Recruitiq Colfederate Caalrry i
STEPHEN B. OATES
ON THE NIGHT OF FEBRUARY 15, 1861, two months before
Fort Sumter and the opening of the Civil War, a thou-
sand Texas volunteers secretly assembled at Sea Willow
Creek, a few miles north of San Antonio. They had been called
to arms by Ben McCulloch, colonel of cavalry in the newly formed
Army of Texas, for the purpose of capturing the historic Alamo,
then a storehouse for arms and military supplies under the com-
mand of General David E. Twiggs, United States Army.
The excited soldiers had gathered in small groups beneath the
trees, and the noise of the meeting was compounded of men's
voices, squeaking saddles, and the high-pitched whinny of horses.
Mist from the creek curled through the bivouac; soon there was
a drizzle of cold rain. At midnight McCulloch rode into camp and
quickly outlined to the men his plan of attack. They were to sur-
round the Alamo and wait for the command to open fire. This
was typical of the way McCulloch fought. His plans and prepara-
tions were clear and simple, his manner confident.
McCulloch had won fame by the storming of the Obispado at
Monterrey during the Mexican War and for his daring and heroic
feats as a Texas Ranger. A "thin spare man, of great muscle and ac-
tivity," a tireless fighter and an excellent cavalryman, he enjoyed
the admiration and respect of citizens and soldiers alike.2 "The
name of Ben McCulloch," wrote the editor of one Arkansas paper,
"wherever it is known, is a guarantee of itself."3 The affair about
to commence at San Antonio would more firmly establish the
name of Ben McCulloch.
1J. K. P. Blackburn, "Reminiscences of the Terry Rangers," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, XXII, 8.
2Bellville (Texas) Countryman, September 18, 1861; Victor M. Rose, The Life
and Services of Gen. Ben McCulloch (Philadelphia, 1888), 4o-120o; Jack Winton
Gunn, Life of Ben McCulloch (Master's thesis, University of Texas, 1947), 1-8o.
8Van Buren (Arkansas) Press, June 5, 1861.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/. Accessed May 28, 2015.