The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 414
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and feeling, and in the salty idiom of a naval officer who knows
what he is talking about. His forthright style, with its blunt prose,
is several cuts above the readability level one normally expects
from a technically trained man. Wells mixes, with a flair for the
dramatic and yet with devotion to truth, the same ingredients that
have quickened the pulse of sea-story readers from Treasure Island
to the "Horatio Hornblower" tales of our own time. Mutiny
convicted seamen hanging from a yardarm .. the clang of cut-
lasses . . the flame and roar of a broadside: all are here, to keep
flavor in and dullness out.
And Wells is human enough not to neglect the sidelights that
keep his characters alive and breathing. His anecdote about the
young midshipman who resourcefully gathered gulls' eggs for the
Christmas eggnog, then "Drank all my absent friends healths and
retired at 10:30 in a perfect state of happiness" is a gem of realism
that sparkles at just the right point in the narrative.
Wells makes it clear that Moore's greatest danger came not from
enemy gunfire, but from angry and envious men who brewed
political storms. Their ammunition was not powder and ball, but
diplomatic maneuvering, executive meddling, and a tight hold
on the government purse strings. So tight was that hold that when
Congress once voted an overdue $2o,ooo appropriation, Moore
and his Navy got not a dime of it.
The scale of any battle between a military commander and his
chief of state is heavily tipped in favor of the politician. Against
such odds and in the face of formidable political opposition,
Moore did the best he could-and his best was surprisingly effec-
tive. He often spent his own money to feed his crews. When his
money ran out, he drew on his personal credit to the breaking
point. He pieced together payments received from Yucatan for
use of the Texas Navy against Mexico. At one time, in desperate
need of money to stay afloat, he sailed up to the Mexican coast
of Tabasco and extracted a tribute at cannon-point. He winked
at orders when he thought it best to do so. With courage, energy,
and a genius for organization, he somehow kept his fleet afloat
and in some semblance of battle order.
In 1843, when it came time to fight, Moore was as ready as he
would ever be. In April of that year, he met the Mexican fleet off
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961, periodical, 1961; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/m1/451/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.