One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker highlights the life of confederate mariner Leon Smith. The marker was erected in 1965 by the Texas Historical Commission.
“Lion” of Texas coastal defense during the Civil War. Commanded marine department of military district. Born in New England, went to sea at 13. By age 20 was a captain. In 1850s commanded on the Galveston to New Orleans run of Southern Mail Steamships. In Feb. 1861, when Texas had seceded, commanded ship taking Col. John S. “Rip” Ford to Brownsville to take military possession of the Rio Grande. In April, with ship and crew, volunteered in Confederate navy. With 2 days’ notice, prepared water-born part of offensive that won Battle of Galveston on Jan. 1, 1863. Walled his ships with cotton bales; in brief fighting captured the pride of the Federal navy.”
“On Sept. 8, 1863, ordered a Confederate ship into sea battle. Then personally rode through enemy fire to join Dick Dowling’s 47-odd-men on land, and fight in the battle that turned out to be victory of Sabine Pass. He and his ships helped prevent Federal landings to take food, water and wood from Texas coasts. They also ran Federal blockade and aided other ships in slipping past enemy patrols with Texas cotton to exchange overseas for goods scarce in the South: guns, ammunition, shoes, coffee, cloth, medicines. Died in Alaska, December 26, 1869.”