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Texas Secession, Continued

February 17, 2009
Main Plaza in San Antonio. This photograph is captioned "Texas troops at San Antonio at the time of the surrender of the U.S. arms." (SC11484C)

Main Plaza in San Antonio. This photograph is captioned "Texas troops at San Antonio at the time of the surrender of the U.S. arms." (SC11484C)

In last week’s post, we presented some documents in the library’s collections relating to the actions taken by Texans in February 1861 to secede from the union. Meanwhile, members of the Committee of Public Safety, assembled by the state’s secession convention, also worked to move their state toward allegiance with the Confederacy.

Dismissed from the U.S. army due to his surrender to McCulloch, Twiggs joined the Confederate army in May 1861. (SC96.381)

Dismissed from the U.S. army due to his surrender to McCulloch, Twiggs joined the Confederate army in May 1861. (SC96.381)

According to historian Walter L. Buenger, when General David E. Twiggs, commander of the Department of Texas, “appeared ready to resign, the [Committee of Public Safety] ordered General Ben McCulloch and his men to enter San Antonio rather than wait and deal with Twiggs’s successor, who was less favorably inclined to the South.” On February 16, 1861, Twiggs agreed to surrender between 1.3 and “three million dollars’ worth of federal stores to Texas” and to evacuate all federal troops in the state (154), which included 160 men in San Antonio and 2,700 soldiers (or approximately fifteen percent of the entire pre-war U.S. army) scattered in forts across Texas.

One unit that participated in the surrender of federal supplies and troops was the Alamo City Guards, a local militia company comprised of volunteers from the San Antonio area that was formed in 1859. Captain William M. Edgar, commander of the unit, recorded what happened once the Texans accepted Twiggs’s surrender:

…as I with my command was placed in charge of the Alamo, this flag was hoisted and remained on the Alamo building for some time and in recognition of the Secession of the State [and] was the first flag and only flag used in San Antonio at that eventful time.

Edgar’s company was later sent east, where it served under the command of Confederate General Earl Van Dorn during the Civil War.

In this letter of February 16, 1861, Samuel Maverick authorizes and orders Captain William Edgar to seize an iron safe and its contents.

In this letter of February 16, 1861, Samuel Maverick authorizes and orders Captain William Edgar to seize an iron safe and its contents.

The flag described by Edgar was donated to the Alamo by his daughter in the early twentieth century and restored in 2006 by Textile Preservation Associations. The field was always thought to have originally been blue; however, conservators determined it had actually been cream colored with a salmon colored star in the center. The Latin motto on the flag translates to Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.

The flag of the Alamo City Guards. Donated by Mrs. O. M. Burt; restoration assisted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Image courtesy of Ernesto Rodriguez, Alamo assistant curator.

The flag of the Alamo City Guards. Donated by Mrs. O. M. Burt; restoration assisted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Image courtesy of Ernesto Rodriguez, Alamo assistant curator.

The flag is temporarily on display inside the Alamo shrine.

Some information for this entry was provided by Dr. Bruce Winders, Alamo historian and curator.

References and Further Reading

The Exodus of Federal Forces from Texas, 1861 by J. J. Bowden.

Secession and the Union in Texas by Walter L. Buenger.

Ben McCulloch and the Frontier Military Tradition by Thomas W. Cutrer.

Click here for a full citation of documents and images included in this entry.

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