Sea King

By: Mark Dallas Loeffler

Type: General Entry

Published: June 1, 1995

In November 1861 a local draftsman and inventor named Robert Creuzbaur submitted a plan to the Texas government that called for the construction of an iron-plated gunboat called the Sea King for service in the Confederate Navy. At the time, the Confederate States of America was in desperate need of a navy capable of breaking the Union blockade. Creuzbaur's vessel was to be made of wood and iron with propellers at the stern and powered by a hot-air engine. He estimated that it would travel at a rate of eighteen miles an hour. In addition to the topside armaments, he proposed that the Sea King should also employ a "submarine cannon." This gun would be below the waterline and would wreak havoc on the wooden hulls of the Union fleet. Half a century before they were first used, he had proposed what eventually became the modern torpedo tube.

Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed a scientific committee composed of William Van Rosenberg, James Brown, and Dr. J. M. Steiner. The Texas legislature also appointed committees to investigate the proposal. These committees subsequently concluded that such a ship potentially could "destroy in a short time the whole naval power of our enemies." On November 25, 1861, the House passed a bill calling for the construction of an effective marine force, and appropriated $500 for Robert Creuzbaur to present his plan to the Confederate War Department in Richmond. It is not known whether or not Creuzbaur presented his plan. Three months later, on March 8 and 9, 1862, the Confederate ironclad Virginia (Merrimack) attacked Union ships in Hampton Roads, near Chesapeake Bay and engaged in a historic battle with the Union ironclad Monitor. The race for ironclads had begun in earnest. Ironclads were built quickly and with little room for innovation or experimentation such as that proposed for the Sea King. War at sea would never again be the same.

Larry Jay Gage, "The Texas Road to Secession and War: John Marshall and the Texas State Gazette, 1860–1861," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 62 (October 1958). House Journal of the Ninth Legislature, First Called Session, February 2, 1863-March 7, 1863 (Austin: Texas State Library, 1963). William N. Still, Jr., Iron Afloat: The Story of Confederate Armorclads (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1971). Texas State Gazette, November 30, 1861.
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Mark Dallas Loeffler, “Sea King,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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