The Union began blockading Galveston Harbor in July 1861, but Galveston continued to be held by the Confederates. The morning of October 4th 1862 saw the Union ship the USS Harriet Lane coming into Galveston with a flag of truce. Union Commander William Bainbridge Renshaw sent her in to inform the Confederate authorities in Galveston that if they didn’t surrender, they would come under attack in one hour. The Confederate commander in Galveston, Colonel Joseph J Cook refused to receive the communication. The USS Harriet Lane returned to fleet.
Four Union steamers moved into Galveston Harbor, causing the Confederates in Fort Point to fire upon them opening the battle. The Union ship returned the fire disabling one of the guns in Fort Point. Renshaw and Cook sent officers to discuss an end to hostilities, but Cook turned down the Union commander’s demand for unconditional surrender. Renshaw made preparation to being bombing the city again, when Cook; re-thinking his position, sent an officer back to negotiate a truce so that women and children could be evacuated from the city.
Cook used the truce to evacuate not just the women and children, but also to move all the Confederate troops, and supplies out of the city. Although this placed the port city in Union hands, it was for just a short time, as the Confederates moved back in, which led to the Second Battle of Galveston in January 1863.