The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

Progressives. Finally, she called attention to abuses on Indian reservations,
Mexico, and the Caribbean.
University of Texas at Tyler DALLAS COTHRUM
The Fzghting Texas Navy, 1832-842. By Douglas V. Meed. (Plano: Republic of
Texas Press, 2001. Pp. viii+247. Illustrations, preface, bibliography, glossary,
index. ISBN 1-55622-855-6. $18.95, paper.)
In this concise historical narrative, Douglas Meed discusses the vital role the
Texas navy played in the Republic of Texas's short history. Yet most are unaware
that Texas ever had a navy (p. viii). While the land heroes of Texas indepen-
dence in the 183os and 1840s (such as Bowie, Houston, and Travis) have been
given god-like status, "the courageous seamen of the Texas navy have been all
but forgotten. . . . They deserve better" (p. 228, 230). To raise the Texas navy
from the forgotten annals of history is the main thesis of this book.
There are, Meed tells us, two important reasons to study the Texas navy: it
saved the republic from defeat and aided the Yucatan's (failed) attempts at
independence. First, when the Texans rebelled against the Mexicans, the men
of the nascent government realized that the best way to triumph over Santa
Anna's forces would be to prevent their reinforcement by sea. This way, the
Mexicans would be forced to trudge more than two hundred miles from their
nearest land base at Monclava to San Antonio. As described in wonderful detail,
Meed outlines for us (chronologically) the never-ending victories of the Texas
navy against the larger, more powerful Mexican navy (with British officers).
With these victories, the Texas navy succeeded in cutting off the Mexican army
from reinforcement.
The second purpose for studying the Texas navy, as outlined by Meed, comes
from its participation in the revolt of Yucatan against the centralist Mexican gov-
ernment. With the Yucatan determining to assert its autonomy, Santa Anna
closed offYucatan trade with Mexican ports. As a result, the Yucatecans hired the
Texas navy, which in March 1843 clashed with the Mexicans. This was the first
major battle between ships of sail (Texas) against modern steam-driven vessels
(Mexico). Here Meed breaks with traditional historians who write that this battle
was inconclusive, and declares it to be "a decisive victory for Texas" (p. 213). This
enabled the Yucatecan government to obtain more favorable conditions for
remaining in the Mexican union and totally shattered any ambitions Santa Anna
may have had to launch a seaborne invasion of the new republic (p. 214).
Meed's writing has a smooth-flowing, novel-like quality. He does, however, risk
leaning too far on the side of literary prose. For example, he states that the navy
fired a twenty-three-gun salute near the island of Cozumel that "if nothing else,
scared the hell out of the bewildered islanders" (p. 91). Is there any evidence for
this? Perhaps, but since Meed uses no footnotes or endnotes, the reader is left
wondering.
In short, this book, both interesting and informative, is a valuable contribu-
tion to the historiography of the Republic of Texas.

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University of Texas at Austin

KIM RICHARDSON

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 10, 2014.