Celebrated on the third Saturday in September, this day of recognition aims to bring light to the little-known Texas Navy. While Texas has never had a single, long-standing navy, a small fleet of ships was formed and maintained by the Republic of Texas between 1835 and 1846, after which Texas became part of the United States and the Texian Navy merged with that of the United States.
The first ships of the Texas Navy were the Liberty, Independence, Brutus, and Invincible. They were used to assist in winning independence from the Centralist Republic of Mexico during the Texas Revolution. These ships provided ammunition to troops along the Texas coastline and prevented the Mexican Navy from landing.
After the Liberty was sold, the Independence was the second ship lost, having been captured during the Battle of the Brazos River. The Invincible proved not to be true to its namesake when it and the Brutus sunk in Galveston Harbor after running aground.
President Sam Houston attempted to expand the Texian Navy. Still, despite signing a bill to bring on new ships, nothing came of the attempt until after the Invincible and the Brutus losses. In addition to six ships approved in the bill, a steam packet called the Charleston was refitted for naval warfare and renamed the Zavala. Under the command of Commodore Edwin Moore, the Texas Navy spent its time working their way up and down the Mexican coastline, forcing the Mexican fleet to defend their coastline rather than attack that of Texas.
One of the most impressive accomplishments of the Texas Navy was during the Battle of Campeche. While the battle was a draw, the Texas warships, Austin and Wharton, along with rebel Mexican ships the Montezuma and Guadalupe, all sailing warships, fended off the Mexican Navy’s more advanced steam-powered warships, a feat that has only happened on this single occasion.
In 1955, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas worked with Governor Alan Shivers to create a day of recognition for the Texian Navy, finally receiving permanent recognition in 2005.