The Texas NavyReport of George Wheelwright, April 2, 1838 - Page 1

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George W. Wheelwright (?-?)

George Washington Wheelwright commanded the Liberty after the resignation of William S. Brown. After San Jacinto, he escorted the Flora to New Orleans with the wounded Sam Houston aboard and there supervised refitting of the Liberty. The Republic of Texas could not pay the bill for the work, and the ship was sold to satisfy creditors.

In February 1837, Wheelwright was promoted to commander to replace the deceased Commodore Charles Hawkins. He sailed home in command of the newly refitted Independence. Along the way, Wheelwright fought an exciting battle with two Mexican ships, the Vencedor del Álamo and the Libertador, who were blockading just off the mouth of the Brazos River. The Independence was badly outgunned, and Wheelwright was wounded. Finally, the ship was forced to strike its colors, and Wheelwright and the rest of the officers were taken as prisoners to Matamoros, where they later escaped.

Wharton then took command of the brig Potomac at the Galveston Navy Yard, then under construction. Wheelwright's main task was to convert the Potomac from a merchant brig to a man-of-war. Wheelwright spent over $10,000 in the effort, but the ship was never made suitable for service. It never left Galveston and eventually simply rotted away. The Republic of Texas never paid the bill for the work being done on the ship, and at least one Galveston merchant was driven into bankruptcy as a result.

Report of George Wheelwright, April 1838  Texas Brig Potomac, April 2. 1838.

  To the Hon: The
Secretary of the Navy

  Sir;

              In consequence of an order from
this Department informing me that the Executive had re-
fused to sanction the expenditures necessary for the Navy, I em-
brace the earliest opportunity of stating, that the repairs of
the Brig have progressed but slowly; and the difficulty I
have had to encounter in procuring the requisite timber (al-
though cut by the men attached to the service) has been one great
cause of delay. At this time I have but four Carpenters en-
gaged on the Brig; even with these, I feel assured, we shall
be adequate to the completion of the vessel by the time Congress
meets.

              The amount expended on the Potomac has been almost
exclusively confined to stores and provisions.

              The Schooner Correo, you are aware was a prize to Schrs
Brutus and Invincible; as yet no cost to the Government has
been incurred, except the labor of the men belonging to the service,
in our hitherto unsuccessful attempts to get her afloat, attributa-
ble to the want of proper materials, and the unfavorable
state of the weather, but, if a hawser, which is on board a ves-
sel now in Port, can be procured (even at my own expense)
we shall be fully enabled to get her off by the time the Potomac
is properly rigged.

              The present improvements in the Navy Yard,
consisting of a Black Smith’s shop, with two forges (without
which the operations on the Brig, would have entirely ceased)
an Armorer’s shop, in active operation; a long shed for Carpenters,
with a Sail Loft above; a long row, consisting of ten different
rooms for the Mechanics attached to the Yard, and Quarters
for the Officers, I have effected through the liberality and kindness
of two Gentlemen, whose names I shall take pride and delight
in communicating to the Department at some other time. The
accurate computation  of their bills I am not, at present, able
to ascertain, as the completion of their engagements has not
transpired; but herewith I furnish you with copies of bills of
stores, lumber, etc. etc. which have been actually essential for the

service

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Report of George Wheelwright, April 2, 1838. Texas Navy Papers, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
 

Page last modified: June 28, 2019