After Texas seceded and joined the Confederacy, the Federal Navy in late 1861 blockaded this port with the U. S. "Santiago de Cuba". Commerce stoppage caused removal of customs offices to Brownsville and some civilians to neutral Bagdad, Mexico. The Confederates ceased to use the lighthouse, and it became a watch tower for blockade runners, and thus Laguna Madre their haven. Boats from the U. S. S. "Brooklyn", in May 1863, attacked vessels in port and a Confederate unit near the lighthouse. The Confederates tried to blow up the tower--a defense measure--but only succeeded in damaging fixtures.
The French, supporting Maximilian in Mexico, prohibited the landing of war material at Bagdad. Defying both the French and U. S. Naval patrols, Mexican lighters from the Rio Grande landed here in Sept. 1863 with a large cargo of C. S. A. arms. In Nov. 1863, U. S. forces from the expedition of Gen. N. P. Banks occupied Point Isabel. The blockade was lifted and the port reactivated. In Aug. 1864, the Confederates drove the Federals across the bay to Brazos Island. The next march, Federal Gen. Lew Wallace (later author of "Ben Hur") met Confederate officers here to talk peace.