Many currents of the the mainstream of
Texas history flow in this onetime port. Pineda explored the coast in 1519
and La Salle planted a settlement near here in 1685. Once an indian trading
point it was a major seaport from 1844 to 1875. Texas colonists, including
Germans led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels entered through Indianola.
"Forty-niners", supplies for frontier forts and experimental
Army camels were landed here.
During the Civil War Indianola and Fort
Esperanza which controlled the
gateway to Indianola through Pass
Cavallo were objectives of Federal
blockading vessels. Pass Cavallo ten miles south was one of several entrances
to the inside waterway created by Matagorda Peninsula and the offshore
islands extending to the Rio Grande. To deny Confederate use of this waterway
for commerce through Mexico the Federals had to seize control of these
Before Confederate defenses at Fort Esperanza
were completed two Federal steamers slipped through Pass Cavallo to Indianola
and on October 31, 1862 demanded the surrender of Lavaca (now Port Lavaca)
to the northwest. the Confederate command refused , stood off the naval
guns with land batteries and forced the withdrawal of the Federal ships.
Federal forces attacked Fort Esperanza
November 22, 1863. the Confederates withstood the assault of naval and
land forces for six days then spiked their guns, destroyed their magazines,
and withdrew to the mainland. Indianola then fell December 23. On Christmas
Eve Federal and Confederate forces clashed at Norris Bridge eight miles
north. Two days later Lavaca was occupied and the entire Matagorda-Lavaca
Bay area remained in Federal control until the war's end.
Indianola was partially destroyed by a
hurricane in 1875 and completely destroyed by another in 1886.