Fortune Favors the Brave - The Story of the Texas Navy
Introduction | San Felipe: Opening Shots | Privateers | The First Navy | War with Mexico
After San Jacinto | The Second Navy | The Tabasco Incident | The Yucatán Alliance | Mutiny! | Blood Feud |
Back to Yucatán | The Trial of Edwin Moore | Epilogue | Resources & Finding Aids | Bibliography
War with Mexico
As soon as he heard about the siege of Bexar, Santa Anna began to organize his troops to march on Texas. Some of his subordinates urged the general to wait until spring and land a naval invasion of Texas, but Santa Anna refused, insisting on taking the hard winter march overland instead. As a result, his army suffered greatly from cold weather, hunger and thirst, and exhaustion by the time they reached Bexar and took heavy casualties at the Battle of the Alamo in February-March 1836.
The Independence, flagship of the Texas fleet
Prints and Photographs Collection,
Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #1972/110.
At the same time Santa Anna's army went on the march, a parallel invasion was launched by General José de Urrea from Matamoros. Unlike Santa Anna, Urrea's army was shadowed by supply ships that would provision the troops at the nearest points along the coast. Urrea's army quickly routed the Texas fighters at San Patricio and Goliad.
Broadside calling for all men to arms and all armed vessels to "scour the Gulf,"
March 2, 1836
But even as Texans were faltering on land, the tiny Texas Navy was taking the fight to the enemy. The Liberty was the former McKinney and Williams privateer known as the William Robbins. In March 1836, the Liberty battled and captured the Mexican trading schooner Pelícano, gaining 300 kegs of gunpowder concealed in barrels of flour, apples, and potatoes. A few weeks later the Liberty captured more war supplies when it made a prize of the American brig Durango.
Next it was the turn of the Invincible, also a Thomas McKinney vessel. In April 1836, the Invincible battled the Mexican warship Bravo and captured the cargo ship Pocket, which it seized and took to Galveston as a prize. Under the influence of the ship's insurance companies, the United States Navy seized the Invincible and took it to New Orleans on a charge of piracy, but the ship and its crew were released when it was demonstrated that the Pocket was carrying war contraband bound for Mexico.
The privateer Flash played perhaps the most exciting role in the climax of the Revolution. Two six-pound cannon, forged in Cincinnati by citizens who wanted to aid the Texan cause, had been delivered to Galveston in March 1836. The desperately needed armaments were loaded on board the Flash, which was ordered to proceed to the Brazos to pick up refugees from the Runaway Scrape who were fleeing Santa Anna's advancing army. The Flash did as ordered, then proceeded to Morgan's Point, where on April 11 it delivered the cannons and picked up more refugees, including three Texas cabinet officers, the family of President Burnet, and Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala and his family. The rescue was successful, and the armaments the Flash delivered became legendary. The next week, in the Battle of San Jacinto, the "Twin Sisters" shattered the Mexican lines and significantly aided in the Texan victory.