Texas Military Forces Museum, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas

Uniforms of the Republic of Texas

Summer Whites

This was the summer uniform for seamen. The hand made straw hat is the same as worn by the midshipman in Plate 18. According to Hefter and others, a peculiarity of Texas Navy uniforms was a red scarf. They seem to be basing this on a certain packet of documents in the Mexican archives discovered by Hefter. They describe a raid on the Mexican coastal town of Dizlam (Silam or Silan in Texas documents) in 1837 by the Invincible and Brutus, ships of the first Texas Navy. These first-hand accounts were in 1976 translated and published in a bulletin by the Rosenberg Library of Galveston.

While these are indeed interesting eyewitness descriptions of the ships, flag, and weaponry of the Texians, several readings of the translation fail to locate any description of the Texian uniforms. So where actual documentation of the red scarves can be found cannot be determined. This is not to say Hefter was wrong. There might be still other documentation in the Mexican archives he was aware of, but unknown to those who follow his work. It is certain they wore black kerchiefs, for many black silk handkerchiefs are mentioned in the inventories of the Navy Yard and the vessels of the fleet. For this reason the kerchiefs shown in Plate 19 and Plate 20 are black. Vests of white duck were worn in summer.

For want of a better designation, I call the banner in the background the variant flag. As mentioned earlier, it is a blend of the Hawkins and lone star flags. It was the least used by the Texas Navy. About the only mention of it is in the Dizlan documents. The depositions of two eyewitnesses describe it. Francisco Sosa: "They went up to the forest edge to fasten their flag which was green at its beginning and the end (was) some white and red stripes with a star in the green." Apolinario Lisama: "Said flag was green near the staff side with a white star and on the remainder were red and white stripes."

Hefter shows this flag in one of his uniform plates on the second navy with the field next to the staff green, as described by the Mexicans. But it is not likely that any Texas Navy flag had such a green field. A footnote in the Rosenberg Library translation offers the most plausible explanation. "This was probably a Texas Navy flag or ensign with the blue faded to an aquamarine or blue-green by the salt spray."

While officers were entitled to wear swords, aboard ship the favorite of officers and men was a "basket-hilted cut and thrust" not to exceed thirty inches in length nor to be less than twenty-six inches, and to be slightly curved. While regulations have it under swords it appears to better fit the description of a cutlass.

Copyright 1998 by Bruce Marshall All Rights Reserved
Text and images copyright 1998 by Bruce Marshall. All rights reserved.

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