"The City of Anahuac, Texas, is located near
the site of a fort of the same name
established by the Mexican Government in
1830-31. General Mier Y. Teran sent 80
soldiers to erect the fort and also a
customs house on the east bank of the
Trinity River. Both the fort and the
barracks had brick walls four feet thick.
The bricks were made in a nearby kiln where
imprisoned Texas colonists were forced to
trample the clay and mold the bricks.
There was a well inside the fort, and two
underground passageways led to a large
magazine 40 yards back of the hill.
The garrison was soon reinforced with
Mexican soldiers, and the ruins and payroll
records indicate that about 162 troops wee
Col. John D. Bradburn, an escaped American
convict who had become a Mexican citizen and
army officer, was in command. He
established his garrison with infantry,
cavalry, and artillery; and his fort
commanded a perfect view of the entrance of
the Trinity River. This was not a good
site for a port because ships could not
reach the docks at low tide. however,
Bradburn immediately declared al ports in
Texas closed except Anahuac in order to be
able to collect all the custom fees.
Mute evidence that this trade was extensive
is shown by a Chinese 200 cash copper coin
(value unknown) recently found buried in the
sand by a boy at Anahuac.
On December 16, 1831, a
group of colonists met at Brazoria and sent
two men to request Bradburn to reopen Texas
ports, and if this was not done, to threaten
that war would follow. This threat
caused the tyrant to agree, and the two
messengers further petitioned the Governor
of Texas and Coahuila to appoint a
commissioner to issue land titles and
administer the law. The appointee,
Francis Madero, was arrested immediately by
Bradburn; and martial law was declared over
the entire area. the Mexicans , many
of whom were ex-convicts, then proceeded to
steal property from the colonists and to
disclaim their land titles. Eleven
person were killed by one soldier, a woman
was attacked, and slaves were freed.
Protesting Texans were promptly jailed.
News of the arrest of the
Texans caused another group of colonists to
attempt their rescue. A hoax
pretending an army was advancing was tried
on July 13, 1832, to force Bradburn to
release the prisoners. This maneuver
failed, and the enraged commander captured
and imprisoned in the empty brick kilns
seventeen men including William Barrett
Upon hearing of this
outrage, the Texans at San Felipe mustered
an army of 160 angry colonists commanded by
Francis W. Johnson and sent three schooners
to blockade the port. This first Texas
navy not only blockaded the port but also
maneuvered so as to draw enemy fire without
sustaining any damage to the craft.
Still Bradburn refused to release Travis and
the other prisoners, so two Texans crawled
up to the fort and managed to kill two and
wound several of the enemy. This was
the first blood drawn in the war for Texas
A truce whereby the Texans
were to exchange their prisoners for the
colonists held by the Mexicans was broken by
Bradburn, who used this method to reinforce
his garrison. As a result of this
incident, the "Turtle Bayou Resolutions" wee
drawn up declaring the Texans' allegiance to
the Mexican Constitution of 1824; and
runners were sent to appeal to all Texans to
support the forces at Anahuac.
Bradburn also appealed for aid since his
forces were stopped, but the Mexican
Government finally realized that Bradburn
had acted unwisely, and he was arrested.
This ended the incident, but the spark of
resistance smoldered for three years.
Again the Mexicans started
trouble, sending Capt. Antonio Tenoria and
40 soldiers to Anahuac to collect $265,000
in import duties they claimed were due.
One man was accidentally killed and another
jailed; so the colonists met at Harrisburg
and named William B. Travis, who was well
acquainted with the fort, as captain.
The Texans captured the fort, and the
Mexican Government failed to get them to
surrender, so Bradburn was again sent to
The Mexicans had by that
time invaded Texas in force, and there was
fighting at the Alamo in San Antonio and at
Goliad. General Santa Anna planned to
take his army of 1,200 men to join two other
Mexican armies at Anahuac, but Gen. Sam
Houston had learned of his plans and
defeated him at the mouth of the San Jacinto
River. This defeat and the capture of
Santa Anna himself brought an end to the
The Texans had only 800
men at San Jacinto, and the outcome could
have been very different if the Mexicans had
not been delayed by the earlier battles at
the Alamo and elsewhere. We can only
wonder if the time Col. Travis spent
imprisoned in Fort Anahuac made his hatred
of Mexican tyranny so great that he would
fight to his death at the Alamo, thus
gaining time for Gen. Sam Houston to muster
his forces at San Jacinto.
Today Fort Anahuac lies in
ruins on the shore of Trinity Bay; but its
witness to the first shot, the first
bloodshed, and the first navy have surely
earned for it the title "Birthplace of the
Texas Revolution." This town has its
name inscribed on the floor of our state
capitol as one enters from the south
The write first learned
the story of Anahuac when she taught there a
number of years ago. not many
present-day Texans are familiar with the
incidents related here, and this story is
included in the conviction that they ought
to be more widely known. The story was
compiled from Chambers County historical
records provided by Erwin S. Barrow, Jr.
By Mabelle Purcell"
words Texas Navy"--even in a crowd of
Texans--and chances are you'll get a puzzled
look in response. In fact, Texas
actually had two navies. Neither
lasted very long, but each served its
purpose, traversing the Gulf of Mexico,
helping to liberate Texas from Mexico and
then protecting (or trying to, anyway) the
shore3s of the fledgling Lone Star Republic.
But first, before any of
this, in the summer of 1835, there was the
dramatic incident of the San Felipe, a
merchant schooner headed from New Orleans to
Velasco, south of Galveston. The rig's
deck was outfitted with guns because Captain
William Hurd had very precious cargo on
board--Stephen F. Austin, fresh from a
Mexican prison, and Don Lorenzo de Zavala,
former personal secretary of Mexican
President Santa Anna.
Not far off the harbor was
Correro Mexicano, a "rakish, low-lying,
sloop-of-war," as described by C. L. Douglas
in his book, Thunder of the Gulf: Story
of the Texas Navy. The Correro
made the mistake of approaching the San
Felipe. A battle and chase ensued, and
the Correro was captured by the Texans.
It as the first major engagement of the
Texas Revolution. Soon after, the
Texas Provisional Government decided an
official navy was needed, but Provisional
Governor Henry Smith and his general council
had a little problem: a severe lack of
funding. An alternate plan was struck.
"Letters of Marque and Reprisal" were issued
to private ship owners; essentially, these
were government-sanctioned licenses for
privateers to pirate Mexican ships.
As Douglas put it: "The
lure of buccaneering has always held
attraction for the venturesome, so in this
Texas situation arrived many willing seamen,
all anxious...to seek a fortune under the
new-made Texas flag."
Some, such as Captain Hoyt
of the Thomas Toby and Captain Allen of the
Terrible, baited the Mexicans, their desire
fueled by the knowledge that they could lay
claim to 80 percent of their take.
Being of the renegade mindset, these fellows
were hardly the best record keepers.
If they didn't report all their triumphs,
they wouldn't have to turn in a full 20
percent cut to the government. Douglas
speculates that this may have been why the
government eventually called back in as many
Letters of Marque as possible.
In January 1836 the
provisional government, using private
funding, purchased a fleet of four ships:
the Liberty (formerly the William Robbins),
Independence, Invincible and Brutus.
The Liberty managed to overpower the Mexican
Pelicano, which carried "loaded" barrels of
flour. Concealed inside the flour
barrels were gunpowder kegs--providing food
and ammunition to a military starving for
The first navy didn't last
two years. When he Liberty was
detained for repairs in New Orleans, the
bill proved too costly for the Texas
government, so she was auctioned off.
The Independence was captured, the
Invincible destroyed in battle, and the
Brutus lost at sea.
The second Texas Navy
formed in March 1839 with the commissioning
of the Zavala, a steamship. Between
June 1839 and April 1840, the navy grew to
include the San Jacinto, San Antonio, San
Bernard, Wharton and Austin. These
ships patrolled the Gulf while the Potomac,
a former merchant brig, sat permanently in
Galveston's port to protect the harbor.
This new fleet--except for
the anchored Potomac--had many adventures.
There was the short-lived mutiny of the San
Antonio, pulled off by a half-besotted crew.
The drunkards were captured after killing
their lieutenant, but before they reached
shore in a smaller boat. ironically,
their arrest prolonged their lives because
not long after, the San Antonio disappeared,
never to be heard from again, rumored to
have been taken by pirates, or perhaps, to
have turned into a ghost ship.
All this drama climaxed in
January 1843 when the Texas Congress (under
President Sam Houston) passed an act to sell
the entire navy outright. The people
of Galveston put up a mighty protest,
blocking bids at an auction. In March
a disgusted Houston declared all his
republic's navy to be pirates, and invited
friendly countries to capture the Texas
ships and bring them back to Galveston.
Three years later, the remaining ships were
transferred to the U.S.Navy, whereupon all
were deemed unseaworthy.
Despite sundry mishaps, a
glaring lack of financing, and the short
tenure of each incarnation of the Texas
navy, there were moments when the ships and
their men shone.
Douglas, defending the
navies, laments, "History has dealt
unfairly, and unjustly, with the Texan
Navy...as a result, few people to this day
are aware of the misery it caused Mexico,
the prime purpose for which it was sent to
sea. Like the hornet, the Lone Star
Navy was ever small; but, again like the
hornet, it had a stinger--and it
placed that stinger in every port of the
Mexican seacoast from Yucatan to Matamoros."
Did you know?
Have you heard his song? Just
click the link! Popeye thought
he was born in Victoria. Though there
is no proof he really was born here,
it's fun to think Popeye is a
Victoria Native Texan!
Henry Wolff, local historian, said
the 88th Anniversary edition of the
Advocate in 1934 featured a nice
cartoon from cartoonist E.C. Segar
with Popeye saying that "Victoria
is me ol' hometown on account of
tha's where I got born'd at."
King Features syndicated cartoon was
called "Thimble Theatre." The
old Sunday comics were not saved
from that time and it is not known
just when the cartoon made an
appearance in the Advocate, though
there was an advertisement promoting
Thimble Theater and Popeye on April