USS Texas (1892)

The United States Navy's first battleship was the first to bear the name USS "Texas", in honor of Texas, the 28th state.

Commissioning and launch

"Texas" was authorized by the U.S. Congress on 3 August 1886. She was built from British plans developed for a design competition. The prize for the winning design was $15,000. "Texas" and her "sister ship" USS|Maine|ACR-1|2 were unusual in that their armament was mounted "en echelon", projected off to either side ("Texas"' forward turret was off to port and her aft turret to starboard; the arrangement was reversed on "Maine"). This severely limited their ability to fire on a broadsideFact|date=May 2008. "Texas" was a weak design even for her time Fact|date=May 2008. An unfortunate feature of her turrets when she was launched was that they had a fixed loading position; this was corrected later.

Her keel was laid down on 1 June 1889, at Portsmouth, Virginia, by the Norfolk Navy Yard. She was launched on 28 June 1892, sponsored by Miss Madge Houston Williams and commissioned on 15 August 1895, with Captain Henry Glass in command.

Early years

The "Texas" had several unlucky incidents including but not limited to flooding and settling to the bottom of her gun deck at dock in New York and also receiving significant damage to her hull in drydocking. During the period between her commissioning and the Spanish American War in 1898 she obtained a reputation as being a jinxed or unlucky ship and earned the nickname "Old Hoodoo".

Assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, the warship cruised the eastern seaboard of the United States. In February 1897, she left the Atlantic for a brief cruise to the Gulf coast ports of Galveston, Texas, and New Orleans. She resumed Atlantic coast duty in March 1897 and remained so employed until the beginning of 1898. At that time, she visited Key West, Florida, and the Dry Tortugas en route to Galveston for a return visit which she made in mid-February. Returning to the Atlantic via the Dry Tortugas in March, the warship arrived in Hampton Roads on 24 March and resumed normal duty with the North Atlantic Squadron.

panish-American War

Early in the spring, war between the United States and Spain erupted over conditions in Cuba and the supposed Spanish destruction of the armored cruiser "Maine" in Havana harbor in February 1898. By 18 May, under the command of Captain J.W. Philip, "Texas" was at Key West, readying to prosecute that war.

On 21 May, she arrived off Cienfuegos, Cuba, with the Flying Squadron to blockade the Cuban coast. After a return to Key West for coal, "Texas" arrived off Santiago de Cuba on 27 May. She patrolled off that port until 11 June on which day she made a reconnaissance mission to Guantánamo Bay. For the next five weeks, she patrolled between Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo Bay. On 16 June, the warship joined USS|Marblehead|C-11|2 for a bombardment of the fort on Cayo del Tore in Guantánamo Bay. The two ships opened fire just after 1400 and ceased fire about an hour and 16 minutes later, having reduced the fort to impotency.

On 3 July, she was steaming off Santiago de Cuba when the Spanish Fleet under Admiral Cervera made a desperation attempt to escape past the American Fleet. "Texas " took four of the enemy ships under fire immediately. While the battleship's main battery pounded armored cruisers "Vizcaya" and "Cristobal Colon," her secondary battery joined USS|Iowa|BB-4|2, USS|Gloucester|1891|2, and "Indiana" in battering two torpedo-boat destroyers.

The two Spanish destroyers fell out of the action quickly and beached themselves, damaged heavily. One by one, the larger enemy warships also succumbed to the combined fire of the American Fleet. Each, in turn, sheered off toward shore and beached herself. Thus, "Texas" and the other ships of the Flying Squadron annihilated the Spanish Fleet.

The defeat of Cervera's Fleet helped to seal the doom of Santiago de Cuba. The city fell to the besieging American forces on 17 July, just two weeks after the great American naval victory. The day after the surrender at Santiago, Spain sought peace through the good offices of the French government. Even before the peace protocol was signed in Washington, DC, on 12 August, American ships began returning home. "Texas" arrived in New York on 31 July. Captain Philip was promoted to Commodore on 10 August 1898.

In late November, "Texas" moved south to Hampton Roads where she arrived on 2 December. The warship resumed her peacetime routine patrolling the Atlantic coast of the United States. Though her primary field of operations once again centered on the northeastern coast, she also made periodic visits to such places as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Havana, Cuba, where her crew could view some of the results of their own ship's efforts in the recent war.

Post-war service

"Texas" went out of commission briefly in 1901 for repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard but was commissioned again on 3 November 1902. She served as flagship for the Coast Squadron until 1905.

By 1908 she had become the station ship at Charleston, South Carolina. On 15 February 1911, her name was changed to "San Marcos" to allow the name "Texas" to be assigned to Battleship No. 35. On 10 October 1911, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. She was, subsequently, sunk as a target in Tangier Sound in Chesapeake Bay.

References

Alden, John D. "American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989. ISBN 0870212486

Friedman, Norman. "U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870217151

Reilly, John C. and Robert L. Scheina. "American Battleships 1896-1923: Predreadnought Design and Construction." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1980. ISBN 0870215248

External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-t/texas.htm USS Texas (1895-1911), later renamed San Marcos]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/01/texas.htm NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive TEXAS (2nd Class Battleship)]
* [http://www.spanamwar.com/texas.htm USS Texas from The Spanish-American War Centennial Website]


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