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NR now is the time
to push them for they were never so
Nevertheless, it was not until a Mexican shore
battery opened fire on a boat from Moore's flagship
on 20 October 1840, and an unsuccessful and
dying Treat departed Mexico, that the squadron
was permitted to abandon the passive role it had
maintained for three months. Moore quickly instituted
a blockade with his small force and then
struck at Mexico's "Achilles heel" on the Yucatan
Steamer Zavala towed Austin and San Bernard
some 70 miles up the Tabasco River where, in
conjunction with 150 rebellious Yucatecans, they
forced the surrender of 600 soldiers defending the
city of San Juan Bautista on 20 November 1840.
It was the first time a steamer had been seen on
the river. Moore demanded, and received, $25,000
in tribute for sparing the city.
At sea, San Antonio took one prize which was
later sold for $7,000 and two smaller vessels. The
remainder of the merchantmen boarded by units
of the Texas Navy were released before the squadron
returned to Galveston in February 1841.
It was a squadron that returned one less in number,
and considerably more battered, than when it
left-the most damaging foes during the cruise being
accident and foul weather. The most serious
incident occurred in October 1840 when San
Jacinto, patrolling in the Areas Island area instead
of off Vera Cruz as ordered, broke the crown of her
anchor in a gale and went aground with a gaping
hole in her starboard bow. Despite every effort of
Moore and the men of Austin, San Bernard and
San Jacinto to save the stranded vessel, San Antonio
broke up in a storm on 25 November 1840.
Zavala was badly, but not fatally, damaged on
3 October while at anchor off Frontera where she
had landed a boatcrew to chop wood for fuel. A
sudden storm struck and raged for three days while
Zavala fought to survive. She lost her rudder, one
wheel guard was crumpled and flooded; the crew
had to resort to using furniture and her interior
bulkheads as fuel to keep up steam. But in the
end the superb seamanship of Commander J. T. K.
Lothrop and his men saved her. A makeshift rudder
and other fittings were completed by the resourceful
sailors in time to lead the expedition to
San Juan Bautista.
Zavala's return to Galveston was her last voyage.
For want of about $15,000 for repairs, and a few
men, the $120,000 steamer deteriorated, and was
lost to the Texas Navy. She grounded at Galveston
during a storm in June 1842 and was scrapped in
When Moore returned to Texas, he had expected
merely to touch at Galveston to obtain authorization
to resupply and ship new men at New Orleans
in order to renew his operations against Mexico.
He had enough money and, having been fired upon,
he felt he had enough provocation for offensive ac
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U.S. Navy Department. Naval History Division. Texas Navy, book, January 1, 1968; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2419/m1/14/: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .