GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Every Texan is told to “Remember the Alamo” to celebrate the stalwarts who died in a siege on the legendary San Antonio mission during the Texas Revolution. But the director of Galveston’s Texas Seaport Museum says that another chapter of the revolution with just as much character, significance and gumption should get its due.
“We should be saying ‘Remember the Texas Navy,’” James White, the museum’s director, told the Galveston County Daily News (https://bit.ly/1zUtQYv).
The newest exhibit at the museum tells story of the short-lived Texas Navy, which launched in its homeport of Galveston in 1837 with four ships, along with crews of privateers who joined for a cut of the spoils of war.
The navy lasted until just 1845, however, when it was disbanded by Gen. Sam Houston, who thought it was a waste of money for the cash-strapped Republic of Texas.
But White said Texas’ navy had a significant impact on the revolution while it lasted.
“The navy intercepted Mexican supply lines,” White said. “It kept supplies from Mexican armies, helping Texas win the San Jacinto battle. It took down their ships and made a big impact.”
White said the exhibit will honor the contribution of the navy and will also present viewers with the element of “slight-of-hand” and mischief inherent in its history.
He said the navy’s commander was, at one time, wanted for treason for disobeying orders, and some sailors were paid in IOUs that were never honored.
“But that makes it hard to find artifacts from that time,” White said. “It was only around for a short time and people weren’t paid, so they weren’t likely to keep stuff. They might as well just spit on it and throw it on the ground.”
The museum’s exhibit has one of the most significant artifacts from the Texas Navy, however, White said. It’s a cannon recovered from one of the ships, the Brutus, that sank in a hurricane in 1837.
The cannon was rediscovered in a dredging project, later buried after the 1900 storm, and then found again in Galveston in the 1970s in a construction project, White said. The cannon is accompanied by an informational video detailing the way cannons of the time worked and examples of instruments used to operate the weapon.
The exhibit also features models of the navy ships, flags, a replica of a midshipman’s uniform and information detailing the personalities, significant events and legacy of the Texas Navy.
White said that a donation and partnership with the preservation group, the Texas Navy Association, brought the exhibit together to replace a display on the shrimp industry that had been in the museum for more than 10 years.
White said the museum plans to expand the exhibit in time as more models can be made and more artifacts come forward.
“I think it is important to tell this story,” White said. “There is a lot of chutzpah, a lot of moxie, and without them the battle for independence would have been lost. I like to say we’d probably be speaking in Spanish right now if it wasn’t for the Texas Navy. They were a big deal.”
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, https://www.galvnews.com
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