Texas Navy





The Contributions of the Texas Navy

During the period of 1839 to 1846 in Texas history, the infant Republic built and powered a small force of naval vessels against the new nation of Mexico. As with the majority of all wars, navies are never the main military power that settles the conflict but are the strongest of contributors (Wells 2.) This occurred in the Texas War of Independence, where the Texas Navy has little indication in text but was an important asset to the victory. Reasons for such an asset being overlooked are based upon the notable actions that took place ashore in the heroic defense of the Alamo and the victorious battle of San Jacinto lead by the Commander in Chief of the Texas Republic, Sam Houston (Davis 56.) Also, the lack of dramatic sea battles with the few vessels employed in the navy was another reason for their accomplishments to go unnoticed (Navy Department 2.) Above all the importance of seapower was but little understood during the time period and was not fully appreciated until the late 19th century after the publicized works of Mahan were noted by the powers of the world (Wells i.) As understood by the former Commodore of the Navy, Moore, “the Texas Navy was the difference between a Texas reconquered by Mexico in 1843 and a Texas Republic admitted into the Union in 1846 (Navy Department 1.)”

The citizens of Texas revolted in the autumn of 1835 because of reasons of race, religion, and the type of government the former United State immigrants believed in not being as effective as the traditional Spanish – Indian civilization faced in their new home. Most importantly, the citizens looked to disband from Mexico because of cruel maritime regulations and unreasonable tariffs placed within the Gulf of Mexico that held the citizens at check from becoming prosperous but filled the nation’s treasury. This cruel treatment of the American immigrants was based on ineffective administration and the internal strife of the Mexican government that caused discontent among those recent arrivals (1.)

An inflammatory incident that struck the match of the war was the capture of the Correo de Mejico by the American merchant ship San Felipe and the steam tug Laura near Brazoria. On boarding the Mexican vessel, the captain of the San Felipe accused the Mexican captain of piracy when he could not produce a commission and so took the vessel and its crew to New Orleans to be placed before a Republic court. The court delayed the Mexican crew for three months before they had to be released by Mexican demand. During this incident the Texas coast was free of Mexican vessels and gave the Republic the chance to stock up on munitions and recruit volunteers from the United States to help aid in the revolt. Without a strong seapower to free the coast of Mexican influence, the Republic used the incident with the courts to give them the trade they needed to prepare for the war (5.)

Even though the Mexican Navy did have available ships in the northern waters to replace the Correo de Mejico, the productive activity of several Texan privateers kept the Mexican ships busy along the coastline. A few privateers heroically recaptured American vessels from Mexican control for having cannons and other rebellious contraband (5.)

The Correo de Mejico incident and the success of Texas privateers aroused the Mexican public and were contributing factors leading to the invasion of Texas territory by Lopez de Santa Anna in 1836, but the Mexican President’s actions were too late. Patriotism flowed into the United States and adventurers volunteered to fight in the war along-side the Republic and merchant companies brought their own arms and equipment in vessels to add to the growing forces of the Republic. President Lopez de Santa Anna lead his invasion made up of three pronged attack on all Anglo-American settlements in his path as he struck towards the heart of the Texan territory (6.)

During this time, Texas began the building of its own Navy. By the authorization of the provisional general council the Texas Navy was to be made up of four schooners. The first ship to be commissioned was the former United States treasury cutter Ingham, and was rechristened Independence. The second