Benjamin McCulloch (November 11, 1811 – March 7, 1862) was a soldier in the Texas Revolution of 1836, a Texas Ranger, a U.S. marshal, and a brigadier general in the army of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas.
Benjamin McCulloch in "Lee at the Alamo"
Ben McCulloch was a colonel in the Texas Militia at the outbreak of the American Civil War. He was the victor at the Battle of the Alamo in the early months of 1861, but his victory proved a hollow one in the long run.
At the beginning of February, the Texas legislature had voted to join several states seceding from the U.S., despite the best efforts of Governor Sam Houston. Not long after, McCulloch was a made a colonel in the Texas Militia, and tasked with securing all U.S. Army munitions and forts and the removal of all Union loyalists. McCulloch then rode to San Antonio, and personally issued that demand to Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, commander of the Department of Texas. Lee, (who was commander by default; in December 1860, Brig. General David E. Twiggs had to give up command due to failing health) refused, much to McCulloch's surprise, and began making plans for the inevitable war.
After consulting with Major George Thomas, a fellow Virginian, Lee decided to take his garrison (after sorting out pro-Confederate soldiers) and set-up a redoubt at the Alamo in the early morning hours.
When McCulloch discovered what Lee had done, he still opted to give Lee 24 hours to surrender. Instead, Lee and Thomas continued their preparations, while more militia men drifted to McCulloch's banner throughout the day. After the 24 hours elapsed, Lee once again defied McCulloch's demands, and the siege began in earnest.
The Texans began by attempting to use a battering ram. Lee waited until his troops had been fired on before firing upon Confederate troops. The battering ram failed in short order, as did an attempt to place ladders on the sides of the Alamo's walls, with Lee's garrison inflicting heavy casualties upon the militia. McCulloch once again offered to accept Lee's surrender, arguing that Lee had satisfied the needs of honor. Again, Lee refused.
The next few days were quiet. A plebiscite officially took Texas out of the Union. McCulloch began making plans for a night attack not long after, but a Unionist named Andrew Crouch managed to sneak into the Alamo and let Lee know about the attack. Lee's garrison held off the attack.
Again, McCulloch remained quiet for several days, save for disparaging Abraham Lincoln publicly on Lincoln's inauguration day as President. However, on March 10, the militia brought Napoleon cannon to bear. In short order, the Texans breached a wall. Lee, realizing that the militia would be through the wall shortly, and having no desire to follow the fate of the original Alamo defenders, immediately surrendered.
McCulloch accepted their surrender, rather than slaughter them. While McCulloch drew up the terms of surrender, Lee had the supplies, including the munitions, set afire, an act that was not forbidden by the terms of surrender. An angry McCulloch promised to shoot Lee on sight if they ever met again, but let Lee and his men go.
While McCulloch secured the Alamo and the munitions, Lee returned to Washington, DC a hero.