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NEW MEXICO
CIVIL WAR

Pecos

Hoping to gain control of the far Western territories (maybe even California), raid Union garrisons for supplies and weapons, and capture the lucrative gold fields in Colorado, the Confederate government organized a military offensive.

Canby-SibleyAbout 2,500 Confederate troops under Gen. Henry Sibley moved into New Mexico Territory from Texas in early February 1862. Learning of the campaign, Union forces gathered at Fort Craig under Col. E.R.S. Canby.

Aiming first to capture a series of Union garrisons strung out in the Rio Grande Valley, Sibley moved north toward Santa Fe. He was met by Union resistance at the river crossing at Valverde Feb. 20–21 and, although victorious there, Sibley lost some of his much-needed supplies and failed to capture Fort Craig.

The Confederates continued north, capturing Albuquerque and Santa Fe without much resistance. But Union reinforcements were gathering at Fort Union on the Santa Fe Trail.

Although neither Sibley nor Canby was there, elements of the Confederate army met a group of Union soldiers at Glorieta Pass near Pecos. The battle there March 26-28 was a draw, but the Confederates lost most of the rest of their supplies, forcing a retreat. By July, Sibley was back in Texas. The campaign ended in failure.

Explore New Mexico Civil War Battlefields & Sites:


Socorro Area

Fort Craig National Historic Site
Located about 32 miles south of Socorro on the west bank of the Rio Grande
505-835-0412
map   Among the largest forts constructed in the West, Fort Craig was one of a string of eight Federal strong points along the main north-south road in the New Mexico Territory. Capturing the fort was one of the first objectives during the Confederate New Mexico Campaign.
    Hoping to isolate the Union garrison from Santa Fe and points north, Confederate Gen. Henry Sibley bypassed Fort Craig and marched to the Rio Grande crossing at Valverde. He was met there by Union troops from the fort, resulting in a battle fought Feb. 20-21, 1862. The fighting eventually left the Confederates in control of the battlefield, but they had failed to capture Fort Craig, and half their supply wagons were destroyed.
    The Bureau of Land Management administers the Fort Craig site. Interpretive signs at the site explain the history. Open year-round. Free.


Watrous

Fort Union National Monument
New Mexico Route 161, 8 miles from I-25 exit 366
505-425-8025
 Road map 
   Fort Union, located on the Santa Fe Trail northeast of Santa Fe, was one of the largest and most important of the territory’s forts. Following the battle at Valverde in February, Sibley’s force continued north, occupying Santa Fe. One of the Confederate objectives was to capture the lightly defended Fort Union and its supplies and weapons and continue along the Santa Fe Trail to Colorado. Union reinforcements from Colorado began arriving at Fort Union to help turn back the Confederate “invasion” and moved out from here to Glorieta Pass.
    A self-guided tour of the fort ruins is offered with guided interpretive tours scheduled during the summer.
    Open daily 8 am–4 pm (extended to 6 pm Memorial Day–Labor Day). $3/adults.


Pecos Area

Pecos National Historical Park
(Glorieta Pass battlefield)

Located on Route 63, 25 miles east of Santa Fe
505-757-6414 extension 1
   Elements of Sibley’s Confederate force moved into the area March 26, 1862, and separated, hoping to capture Fort Union easily. Federal soldiers from the fort, including reinforcements from Colorado moved to Glorieta Pass to oppose them. Union attacks in the pass March 26 forced the Confederates back.
   Reinforcements arrived for both sides and the battle re-ignited March 28. Following a day of attack and counterattack, both sides withdrew, claiming victory. But the Federal forces had managed to discover and destroy the Confederate supply wagons, leaving the Southerners without resources. The fighting here, although technically a draw, led to a Confederate retreat from the territory. This was the high-water mark for the Confederates in New Mexico during the war.
   The park administers some of the key points of the battles at Glorieta Pass, although much of the battlefield remains in private hands.

   The Pecos NHP visitor center features exhibits on the Glorieta Pass battles. Tours of the battlefield are offered Saturdays at 1:30 pm during the winter months. More frequent tours during the summer. Reservations are necessary. Consult the website or call.
    Visitor center open daily 8 am–4:30 pm (extended until 6 pm Memorial Day–Labor Day). $3/person for seven days. Younger than 16 free.


General information:

Fort Craig National Historic Site, south of Socorro
www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/socorro/fort_craig.html

Fort Union National Monument
www.nps.gov/foun

Pecos National Historical Park
(Glorieta Pass battlefield)
, east of Santa Fe
www.nps.gov/peco