The Texan sloop-of-war Austin.
Few realize it today, but the Texas Revolution started at sea, and it was at sea its hard-won independence was saved by the little-known Texas Navy.
On September 1, 1835, the armed merchantman San Felipe thwarted an attempted boarding by a Mexican war sloop. Aboard San Felipe were revolutionaries Stephen Austin and Don Lorenzo de Zavala. Their near escape from the Mexican navy made them realized that with Texas’ immense coastline and its reliance on maritime trade, war with Mexico would mean a war at sea. Texas needed a navy.
The Texas provisional government bought a 70-ton former privateer with four to six small guns and renamed her Liberty. Next came the Invincible, a former slave trader with six short-range carronades and a nine-pound swivel gun. Brutus, a 160-tonner armed with a long 18-pounder and nine short guns, followed. The last ship in the fledgling navy was the Independence. At about 170 tons…