TEXAS NAVY 1836-1846


Texas was a republic for almost ten years before it joined the United States in 1845 as the 28nd state and a slave state.  As a new republic fighting Santa Anna as he advanced into Texas, a  Texas Navy was established to protect the coastline by keeping the lines of supply from New Orleans open and keep Mexican ships from delivering supplies to Santa Anna.  Those first four schooners, Invincible, Brutus, Liberty and Independence played an important part in the victory at San Jacinto but the navy’s role is not as well known as most of the glory went to the victories on land.

In March of this year a permanent exhibit honoring the Texas Navy opened on the USS Lexington Museum, a WW II aircraft carrier berthed at Corpus Christi. The ship serves as a naval aviation museum,  education facility and tourist attraction.   Recently I visited  after having lunch with Daughter who works on the Lexington.   The ship has five self-guided tours and offers guided tours for behind the scenes.  The Texas Navy exhibit is on the ” Lower Decks Tour”, tour number four.

NEON ENTRANCE TO EXHIBIT

Visitors are immediately drawn into the 1800s and a different kind of warfare and away from the WWII period.

WORKING SAILORS

These sailors seem to be welcoming you aboard; even the worn wooden flooring feels like the deck of a ship and much different from the metal and steel floors of a WWII ship.

Photos of these two story boards did not come out very well – Husband could have done better had he been along – but they do give information on the importance of the Texas Navy early on and later as it continued to protect the new republic.

BATTLE OF CAMPECHE 1843

NAVAL OFFICER

I don’t know what the white object is on the left.  Perhaps it was one of the rumored ghosts on the Lexington.  It was a weekday afternoon and not very crowded, so I often found myself alone to leisurely view the Texas exhibit and  WWII photos and documents also as I competed the Lower Decks Tour.  OK, it was probably  my finger that got in the way!

SHIP’S WHEEL

Take a turn at the ship’s wheel!

CANNONS AIMED AT MEXICAN SHIPS

Visitors can get the feel of being on a ship in the heat of battle with this replica of a warship; note the Mexican flag on the ship being fired upon.

NAVAL GEAR AND ARTIFACTS

There were several displays like this one.

TEXAS NAVY FLAG

This is the Texas Naval flag.  Texas Flag Park describes it this way:

Created by Charles Hawkins for the Texas Navy in April, 1836 the Lone Star and Stripes Flag was adopted and continued unchanged for the life of the Republic. It carried a single white star in the blue canton, and seven red stripes and six white stripes alternating in color. The stripes represented the original thirteen colonies of the U.S. The flag was deliberately designed to resemble the national flag of the U.S. When the flag hung limp, it could be mistaken for the American flag which gave the underdog Texan fleet the advantage of surprise, and it worked.

There is a small theater inside the exhibit, though I did not take a photo, with an excellent documentary,  How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution, a Kahunas USA / Texas Navy Association historic documentary.  The film is available to all Texas teachers for free download at texasnavy.org under the “Teachers” button.

When Texas joined the Union the proud Texas Navy was absorbed into the United States Navy.  “Texas Navy 1836-1846” is an excellent addition to the WWII exhibits on the Lexington for anyone who is interested in Texas history.

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “TEXAS NAVY 1836-1846

  1. Very interesting, Jo. Love that this kind of history is preserved and passed on to the following generations. Texas and Mexico have been long time enemies and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My daughter loves working there as her degree is in history and she has always wanted to work in a museum. Teachers bring their classes to learn about WWII for a hands-on experience. Texas and Mexico have shared so much history together and still have issues today with little help from our current president for fostering good relations.

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  2. I loved this post for many reasons! First of all, having lived in Houston for a couple of years as a teenager, I remember well going to the San Jacinto Monument. Of course that also included going across the avenue to visit the battleship Texas. I am also enamored with anything historical, especially naval history. Fortunately for me, I am not encumbered by today’s ridiculous wave of politically correctness. These things happened, for whatever reason good or bad, and the people involved should be feted. If we deny our past, our future will be forever tainted.

    I loved your coverage and pictures of the old timey ships. Those were spartan times and anyone who served aboard was a man of strong will and constitution. In those days, it truly was like being in jail, except with a good chance of drowning!

    Did not realize the Lexington was there now. I served aboard a WWII Essex class carrier for two years in the mid sixties. It was the USS Randolph, one of about 10 Essex class launched during the war. Several years ago I had a chance to take my kids aboard the USS Yorktown (another Essex class) berthed in Charleston, SC. It was so neat to show them my living conditions while I was aboard the Randolph.

    Well, I told you this post touched me at many levels. Great job Jo!

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    • Thanks so much! I took my daughter to the San Jacinto Monument when she was just a few weeks old and I think I imprinted her with history. It is very special when men come aboard who have served aboard the Lex and are able to share with their families the way you did with your family. Several of the volunteers are men who have served on similar ships and they make great guides. I am so glad that you enjoyed the post! I agree that we cannot ignore the past even if it was unpleasant. Sailors in general have to be tough! Thank you for your service.

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    • Everyone knows about the Alamo but not so much about the Texas Navy. Texas has over 300 miles of coastline but I guess most people just see the huge size of the state when they look at a map. Thanks for taking time to visit and comment. Must visit you soon!

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    • You are welcome! She works in accounting – way down in the ship – so she gets involved in everything on the ship. There is always something going on on the ship even after-hours events so it is never dull with new visitors every day from so many different places. You too have an interesting job!

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  3. Fascinating history! I knew Texas had been independent and had a navy, but I didn’t realize the size of it. That they named a ship “Brutus”! Ah, for the good old days when everyone knew their Roman history and we had a shared culture. that facilitated communication.

    Great post. Thank you for it.

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    • Yes, I wonder who named Brutus. She was sunk in Galveston harbor. I am fascinated with sunken ships so I may do more research. Thank you for your kind words! I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested but I just try to write about what interests me. Cheers!

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  4. What an intriguing slice of history… had me humming the Yellow rose of Texas before I knew it…probably because we’ve been having a Civil War jag here in the Antipodes, watching the film of Gettysburg, and then the following night Lincoln… my shelf of Civil War books groans with all the histories…

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    • I am glad I had you humming along! Texas played an important part in the civil war too so it fit right in with your readings. It seems the Civil War lives on with the debates about the war memorials. I can see where it might offend some but we don’t have to glorify the past but we can’t erase it. There were slave owners on my mother’s side of the family. We can’t certainly learn from our mistakes. Thanks for taking time to comment as I appreciate it very much!

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  5. That looks like a fascinating museum! Thanks for sharing so much of it with us. I admit to being very ignorant of much of the history of Texas (beyond what I learned in school so very long ago and haven’t remembered very well.) I didn’t realize it had it’s own navy, or what an important role it played. I agree, history should always be preserved…those stories are important!

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    • The USS Lexington is a floating museum near the Texas State Aquarium and is so important as it is a hands-on museum in many ways. There is always a ceremony for Pearl Harbor Day. It is very special when a Pearl Harbor survivor comes aboard as there are so few left. I am so glad that you liked it enough to comment and that you learned something. I always enjoy learning about history – I have forgotten so much of my history too. Stay cool this summer!

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  6. What an enjoyable post. I’ve visited the USS Lexington and the Aquarium, but it certainly would be worth a return visit to see this exhibit. I was especially interested in the Texas Navy flag. I don’t think I’ve seen it before.

    Some years ago, I purchased a screen saver for my computer that rotates historical images of Texas. One photo showed the Velasco lighthouse, and when I saw it, I didn’t have a clue where Velasco was, or what happened to its lighthouse. As it turns out, it was near the mouth of the Brazos, and involved in several incidents where the Texas Navy played an important role.

    Another name I noticed in your post was that of the 16-gun brig Wharton. That had to be named after William Wharton, one of Austin’s 300 who lives on in the name of the town of Wharton. There’s just no end to the wonderful history along our coast. I’m so glad this new exhibit will help more of it come alive for people — thank you for sharing it!

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    • Thank you – that is a special compliment coming from you! Frankly, I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested but with your connection to the coast I can see where it would appeal to you. You should come back sometime and tour the Lex again as there always seems to be something new that is added as they try to update. The aquarium has almost doubled in size since it opened.

      Yes, you are probably right about the Austin and Wharton. I wonder how Brutus was named. The Velasco Lighthouse was new to me so I had to check out some photos and history – thanks! Husband and I love visiting lighthouses anywhere we go.

      Something else that might interest you is the possibility that a ship or at least remains of a Texas Navy ship, Zavala, might be near Galveston harbor, now a parking lot. Clive Cussler was looking for it years ago and dug around for it for never found proof. It is very interesting but you can go online and check it out. Brutus was said to have sunk near there too. I enjoy his adventure books. TGIF to you!

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    • I am assuming you mean work after Hurricane Harvey. Corpus Christi did not have much damage other roofs, fences, downed trees etc. We live on the other side of the bay from CC and ours was much the same. We lost the metal top of our chimney, the back fence was leaning, downed tree limbs. The Rockport and Port Aransas area took the brunt of the storm and are doing well. There are still some whose homes are not rebuilt and may never come back, but most businesses are back to normal. However, when driving around there are still signs of damage and some vacant lots where homes used to be. Thanks for asking and commenting!

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  7. Very nicely done, Jo. What a wonderful field trip. It sounds like your daughter has a truly interesting job. My father served in WWII on a Navy ship, so I enjoyed reading this bit of history. I loved the pictures of the ship and thought you did a marvelous job. I also loved the wooden floors. Thanks for this lovely historical piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your kind comments are greatly appreciated! As a teacher you would probably appreciate the teaching aspects as classes often visit during the school year and volunteers set up learning stations for them. Those like your father who served on WWII ships really seem to appreciate being back on one. The photos (with some cropping!) turned out better than I thought they would. I regret not getting a photo of the small theater as there was canvass draping the sides of the screen but there were always people there viewing it. Thanks for coming along on the tour!

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  8. Thank you for this interesting history lesson. I always appreciate new information because my knowledge of American history or in this case Texas history is very spotty.

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  9. Wonderful Jo, I love to visit these kind of exhibitions, and learn more about your own History. Wonder what it would be like sailing one of those Schooners. Museums are often my first port of call in towns I would visit both at home and abroad.
    Loved your share, and your images.. ❤ Wishing you well Jo…
    Much Love ❤

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  10. Fascinating history – I knew none of this. What I know about Texas is San Antonio, bat caves, LMJ’s library, and soon I’ll know about Austin because a good friend just moved there. Thanks for sharing this museum tour!

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  11. Austin is an interesting place filled with history and weirdness – a blue dot in a red state! Hopefully, you will visit your friend there. I am glad that I could impart some Texas history to you. Thanks for coming along on my humble tour! Cheers for the weekend!

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