larger than they actually were