Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18 in San Antonio...

Dr. J.H. Bernard, one of Fannin’s men spared at the Goliad massacre because of his necessity to the Mexican wounded, revisits San Antonio and finds “all the old landmarks vanishing”.

On this day 150 years ago, a miltia of 1,000 armed Texans, calling themselves "The Knights of the Golden Circle," surrounded Gen. David E. Twiggs's 160-man garrison at San Antonio, forcing the general to surrender. Union soldiers were allowed to leave the state carrying their arms, but $1.6 million of government property was left to be seized by the Confederacy. Texas took possession of the 20 military installations, 44 cannon, 1,900 muskets, 400 pistols, 2 magazines of ammunition, 500 wagons, and 950 horses. For his surrender of Texas, Twiggs was called a traitor to the Union. On March 1, 1861, Twiggs was dismissed from the Union Army by President Buchanan. Ten weeks later he was commissioned as a Major General in the Confederate Army and transferred to New Orleans to command the District of Louisiana. Twiggs retired shortly thereafter and died at age 72 near Augusta, Georgia on July 15, 1862.

These two articles appeared in the Galveston newspaper about the handover:

Evacuation of Texas by United States Troops

The following is the order of Gen. Twiggs for the evacuation of Texas by the U.S. Troops of the Department under his command. Col. White, the succesor of Gen. Twiggs, arrived the morning the order was given but will proceed to carry it out:


San Antonio, Feb. 18, 1861


The State of Texas, having demanded through its commissioners, the delivery of the Military posts and public property, within the limits of this command; and the Commanding General, desiring to avoid even the possibility of a collision between the Federal and State troops, the post will be evacuated by the garrisons and these will take up, as soon as the necessary preparations can be make, the line of march out of Texas, by the way of the coast – marching out with their arms, (the light batteries with their guns,) clothing, camp and garrison equipage, Quarter-master’s stores, and such means of transportation of every kind, as may be necessary for an efficient and orderly movement of the troops, prepared for attack or defense against aggressions from any person.

The troops will carry with them provisions as far as the coast.


In regard to the transfer of public property, the San Antonio Ledger says:

The commissioners on the part of the State made the demand that the public property should be transferred from the General Government to the authorities of Texas.

After several hours spend in arranging details, the transfer was made by General Twiggs.

With the corps of rangers under command of Gen. Ben McCullough [sic], numbering six hundred men and the different military companies of this city, there are not less than twelve hundred men under arms.

Galveston Daily Civilian, 22 Feb 1861


THE AGREEMENT. – We have already published the order of Gen. Twiggs for the removal of the United States troops from Texas. – The following purports to be the understanding on which that order was based.

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 18, 1861
The undersigned Commissioners on the part of the State of Texas, fully empowered to exercise the authority undertaken by them, have formally and solemly agreed with Brevet Major General David E. Twiggs, United States Army, commanding the Department of Texas, that the troops of the United States shall leave the soil of the State, by the way of the coast: that they shall take with them the arms of the respective corps, including the batter of the light artillery at Fort Duncan, and the battery of the same character at Fort Brown: and shall be allowed the necessary means for regular and comfortable movement, provisions, tents, etc., and transportation.
It is the desire of the Commission that there shall be no infraction of this agreement on the part of the people of the State. It is their wish, not the contrary, that every facility shall be offered to the troops. They are our friends. –
They have heretofore offered to our people all the protection in their power, and we owe them every consideration.
The public property at the various posts, other than that above recited for the use of the troops, will be turned over to agents to be appointed by the Commission, who will give due and proper receipts for the whole to the Officers of the Army, whom they relieve in the custody of the public property.

Thos. J. Devine, P. N. Lockett, S. A. Maverick

Commissioners on behalf of Committee of Public Safety

Galveston Civilian and Gazette Weekly, 5 March 1861

You can read more about the incident at "Through the Gates," the DRT Library blog, here and here.

The 1908 edition of the city directory shows there are 6,254 more people in the city than there were at the start of 1907.  The directory reveals a total population for San Antonio of 95,868, excluding the military.

Police using metal detectors found three more explosive missiles in far West San Antonio.  Children earlier found numerous bright yellow missiles which are being detonated by a special police bomb squad.

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