June 19, 1865: In the years leading up to the Civil War, Galveston Texas was a bustling port and the main United States port west of New Orleans. When New Orleans was captured by Union forces early in the Civil War, Galveston became, along with Mobile, Alabama the main Confederate ports on the Gulf. When Mobile fell in 1864, Galveston was THE main port on the Gulf. As such it was well fortified, but it was also cut off from the rest of the confederacy once the Union gained control of the Mississippi with the fall of Vicksburg. Galveston’s importance diminished as the war went on. So, it came to pass that at the end of the war, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, finally landed at Galveston, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was 2.5 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — which had become official January 1, 1863. Contrary to popular belief, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new executive order. When Granger’s regiment arrived, forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Specific weather records are scarce from that June day in 1865 in Galveston. But given the location of the docks in proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, it was clear that the day was relatively calm with sunshine and light breezes. The information that General Granger brought quickly spread and led to joyous celebrations among the now emancipated enslaved people and it all happened with no adverse weather conditions on that now rightfully celebrated day now known as Juneteenth.
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