Texas Navy Page: 7 of 43
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II. The Role of the Texas Navy, 1835-1838
Texas revolted against Mexico in the autumn of
1835, but it was not until 2 March 1836 that it
formally seceded. The roots of the rebellion were in
the differences of race, religion, language, law, and
the ideals of government between the Spanish-Indian
civilization and the culture of the former citizens
of the United States. Yet the immediate causes lay
very much in maritime and tariff problems.
A particularly inflamatory incident took place on
1 September 1835 when Texans, embarked in the
American merchant ship San Felipe and steam tug
Laura, engaged the Mexican treasury vessel Correo
de Mejico at Brazoria. After wounding her captain,
they accused him of piracy when he could not produce
his commission and took him and his vessel
to New Orleans. The court there delayed the Correo
de Mejico, as well as her officers and men, for three
months before Mexico secured their release. During
this period, the Texas coast remained unpatrolled
by Mexico and was wide open for the
introduction of men and munitions for the revolt.
Without the ships to keep their own coast open. the
Texans had succeeded in substituting American
courts for the seapower they so urgently needed.
The Correo de Mejico incident, however, also
greatly aroused Mexican public opinion and was
probably a contributing factor to the punitive invasion
of Texas by Lopez de Santa Anna in 1836.
The Mexican Navy did have ships available in
northern Mexican waters to replace the Correo de
Mejico while she was inactive at New Orleans. But
the vessels were not used to their best advantageprimarily
because of the activity of Texas privateers.
By Christmas 1835 the Texas Consultation, a provisional
congress, had authorized the issuance of
six letters of marque and reprisal. One of the privateers,
William Robbins, on 19 December 1835 recaptured
the small American schooner Hannah
Elizabeth, which had been seized by the Mexicans
for having on board two cannons and other contraband
for rebellious Texas.
The capture of Hannah Elizabeth, the seizure of
Correo de Mejico, and the threat of other losses at
sea caused Mexican authorities to commence convoying
their ships along their own coast. Just how
many ships comprised the Mexican Navy at this
time is unknown, but the schooners Bravo and Vera
Cruzana were the only two mentioned as stationed
on the Texas coast in early 1836. In any case the
Navy was small, and the diversion of even one or
two vessels to protect Mexico's own shipping couldand
did-prevent an effective blockade of the defiant
Meanwhile, more spectacular and dramatic
events were taking place ashore. By the end of 1835,
irregular Texas military forces had driven the Mexican
garrison across the Rio Grande. Both sides began
recruiting new, larger, and better-equipped armies
for the more serious and bloody war they knew would
ensue. The Texans relied upon adventurers from the
The City of Galveston as it appeared during the Texas War of Independence
Courtesy of the University of Texas Archives.
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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/m1/7/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .