Thursday, April 29, 2010


Our chase for the Republic of Texas Agile ships Zavala and Brutus. Both absent in Galveston Harbor, Texas. November, 1986

In April of 1984 Barbara and I visited Wayne Gronquist in Austin, Texas. During our stay, Wayne led me over to the capitol architecture and the Governor's appointment area I was presented with a affidavit active by Governor White proclaiming me an Admiral in the Texas Agile (if they numbered them I'd apparently be 4,932).

With a blooper of the lip I appear that aback acceptable an Admiral the atomic I could do was to acquisition myself a ship.

Masochistically absorbed already afresh and accountable to advocate my blowhard image, I alleged old pal Bob Fleming in Washington and set out to locate a ambush from the Republic of Texas Navy. Yes folks, Texas absolutely had a navy, two as a amount of fact. The aboriginal agile was fabricated up of four argosy that were destroyed amid 1835 and 1837. The additional navy, beneath the ablaze administration of Commodore Edwin Moore and consisting of nine ships, lasted from 1838 until 1843.

The accumulated Texas Navies larboard a arresting actual legacy. The aboriginal ships, including the Brutus, addled Santa Ana's accumulation ships, capturing several and thereby accidental to Sam Houston's achievement at San Jacinto.

Actually, absolutely a bit was accounting about the Texas agile about the about-face of the century, the prime archetype by Jim Dan Hill in his book "The Texas Navy", and yet the news seems to accept been buried and forgotten. Best Texans don't alike apperceive their abrupt republic alike had a navy.

Many nice bodies in Galveston became swept up in the activity and helped immeasurably. Afterwards Kay Taylor-Hughes' outstanding analysis efforts, we ability never accept begin the Zavala. And the armpit of the Brutus was appealing able-bodied pinpointed by Mike Davis. Added bodies who accepted so attainable were Sylvia Jackson, Senator Chet Brooks, Stan Weber, and my acceptable acquaintance and business partner, Bob Esbenson. And, lest we balloon Wayne Gronquist, who put the activity calm and Bartol Arnold of the Texas State Antiquities Commission who was best attainable and cooperative.

Research showed best of the ships to be gone afterwards any achievement of discovery. One was captured by the Mexicans and absent in the past. One was absent at sea, addition on Las Arcas island in the Gulf. Best were awash off or burst up aback transferred to the U.S. Agile during annexation.

There were alone three possibilities, conceivably four. These were ships ashore in and about Galveston. References to two were too ambiguous to accompany at the time. Our best allowance were to apply on the Texas Agile steamship Zavala and the schooner Brutus. Both ashore during storms in the anchorage and became behind hulks in areas we hoped were still accessible.

The Brutus was a schooner armed and commissioned in February 1836. She was 180 anxiety in breadth with a 22 bottom axle and agitated a "long 18-pounder hinge and nine abbreviate guns". She sailed on a cruise that acquired calamity forth the Gulf bank and Yucatan coast, demography the battle into Mexican amnion while capturing several award-winning ships. In her abbreviate career the Brutus did her allotment to advice the Republic of Texas through its bitter infancy.

In October of 1837 a amazing gale swept the Texas coast, antibacterial a cardinal of structures and accident a account of ships. The Brutus was mentioned as actuality "considerably injured". Contemporary letters declared that she was larboard ashore abreast Williams Wharf.

In 1884 the anchorage abreast William's Wharf was actuality deepened aback the dredges baldheaded two of the Brutus' accoutrements and a area of her frame. They were army in the backyard of John Stoddart Brown, a arresting Galveston agent but abolished during the abundant 1900 storm that collapsed abundant of the city. In 1963 the 18-pounder was apparent during the architecture of a account station. As of this date it apparent at the Hendley Architecture on the Strand.

Davis' analysis places the Brutus at the end of 24th artery and Pier 23 beneath the Salvage Wharf Company barn 22-23. The analysis and abrupt are included in the abutting section.

I accept to say at this point that although the 1911 bi-weekly address says the address was sunk and afterwards dredged at the bottom of 27th street, Davis' analysis shows the Zavala was the alone bones from 29th artery to 25th and 24th. So his affirmation to the Brutus actuality afterpiece to 24th artery is mostly acceptable correct.

The Zavala was a activity that was fun and arresting accepted to be a abundant antecedent of satisfaction.

She was originally a fast beef packet that ran amid New York and her namesake burghal in South Carolina. She was remembered as a "sweet administration ship" and for her adaptation of a abundant storm that sank added ships about her.

The Zavala was purchased by the Republic of Texas and adapted as a warship. She was a sidewheel steamer barometer 201 anxiety in breadth with a 24 bottom axle and propelled by two walking-beam engines. Her ammunition consisted of four 12-pounder average accoutrements and one continued 9-pounder.

During her service, the Zavala patrolled the amnion off Yucatan and on one campaign towed the San Bernard and Austin up the Tabasco River ninety afar to the bigoted basic and bedeviled it. Later, on a boating aback to Galveston, she encountered a abhorrent storm that acquired her aggregation to bake bulkheads and food afterwards her atramentous food ran out so she could accomplish port.

After her one and alone cruise as a warship, the Zavala was laid up and accustomed to deteriorate. She began to aperture so abominably that she was run ashore to accumulate from sinking. The address again was bare and became a deserted, adulteration blob at the high end of the harbor's mud flats. In time she acclimatized added into the marsh until alone her boilers and one carry remained to view.

Eventually, acreage bushing covered her absolutely and she was absolutely forgotten.

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