- The committee of public safety Appoints a Subcommittee to confer with General Twiggs -- Col. Ben McCulloch to raise a force for San Antonio -- Col. Henry E. McCulloch to raise a force for the northwestern frontier -- Col. John S. Ford to raise a force to go to the lower Rio Grande -- instructions given them, and they set about their duties -- secession submitted to a vote of the people -- delegates elected to the convention at Montgomery -- General Twiggs issues an order of surrender -- thanks by the convention.
The committee of public safety had formed their plans before consulting the governor, and having been informed that General Twiggs, who was then in command of the Eighth military district, with headquarters at San Antonio, was a Southern man by birth and friendly to the cause of the South, and would in all probability surrender to the convention all of the Federal property under his control on demand made, passed the following resolution, with the hope that civil commissioners might accomplish the purpose of the committee without the display of an armed force: ‘Resolved, That Samuel A. Maverick, Thomas J. Devine, Philip N. Luckett and James H. Rogers be appointed commissioners to confer with Gen. D. E. Twiggs, with regard to the public arms, munitions of war, etc., under his control and belonging to the government of the United States, with power to demand and remove the same in the name of Texas, and that said commissioners be clothed with full power to carry into effect the powers herein delegated and retain  possession of such arms, munitions of war, stores, etc., subject to the order of the convention of the people of the State of Texas, and report their acts and doings in the premises to the committee of public safety.’ A commission was issued and delivered to these commissioners with full instructions, both public and private, to regulate their conduct. Both Judge Devine and Senator Maverick were distinguished citizens of San Antonio, and intimately acquainted with General Twiggs. On the same day the committee conferred on Ben Mc-Culloch the rank of colonel, with directions to hold himself in readiness to raise men and munitions of war, whenever called on by the commissioners to San Antonio, and to be governed according to the secret instructions given the commissioners. On February 5th the committee appointed Henry E. McCulloch colonel of cavalry, with instructions and authority to raise and employ a sufficient force and proceed without delay to negotiate with the respective commanders of the various military posts, from Fort Chadbourne, including Camp Colorado, Camp Cooper, and Fort Belknap, to Red river, for the delivery to him as commissioner, in behalf of the State of Texas, of all and every species of property, quartermaster property and stores, commissary property and stores, ordnance and ordnance stores, medical and hospital stores, and further advising him not to use force unless necessary, and to secure the property when received. At the same time the committee appointed Col. John S. Ford military commander, to proceed at once to the Rio Grande for the twofold purpose—first, for the use of such means as will secure to the State of Texas all arms and munitions of war, together with all property of every kind now retained by and in the possession of the United States of America at Point Isabel, and at all points along the line of the Rio Grande; and second, to use such means as will protect the Rio Grande frontier. He was instructed to give a receipt for the property if E. B.  Nichols was not present, and hold the same subject to his order. These three expeditions constituted the plan of operations by that committee, relying much for their peaceable execution upon the favorable action of General Twiggs. The appointees promptly set about the performance of the duties confided to them. While these things were being performed by the committee of public safety, there was a harmonious correspondence between the legislature and the convention in whatever was necessary to the common design for immediate State action by a convention. The convention was also in regular session. Most of its proceedings related to other committees that had been appointed, and to subjects of a political character and not pertaining to military operations, which need not be given at length in this history. The convention provided for submitting the ordinance of secession to a vote of the people, for the mode of election and the return of the votes to the convention. This was followed in the action of the legislature on the same subject. On the same day a committee was appointed to prepare an address to the people of Texas, as follows: John Henry Brown, George Flournoy, Prior Lea, Malcolm D. Gresham of Rusk, A. P. Wiley and J. A. Wilcox. The address was prepared, signed by the members of the convention and published. On February 4th a resolution was passed for the election by the convention of seven delegates to the convention of Southern States at Montgomery. Those chosen were John H. Reagan, Louis T. Wigfall, John Hemphill, T. N. Waul, John Gregg, W. S. Oldham and Wm. B. Ochiltree. An ordinance was passed to secure the friendship and co-operation of Arizona and New Mexico, also of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and Cherokee Indians. Simeon Hart and P. T. Herbert were sent to the two territories, and James Bourland and Chas. A. Hamilton to the Indian tribes, as commissioners. At  the request of the president a vice-president was ordered to be appointed, and John D. Steele, of Leon county, was thus honored. On February 5th the convention adjourned temporarily, to meet again on the 2d of March. The president issued an address to the people, stating what had been done by the convention and the legislature, and that Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina had already seceded from the Union, and that our position as a Gulf State made it necessary that we should join them in a common effort for the protection of our rights and liberties. A sufficient number of the committee of public safety to transact business remained in session, nine of whom, including the chairman, left Austin and went to Galveston, partly to prevent their presence in secret meetings from being made a ground of irritating excitement by opponents of the convention, and partly to superintend the embarkation of Col. John S. Ford's troops, to go by water to Brazos Santiago, to perform his mission on the lower Rio Grande. They sailed on the steamship General Rusk, commanded by Capt. Leon Smith, and on another vessel. While at Galveston, Gen. Jas. H. Rogers was commissioned to visit Louisiana to endeavor to procure arms to be sent to Texas. He reported his success in obtaining from General Moore 1,000 stands of muskets, with an assurance of an increased loan if necessity should require it. He shipped half of them to Messrs. Murphy & Co. at Jefferson, Tex., and the others to Gen. E. B. Nichols at Galveston. The legislature, on March 8th, passed an act appropriating $25,000 to pay the State troops, and on the 9th adjourned to meet again on Monday, the 18th of March, which was designed to give the convention time to adjust the status of the State before the second session of the legislature. During the recess of the convention the commissioners at San Antonio were engaged in their negotiations with  General Twiggs, and having met with some delay, they called upon Col. Ben McCulloch to appear at that place with the troops he had collected; really more to make a demonstration of force than under any expectation that it would be necessary to use it in actual hostility. General Twiggs recognized that there was a political as well as a military question involved in his position. He had written as early as the 15th of January to his government to be relieved of his position before the 4th of the ensuing March, and for orders directing what to do in the emergency, also giving the information that he would not fight against the Southern people. The commissioners having made a demand upon him for the surrender of the troops and post under his command, he appointed a committee of his officers to consult with the commissioners, which produced no result, and Twiggs hesitated in taking action, having received no orders from the United States government. The commissioners, to bring the matter to an issue, called in Col. Ben McCulloch, whose command, consisting of about 400 men, had arrived near the city on the 15th of February, 1861. The action as reported by the commissioners was as follows: ‘On the morning of the 16th that officer [Col. Ben McCulloch] entered San Antonio with his command, and being joined by the city companies and about 100 citizens of San Antonio and those from Medina and Atascosa [amounting in all to over 1,000], the Alamo commissary and arsenal buildings were surrounded, and commanding positions secured before daylight on the tops of adjoining buildings. At 6 o'clock a. m. a demand in writing, in accordance with their instructions, was again made on General Twiggs for the surrender of all public property and post, and the interview between that officer and the undersigned [the commissioners] resulted in the surrender of the posts held by the Federal troops, and the delivery of all public property in San Antonio to the commissioners. The United States troops were permitted  to retain their clothing, etc., and were marched out that evening to encamp at San Pedro springs, about one mile from the city, there to remain until transportation was furnished to convey them to the coast.’ To carry out the agreement thus entered into, the following general order was issued by General Twiggs:
That was his last order, he being relieved of his command the next day, the 19th of February, 1861, by Colonel Waite assuming command of the department under an appointment previously made. The commissioners appointed agents to take charge of the public property after the evacuation of the Federal troops, and there being no longer any use for the volunteer forces of Col. Ben McCulloch, they were disbanded and returned to their homes. Ben McCulloch returned to Austin, and after getting an order for 1,000 guns for the State resigned his office.  Afterward, on the 9th of March, the convention passed a resolution unanimously, ‘That the thanks of the people of Texas are due and are hereby tendered to Maj.-Gen. David E. Twiggs for his patriotism, moral courage, and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States, embracing the rights and liberty of his native South, and that a copy of this resolution on parchment, signed by the president and secretary, be transmitted to General Twiggs.’ The resolution, being properly prepared, was promptly sent to the old hero of many battles. The commissioners, Messrs. Devine, Maverick and Luckett, continued their operations, corresponding with Cols. H. E. McCulloch and Ford, until the final adjournment of the convention. Very much was done, both of action and correspondence, and that the result may be consistently explained the narration will be postponed for the present so that what was done by each of the officers appointed may be stated.