[graphic][ocr errors]




Thk frontiers of Texas, Mexican and savage, were guarded, prior to the outbreak of Secession, by a line of forts or military posts stretching from Brownsville, opposite Matamoras, to the Red River. These forts were located at average distances of one hundred miles, and were severally held by detachments of from 50 to 150 of the regular army. San Antonio, 150 miles inland from Indianola, on Matagorda Bay, was the headquarters of the department, whence the most remote post—Fort Bliss, on the usual route thence to New Mexico— was distant 675 miles. The whole number of regulars distributed throughout Texas was 2,612, comprising nearly half the effective force of our little army.

When, soon after Mr. Lincoln's election, but months prior to his inauguration, Gen. David E. Twiggs was dispatched by Secretary Floyd

"'December 5, 1860.

'February 18, 1861. Ho immediately and openly declared that the Union could not last 60 days, and warned officers, If they had pay due them, to draw it at once, as this would bo the last.

* February 5, 1861.


from New Orleans to San Antonio,

and assigned to the command of the department, it was doubtless understood between them that his business in Texas was to betray this entire force, or so much of it as possible, into the hands of the yet undeveloped traitors with whom Floyd was secretly in league. Twiggs's age and infirmities had for some time excused him from active service, until this ungracious duty—if duty it can be called—was imposed upon and readily accepted by him. Within 90 days after his arrival1 at Indianola, he had surrendered' the entire force at and near San Antonio, with all their arms, munitions, and supplies, to three persons acting as "Commissioners on behalf of the Committee of Public Safety," secretly appointed' by the Convention which had just before assumed to take Texas out of the Union.'1 The

* Feb. 1. Tho Convention met this day at Austin, and at once passed an ordinance of Secession, subject to a vote of the pcoplo at an election to bo held on tho 23d inst; the ordinance, if approved, to take effect on the 2d of March. Toxas was thcreforo still in the Union, even according to the lojfic of Secession.


betrayal was colored, not fairly cloaked, by a slim display of military force in behalf of the sovereign State of Texas, Col. Ben. McCullocli, an original and ardent Secessionist, having undertaken and fulfilled the duty of raising that force and posting it in and around San Antonio, so as to give countenance to the demand for capitulation. It was fairly stipulated in writing between the contracting parties, that our troops should simply evacuate Texas, marching to and embarking at the coast, where their artillery and means of transportation were to be given up, while they, with their small arms, should proceed by water to any point outside of Texas; but these conditions, though made by a traitor in Federal uniform with fellow-traitors who had cast off all disguise, were shamefully violated. Col. C. A. Waite, who, after the withdrawal of Floyd from tho Cabinet, had been sent down to supersede Twiggs in his command, reached San Antonio the morning after the capitulation, when all the material of war had been turned over to the Rebel Commissioners, and 1,500 armed Texans surrounded our little band, in the first flush of exultation over their easy triumph. Unable to resist this rapidly augmenting force, Waite had no alternative but to ratify the surrender, dispatching, by permission, messengers to the frontier posts, to apprise the other commanders that they were included in its terms. Collecting and dispatching his men a3 rapidly as he might, he had some 1,200 encamped at Indianola ready for embarkation, when they were visited by Col. E. Yan Dorn, of the Confeder

ate service, recently a captain in our army, who had been sent from Montgomery with authority to offer increased rank and pay to all who would take service with the Rebels. His mission was a confessed failure. A few of the higher officers had participated in Twiggs's treason; but no more of these, and no private soldiers, could be cajoled or bribed into deserting the flag of their country.

Col. Waite was still at San Antonio, when news reached Indianola* of the reduction' of Fort Sumter; and Col. Van Dorn, with three armed steamers from Galveston, arrived with instructions from Montgomery to capture and hold as prisoners of war all Federal soldiers and officers remaining in Texas. Maj. Sibley, in command at that port, had chartered two small schooners and embarked thereon a part of his force, when he was compelled to surrender again unconditionally. Col. Waite was in like manner captured at San Antonio, by order of Maj. Macklin, late an officer in our service, under Twiggs; Capt. Wilcox, who made the arrest, answering Waite's protest with the simple words, "I have the force.1' Waite, and a few officers with him, were compelled to accept paroles not to serve against the Confederacy unless regularly exchanged.

Of course, the forces at tho several posts protecting the frontiers of Texas, being isolated and cut off from all communication with each other, or with a common head-quarters, fell an. easy prey to the Rebels. A part of them were commanded by officers in full sympathy and perfect understanding with the Texas conspirators for Secession, who, by means of the se

[blocks in formation]



eret organization known as "Knights of the Golden Circle," having its Texas head-quarters at San Antonio, and its ' castles' or affiliated lodges in every part of the State, had prosecuted its undertaking at immense advantage over the unorganized and often unsuspecting as well as uninformed Unionists. The conspirators had long before made themselves acquainted with the loyal or disloyal proclivities of the Federal officers; and, wherever an important position was held by an inflexible Unionist, they were able, by secret representations at the War Department, to procure such a substitution as they desired; and thus Col. Loring, a North Carolinian, deep in their counsels, had been sent out by Floyd, in the Spring of 1860, to take command of the department of New Mexico, while Col. G. B. Crittenden, a Kentuckian, of like spirit and purposes, was appointed by Loring to command an expedition against the Apaches, to start from Fort Staunton in the Spring of 1861. Lieut. Col. B. S. Roberts, however, who here joined the expedition with two companies of cavalry, soon discovered that Crittenden was devoting all his sober moments—which were few—to the systematic corruption of his subordinates, with intent to lead his regiment to Texas, and there turn it over to the service and support of the Rebellion. Roberts repelled his solicitations,' and refused to obey any of his orders which should be prompted by the spirit of treason. He finally accepted a furlough, suggested by Loring, and quickly repaired under it to Santa Fe, the head-quarters of the department, making a revelation of Crittenden's treachery to its com1 See hU testimony before the Committee on the

mander, Col. Loring, and his adjutant, but only to find them both as thoroughly disloyal as Crittenden. He was rudely rebuked by them as a meddler with other men's business, and ordered directly back to Fort Staunton, but found opportunity to give notice to Capt. Hatch, commanding at Albuquerque, to Capt. Morris, who held Fort Craig, and other loyal officers, of the treachery of their superiors, and the duty incumbent on them of resisting it.

Meantime, desperate efforts were made by the prominent traitors to bring their men over to their views, by assurances that the Union had ceased to exist—that it had no longer a Government able to pay them or feed them—while, if they would but consent to go to Texas and take service with the Confederacy, they should be paid in full, and more than paid, beside having great chances of promotion. To their honor be it recorded, not one man listened to the voice of the charmer, though Capt. Claiborn, at Fort Staunton, made several harangues to his company, intended to entice them into the Confederate service. Of the 1,200 regulars in New Mexico, one only deserted during this time of trial, and he, it is believed, did not join the enemy. Finally, the disloyal officers, headed by Loring and Crittenden, were glad to escape unattended, making their rendezvous at Fort Fillmore, twenty miles from the Texas line, not far from El Paso, where Maj. Lynde commanded. Here they renewed their intrigues and importunities, finding a large portion of the officers equally traitorous with themselves. But Maj. Lynde appeared to hold out Conduct of the War.—Report, Part 3, pp. 364-7 J. against their solicitations. His forces, however, were so demoralized that, soon afterward," when he led 480 of them, out of 700, to the village of Mesilla, some twenty miles distant, he fell into an ambuscade of 200 badly armed Texans, and, after a skirmish, wherein his conduct can only be vindicated from the imputation of cowardice by the presumption of treason, he ordered a retreat to the fort, which his men were next day engaged in fortifying,when surprised,at 10^A.m., by an order to evacuate that night. The commissary was ordered to roll out the whisky, from which the men were allowed to fill their canteens, and drink at discretion. No water was furnished for the weary march before them, over a hot and thirsty desert. They started as ordered; but, before they had advanced ten miles, men were dropping out of the ranks, and falling to the earth exhausted or dead drunk.

At 2 A. M., a Texan force was seen advancing on their flank, whereupon Lynde's Adjutant remarked, " They have nothing to fear from us." Our men were halted, 60 many of them, at least, as had not already halted of their own accord; and the officers held a long council of war. Many privates of the command likewise took counsel, and decided to fight. Just then, Capt. Gibbs appeared from the officers' council, and ordered a retreat upon the camp, saying, " We will fight them there." Arrived at the camp, our soldiers were ordered to lay down their arms, and informed, " You are turned over as prisoners of war." The subordinate officers disclaimed any responsibility for this disgraceful surrender, laying the

blame wholly upon Lynde. Our men were paroled, and permitted, as prisoners, to pursue their course northward, after listening to a speech from Col. Baylor, of their captors, intended to win their good-will.

Their sufferings, on that forlorn march to Albuquerque and Fort Wise, were protracted and terrible; some becoming deranged from the agony of their thirst; some seeking to quench it by opening their veins, and drinking their own blood. Maj. Lynde, instead of being court-martialed and shot, was simply dropped from the rolls of the army, his dismissal to date from his surrender;' and Capt. A. H. Plummer, his commissary, who held $17,000 in drafts, which he might at any moment have destroyed, but which were handed over to and used by the Rebels, was sentenced by court-martial to be reprimanded in general orders, and suspended from duty for six months!

New Mexico, thus shamefully bereft, at a blow, of half her defenders, was now reckoned an easy prey to the gathering forces of the Rebellion. Her Mexican population, ignorant, timid, and superstitious, had been attached to the Union by conquest, scarcely fifteen years before, and had, meantime, been mainly under the training of Democratic officialsof strong pro-Slavery sympathies, who had induced her Territorial Legislature, 6ome two years before, to pass an act recognizing Slavery as legally existing among them, and providing stringent safeguards for its protection and security—an act which was still unrepealed. Her Democratic officials had not yet been

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »