Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“She will sustain the reputation of Baltimore-built vessels”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 20, 2013

SchoonerAfter the blockade off Galveston was established by the arrival of U.S.S. South Carolina on July 2, 1861, one of Captain James Alden, Jr.’s first captures, on July 6, was the local pilot boat Sam Houston. The little schooner was condemned as a prize and taken into the U.S. Navy. She was armed with a single, 12-pounder smooth-bore gun, and spent most of the rest of the war running dispatches, chasing down blockade runners, and serving as a guard boat at various places around the Gulf of Mexico. After the war Sam Houston was decommissioned and sold at auction to one J. B. Walton on April 25, 1866 for $1,998.70, at New Orleans. She was sold again the following month and re-enrolled at Galveston; her last enrollment document recorded was at Galveston in the spring of 1870.

Most sources, including the ORN, do not provide many details about this little boat, but this evening I came across this description of the schooner in the Galveston Civilian and Gazette Weekly, February 7, 1860:


A Handsome Vessel. — Mr. Rutter, from his ship-yard, Canton [Maryland], expects to launch to-morrow at non, a beautiful pilot boat, built for Mssrs. Davidson, J. E. Davidson, T. Chubb, T. H. Chubb, and Z. Sabel, of Galveston, Texas, and especiall[y] designed as an opposition boat for the Galveston bar. She is seventy tons burden; 65 feet in length; 18 feet beam; and hold 6 1/2 feet. She will draw five feet forward and 8 feet aft. Her mainmast is 56 feet in length, foremast 63 feet, and bowsprit 14 1/2 feet outboard; the main boom is 35 1/2 feet in length, all showing that she will spread a large amount of canvas. She is of the most approved model, built of the best materials, and extra fastened and bolted throughout, rendering her very substantial. She has been named Sam Houston in honor of the distinguished governor of Texas. She has been coppered on the stocks, and will be ready for sailing in a few days after launching. Her appearance indicates that she will sustain the reputation of Baltimore-built vessels, by her sailing qualities. — Baltimore Sun, 18th Jan.


Her postwar registration documents give her a length between perpendiculars of 59 feet 4 inches, with a square stern and an eagle carved into her stem. Must have been a beautiful little vessel, and well-built, to still be serviceable after almost five years ‘ hard naval service. I’d say she lived up to expectation.




6 Responses

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  1. Jeff Bell said, on January 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

    These little boats were apparently very tough and seaworthy – my GGGG Grandfather was ship’s carpenter on a pilot boat called “Anonyma”, 75 tons burthen, built in Boston in 1847. This little schooner carried him “round the Horn in 1849 and arrived in San Francisco after a voyage of 160 days with a crew of six and three passengers. She then served as a coastal trader and pilot boat in California during the Gold Rush. I haven’t been able to find a drawing of this vessel but I think the one of the “Sam Houston” would be a fairly fine likeness.

    • Andy Hall said, on January 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

      And ultimately wrecked in Australia, for goodness sake. Remarkable.

      One note — the picture at the top of the post is not specifically Sam Houston, but a generic period advertising cut of the same type of vessel.

    • Ann g. said, on July 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Jeff, I am researching the Anonyma also Was your GGGG grandfather Josiah L. Cole who married Sarah Elizabeth Treadwell? Is she related to Captain charles T. Treadwell, of Boston? and what do you know about the Anonyma after she arrived in San Francisco (Jun 1849) and before she sailed (Feb. 1853) for Sydney and Melbourne? Ann G.

  2. Jeff Bell said, on January 23, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Thanks Andy – I was unaware of the fate of the Anonyma until now

  3. Ann g. said, on July 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Hi saw your post about the boston pilot boat, Anonyma, 75 tons, Captain Charlles T.. Traedwell, from Boston, Rio, Montevideo and San Francisco. I belive she was a pilot boat in San Francisco and carried cargo on the Sacramento River in 1849. Then I lose track of her until late 1852 at Honolulu. Do you know much about her from late 1849 to late 1852. The Australian wreckage site says no know drawing/photo of her exists . But a GOOGLE IMAGE search of “anonyma australia” brings up a “‘anonyma schooner , 1847-1859” that might be her. Ann

  4. Ann G. said, on July 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Jeff. There is also a painting that can be viewed at RICHARD LINTON MARITIME ART that depicts the Clipper Lightning, the pilot cutter Corsair, and mentions the pilot schooner Anonyma at Port Philip Bay in 1855. I am not sure if she is one of the small boats in the distance. Ann G.

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