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Thomas W. Cutrer General Entry

The brig Wharton, a warship of the Navy of the Republic of Texas, was constructed by the Baltimore firm Schott and Whitney and delivered to the Texas government on October 18, 1839. The Wharton, sister ship of the Archer, was 110 feet long and twenty-eight feet across the beam and had a displacement of 405 tons and a draft of eleven feet. She carried a complement of seventeen officers and 123 sailors and marines and was armed with fifteen eighteen-pound medium and one nine-pound long cannon. The ship, originally called the Colorado, was rechristened in honor of John Austin Wharton, a hero of the battle of San Jacinto. The Wharton was commanded by Capt. Edwin Ward Moore from November 1839 through February 1840. In April she was in ordinary under the command of Lt. James E. Gibbons and, later, Commander George W. Wheelwright. Back on active duty in January 1842, she was commanded by Commander John T. K. Lothrop, who served as her captain until July 1843. On April 18, 1842, the Wharton brought word to Commodore Moore's squadron off the Yucatán port of Sisal that the Republic of Texas had declared a blockade of the Mexican coast and remained in Mexican waters to help with its enforcement. Returning to her home port of Galveston, the Wharton witnessed the almost total loss of her crew to expiring enlistments and desertions and, in May 1842, sailed to New Orleans for much-needed repairs with only nine sailors. After receiving a complete overhaul and recruiting a new crew at New Orleans, the Wharton and Moore's flagship, the Austin, set out for a final cruise off the Mexican coast, on April 19, 1843. They sailed to Campeche and there engaged the Mexican steam frigate Moctezuma on April 30. Although the Austin and the Wharton succeeded in temporarily driving the Mexican fleet from Yucatán waters, the Wharton was struck by a sixty-eight-pound shot and lost two men killed and four wounded when one of her own guns exploded during the two days of fighting. A return engagement with the Mexican fleet on May 16, 1843, resulted in a clear Texan victory, an engraving of which later adorned the cylinder of the famous Colt Navy revolver. The Austin and the Wharton left Mexican waters on June 25 and arrived at Galveston on July 14, 1843, effectively bringing to an end the active service of the Texas navy. On May 11, 1846, the Wharton was transferred to the United States Navy, which in turn sold the ship to the city of Galveston for fifty-five dollars on November 30, 1846.

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).

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Wharton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.