I still hear your sea waves crashing
While I watch the cannons flashing
I clean my gun and dream of Galveston
Glen Campbell's song, "Galveston," was released in 1969 and reached the Top 10 on the US charts and the Top 20 on the UK charts.
Songwriter Jimmy Webb - who also penned "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", and "MacArthur Park," in addition to "Galveston" - has commented that the song is about a young soldier in Vietnam, yearning for home and the girl he left behind, and - perhaps - contemplating his own mortality:
Before I dry the tears she's crying
Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun
At Galveston, at Galveston
It's a beautifully written song, and one can imagine a soldier in almost any war having the same thoughts...including the Civil War.
I'm pleased, honored, and humbled that The History Press - publisher of my recent book Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory - saw fit to extend me a contract for a new book project, tentatively entitled Galveston and the Civil War: An Island People in the Maelstrom.
Galveston is probably best known for the "Battle of Galveston," the New Year's Day 1863 land and naval battle in which Confederate forces expelled Union forces occupying the city.
There are some good books about the battle already, most especially Edward Cotham's excellent Battle on the Bay (1998). At his (always) excellent Civil War Books and Authors blog, Drew Wagenhoffer has a list of "The Civil War in Texas in 20 Books," a few of which also discuss Galveston's role in the war.
My goal in writing the book is to - of course - cover the battle, but to especially describe wartime life for the people of Galveston, free and enslaved.
Galveston is a little more than an hour away from my home in the suburbs north of Houston, and I look forward to the first (soon!) of several visits to the Galveston and Texas History Center, home to a wealth of manuscripts, photographs, vertical files, and ephemera.
I'll keep you updated on my research and writing on this blog. The manuscript is due on or before July 1, 2012, but you know how quickly time flies!
And now, to borrow a phrase from the old Saturday Night Live Sketch:
Now is the time on Sprockets (Civil War Medicine and Writing) when we dance (or sing):