Flags of the Texas Navy: The Lone Star Ensign


The Lone Star Ensign (1839-45)

According to Charles A. Spain, Jr., writing in the February 1992 South Texas Law Review, the Republic of Texas Congress approved the familiar Lone Star Flag – essentially identical to the modern Texas state flag – for use as the national ensign at sea as well as on land on January 25, 1839. Although the wording of the legislation is ambiguous on this point, Spain cites the Senate committee report on the act, that makes clear the legislators’ intent that the new design would serve for the Texas Navy as well (emphasis added):

In the early part of the Year 1836 when the army and navy of the Republic of Texas were engaged in War against the Enemy, which resulted in the achievement of our Independence, the President ad interim devised the National flag and Seal, as it were in a case of emmergency [sic] adopting the flag of the United States of America, with very little alteration, which act was subsequently ratified by the Law of 10th Dec 1836.

The then adopted flag was expedient for the time being, and has in many instances been beneficial to our Navy and Merchantmen, when encountered by the enemy forces, on account of being so much blended with the flag of the United States of America but the emergency has passed, and the future prospects of Texas are of such flattering nature that the National Independence requires that her Arms, Seal, and Standard assume also an Independent character, by a form, which will not blend them with those of any other nation.

There is contemporary, primary-source evidence of the Lone Star Ensign being used by the Texas Navy. There is a well-known sketch dated 1841 of the Texas schooner San Antonio, that clearly shows the Lone Star Ensign flying from the gaff. Further, there is a hand-tinted print of the famous Colt revolver cylinder engraving of the Battle of Campeche of May 16, 1843, signed by Commodore Moore himself, that clearly shows the flagship Austin and the brig Wharton flying the Lone Star Ensign as they go into action against the Mexican Navy.



Charles A. Spain, Jr., “The Flags and Seals of Texas.” South Texas Law Review, 33(1), February 1992.