Recollections of the Twiggs surrender.
Early in December, 1860, a rumor reached San Antonio, Texas
, that Captain John R. Baylor
, well known throughout the State
, was organizing a company of one thousand men for a buffalo-hunt.1
As Captain Baylor
's secession sentiments were well known, this was believed to be a mere pretense, and his real design to be to surprise and seize the arsenal in San Antonio
, in time to prevent any resistance on the part of the United States
, should Texas
go out of the Union
The Union citizens, alarmed lest the few soldiers stationed there should prove insufficient, appealed to General David E. Twiggs
, then commanding the Department of
A Texas Ranger from an ambrotype.|
, to increase the force.
He accordingly furnished several hundred men, consisting of Knights of the Golden Circle
(a secret secession organization), the Alamo Rifles, two other citizen companies, and an Irish and a German company.
This quieted apprehension for a time, but in January these troops were quietly withdrawn.
At this time General Twiggs
's loyalty to the United States Government began to be questioned, as he was known to be often in consultation with prominent secessionists, some of them ladies.
Toward the end of January the Union
men again appealed to General Twiggs
, but nothing was accomplished, whereupon they armed themselves, waiting with undefined dread for the next move.
Meanwhile no one trusted his neighbor, since spies and informers abounded, and to add to the terror, there were fears of insurrection among the negroes, some of whom were arrested; while all of them were forbidden to walk or talk together on the streets, or to assemble as they had been accustomed to do.
Late in January was held the election for delegates to a State convention which should consider the question of secession.
Women vied with each other in distributing the little yellow ballots, on which were printed in large type, “For secession,” or “Against secession.”
Many an ignorant Mexican
received instructions that the ballot “with the longest words” was the right one.
The carteros from New Mexico
, who were in town with their wagon-trains, were bought by the secessionists, and some were known to have voted three times.
It was well known that the Federal civil officers
were loyal; the French
citizens were emphatically so; and
yet against the will of the people, “by superior political diplomacy,” secession triumphed in San Antonio
by a small majority.
Many Germans gave up their business and left the town, taking refuge in New Braunfels, 31 miles away.
Many of these men were political refugees of rare culture and scholarly attainments.
On the 1st of February, the ordinance of secession was adopted by the Texas Convention,2
and on the 4th commissioners were appointed “to confer with General Twiggs
, with regard to the public arms, stores, munitions of war, etc., under his control, and belonging to the United States
, with power to demand [them] in the name of the people of the State of Texas
To meet this commission, which consisted of Thomas J. Devine
, P. N. Luckett
and Samuel A. Maverick
on the 9th of February General Twiggs
appointed a commission consisting of Major David H. Vinton
, Major Sackfield Maclin
(secessionist), and Captain R. H. K. Whiteley
By this time the news of General Twiggs
's disaffection had reached the Government
, and Colonel C. A. Waite
was sent to supersede him.
One day, accidentally overhearing parts of a conversation between General Twiggs
and a prominent Southern lady, I felt no longer any doubt that he was about to betray his trust, and reported the matter to Major Vinton
He sought an interview with General Twiggs
, and told me that he could find no suspicion of disloyalty, and that I was entirely mistaken.
Getting information a few days later, which led me to believe that the day for the surrender was fixed, I again informed Major Vinton
He then decided to remove at once from his safe all papers that would give valuable information to the State
authorities, and the moneys belonging to the Government
, and he intrusted them to his confidential clerk, Charles Darrow
They were sent at midnight to his wife, 5
who was waiting to receive them, and who buried part of them in a deserted garden; the rest, secreted in the ashes of an unused stove and in the tester of a bed, were guarded by her till the information was no longer valuable.
had succeeded in completely blinding his brother-officers as to his plans; but he now had no time to lose before Colonel Waite
On the 15th news came that some of the passengers on the mail-coach had alighted at the crossing of the Salado and joined a large company of Texas Rangers who, under the command of Ben McCulloch
, had been encamped there for several days.
's buffalo-hunt had at last assumed a tangible shape.
To be prepared for any emergency, for many nights we had kept our firearms beside us. On the night of the 15th, worn out with anxious watching, we fell asleep, to be suddenly roused about 4 o'clock by the screams of the negroes, who were coming home from market, “We're all going to be
I grasped my revolver, and, springing to my feet, looked out upon the plaza.
In the dim light I saw the revolutionists appearing, two by two, on muleback and horseback, mounted and on foot,--a motley though quite orderly crowd, carrying the Lone Star
flag before them, and surrounded and supported by armed men. The nights had been cold, and a week on the Salado without comforts had not added to their valorous appearance.
Some had coats, but others were in their shirt-sleeves, and not a few were wrapped in old shawls and saddle-blankets.
Their arms were of every description.
By daylight more had appeared, perhaps a thousand in all, and so great was the enthusiasm of two women who had aided General Twiggs
in his arrangements that they mounted their horses, in male attire, and with pistols in their belts rode out to meet their friends.
Coffee and refreshments had been provided, and blankets and clothing were lavishly distributed.
All the stores were
closed; men, women, and children armed themselves, and the excitement was intense.
Companies of Union citizens, well drilled and well armed, were marching and countermarching, presenting an imposing contrast to the other party, and a conflict seemed inevitable.
The arsenal building had been opened and was swarming with Rangers.
Early in the morning General Twiggs
drove down to the main plaza, where he was instantly surrounded by secessionists demanding the Government
property, whereupon he went through the form of refusing their request.
He then held a conference with Major W. A. Nichols
, his assistant adjutant-general, and Ben McCulloch
, and was given six hours in which to reconsider.
By noon he had surrendered all the United States posts and stores in Texas
When the result was known there was great indignation against him among the citizens.
Two or three hours later he left for New Orleans, where he was received with public honors.
Orders were sent to all the outposts to turn over the military property to the State
The officers and men were widely scattered, and many of them were taken completely by surprise.
The Federal troops in town gave their parole “not to take up arms” against the Confederacy
, and were ordered to leave the post in the afternoon.
By this time the German company had refused to act against the United States
, and the citizen companies had disbanded.
The Irish company had twice torn down the Stars and Stripes from the Alamo
, and had raised the Lone Star
flag in its place.
An attempt was made to disarm the troops, but they declared that they would kill any man who interfered, and marched away under Major Larkin Smith
John H. King
, with the stained and bullet-riddled old flag of the 8th Regiment flying over them, while the band played national airs.
Strong men wept; the people cheered them along the streets, and many followed them to the head of the San Pedro
, where they encamped.
By 6 o'clock the Rangers had returned to their camp on the Salado, and the day ended without further excitement.
About 2 o'clock that afternoon, Colonel Robert E. Lee
arrived in his ambulance from Fort Mason, Texas
, on his way to Washington
, whither he had been ordered by General Scott
As he approached the Read House
I went out to greet him. At the same time some of the Rangers gathered around his wagons, and, attracted, no doubt, by their insignia of rank, the red flannel
strips sewed on their shoulders, he asked, “Who are those men?”
“They are McCulloch
's,” I answered.
surrendered everything to the State
this morning, and we are all prisoners of war.”
I shall never forget his look of astonishment, as with his lips trembling and his eyes full of tears, he exclaimed, “Has it come so soon as this?”
In a short time I saw him crossing the plaza on his way to headquarters, and noticed particularly that he was in citizen's dress.
He returned at night and shut himself in his room, which was over mine, and I heard his footsteps through the night, and sometimes the murmur of his voice, as if he were praying.
He remained at the hotel a week, and in conversations declared that the position he held was a neutral one.
When he left it was my firm belief that no one could persuade or compel him to change his decision.6
During the next two days the Rangers were drinking and shouting about the streets, recklessly shooting any one who happened to displease them.
From this time on, Union men were in danger, and Northerners sent their families away.
Some who were outspoken were imprisoned and barely escaped with their lives; among them, Charles Anderson
, brother of Robert Anderson
On the 26th of February a dozen men of the State
troops were stationed on guard over the offices of the disbursing officers, and the occupants were ordered to leave, but forbidden to take away papers or effects, though allowed to keep the keys to their safes.
had now arrived and assumed command, and the secessionist commissioners made a second demand for
“a statement of the amount of indebtedness and funds on hand and required a promise from each officer that he would pay outstanding debts with funds and turn the balance over to the State
” : it being very desirable to the enemy to possess the Government
records, which exhibited the number of troops and the condition of the whole department.
Imprisonment and death were to be the penalty in case of refusal; but Major Vinton
of the quartermaster's department declared that he did not fear either, would do nothing dishonorable and would not comply.
Major Daniel McClure
of the pay department 7
and Captain Whiteley
of the ordnance department also refused, but several officers did comply and were returned to their offices.
The larger responsibilities of the quartermaster's department detained Major Vinton
after the above-named officers had left, and thus he fought his battle almost alone.
His office was transferred to his own house, where with the aid of Mr. Darrow
he transacted his business.
He soon became so ill that it was impossible for him to leave his bed. Both were afterward arrested and given ten days in which to surrender the papers and funds
or be shot.
These threats were not executed, for on the morning of the tenth day we were gladdened by the news that United States troops from the different outposts were within a few miles of the town, having been three weeks on the way. They were met at the San Pedro
and paroled not to take arms against the Confederacy
or serve in any capacity during the war. These troops, representing the army in Texas
, were loyal almost to a man, while all but forty of the officers went over to the Confederacy
The commissioners had promised to furnish facilities for the transportation of these troops to the coast, but so great had been the confusion and so many supplies had been carried off, that the soldiers were left almost destitute.
I visited their camp and found them cursing the man who had placed them in this position.
and family, with my husband and myself, were the last to leave.
On the morning of our departure, the 11th of May, as the ambulances and baggage wagons stood at the door, to add to the gloom, a storm broke over the city, enveloping us in midnight darkness.
The thunder and lightning was so loud and incessant as to seem like the noise of battle.
For two weeks we journeyed over the park-like prairies, fragrant and brilliant with
We forded streams and rivers, crossed the Brazos
by a rope ferry, and, taking the railroad train from Harrisburg
, caught the last steamer before the blockade of New Orleans.
We went up the Mississippi
in the steamer Hiawatha
, which was crowded with refugees, who made no sign until, in answer to a shot from shore at Cairo
, the steamer rounded to and we found ourselves once more under the protection of our own flag.