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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Civil War in Arizona
Back then Arizona didn't exist; it was part of the New Mexico Territory. Early in the war the Confederacy suffered from a Union naval blockade and decided to send an expedition to take the territory to gain access to its mines and as a route to ports in Mexico and California. In the spring of 1862 an army of Texans under General Sibley marched into New Mexico.
At first all went well, but the army suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Glorieta pass on March 26-28. The rebels were soon fleeing back to Texas. But not all of them. A detachment of 54 Texans had ridden further west, all the way to Tucson, and had claimed it for the Confederacy. As part of the reorganization of Confederate territories they renamed it the Territory of Arizona. They may even have issued an Arizona Confederate currency, a mystery that I'm still trying to clear up with the help of some other researchers.
The Confederate occupation of Arizona was to be short-lived. A column of 2,350 Union cavalry from California headed into the territory and clashed with the Texans at Pichacho Pass about 50 miles northwest of town. After a short firefight that left several men dead on both sides, the rebels retreated. The Battle of Picacho Pass is often called the westernmost battle of the Civil War. I'll be takinng up the question of whether this is true or not later this month.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.