blockade runner sleeps
with the fishes just off the coast at Surfside
Many years ago, I spent much of my leisure time surf fishing along
the coast in Brazoria
I remember one spot in particular, at Surfside Beach, where the fishing
was always pretty good. Most fishermen in the area referred to the
place simply as the "boilers." Actually, the boilers were smoke stacks
from an old wrecked ship. Best I remember, only one stack was showing
out of the water - the hull beneath the surface serving as a natural
reef and feeding ground for fish.
Watching the sunrise along the Texas coast is a beautiful sight, and
when the fish are biting, well, it just doesn't get any better.
Looking back, I doubt if the crew of that ill-fated ship was very
eager to see the sun rise on the morning of February 6, 1865. Because
on her first voyage, during the Civil War, the ship ran aground near
Abandoned by her crew, the boat was discovered at sunrise by a Union
warship and destroyed. My great fishing spot is the gravesite of the
Confederate blockade-runner, Acadia.
According to The Handbook of Texas, the Acadia was a River Clyde-type
steamship built at Sorel, Quebec, in May and July of 1864. She was
built to be a blockade runner and was larger and faster than other
ships of her class. Although most boats especially designed to run
the Union blockade averaged 400 to 600 tons, the Acadia was a 738-ton
She was 211 feet long and had a 31-foot beam. The Acadia's hold was
12 feet deep. The boat was a side-wheeled steamer with a 900-horsepower
engine - she was built to negotiate the shallow water close to shore.
Blockade runners stayed near the coastline to avoid detection by the
Union gunboats - the deep hulls of the U.S. vessels prevented them
from straying too close in.
On that February morning in 1865, the Acadia was stuck on a sandbar
in about 15 feet of water. Her heavy load had evidently caused her
problems and she ran aground. Shore parties salvaged most of the cargo
before she was destroyed by gunfire from the Union navy ship, USS
Virginia. The Acadia was less than ten miles from the mouth of the
Brazos River, her intended destination, when she sank.
A designated state archeological landmark
and A hand-dug canal near San Luis Pass
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wendell E. Pierce and Frank Hole,
an archeologist at Rice University, examined the wreck site. Artifacts
found during that expedition are currently located at the Houston
Museum of Natural Science. The wreck of the Acadia is a designated
state archeological landmark.
Blockade runners were extremely valuable to the Confederacy. They
managed to deliver tons of supplies to the armies of the South. Their
valiant efforts did much to loosen the stranglehold held on Southern
shipping by the Union blockade. But, I think we should also remember
those folks, on shore, who went to great extremes to help the boats.
Before I moved from Brazoria
County in 1984, remains from a hand-dug canal were still visible
near San Luis Pass. The canal was made to bring the blockade runners
inland and out of harm's way from the Union warships. Living in that
area for over 30 years, I can only imagine how hard it must have been
to undertake such a task. What with the mosquitoes, alligators, snakes,
and God knows what else. To construct a canal, by hand, under those
circumstances is unbelievable. The canal is not far from the wreck
of the Acadia.
It's been a number of years since I fished the surf near the "boilers."
I wonder if the old ornate stack is still visible above the water
- or has time and the elements finally took their toll. Regardless,
I'll bet the fishing is still good.
Lone Star Diary November,
Published with permission.