Battle of Galveston Harbor (1837)

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Battle of Galveston Harbor
Part of Texas War of Independence
Texas Schooner Invincible.jpg
Invincible engaging two Mexican warships in Galveston Harbor.
Date August 26, 1837
Location off Galveston, Texas
Result Decisive Mexican victory
End of the First Texas Navy
 Mexico  Republic of Texas
Commanders and leaders
unknown Republic of Texas Henry L. Thompson
2 brigs 2 schooners
Casualties and losses
1 brig damaged 1 schooner sunk
1 schooner grounded
For the 1862 battle see Battle of Galveston Harbor (1862).

The Battle of Galveston Harbor, or the Battle of Galveston Bay[1] was a naval engagement between the Republic of Texas and Mexico in Galveston Harbor on August 26, 1837. After the end of the Texas Revolution in 1836, Mexico and the newly declared Republic of Texas sporadically fought at sea. Texas was hoping to gain independence, while Mexico was hoping to reassert control over Texas.[2]


On August 26, 1837, Texas Navy ship Invincible, commanded by Commodore Henry L. Thompson, escorted Brutus into Galveston harbor. Brutus had a Mexican prize vessel, Obispo, in tow. Invincible anchored in the channel overnight and the next day she was assailed by Vencedor del Alamo and Libertador. Brutus cleared for action and attempted to assist Invincible but she ran aground on a sandbar at the entrance to the harbor, leaving Invincible to engage the two Mexican warships alone.

A map of the region.

The two Mexican craft attempted to board the Texan vessel several times but were forced to break off their close-quarters actions because of Invincible '​s maneuverability. After a prolonged engagement, the Invincible attempted to flee from the battle, but due to the shallow tide, she snagged her rudder on the harbor bar and ran aground. Invincible was then pounded to pieces by the breakers until her hull completely disappeared in the next 48 hours.[2][1]


The wreck of the Invincible, 1837.

With the wreck of the schooners Invincible and Brutus, the First Texas Navy was at an end. The Texas government then began to procure new vessels for a second Texas Navy. The wreck site of one of the participating ships may have been discovered in 1995 by the National Undersea Marine Agency.[2]


  1. ^ a b Commodore Henry Livingstone Thompson by William P. Haddock
  2. ^ a b c "Invincible". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  • Invincible. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  • Montezuma. Official website of the Texas Navies. The Texas Navy Association. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  • Neu, C.T. (April, 1909), "The Case of the Brig Pocket", Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 12: 276–295
  • Hill, Jim Dan (1937). The Texas Navy, in Forgotten Battles and Shirtsleeve Diplomacy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wright, Mark (summer, 2007), Reading the Papers, TCU Magazine.
  • Invincible. National Undersea Marine Agency. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.