More Twiggs’ Surrender history:
The secessionist committee of Public Safety both negotiated and prepared for
A group of commissioners tried to convince General Twiggs to give up the arsenal.
At the same time, they commissioned frontier hero Ben McCulloch a Colonel of
Cavalry and had him raise a secessionist militia force.
Brevet Major-General David E. Twiggs
General Twiggs was a Georgian and a southern sympathizer, but his duty was
clearly to retain all Federal property, and he was a professional officer who
had served since the War of 1812. He also did not want to be the man to fire
the first shot in a civil war. He reported the situation and asked Washington for guidance,
but got none from the lame-duck Buchanan administration.
Eventually the commissioners decided General Twiggs would never give them
what they desired by negotiation. They commanded Ben McCulloch to seize the San Antonio garrison.
Before dawn on Feb. 16th, about 1,000 Texan
militia entered San Antonio
and united with secessionist militia companies from the city. They surrounded
the three garrison installations, which contained about 200 U.S. soldiers.
A detail went to Twiggs’ house outside town and intercepted him as he drove his
buggy to work. They stuck him up with a shotgun and brought him to the Plaza.
Ben McCulloch demanded Twiggs surrender the garrison, and at first he refused.
Finally he surrendered the installations in San Antonio
and agreed in writing to evacuate all the forts in Texas,
with the conditions that his troops would be allowed to take their individual
weapons and light artillery to the coast near Corpus Christi, and then take ships to the
silk flag, belonging to one of the militia companies, was hoisted over the Alamo. Funds to preserve it were all raised at past
Twiggs events, and it has been restored and is displayed in the Alamo offices. The
flag is in the hands of the Daughters of the Republic
of Texas, who are in charge of the Alamo. Its original colors have faded.
The commissioners of the Committee of Public Safety gained the
arsenals and border forts, with many cannon, muskets, pistols, etc. and also
all the logistical support of an army. Much of this material was later to be
used by the ill-fated Sibley Expedition, an attempt to take Arizona
and New Mexico
for the Confederacy.
The U.S. soldiers in San Antonio marched out to the edge of town and spent two
days at San Pedro
Springs (now San Pedro park,
west of San Antonio
College and north of VIA
Metropolitan Transit). Then they marched to the coast, to be joined by the
far-flung garrisons as messengers carried the surrender order. Many of them
served in the Civil War. However the evacuation of other garrisons took months.
(It is 550 miles from Ft. Bliss in El Paso to San Antonio: Imagine
doing that on foot!) Meanwhile the Confederacy was formed, and the confederate
government sent Major Earl Van Dorn with an armed ship to capture the
evacuating troops, in contravention of the Texas surrender agreement. Those who had not
embarked were taken prisoner and spent the Civil War in a prison camp near Tyler, Texas.
General Twiggs was accused of treachery and fired. He joined the Confederate
service, but died within six months without having taken an active part in the
Ben McCulloch rose to Major-General and division commander, and was killed
in action at the battle of Pea Ridge,
Arkansas, in March 1862.
Earl Van Dorn commanded the Confederates at Pea Ridge, and blamed his
subordinates for the defeat there. His army was then transferred east of the Mississippi, arriving too late for the battle of Shiloh. He went on to command in the unsuccessful and
bloody Confederate attempt to retake Corinth
in October 1862 (which we reenacted in 2005). Van Dorn was shot by a jealous
husband in 1863.
Governor Sam Houston was deposed after he refused to swear allegiance to a
secessionist government. He died during the war.