The Texas Navy Association Commodore Edwin Moore of the Texas Navy
The Texas Navy Association • The son of an aristocratic Virginia family, Moore joined the U.S. Navy in 1825 as a midshipman at the age of 15. • Took him TEN YEARS to achieve the rank of Lieutenant - because the US Navy was filled with senior officers from War of 1812. • Moore was sharp and ambitious – and was likely looking at the Republic of Texas as a career fast track.
The Texas Navy Association • MEANWHILE, Back in Texas….. • After the Texas Revolution was won, the First Texas Navy was disbanded, but Mexico refused to recognize Texas Independence and started launching raids into Texas. • With the naval appropriations act of 1837, Texas began rebuilding its navy. • Sometime in April 1839, President and Brother Maribeau B. Lamar offered Moore the job as commander of the Texas Navy
The Texas Navy Association • MEANWHILE, Back in the USA….. • Before leaving the U.S. Navy, Moore recruited men at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. • The U.S. Secretary of the Navy, John Forsyth, moved to court-martial Moore for violating the Neutrality Act of 1819, but Moore resign in July 1839 before a trial could be convened.
The Texas Navy Association • By June 1840, the largest fleet Texas ever fielded was ready to sail. The Zavala (a paddlewheel steamer) the Austin (Baltimore Clipper) and the three schooners left Galveston for the Mexican coast, intent on persuading Mexico to accept Texas independence. • (Strategy – to disrupt supplies and harrass Mexican shipping) • During this cruise, Moore’s fleet allied itself with federalist rebels in Mexico, particularly those fighting for the government of Yucatan.
The Texas Navy Association • This first cruise was, for the most part, uneventful. Unable to find any Mexican warships to fight, and with his provisions running low, Moore returned to Galveston on February 1, 1841.
The Texas Navy Association • POLITICS ! Things start to go BAD for the Texas Navy • By the next year (1841) Maribeau B. Lamar had lost most of his political power, and Houston was about to be re-elected as President of the Republic. • Lamar wanted TEXAS to be a strong Republic, Houston wanted statehood. A strong NAVY did not fit Houston’s plans. • Moore immediately left Galveston and took his fleet to New Orleans, and Houston immediately began doing everything he could to dismantle the Texas Navy.
The Texas Navy Association In January 1843, Houston convened a secret session of Congress, convinced the legislators that the fleet was a waste of resources, would never go to sea again, and needed to be sold. On January 16, the Texas Congress passed a law ordering the sale of the Texas Navy at auction, and President Houston appointed James Morgan and William Bryan to go to New Orleans, assume command of the decrepit fleet, and sell it.
The Texas Navy Association • Moore met the commissioners and convinced them that Texas would have no defense against invasion if it sold its fleet and Yucatán joined Mexico, as Mexico made it clear that once it put down the Yucatán revolt it would turn its attention to the “Question de Tejas.” • Commissioner Morgan saw that Moore was right, and authorized Moore to take the squadron home to Galveston, via Yucatán. Moore’s two-ship squadron, the 20-gun Austin and the 16-gun brig Wharton, set sail in mid-April 1843
The Texas Navy Association Battle of Campeche * During this trip, the Texas Navy ships encountered the world’s mightiest warship, the 1,100 ton ironclad Mexican steamer Guadalupe. Mounting monstrous guns that fired 68-pound exploding shells, the English-made Guadalupe was the most advanced warship in the world. The Guadalupe was escorted by the equally huge armed steamerMoctezuma and a squadron of sailing ships. Even when some small Yucatán ships sailed to join Moore’s sloop and brig, the Mexican fleet easily outgunned the Texans.
The Texas Navy Association • On May 16, 1843, the fleets met at sea: • The two smaller Texas Navy ships engaged the world’s most formidable warship, and a heavily armed Iron-Clad Steamer of war • The battle went on for several days, until the Mexican ships stopped firing and sailed out of gun range of the Texas Navy ships. Moore ordered his ships to continue to Galveston. • Both sides claimed victory, but the Mexican commander was relieved of duty and court martial, and the battle went down in history as the only time a sailing ship had bested a steamer of war.
The Texas Navy Association • Moore returned to Galveston, only to learn that Houston had ordered his arrest for piracy and murder, but the people of Texas loved him and gave him a hero’s welcome. • Moore turned himself in to the sheriff of Galveston, who refused to arrest him. • Houston promptly dismissed Moore and all the Texas Navy officers, and Moore spent the next years fighting for his day in court.
The Texas Navy Association • Moore finally received his court martial, and the court (a group that President Houston hand picked from among his best friends) acquitted Moore of all major charges and practically all minor charges that Houston made against him.
The Texas Navy Association • Moore spent the remainder of his days trying to get the Republic, then State, to reimburse him for nearly $50,000 in personal loans he made to keep the navy afloat. • He also worked to get himself and the other Texas Navy officers inducted into the United States Navy. The efforts failed, although in 1857 Congress awarded the Texas naval officers five years’ pay in return for a release of all claims of rank in the U.S. Navy.
The Texas Navy Association • Brother Moore married Emma Cox of Philidelphia in late 1849. • He lived to be 55 years old, and is buried in the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, • Pennsylvania • Moore County, Texas is named for him. Ironically, this county is in the panhandle of Texas, about as far away for water as you can get.