Briefing - Levi Twiggs and the Marines in Mexico
A veteran Marine, who served with Stephen Decatur in the War of 1812, in the Florida War, and for many years on anti-pirate and anti-slavery patrol, Levi Twiggs met his death leading his marines in the desperate fighting for Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in 1847. Despite an enviable record, Twiggs is perhaps most distinguished by the fact that while so many of those with whom he served went on to become legends, he is today virtually forgotten.
Levi Twiggs was born in Georgia in 1793 and joined the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant in 1813. Promoted to first lieutenant in 1814, he was assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the frigate President, commanded by the great Stephan Decatur. Twiggs performed bravely in action against HMS Endymion in January 1815. After the war he married Decatur’s granddaughter, with whom he had five children. Promoted to captain in 1825, he served with the Marine regiment in the Florida War in 1836 and 1837, after which he was promoted to major.
In 1847 Twiggs was picked to command the marine battalion dispatched to Mexico to join the small army with which Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott intended to conquer the country. The marines landed at Vera Cruz in July and marched for Puebla to meet Scott’s army. Despite occasional skirmishers with Mexican irregulars, Twiggs brought the battalion safely to Puebla, where the army was preparing to advance on Mexico City. At Puebla Twiggs had a reunion with two of his sons, 1st Lt. George Decatur Twiggs and 1st Lt. Decatur E. Twiggs, who were serving in the army, in which his uncle Brig. Gen. David M. Twiggs commanded a division.
Initially assigned to Brig. Gen. Franklin Pierce's brigade, the marines were later transferred to his uncle’s division. They brought up the rear when the army advanced and took no part in the preliminary skirmishes east of the Mexican capital, including one at the Puente Nacional, where young George Decatur Twiggs was killed in action. The marines also missed the principal battles around Mexico City. However, as Scott closed up on the final defenses of the Mexican capital, David Twiggs' division was the strongest one remaining in the army. Reinforced with a brigade of regulars, the division was assigned to storm Chapultepec Castle, the key to the defenses.