Southwestern Historical Quarterly
naval operations during the War with Mexico; and the Civil War contest for the
Texas coast between Federal and Confederate naval forces and shore batteries.
Although the book covers a broad spectrum, there are notable omissions.
Most obvious is the neglect of Jefferson, the head of Red River navigation, as a
shipping center second only to Galveston. River boats brought to Jefferson set-
tlers from the east to take up land in the early Republic and state.
Missing also are the Spanish sea voyages made in search of La Salle's colony,
a vital component of the state's maritime history. One of these expeditions
found the wreckage of La Salle's ship Belle--recently excavated by the Texas
Historical Commission (covered in the book)-and salvaged tools, an anchor,
and five cannon. It also described and mapped the Gulf coast.
Unfortunately, the book contains several errors of fact or interpretation: Jean
B&ranger, exploring Aransas Bay in 1720, gave the name Isle Bienville to Live
Oak Peninsula, not to Harbor Island (p. 8). The Aguayo expedition, planned in
1719, was not Spain's response to Beranger as implied (p. 71), but to a French
attack on Mission San Miguel. The assertion that there were no native palms on
the Texas coast (pp. 9, 224-25) should be viewed in the light of Landon
Lockett's "Historical Evidence of the Native Presence of Sabal Mexcana (Palmae)
North of the Lower Rio Grande Valley" (SIDA, 1995). Men from the USS Major
Brown, sent from Laredo by land, reached Presidio de Rio Grande (Guerrero,
Coahuila), not "the town of Presidio [p. 159]." And more.
In treating Alonso Alvarez de Pineda's 1519 voyage, the author fell into the
traditional trap for unwary historians. The man left no diary that anyone has
ever heard of; his mission was not "to establish a colony at the Rio de las
Palmas"; and there's no evidence that he "sailed into Corpus Christi Bay" and
gave it that name. The "so-called Pineda tablet"-found on the Rio Grande,
not at Corpus Christi-does not say that he did (p. 37).
Navigational data are skimpy and obtuse: "As long as sailors knew the date of
the year, they could extrapolate their latitude by comparing their positions at
noon with that of the sun [p.39]." The description of the "concept of the
astronomical position line" is devoid of meaning: ". .. a navigator is able to
determine from an altitude observation, a line somewhere on which the ship is
located, whether or not the latitude is known" (p. 169).
These comments notwithstanding, From Sail to Steam has merit as the first com-
prehensive survey of the state's maritime past. It deserves a wide readership.
Bonham, Texas ROBERT S. WEDDLE
News of the Plains and Rockies, 1803-1865: Volume 3, E: Missionaries, Mormons,
x821-1864, F: Indian Agents, Captives, 1832-1865. Edited by David A.
White. (Spokane: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1997. PP. 495-
Illustrations, preface, appendix, series contents. ISBN 0-87062-253-6,
This third volume in what will be eight volumes contains sections E and F
of the landmark series "News of the Plains and Rockies." This series follows
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed December 12, 2013.