Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: October 1, 1995

The sidewheeler Zavala, carrying a complement of 126 men and having a top speed of sixteen knots, was bought for $120,000 in November 1838 and commissioned in the Texas Navy on March 23, 1839. It had been built in 1836 by shipwrights John Vaughan and Son of Philadelphia as a steam packet with a passenger capacity of 120 and was christened the Charleston. The ship was 201 feet long, with a beam 24 feet wide, a hold 12 feet deep, and a carrying capacity of 569 tons. It served the Philadelphia-Charleston route until it was commissioned and renamed for Lorenzo de Zavala. Capt. A. C. Hinton was its first commander. Capt. John T. K. Lothrop took command of the Zavala on March 4, 1840. With the Austin and the San Bernard, the Zavala took part in the capture of San Juan Bautista (now Villahermosa) in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, on November 20, 1840, returning to Galveston in February 1841. The Zavala was laid up because of lack of funds and, although needed badly on several occasions, was allowed to rot. By May 1842 it was in such poor condition that it was run aground in Galveston Bay to prevent its sinking, and in 1844 it was broken up and sold for scrap. The wreck of the Zavala (archeological site 41GV95) was located in November 1986 by an expedition undertaken jointly by the National Underwater and Marine Agency and the Texas Antiquities Committee under the direction of Clive Cussler and J. Barto Arnold III.

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). 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.

Anonymous, “Zavala,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995