Civil War in New Mexico 1861-1862
In a narrow and wooded pass called Glorieta, the rocky canyon walls once echoed with roaring cannons and the cries of brave men fighting and dying. This is a tribute to those Union and Confederate soldiers who fought in the New Mexico Campaign. May they rest in peace.
In the vast agony of a nation at war with itself, the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico Territory is a minor drama. The dreams behind it, however, were grandiose. Rebels dreamed of access to the Santa Fe Trail and the gold mines of Colorado and California. They dreamed of fulfilling their manifest destiny and changing the course of the war. The Union knew it must deny those dreams. Some 4,000 Union and 3,000 Confederate soldiers fought in New Mexico, the westernmost campaign of the Civil War. More than 280 men died. The Confederacy won tactical victories at every major battle before returning empty-handed to Texas, defeated by harsh land and determined people. Today, the battlefields are places of beauty, of sands and marshes, mesas and canyons, where the wind whispers of dreams that died and dreams that lived.
Quotes from Soldiers
U.S. Territorial Governor Henry Connelly's clarion call for service, September 9, 1861. By January, four thousand men had volunteered. The first major battle took place at Valverde on February 21, 1862.
U.S. Captain Jacob Downing, reporting on the Battle of Pigeon's Ranch. Although the Confederacy won the battle, this was the closest they would ever get to Fort Union.
Confederate Major John "Shrop" Shropshire, just before he was shot between the eyes at the Battle of Pigeon's Ranch. An estimated 100 men died at the three battles of Glorieta, March 26-28, 1862.
U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Chaves, pointing down to Johnson's Ranch, 500 feet below Glorieta Mesa, as he spoke to Major John "Fighting Parson" Chivington, March 28, 1862. Two hours later, Chivington's battalion rappelled down and destroyed the entire 70-wagon Confederate supply train, leaving the Confederacy no choice but retreat.
General Sibley, in a personal letter to the father of a fallen Federal soldier. In both major battles, Valverde and Pigeon's Ranch, the Confederates were victorious. In the skirmishes at Albuquerque and Peralta, the Rebels repelled attacks against their defensive positions.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded the land that would become New Mexico. However, New Mexico did not become a territory of the United States until the Compromise of 1850.
The U.S. Census documents 80,000 residents in the territory, mostly living along the major rivers: the Rio Grande, the Pecos, the Canadian.
March 2, 1861
Texas becomes the 7th state to secede from the Union.
Baylor declares the portion of the territory below the 34th parallel to be the Confederate Territory of Arizona.
April 12, 1861
Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter. Lincoln declares war.
April 28, 1861
Henry Hopkins Sibley resigns commission in the U.S. Army.
June 11, 1861
Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby takes over command of the U.S. Military Department of New Mexico.
Early July 1861
Fort Bliss, near El Paso, is abandoned by Union forces. Sibley meets with Jefferson Davis and pursuades him to authorize a Confederate invasion of New Mexico Territory.
July 25, 1861
Union Major Isaac Lynde abandons Fort Fillmore. He surrenders to Confederate Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor at San Augustine Pass on July 27th.
The new star fort at Fort Union takes shape, designed to block the Santa Fe Trail from Confederate advance.
September 9, 1861
U.S. Territorial Governor Henry Connelly issues proclamation urging New Mexicans to arms.
Late October 1861
Sibley has formed and trained a 3,200-man brigade of four regiments.
October 21, 1861
Sibley's Brigade parades through San Antonio.The 7th Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers marches north and the rest of the brigade follows.
Union forces total 4,500, including 1,500 regulars and 3,000 volunteers and militia untested by battle.
February 7, 1862
The 5th Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers heads towards Fort Craig and the Union Army.
February 9, 1862
Canby sends the women of Fort Craig north.
February 16, 1862
Confederate forces form line of battle and advance toward Fort Craig. Union's Canby stations battery of guns and howitzers outside south-facing walls. Confederates call off attack and withdraws.
February 19, 1862
Sibley moves north to control ford at Valverde, hoping to draw Canby from fort.
February 20, 1862
Canby's forces were driven back to Fort Craig to meet Confederate forces.
February 21, 1862
Battle of Valverde, a tactical victory for the Confederacy, but Fort Craig remains in Union hands.
February 23, 1862
Confederate forces break camp, leaving Union forces at their backs, and capture Socorro.
March 2, 1862
Confederate forces enter Albuquerque. Union Army fires supply depot before abandoning.
March 3, 1862
Confederacy captures Federal ammunition depot at Cubero.
March 4, 1862
First reports of the Battle of Valverde reach Denver and galvanize Colorado Volunteers.
March 4, 1862
Union garrison in Santa Fe evacuates to Fort Union. U.S. Governor Connelly moves territorial capital to Las Vegas, New Mexico.
March 11, 1862
Colorado Regiment, under command of Col. John Slough, reaches Fort Union after a forced march from Denver.
March 13, 1862
Confederate advance enters Santa Fe.
March 20, 1862
Confederate column leaves Albuquerque, heading north.
March 22, 1862
Slough's Union forces leave Fort Union and march toward Santa Fe.
March 25, 1862
A second Confederate column leaves Santa Fe and heads toward Fort Union.
March 25, 1862
Union forces arrive at Kozlowski's Ranch, at the eastern end of Glorieta Pass.
March 26, 1862
Battle of Apache Canyon, a Union victory. Union Major John Chivington and 400 men fight Confederate Major Pyron's four companies. Union forces return to Pigeon's Ranch. Confederate forces set up camp at Johnson's Ranch.
March 27, 1862
Confederate reinforcements reach Johnson's Ranch. Union reinforcements reach Kozlowski's Ranch.
March 28, 1862
Battle of Pigeon's Ranch, a tactical victory for the Confederacy and logistical victory for the Union. Confederate forces advance and battle Union forces near Pigeon's Ranch. Chivington, with 400 men, slips around and destroys Confederate supplies.
April 7 1862
Confederacy abandons Santa Fe.
April 8-9, 1862
Union forces, under Canby, engage in feint attack against confederacy in Albuquerque, then withdraw east to meet up with force from Fort Union.
April 12, 1862
Union forces reoccupy Santa Fe.
April 12, 1862
Confederate forces abandon Albuquerque.
April 14, 1862
Union forces from Fort Union meet up with forces from Fort Craig in the village of San Antonio and turn south toward Albuquerque.
April 15, 1862
Battle of Peralta. The 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers, with 500 men, camp near Governor Connelly's ranch. Standoff skirmish with a few localized firefights. Confederate forces escape during dust storm.
Confederate forces retreat around the San Meteo Mountains to avoid Fort Craig.
May 1, 1862
Confederate forces straggele into Mesilla. Sibley's Brigade, which started with some 3,200 men, is reduced to 1,500 men by the end of the campaign.
April 9, 1865
The Confederacy surrenders at Appomattox Court House.
Civil War Sites
MARCH 26-28, 1862
CIVIL WAR ROUTES IN NEW MEXICO
Civil War Driving Tours
Use the I-25 corridor to follow a path similar to the ones used by both the Union and Confederate armies.
Texas border to Socorro
- La Mesilla was the Confederate western headquarters. Visit the plaza, where the Confederate flag hung, and the Civil War relics in the Gadsden Museum. 575-526-6293
- Fort Seldon State Monument, a post-Civil War fort and Confederate campsite, has displays and self-guided tours that reflect 19th century military life. 575-526-8911
- Landmarks to note: Organ Mountains and Pass, Jornada del Muerto, San Mateo Mountains, Mesa del la Contadera.
- Fort Craig National Historic Site offers brochures and self-guided tours. 575-835-0412
- The Civil War Monument honors Confederate soldiers. Take the San Marcial, Exit A85 and go east to the monument. Continue to San Marcial, a small town built after the Valverde battle. Time has washed away the battlefield, but you can get an overview using Mesa del la Contadera as a reference point.
Socorro to Albuquerque
- Socorro's historic walking tour visits period houses around the plaza. Sibley set up artillery on the southern bluffs. Some Civil War information can be viewed at the BLM office. A reenactment takes place around the February 21 anniversary of the Valverde Battle. 575-835-0424
- Old Town Albuquerque's plaza has replicas of Confederate cannons. Nearby Albuquerque Museum displays the originals and has a permanent civil war exhibit. The museum sponsors a reenactment every October. 505-242-4600
Albuquerque to Fort Union
- El Rancho de las Golondrinas was used by both the Union and the Confederacy as a campsite. Now this living museum has a reenactment every spring. 505-471-2261
- Santa Fe's plaza was the end of the Santa Fe Trail. The Palace of the Governors, where the Confederate flag briefly flew, is now a museum which contains civil war relics. 505-827-6483. The rampart ruins of Fort Marcy, a Union strong-hold, are still visible. 505-955-6200
- Landmarks to note: Pecos River, Glorieta Creek, Glorieta Mesa and Glorieta Pass (unmarked).
- See the Glorieta Battlefield Historic Marker. From I-25, take Glorieta-Pecos Interchange 299 and go east on NM 50. The marker is .4 mile on the south.
- Pecos National Historical Park contains ruins of Pecos Pueblo and protects important Civil War sites, including Kozlowski's Ranch and Pigeon's Ranch. The visitor center is a must-see. Limited guided tours of Civil War sites are scheduled. 505-757-6414, Ext. 1
- Stroll Las Vegas's plaza, where Territorial Governor Connelly "relocated." The Rough Riders' Memorial and City Museum has some Civil War relics. 800-832-5947
- Ft. Union National Monument, pictured on cover, is another must-see. Visitor center displays and self-guided ruin tours. 505-425-8025
Published by Northeast New Mexico Regional Board with a grant from New Mexico Department of Tourism and with generous assistance from Pecos National Historical Park.