Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Mark Dallas Loeffler

SEA KING. In November 1861 a local draftsman and inventor named Robert Creuzbaur submitted a plan to the Texas government that called for the construction of an iron-plated gunboat called the Sea King for service in the Confederate Navy. At the time, the Confederate States of America was in desperate need of a navy capable of breaking the Union blockade. Creuzbaur's vessel was to be made of wood and iron with propellers at the stern and powered by a hot-air engine. He estimated that it would travel at a rate of eighteen miles an hour. In addition to the topside armaments, he proposed that the Sea King should also employ a "submarine cannon." This gun would be below the waterline and would wreak havoc on the wooden hulls of the Union fleet. Half a century before they were first used, he had proposed what eventually became the modern torpedo tube.

Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed a scientific committee composed of William Van Rosenberg, James Brown, and Dr. J. M. Steiner. The Texas legislature also appointed committees to investigate the proposal. These committees subsequently concluded that such a ship potentially could "destroy in a short time the whole naval power of our enemies." On November 25, 1861, the House passed a bill calling for the construction of an effective marine force, and appropriated $500 for Robert Creuzbaur to present his plan to the Confederate War Department in Richmond. It is not known whether or not Creuzbaur presented his plan. Three months later, on March 8 and 9, 1862, the Confederate ironclad Virginia (Merrimack) attacked Union ships in Hampton Roads, near Chesapeake Bay and engaged in a historic battle with the Union ironclad Monitor. The race for ironclads had begun in earnest. Ironclads were built quickly and with little room for innovation or experimentation such as that proposed for the Sea King. War at sea would never again be the same.

Larry Jay Gage, "The Texas Road to Secession and War: John Marshall and the Texas State Gazette, 1860–1861," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 62 (October 1958). House Journal of the Ninth Legislature, First Called Session, February 2, 1863-March 7, 1863 (Austin: Texas State Library, 1963). William N. Still, Jr., Iron Afloat: The Story of Confederate Armorclads (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1971). Texas State Gazette, November 30, 1861.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mark Dallas Loeffler, "SEA KING," accessed March 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox