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Author Topic: An 1830s Steamship From the Texas Navy May Be Buried Near Galveston Harbor  (Read 1202 times)
GCCC
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« on: September 13, 2015, 10:41:32 pm »

The Port of Galveston is expanding, but at least they're going to try to see if Clive Cussler was correct when he said he had found the Zavala under a parking lot in 1986 before they proceed.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/1830s-steamship-texas-navy-may-be-buried-near-galveston-harbor-180956487/?no-ist

Excerpted from the article:

"...The Texas Navy was a small armada, formed to help win independence from Mexico. The Navy purchased the Zavala in 1838 for $120,000, reports Rice. It was the only steamship that fought for the Republic of Texas and the first steamship-of-war in North America. Rice writes:

'The steam technology on it is pretty phenomenal,' he said.

'The first transatlantic crossing under steam power had been completed only a decade earlier.

The 201-foot steamship, originally a passenger vessel known as the Charleston, was renamed the Zavala in honor of the Texas Republic's first vice president, Lorenzo de Zavala. It was armed with four 12-pounder medium-range guns and a long-range 12-pounder.'

After one successful military foray, during which it cruised to the Port of Campeche in Mexico to aid the revolt agains the Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the ship ran into a storm upon its return. The needed repairs proved too great for the little navy, which was no longer a priority, and the Zavala was left to rot. In May 1842 she was run aground..."

The recovery of this vessel will likely not be as big a deal as that of the Belle (which warranted its own PBS special), but regardless if this is the Zavala or the Neptune, this will still be pretty exciting stuff.





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Sleazey
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2015, 12:34:47 am »

The photo in the article is captioned "Ariel view of the Port of Galveston...". This is also known as "The Little Mermaid" view.
Can't anybody at the Smithsonian spell anymore?

Thanks for posting that. I live in Houston, and have visited Galveston more times than I can count. Galveston is a nice place to spend a weekend, and features the iron-hulled sailing vessel "Elissa", and a number of other attractions, plus lots of great seafood.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 12:39:20 am by Sleazey » Logged
GCCC
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2015, 12:56:44 am »

I have been to the Strand, and have eaten at Gaidos, and there is still quite a bit of wonderful architecture there, but I've never been impressed by their so-called "beach".

However, I did get to visit Sea Arama while it was open. I don't remember much of it, but remember it as fun.
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2015, 03:18:59 am »

This (and the Colonel) are on the to visit list for the SteamPunk Cruise this year assuming weather lets us get to Galveston on time.  http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,36211.0.html 
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2015, 06:37:36 am »

Thanks for posting this.  It is certainly a nice bit of history.

It is rather interesting (and amusing) that the Zavala was sent to the aid of the rebellious "Sister Republic" of Yucatan against President Santa Anna, fighting off the coast of the State of Campeche. Instead of fighting, it found itself towing the Austin, to the coast of the village of Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco, and while there, the crew decided to offer their services to aid local rebels against the government, all for the reasonable fee of $25,000 Cheesy  A rebel is just a rebel. But a businessman rebel is worth twice as much Grin

The Texan schooner Zavala (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texan_schooner_Zavala )


From the same Wiki article:
Quote
Background of the Texas Navy

The Texas Navy was officially formed in January 1836, with the purchase of four schooners: Invincible, Brutus, Independence, and Liberty. These ships, under the command of Commodore Charles Hawkins, helped Texas win independence by preventing a Mexican blockade of the Texas coast, seizing Mexican ships carrying reinforcements and supplies to its army, and sending their cargoes to the Texas volunteer army. Nevertheless, Mexico refused to recognize Texas as an independent country. By the middle of 1837, all of the ships had been lost at sea, run aground, captured, or sold. With no ships to impede a possible invasion by Mexico, Texas was vulnerable to attack.

In 1838, President Mirabeau B. Lamar responded to this threat by forming a second Texas Navy. Unlike Sam Houston, Lamar was an ardent supporter of the Texas Navy and saw the urgent need for its continuation. The second Texas Navy was placed under the command of Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, an Alexandria Academy graduate who was recruited from the United States Navy.[3] One of the ships of this second navy was the Zavala.

The Zavala was built in 1836 as a passenger steamship named the Charleston serving the Philadelphia-Charleston route.[4] In 1838, when Lamar began rebuilding the Texan fleet, the navy purchased the Charleston for $120,000 and renamed it Zavala in honor of Lorenzo de Zavala, the first Vice President of the Republic of Texas.

Capt. A. C. Hinton was her first commander in the Texas Navy. Capt. John T. K. Lothrop took command of the Zavala on 4 March 1840 and led her on her only campaign.[4] After the successful Texas revolt, other parts of Mexico had rebelled against the regime of Santa Anna, including the Yucatan peninsula. President Lamar was determined to assist the rebels in their struggle with Mexico City. So, on 24 June 1840, the Zavala accompanied by Commodore Moore's flagship, the sloop-of-war Austin, and three armed schooners, slipped out of Galveston Bay and turned south across the Gulf to the Bay of Campeche near the Yucatan Peninsula.[5]

During the cruise off the Yucatan, Zavala never engaged the enemy directly, but she proved invaluable in the only action that the flotilla saw. on 20 November 1840, the steamship towed Moore's flagship, Austin and the schooner San Bernard 90 miles up the San Juan Bautista River to Villahermosa, the seat of government control in the state of Tabasco. The squadron had made a deal with federalist rebels to drive the centralistas out for $25,000, the first $10,000 to be paid up front. The federalists agreed.[6] Soon the small flotilla pointed their guns at the city and then sent troops into the seemingly deserted capital. Commodore Moore encountered a man bearing a white flag on a tree branch, and when he ascertained that this was the Mayor, the Texas commodore demanded $25,000 or he would level the town. The Mayor asked if silver would be acceptable, and upon receiving an affirmative reply, delivered the ransom. The commodore set sail with his booty and used the money to repair and outfit his ships.[5]


From the Smithsonian article previously discussed:
Quote
The port expanded around the remains until they were, essentially, lost. In 1986, novelist Clive Cussler tried to find the remaining wreckage of the Zavala.

"He dug into what was then a parking lot and found what he believed were the Zavala's remains, then reburied them; the expedition lacked the money to excavate the wreckage," Rice writes.

Now, the port wants to expand in the direction of that vacant lot. So, instead of inadvertently destroying an important piece of Texas history, the Port of Galveston has hired archaeologists to dig down and see if Cussler was right.

The only other possibility is that the wreck he found is the Confederate Neptune, which sank during the 1864 Battle of Galveston, but that ship is likely farther out in the harbour.

Construction at the port is on hold and the archaeologists should know in the next week whether the Zavala’s remains have been found.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 06:52:09 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

GCCC
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2015, 05:11:40 pm »

This (and the Colonel) are on the to visit list for the SteamPunk Cruise this year assuming weather lets us get to Galveston on time.  http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,36211.0.html 


Do visit the Historic Strand District if you get the chance, and also visit the 1900 Great Storm Theater (if it's open; it had squirrely hours the last time I was there). Try to at least see the outside of the Bishop's Palace and Ashton Villa, even if you don't have the time to tour the inside of either.
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2015, 05:21:46 pm »

...It is rather interesting (and amusing) that the Zavala was sent to the aid of the rebellious "Sister Republic" of Yucatan against President Santa Anna, fighting off the coast of the State of Campeche. Instead of fighting, it found itself towing the Austin, to the coast of the village of Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco, and while there, the crew decided to offer their services to aid local rebels against the government, all for the reasonable fee of $25,000 Cheesy  A rebel is just a rebel. But a businessman rebel is worth twice as much Grin

...The squadron had made a deal with federalist rebels to drive the centralistas out for $25,000, the first $10,000 to be paid up front. The federalists agreed.[6] Soon the small flotilla pointed their guns at the city and then sent troops into the seemingly deserted capital. Commodore Moore encountered a man bearing a white flag on a tree branch, and when he ascertained that this was the Mayor, the Texas commodore demanded $25,000 or he would level the town. The Mayor asked if silver would be acceptable, and upon receiving an affirmative reply, delivered the ransom. The commodore set sail with his booty and used the money to repair and outfit his ships.[5]

Yes, we Texicans have always been opportunists, haven't we?

Then again, under Lamar we had to be, considering when he left office we were some $11 million in debt (up from $2 million from Houston's term). That's part of why when Sam got back in we sold off the navy again.

But considering the last naval battle of the Texas Revolution was won by the cavalry (capturing three Mexican vessels from horseback)...
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2015, 05:35:12 am »

Maybe I'll research on Austin's own steam boat. I know we had one...
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GCCC
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2015, 05:46:25 am »

Oops! For a moment there, I thought you meant Stephen F. Austin's personal steamboat...

Clearly, I need to go to bed.

Carry on.
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GCCC
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 05:47:44 am »

Would this have been Austin's or Waterloo's own steamboat (since I don't know when it went in to operation)?
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