David E. Twiggs

David Emanuel Twiggs (February 14, 1790 – July 15, 1862), born in Georgia, was a career army officer, serving during the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, and Mexican–American War.

David E. Twiggs
Nickname(s)"Bengal Tiger"[1]
BornFebruary 14, 1790 (1790-02-14)
Richmond County, Georgia
DiedJuly 15, 1862 (1862-07-16) (aged 72)
Augusta, Georgia
Place of burial
Twiggs Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia
Allegiance United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service1812–1861 (USA)
1861 (CSA)
Rank Brevet Major General, USA
Major General, CSA
Commands heldDepartment of the West
Battles/warsWar of 1812
Mexican–American War American Civil War
RelationsMajor Levi Twiggs, USMC (Brother)
Abraham C. Myers (son-in-law)
John Twiggs Myers (grandson)

As commander of the U.S. Army's Department of Texas when the American Civil War broke out, he surrendered his entire command to Confederate commissioners, with facilities, armaments and other supplies valued at $1.6 million. Dismissed from the US Army and described as a traitor, he was commissioned as a general of the Confederate States Army in 1861. But, recognizing he was in poor health, he quickly resigned his commission that year. He was the oldest Confederate general to serve, even briefly, in the Civil War.


Early life

Twiggs was born in 1790 on the "Good Hope" plantation in Richmond County, Georgia, son of John Twiggs and his wife, Ruth Emanuel. A general in the Georgia militia during the American Revolutionary War, the senior Twiggs was the namesake for Twiggs County, Georgia. He was the nephew, through his mother, of David Emanuel, Governor of Georgia.

Early military career

Twiggs volunteered for service as a captain in the War of 1812[2] and made a career in the military.

In 1828, he was sent to Wisconsin to establish a fort, at the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. With three companies of the First Infantry, his forces built Fort Winnebago around what has come to be known as Fort Winnebago Surgeon's Quarters at Portage, Wisconsin.[3] This was a base of operation during the Black Hawk War.

Twiggs was commissioned as Colonel of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons in 1836 and served in the Seminole Wars in Florida, where he earned the nickname "Bengal Tiger" for his fierce temper. He also decided to act offensively against the Seminole rather than wait for them to strike first. Some of the Seminole moved deep into the Everglades, evading US forces. They never surrendered, and the US government finally gave up on hopes of removing them to Indian Territory.

Mexican–American War

During the Mexican–American War in 1846–1848, Twiggs led a brigade in the Army of Occupation at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1846 and commanded a division at the Battle of Monterrey. He joined Winfield Scott's expedition, commanding its 2nd Division of Regulars. He led the division in all the battles from Veracruz through Mexico City. He was wounded during the assault on Chapultepec. After the fall of Mexico City, he was appointed military governor of Veracruz. Brigadier General Twiggs was awarded a ceremonial sword by the Congress on March 2, 1849. He was an original member of the Aztec Club of 1847, a military society of officers who had served in the Mexican War.

Commander of the Department of Texas

After the Mexican–American War, Twiggs was appointed brevet major general and commanded the U.S. Army's Department of Texas. He was in this command when the Civil War broke out. He was one of four general officers in the U.S. Army in 1861, along with Winfield Scott, John Wool, and William Harney. As there was no mandatory retirement at this time, all four men were over the age of 60, with three having served in the War of 1812, half a century earlier.

Twiggs's command included about 20% of the Army guarding the Mexican border. As the states began to secede, he met with a trio of Confederate commissioners, including Philip N. Luckett and Samuel A. Maverick, and surrendered his entire command, which included the Federal Arsenal at the Alamo, and all other federal installations, property, and soldiers in Texas, to the Confederacy. Along with him went 20 military installations, 44 cannons, 400 pistols, 1,900 muskets, 500 wagons, and 950 horses, valued at a total of $1.6 million. He insisted that all Federals retain personal arms and sidearms, and all artillery as well as flags and standards. Already, shortly after the secession of South Carolina in December 1860, Twiggs had written a letter to Winfield Scott proclaiming that Georgia was his home and he would follow the state if she should leave the Union.

Confederate service

David Twiggs was subsequently dismissed from the U.S. Army on March 1, 1861 for "treachery to the flag of his country." [4] He accepted a commission as a major general from the Confederate States on May 22, 1861. He was assigned to command the Confederate Department of Louisiana (comprising that state along with the southern half of Mississippi and Alabama), but he was past the age of 70 and in poor health. He resigned his commission before assuming any active duty. He was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell in the command of New Orleans,[5] and retired on October 11, 1861.

Death and burial

Twiggs died of pneumonia in Augusta, Georgia on July 15, 1862. He is buried in Twiggs Cemetery, also known as the Family Burying Ground, on Good Hope Plantation[6] in Richmond County, Georgia.

See also


  1. Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 538.
  2. Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 775.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 17, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "New York Times, March 4, 1861'
  5. John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 64
  6. "Family Burying Ground on Good Hope Plantation". hmdb.org. Retrieved December 27, 2015. The site of Good Hope Plantation, home of the Twiggs family, was developed as Bush Field, the Augusta municipal airport. It is located less than a half mile northeast of the cemetery.


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • New York Times, March 4, 1861
  • Silkenat, David. Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. ISBN 978-1-4696-4972-6.
  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
  • Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 978-0-8071-0834-5.
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