Confederate Naval Works of Goose Creek

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J. D. Stevens

Dec 11, 2016
Deep In The Heart of Texas
In 2006 the good folks of Baytown, Texas began putting together a plan and organizing the funding to place a Historical Marker on Goose Creek at Bayland Island Park to raise awareness of the Confederate Naval Works of Goose Creek, built by the Chubb brothers in the 1850's. As many as 6 ships were built and several repaired during the Civil war. The marker was dedicated in March 2008.

Captain Thomas Henry Chubb and his brother John Chubb were pioneer residents and early mariners of the Texas Gulf Coast. In the 1854, the brothers purchased approximately 56 acres on the east bank at the mouth of Goose Creek from Mary Jones, wife of President Anson Jones. Captain Thomas Chubb became a close friend of Sam Houston, who later appointed Thomas as Admiral of the Texas Navy. Thomas reciprocated by building a ship for the Confederacy and naming it the Sam Houston in honor of his friend.

Originally from Charlestown, Massachusetts Thomas Henry and brother John originally settled in Galveston. Thomas came in 1830 at age 19 and John in 1839. Captain Charles Chubb, their father, ran a rope-making business, but both sons entered the shipping trade instead. Sailing around most of the world, Thomas Chubb ran slaves from the African Gold Coast to the West Indies. At one time, he owned a traveling circus. He built the Federal Street Theater in Boston. Thomas Chubb enlisted in the Confederate States Army, Texas Marine Division, and received appointment in September 1861 as Assistant Superintendent of Coastal Defenses of Texas.

Situated on the east bank of Goose Creek at the mouth of Tabbs Bay, the land the Chubb brothers purchased became a Confederate Naval Works during the Civil War. Texans knew the Union had the industrial advantage during the war and private ventures such as that of the brothers were essential to the Confederacy.

Thomas Chubb also served in the Texas Marine Department, an element of the Confederate States Army operating independently of the Confederate Navy. Thomas obtained the rank of Captain and later became superintendent of the Confederate Naval Works. The design and structure of ships built at the Goose Creek shipyard were integral to the Department's effectiveness in running the Union blockade. The shallow draft of the centerboard schooners made them suitable for blockade running in shallow areas of the Gulf of Mexico, where deep draft vessels could not pass.

After the Civil War, Thomas returned to Galveston and served as the Harbor Master until shortly before his death. Obtaining the rank of Commodore, Thomas Chubb died in 1890. The last ship built by the Chubb's was the Coquette in 1891 and was most likely built by John. The following year, the Thomas B. Gaillard family purchased the land where the shipyard was located and established Gaillard's Landing. The Gaillard holdings eventually gave way to the oil fields known as the Goose Creek Oil Field - starting point of the Exxon Mobil oil dynasty.

Ships built on Goose Creek:

CSS Royal Yacht b:1855 (refitted at Goose Creek Nov 1861 till Oct 1862) - no record of registration - April 15, 1863 captured as a blockade runner in Key West Florida with 97 bales of "her best cotton".

CSS Henrietta - sloop, registration in Galveston - involved in skirmish July 1, 1864 - Captured as a blockade runner off Tampa, Florida by the USS Merrimac with a load of cotton.

Marguereta - schooner, no record of registration

Bagdad - 1864 schooner, no record of registration

Altha Brooks - schooner, registered CSN Mar 28, 1863

Phoebe - schooner - built prior civil war, registered CSN Nov 28, 1864, named after Thomas' first wife

Historical Marker dedicated in 2008
CSA Naval Works @ Goose Creek Marker.jpg

Artist's conception of Thomas Chubb's Confederate Boatyard on Goose Creek. Cedar pilings blockade the mouth of the stream. The drawing shows the "Royal Yacht" and the "Bagdad" under construction.
Goose Creek Shipyard.jpg

Location of marker and shipyard on Goose Creek
Goose Creek Shipyard Map 2.JPG
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