Committee on the Public Safety
Secessionist Texas Secures its Territory

     In passing the ordnance of secession the 2nd day of February 1861, the state of Texas considered the danger involved securing the land in the name of the Confederacy it was about to join hands with. Admitted to the Confederation of southern states on March 1, 1861 it became the seventh of eleven states to step out of the Union.
     There had been roughly 2,800 hundred federal soldiers stationed at different points in the state, fully supplied with arms and ammunition, and for concern of the public safety it became important that the state control all federal property, arms and ammunition. The understanding of these things made it expedient to take action in this manner for the incoming President Elect would certainly replace those troops reluctant to use military force against the people with ones that will.

     With the faith of probability, the state of Texas commissioned and resolved to send a Public Safety Committee to San Antonio to confer with Brevet Major General David Emanuel Twiggs, commanding 8th Military District for the purpose surrendering the military, medical, commissary and ordnance stores under his control. To ensure the state's understanding with the army, should the general decide not to relinquish control of his assets to a civilian authority, Ben McCulloch was duly elected and commissioned Colonel of cavalry to accompany the committee to Bexar County..
     The civilian commission; lead by Samuel A. Maverick, was secretly instructed to ascertain General Twiggs sentiments on the current state of affairs and the position he intended to occupy regarding the withdrawal of Texas from the Union. Twiggs, a Georgian, possessed deep sympathies for the South and expected to have entertained thoughts to join the Confederacy himself, was hoped to be compliant to the wishes of the committee.

     The party sent to him was prepared to render a demand for the military stores should no peaceable means of securing property be offered by the commanding general. If any display of force on 8th Military District's part were to be apparent, Colonel Ben McCulloch was to be called on and take command of such Texas Volunteers against the headquarters and the demand for surrender repeated. Having been given a mandate of reporting back to the chairman of the committee, John C. Robertson, by the 2nd day of March, General Twiggs would have been allowed to surrender his district shortly thereafter, however his entire command was obligated to maintain the status quo until then and movement of military stores or concentration of federal troops was prohibited. Furthermore, the committee wished to ascertain the mood of the federal officers at San Antonio, and if willing, commissions in Confederate rank lateral to those they now hold, were permitted to be granted.
Regimental Flag
     No conversation by the committee that would wound the personal pride and honor of federal officers was permitted. It was wished that General Twiggs be reminded that his military presence in Texas was for the purpose of protecting those in the state and not for their subjugation; patriotism was incompatible with warring against the liberties of the people.

     The committee met with General Twiggs in San Antonio on February 8th, the conference had gone somewhat favorably. Disinterested in the credentials of committee's representatives, the district commander had copies of his letters to the United States War Department read aloud expressing deep southern convictions and having no desire to be the instrument in bringing about civil war. The general's only request is to allow him to march his men away with what arms, transportation and extra clothing his men could carry. Mr. Maverick asked the general to place in writing what he intended to do should his request be accepted by the committee, but he declined to place anything in writing.
     General Twiggs made a verbal offer in that he, if still in command on March 2nd, would deliver all the public property to the commission that was not desirable or convenient for him to carry on or after that time. It was deemed necessary therefore to mobilize the force under Colonel Ben McCulloch in an effort to seize the property called on by the commission. The committee asked for instructions in allowing the soldiers to march out with their arms having pointed out that Texas can not allow these soldiers to march west into New Mexico or Arizona territory claiming the ground as free soil; for during the course of the war, Texas itself would be a hornet's nest caught in the middle of a great war and would have to consider being dealt with from the west sometime in the future.

     Texas itself could not prevent General Twiggs from marching in whatever direction he chose, whether west or south of the Rio Grande. Furthermore believed with a large concentration of troops in the territories, neither could support an army and the vast borders of their own state could not prevent any such move. Relying on General Twiggs' southern heritage, however, speculation lead them all to believe moving west with these soldiers would not be the course.
Regimental Flag
     The afternoon of February the 16th, Colonel Ben McCulloch along with five hundred state troops and an additional one hundred fifty Knights of the Golden Circle marched into town taking up position around the arsenal, the ordnance, the Alamo, Quartermaster and Commissary buildings. It then was conceded that the military district commander surrender the 160 soldiers he had with him. Negotiations continued with the Committee on the Public Safety throughout the 17th of February, terminated and all federal property yielded on the evening of the 18th.

     The road now clear, the State of Texas was free to await acceptance of the Confederate Government in spite of the misgivings of many patriots who saw her through statehood sixteen years earlier. The mobilization of troops measured the pinnacle of their own resolve; yet the show of force succeeded in clearing out all probable resistance and succeeded without spilling a drop of blood. The yellow rose had chosen the rebel gray, and the Confederates ripe to embrace her.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2005

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at