Brashear, William C. (ca. 1812–1849)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: April 25, 2019

William C. Brashear, naval officer of the Republic of Texas, the son of Sarah Brashear, was born about 1812. He came to Texas from Kentucky during the Texas Revolution and served as a second lieutenant in Capt. James Pope Price's company of Kentucky Volunteers, but his company arrived too late to fight in the battle of San Jacinto, and on August 6, 1836, Brashear was detached for duty aboard the brig Hope. In an undated document apparently written later in 1836, Thomas Jefferson Chambers referred to Brashear as "a very respectable young officer" attached to Col. C. S. Harrison's battalion.

Brashear was placed in command of the steam warship Zavala in October 1841 while she lay in ordinary. In March 1842 he was faced with the unpleasant duty of running his ship aground in Galveston harbor to keep her from sinking, after the government refused to appropriate funds to patch her leaks. With the loss of his ship, Brashear was appointed to command of the Galveston Navy Yard in the autumn of 1842.

Soon thereafter he resigned from the Texas Navy and, by the end of 1842, was contemplating leaving Texas to seek service in the Russian navy. This prompted President Sam Houston to write his regrets to Brashear on January 7, 1843, that Texas had not provided "a theater of action worthy of your generous emulation." On July 19, 1843, Houston nominated Brashear as a lieutenant in the Texas Navy, and the Senate confirmed the nomination on the same day. At the same time, he was appointed naval commissioner in place of Col. James Morgan, a close friend of Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, whom President Houston relieved of command on July 19, 1843. In that capacity Brashear presided over the dismantling of the first navy of the Republic of Texas and, despite his personal distaste for Houston's treatment of his former commander, was summoned to testify against Moore at his court-martial. In February 1844, when Texas was negotiating with the United States for a treaty of annexation, Houston instructed J. Pinckney Henderson in Washington, D.C., to attempt to secure a commission in the United States Navy for Brashear if the treaty were confirmed. Houston described Brashear and three of his fellow officers as "worthy of their rank and gentlemen who will obey orders." On September 24, 1844, Brashear was promoted to commander.

He died in Beltsville, Maryland, on October 31, 1849. His mother petitioned the Texas Committee on Naval Affairs, on April 28, 1858, for the five years' pay granted to naval officers of the Republic of Texas upon annexation. Sam Houston responded that Brashear had always conducted himself in such a way as to win "my approval and admiration."

Alex Dienst, "The Navy of the Republic of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 12–13 (January-October 1909; rpt., Fort Collins, Colorado: Old Army Press, 1987). C. L. Douglas, Thunder on the Gulf: The Story of the Texas Navy (Dallas: Turner, 1936; rpt., Fort Collins, Colorado: Old Army Press, 1973). Jim Dan Hill, The Texas Navy (New York: Barnes, 1962). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Texas State Gazette, November 24, 1849. Tom Henderson Wells, Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Brashear, William C.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2019