Moore, Edwin Ward (1810–1865)

By: Marie Giles

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: March 1, 1995

Edwin Ward Moore, naval officer, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, on July 15, 1810. He attended Alexandria Academy, entered the United States Navy as a midshipman on January 1, 1825, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1835. He was stationed on the Hornet of the West Indian squadron and on the Fairfield of the Mediterranean and West Indian squadrons. In 1835 he was made lieutenant, and in July 1839 he resigned from the Boston to become commander of the Texas Navy. The winter of 1839–40 Moore spent in New York City enlisting seamen, and in 1840–41 he sailed off the Mexican coast to hasten peace negotiations between Texas and Mexico. On collapse of the negotiations, he swept the Mexican ships off the Gulf of Mexico, made a de facto alliance with the Yucatán rebels, and captured the town of Tabasco. He then surveyed the Texas coast and made a chart that was later published by the British Admiralty. On September 18, 1841, Moore received orders to guard the Yucatán coast in conformity with the Texas-Yucatán treaty and on December 13, 1841, left Galveston with three ships to join the Yucatán fleet at Sisal. He captured several Mexican vessels and returned to Galveston. Moore was then commissioned by President Sam Houston to blockade the Mexican coast. When funds for the blockade were withheld, Moore, financed by Yucatán, joined to break the Mexican blockade of Yucatán, thereby saving Federalist Yucatecans from hasty peace with Centralist Antonio López de Santa Anna.

By June 25, 1843, the Texas Navy controlled the Gulf. On June 1, 1843, Moore had received Houston's proclamation accusing him of disobedience and suspending him from the Texas Navy; so Moore returned to Galveston on July 14 and demanded a trial. A joint report of navy committees in the Texas Congress recommended a court-martial to try him for disobedience, contumacy, mutiny, piracy, and murder. In response, Moore published To the People of Texas (1843), a personal vindication and account of the navy. The court found Moore not guilty except on four minor charges, and Congress gave him the right to continue in the navy. After the dissolution of the Texas Navy, Moore spent many years in prosecuting financial claims against Texas. In 1857 Congress awarded him five years' pay. He was in New York for a time attempting to perfect a machine to revolutionize marine engineering. In 1849 he married Emma (Stockton) Cox of Philadelphia. His quarrel with Sam Houston over the justness of his suspension from the navy continued during Houston's senatorship. In 1860 Moore returned to Galveston, where he built the Galveston Customhouse. He died in New York City on October 5, 1865. Moore County in the Panhandle is named for him.

Dictionary of American Biography. 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). Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). 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).
Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Texas Revolution

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

Marie Giles, “Moore, Edwin Ward,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995