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Texas

 

(Str)

 

Texas, belonging to the Texas Line of Charles H. Morgan's Southern Steamship Co., was one of the group seized by Louisiana Governor Moore at New Orleans, 28 April 1861, and is the second ship mentioned in Secretary of War Benjamin's 14 January 1862 order to Gen. Mansfield Lovell to "impress immediately for public service the 14 ships hereafter named * * *" Although she was probably surveyed by the CSN for a wooden gunboat along with the other Morgan liners, we found no record of her being armed. The army probably kept her; several references in 1862-63 indicate she was a valued troop transport or supply steamer or both as local military needs directed. General Pemberton ordered her from the Red to the Big Black River in March 1863; Admiral Porter was alerted to capture her in that area before 1 June but, whether burned or seized by the Federals, she does not appear again in records now available.

 

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(SwStr: t. 800; a. 8 guns; cpl. 125 to 150)

 

CS Privateer Texas' prospective owner and captain, Charles de Montel of Castroville, Medina County, Tex., applied 8 January 1863 at San Antonio for a letter of marque to commission a vessel alleged to be already his property—although it appears from the documents that he was then a soldier "in a frontier company as captain and soon to be mustered out." Captain de Montel being "an old sailor who has seen service and is besides a very brave and energetic man," his application in absentia was apparently accepted by President Davis. Texas, therefore, may have served the Confederacy out of Corpus Christi or elsewhere, but subsequent activity has not been preserved in records now available.

 

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(Corvette: t. 1,500; l. 220'; b. 30'; dr. 16'; s. 14 k.; a. 14 30-pdr. r.)

 

The steam corvette Texas was intended for but did not join the CSN. Secretary of the Navy S. R. Mallory, writing Comdr. James D. Bulloch, CSN, in Paris, 22 February 1864, directs that "* * * your four corvettes * * * may be called Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia." Two, camouflaged under the names of Osacca and Yeddo, were then building at Bordeaux by the firm of L. Arman, while the other pair, masquerading as San Francisco (presumably intended to be Texas)and Shanghai, took shape in the yards of Jollet, Babier, and of Th. Dubigeon & Sons at Nantes; their 400-hp. engines were fabricated by Mazeline of Havre. The four are described as being full-rigged large ships with beautiful poop cabins, large topgallant foc'sles, iron spars and a large spread of canvas. Prussia bought the Bordeaux-built pair and Peru the Nantes corvettes when the French Government stopped their sale to the Confederacy.

 

Texas, rechristened America in the Peruvian Navy, was lost in the tidal wave and earthquake at Arica, Chile, in 1868.

 

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(Composite (wood & iron) ScStr: t. 1,000; 1. 230'; b. 32'; dph. 20')

 

The cruiser secretly assigned the name Texas was unable to serve the Confederacy at sea, but rumors of her potential as a commerce raider roused such hopes and fears that she is of considerable historical importance.

 

About 3 November 1863 she was Clyde launched as Pampero at James & George Thomson's Clyde Bank Iron Shipyard, Glasgow. It was by then clear that the corvette Texas (q.v.) would not be released by France. At Clydebank she was alternatively known as Canton, but more often referred to in Confederate correspondence as "Sinclair's ship" (Comdr. George T. Sinclair, CSN, supervised her construction). Flag Officer Samuel Barron, heading the CSN procurement commission in Paris, wrote just after her launch, "She is advertised for cargo, and there are hopes of getting her out of the waters of Great Britain without serious embarrassment. She is an uncommonly fine vessel in all respects, and if we get possession of her she will do good service against the commerce of our enemies * * *" Notable features included a lifting screw to eliminate drag when under sail only and a handy telescopic funnel.

 

Texas' dimensions and appearance were very similar to Alabama's except that the former had a poop and topgallant forecastle. Both were bark-rigged with iron fore and mainmasts, capable of a wide spread of canvas, and patent reefing topsails.

 

Too early fame proved Texas' undoing: a sketch of her, captioned with accurate dimensions from Clyde-bank, even appeared in The Illustrated London News, 2 January 1864. The U.S. Minister in London was only too well aware of the specter of a new and improved Alabama; both Union and British observers kept "Pampero" and the Confederate agents under closest surveillance. By November 1864, Commodore Barron had bowed to the inevitable and wrote from Paris on the 9th to Secretary of the Navy Mallory, "* * * I have discountenanced all idea of selling the Texas. True, we certainly can never get her out during the continuance of hostilities; but she is a fine vessel, and in the event of an armistice she could be got out in a week. I shall, therefore, retain Commander Sinclair out here until further orders from the department."

 

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(IrcRam. l. 217'; b. 50'4"; loaded draft 13'6"; dph. 13'; cpl. 50; a 4 pivots, 2 broadside guns; type Columbia)

 

CSS Texas was a twin-screw ironclad in an outfitting berth at Richmond which her builders failed to blow up before evacuating the Navy Yard in the Confederate capital on 3 April 1865. Launched about mid-January, Texas was seized by Union forces who moved her to Norfolk Navy Yard, where she was sold 15 October 1867. A sister to Columbia with shortened casemate, she is generally regarded as one of the most valuable hulls ever constructed for the Confederacy.

 

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(SwStr: t. 1,223 [1,151])

 

Texas was one of the 14 Morgan liners seized at New Orleans by Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell, 15 January 1862, acting under Secretary of War Benjamin's oft quoted order. She was built at New York City in November 1852 as a wooden, full-rigged ship and altered in April 1856 to a paddlewheel steamer. One source indicates she was under foreign flag in 1860, however unlikely this may appear to be. Although equipped with low-pressure steam plant, Texas was considered too large for a cottonclad ram; she proved far more valuable as a Government-operated blockade runner, completing 13 runs to Havana with large cotton cargoes, returning with saltpetre, arms and ammunition.