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USS Texas (1895)

The United States Navy's first battleship was the first to bear the name USS Texas, in honor of Texas, a region that, after being taken from its natives by first Spain and then Mexico, and later becoming an independent republic, was admitted to the United States as the 28th state on 29 December 1845.

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.

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.

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 of 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 the 24 March and resumed normal duty with the North Atlantic Squadron.

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 [[USS Maine (ACR-1)]] 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 Guantanamo Bay. For the next five weeks, she patrolled between Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo Bay. On 16 June, the warship joined Marblehead[?] for a bombardment of the fort on Cayo del Tore[?] in Guantanamo 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 immediately took four of the enemy ships under fire. While the battleship's main battery pounded Vizcaya and Colon, her secondary battery joined Iowa and Gloucester[?] in battering two torpedo-boat destroyers.

The two Spanish destroyers fell out of the action quickly and beached themselves, heavily damaged. 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.

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.

For the other ships of the United States Navy that have borne the name USS Texas, see that index page.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 6316 tons
  • Length: 308.8 feet
  • Beam: 64.1 feet
  • Draft: 22.5 feet mean, 24.5 feet maximum
  • Coal bunker capacity: 850 tons
  • Endurance: 2900 nautical miles at 10 knots
  • Armor
    • Sides: 12 inches
    • Turrets: 12 inches
    • Protective Deck: 2 inches
  • Boiler: Six double-ended cylindrical boilers.
  • Engine: vertical triple expansion engines with a 39-inch stroke generating 8610 horsepower
  • Speed: 17.8 knots
  • Complement: 30 officers, 359 men
  • Armament: two 12-inch guns, six six-inch guns, 12 six-pounders, six one-pounders, four Hotchkiss guns[?], two Colt Gatling guns, one field piece for landing parties), four 14-inch torpedo tubes
  • Cost: US$2,500,000

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