When the two men parted ways some weeks later, Lea told Porter, "I shall never see you again, for I feel that I have but a short time to stay here." The young officer was unfortunately prescient.
That fall, after Union forces took Galveston, the Harriet Lane was one of the ships guarding the harbor when Confederate forces, under Confederate Major General John MacGruder, mounted a counterattack to recapture the island city. Several river-steamers, loaded with Confederate troops and protected by piles of cotton bales, attacked the Union ship. She proved no match for the "cottonclads." After several murderous volleys, no one was left standing on her decks. Her captain had been killed in the first volley, and soon thereafter her executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Lea, was also cut down.
As fate would have it, General MacGruder had dispatched one of his staff officers to monitor the engagement from the roof of one of the taller buildings in Galveston. Observing the clear Confederate victory, the officer went to the waterfront in the aftermath and boarded the captured Harriet Lane .
There, Major Albert Miller Lea found his son Edward bleeding from several gunshot wounds. In contrast to his earlier words, the elder Lea showed great concern and hurriedly went in search of medical attention for his son. While his father was gone, Edward's surviving shipmates and several of the Confederate soldiers asked if they could do anything to ease his pain. But the young man declined, repeatedly saying only, "My father is here." Before Major Lea could return, however, his son died.
With a large contingent of Confederate soldiers and Union prisoners in attendance, Edward Lea was laid to rest at Trinity Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston. Today, his last words can still be read on the weathered tombstone marking his grave: "My father is here."