By 1840, a year after its incorporation, the city of Galveston was home to approximately 1,200 residents, the entry point for scores of immigrants and a major coastal shipping port. Ongoing tensions between the young Republic of Texas and Mexico had led to the creation of several volunteer militia groups. On September 13 of that year, a group primarily composed of local businessmen and their clerks organized the Galveston Artillery Company. The group received its charter in January 1841 to protect the harbor and the city. Members elected John Howe as captain, and he appointed A.C. Crawford, L.E. Nordman, W. Denny, C. Frankland and E.O. Lynch, as well as four sergeants and four corporals, as the company's first officers.
The company participated locally in parades, drills, musters and Battle of San Jacinto commemorations, and the group became known for its lavish annual balls. The Texas government rarely called the company into state service; members made their most eventful journey off the island in 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, accompanying other groups to call for Federal surrender of Fort Brown (Brownsville). The Galveston company disbanded during the war, with many members participating elsewhere in the conflict.
Following the war, the Galveston Artillery Company underwent several reorganizations, merging with other local militia groups and later allowing memberships in a separate social branch. By 1899, the group was known as Galveston Artillery Club and had evolved into a social rather than a military organization. During the 20th century, the prestigious club continued to evolve, continuing its traditional balls and other events, while maintaining a proud, strong link to its roots in service to the city of Galveston.