The story of the Texas Navy is one of the most compelling yet unknown sagas in the history of the Lone Star State. Created in the throes of revolution, the First Texas Navy played a vital role in helping Texas win her independence from Mexico. The Second Texas Navy was one of the most active military elements of the Republic of Texas – its actions highlighting the struggles of a young country trying to maintain its sovereignty and establish itself among the family of nations. Despite this, the story of the Texas Navy is not generally known. Moreover, it is mentioned only in passing in our schools and receives scant attention in other venues. A few museums around the state, mostly along the coast, have minor exhibits on the Texas Navy. Generally speaking, however, it is treated as a sidebar.
The Texas Military Forces Museum has changed that fact.
In November 2013 the museum opened a major expansion, renovation and redesign of its 19th Century gallery. Among the features of this new 3,600-square foot gallery is a dramatic exhibit highlighting the role that both the First and Second Texas Navy played in the early years of the Republic. The exhibit – funded by the Texas Military Forces Historical Foundation and the Texas Navy Association (www.texasnavy.org ) – is experiential and allows visitors to stroll up a gangplank onto a replicated ship’s deck and view a recreated bulkhead, complete with a cannon on a naval gun carriage “run out” and ready to fire through its gun port. The cannon is a replica of the famous “golden standard” which was captured from the Mexican Army at San Jacinto and turned over to the Texas Navy afterwards. A similar bulkhead, minus the cannon, graces the wall on the opposite side of the room. Large format exhibit panels detailing the history of the Texas Navy are mounted on the surrounding walls.
In just the first month of its existence, this environment has already proven very popular with our visitors, but it is merely a portion of the complete Texas Navy exhibit that is planned. In order to finish the project as designed and enhance its ability to resonate with younger visitors and students of the computer/video generation, the museum plans to mount an interactive touch screen monitor that will allow visitors to summon detailed information about the ships of the Texas Navy, its personnel, its uniforms and its battles.
In addition the museum plans to emplace a state-of-the art, lifelike mannequin wearing a meticulously accurate, hand sewn reproduction of a Texas Navy gunner’s uniform in the exhibit. This cutting-edge, custom-made mannequin/sculpture is the type being used at the Museum of the United States Marines Corps, the Museum of the United States Army (currently under construction), the Chickamauga National Battlefield, Mount Vernon and other prominent historic sites around the country. Another planned piece of the exhibit is the recreation of a “Lone Star and Stripes” flag of the size and type flown from Texas Navy warships.
We are still raising funds to help complete this exhibit. You can help fund the final phases of the Texas Navy exhibit here: http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org//donate-to-the-museum/
Or contact the museum for more information.