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NTSU LIBRARIES, DENTON. TEXAS 76203
I1 IIIIIIIi0ll ll00035 lll
In the long course of history seapower has played
the controlling role in most of man's struggles. Because
of unique advantages of mobility, ease of mass
transport, speed, surprise, flexibility, concentration,
and facility of change of objective, small forces afloat
may often have large results. This was true indeed
in the Lone Star State's wars.
The first half of the Nineteenth Century brought
vast changes to North America. The far-spreading
wilderness of the southwest was being colonized by
United States citizens. Mexico, inheritor of Spain's
possessions, was losing her grip over the northern
territory. By various enducements she tried to populate
this area with citizens from old Mexico; but in
vain. Her citizens refused to migrate into the harsh
"uncivilized north." As a last resort Mexico opened
Texas to foreign immigration, if the newcomer would
swear allegiance to Mexico. Once the gates were
opened, however, the flood of immigrants could not
be controlled. Ineffective administration and internal
strife within the Mexican Government caused discontent
among the recent arrivals. The seeds of
Texas Independence began to sprout.
Seapower was also in a state of transition. In this
period navies were in the early stages of one of the
handful of fundamental revolutions that through history
have progressively increased the power of navies
and their advantage to nations wise enough to be
strong at sea. Steam engines, iron hulls, and improved
guns were slowly changing naval warfare. Twentyone
short years before Texas declared her independence
(1836), huge ships-of-the-line recoiled
under mighty broadsides at Trafalgar, while but 25
years in the future the shots of Virginia (Merrimac)
ricocheted off Monitor.
Good books like General Jim Dan Hill's "The
Texas Navy" and Commander Tom H. Wells'
"Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy" have interestingly
covered the operations of that Navy in
the 1830's and 1840's. However, lack of spectacular
sea battles, the few ships employed and the notable
actions ashore, like San Jacinto and defense of the
Alamo, have obscured the importance of seapower
in the Texas War of Independence. The Navy was
small but large enough for the task. It lacked superior
warships, but steered by resolute men it played
a decisive part in Texas' independence.
We were able to develop the following brief account
through a fortuitous circumstance. Commander
Tom Wells came to the Division for Summer
Reserve Training Duty. From his book and his
notes he developed a sound, basic manuscript
which then received the attention of several others
of us to fit it to the Division's general pattern. We
owe appreciation to the following (some not now
with the Division) for their assistance in the editorial
and photographic features of this small but
useful booklet: Captain F. Kent Loomis, Cdr. C. F.
Johnson, Cdr. V. J. Robison, Dr. Wm. J. Morgan,
Henry A. Vadnais, Lt. (jg) Dick M. Basoco, Lt.
(jg) Wm. F. Rope, Don R. Martin, James L.
Mooney, R. L. Scheina, and Alfred Beck.
Americans should know more about this little
understood chapter in our history. The more they
understand the role of the sea in America's past,
the wiser will be their use of its decisive power in
E. M. ELLER.
Galveston Bay, 8 May 1840
Front: Zavala, Austin, Santana (Revenue Cutter), San Antonio, Galveston
Back: San Bernard, Wharton
Contemporary pencil sketch by William Bollaert
Courtesy of Newberry Library, Chicago, NR
I I ;
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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/m1/3/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .