Hawkins, Charles Edward (1802–1837)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 29, 2022

Charles Edward Hawkins, naval officer, was born in New York in 1802. He served as a midshipman in the United States Navy until 1826, when he followed David Porter in submitting his resignation and accepting a commission in the Mexican navy. As captain of the Hermón he saw action in the Gulf against the Spanish fleet attempting to suppress the Mexican bid for independence. In 1828 he resigned from Mexican service and for a time worked as a river captain on the Chattahoochee. He subsequently was involved with Col. José Antonio Mexía as a filibuster on the abortive Tampico expedition. In 1836 he visited Texas governor Henry Smith, seeking a commission in the new Texas Navy. Smith was impressed with his credentials and sent him to New Orleans, where he was given command of the newly acquired Independence, formerly the United States revenue cutter Ingham. He had returned to Texas with the ship by January 10, 1836. From that time until March 1 Hawkins cruised the coast between Galveston and Tampico, destroying "a considerable number of small craft, with all material on board that could be used to the injury of Texas." By March 12 he had taken the Independence to New Orleans for refitting. He then returned to Matagorda and was promoted to the rank of commodore and command of the entire Texas Navy. With the Runaway Scrape and the retreat of Sam Houston's army after the twin disasters of the Alamo and Goliad, Hawkins was forced to move his home port up the Texas coast from Matagorda to Galveston. After the Texas victory at San Jacinto (see SAN JACINTO, BATTLE OF) he ordered his fleet to blockade Matamoros, but soon the need for repairs sent the Invincible and the Brutus to port and reduced his numbers to a single ship, his own. Even the Independence required refitting at New Orleans in mid-September. There, in February 1837, Hawkins died of smallpox at the home of a Mrs. Hale. He was buried in the Girod Street Cemetery in New Orleans on February 12, 1837. Upon his death he was replaced as captain of the Independence by George W. Wheelwright. See also TEXAS REVOLUTION.

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 in Forgotten Battles and Shirtsleeve Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937; rpt., Austin: State House, 1987). Tom Henderson Wells, Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960).

  • Military
  • Mexican Revolution
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Mexican Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Hawkins, Charles Edward,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hawkins-charles-edward.

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April 29, 2022

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