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I. Texas and New Mexico.

  • Twiggs's treason
  • -- Texas State Convention passes ordinance of Secession -- surrender of the regulars -- their loyalty and sufferings -- New Mexico repeals act legalizing Slavery -- Canby in command -- prepares to hold New Mexico -- Sibley brigade -- Fort Craig -- Sibley declines to attack -- battle of Valverde -- heroism and death of McRae -- fight at Apache Pass -- Rebels occupy Santa Fe -- they abandon New Mexico.

The frontiers of Texas, Mexican and savage, were guarded, prior to the outbreak of Secession, by a line of forts or military posts stretching from Brownsville, opposite Matamoras, to the Red River. These forts were located at average distances of one hundred miles, and were severally held by detachments of from 50 to 150 of the regular army. San Antonio, 150 miles inland from Indianola, on Matagorda Bay, was the headquarters of the department, whence the most remote post--Fort Bliss, on the usual route thence to New Mexico--was distant 675 miles. The whole number of regulars distributed throughout Texas was 2,612, comprising nearly half the effective force of our little army.

When, soon after Mr. Lincoln's election, but months prior to his inauguration, Gen. David E. Twiggs was dispatched by Secretary Floyd from New Orleans to San Antonio, and assigned to the command of the department, it was doubtless understood between them that his business in Texas was to betray this entire force, or so much of it as possible, into the hands of the yet undeveloped traitors with whom Floyd was secretly in league. Twiggs's age and infirmities had for some time excused him from active service, until this ungracious duty — if duty it can be called — was imposed upon and readily accepted by him. Within 90 days after his arrival1 at Indianola, he had surrendered2 the entire force at and near San Antonio, with all their arms, munitions, and supplies, to three persons acting as “Commissioners on behalf of the Committee of Public Safety,” secretly appointed3 by the Convention which had just before assumed to take Texas out of the Union.4 The [18] betrayal was colored, not fairly cloaked, by a slim display of military force in behalf of the sovereign State of Texas, Col. Ben. McCulloch, an original and ardent Secessionist, having undertaken and fulfilled the duty of raising that force and posting it in and around San Antonio, so as to give countenance to the demand for capitulation. It was fairly stipulated in writing between the contracting parties, that our troops should simply evacuate Texas, marching to and embarking at the coast, where their artillery and means of transportation were to be given up, while they, with their small arms, should proceed by water to any point outside of Texas; but these conditions, though made by a traitor in Federal uniform with fellow-traitors who had cast off all disguise, were shamefully violated. Col. C. A. Waite, who, after the withdrawal of Floyd from tho Cabinet, had been sent down to supersede Twiggs in his command, reached San Antonio the morning after the capitulation, when all the material of war had been turned over to the Rebel Commissioners, and 1,500 armed Texans surrounded our little band, in the first flush of exultation over their easy triumph. Unable to resist this rapidly augmenting force, Waite had no alternative but to ratify the surrender, dispatching, by permission, messengers to the frontier posts, to apprise the other commanders that they were included in its terms. Collecting and dispatching his men as rapidly as he might, he had some 1,200 encamped at Indianola ready for embarkation, when they were visited by Col. E. Van Dorn, of the Confederate service, recently a captain in our army, who had been sent from Montgomery with authority to offer increased rank and pay to all who would take service with the Rebels. His mission was a confessed failure. A few of the higher officers had participated in Twiggs's treason; but no more of these, and no private soldiers, could be cajoled or bribed into deserting the flag of their country.

Col. Waite was still at San Antonio, when news reached Indianola5 of the reduction6 of Fort Sumter; and Col. Van Dorn, with three armed steamers from Galveston, arrived with instructions from Montgomery to capture and hold as prisoners of war all Federal soldiers and officers remaining in Texas. Maj. Sibley, in command at that port, had chartered two small schooners and embarked thereon a part of his force, when he was compelled to surrender again unconditionally. Col. Waite was in like manner captured at San Antonio, by order of Maj. Macklin, late an officer in our service, under Twiggs; Capt. Wilcox, who made the arrest, answering Waite's protest with the simple words, “I have the force.” Waite, and a few officers with him, were compelled to accept paroles not to serve against the Confederacy unless regularly exchanged.

Of course, the forces at the several posts protecting the frontiers of Texas, being isolated and cut off from all communication with each other, or with a common Headquarters, fell an easy prey to the Rebels. A part of them were commanded by officers in full sympathy and perfect understanding with the Texas conspirators for Secession, who, by means of the secret [19] organization known as “Knights of the golden circle,” having its Texas Headquarters at San Antonio, and its ‘castles’ or affiliated lodges in every part of the State, had prosecuted its undertaking at immense advantage over the unorganized and often unsuspecting as well as uninformed Unionists. The conspirators had long before made themselves acquainted with the loyal or disloyal proclivities of the Federal officers; and, wherever an important position was held by an inflexible Unionist, they were able, by secret representations at the War Department, to procure such a substitution as they desired; and thus Col. Loring, a North Carolinian, deep in their counsels, had been sent out by Floyd, in the Spring of 1860, to take command of the department of New Mexico, while Col. G. B. Crittenden, a Kentuckian, of like spirit and purposes, was appointed by Loring to command an expedition against the Apaches, to start from Fort Staunton in the Spring of 1861. Lieut. Col. B. S. Roberts, however, who here joined the expedition with two companies of cavalry, soon discovered that Crittenden was devoting all his sober moments — which were few — to the systematic corruption of his subordinates, with intent to lead his regiment to Texas, and there turn it over to the service and support of the Rebellion. Roberts repelled his solicitations,7 and refused to obey any of his orders which should be prompted by the spirit of treason. He finally accepted a furlough, suggested by Loring, and quickly repaired under it to Santa Fe, the Headquarters of the department, making a revelation of Crittenden's treachery to its commander, Col. Loring, and his adjutant, but only to find them both as thoroughly disloyal as Crittenden. He was rudely rebuked by them as a meddler with other men's business, and ordered directly back to Fort Staunton, but found opportunity to give notice to Capt. Hatch, commanding at Albuquerque, to Capt. Morris, who held Fort Craig, and other loyal officers, of the treachery of their superiors, and the duty incumbent on them of resisting it.

Meantime, desperate efforts were made by the prominent traitors to bring their men over to their views, by assurances that the Union had ceased to exist — that it had no longer a Government able to pay them or feed them — while, if they would but consent to go to Texas and take service with the Confederacy, they should be paid in full, and more than paid, beside having great chances of promotion. To their honor be it recorded, not one man listened to the voice of the charmer, though Capt. Claiborn, at Fort Staunton, made several harangues to his company, intended to entice them into the Confederate service. Of the 1,200 regulars in New Mexico, one only deserted during this time of trial, and he, it is believed, did not join the enemy. Finally, the disloyal officers, headed by Loring and Crittenden, were glad to escape unattended, making their rendezvous at Fort Fillmore, twenty miles from the Texas line, no far from El Paso, where Maj. Lynde commanded. Here they renewed their intrigues and importunities, finding a large portion of the officers equally traitorous with themselves. But Maj. Lynde appeared to hold out [20] against their solicitations. His forces, however, were so demoralized that, soon afterward,8 when he led 480 of them, out of 700, to the village of Mesilla, some twenty miles distant, he fell into an ambuscade of 200 badly armed Texans, and, after a skirmish, wherein his conduct can only be vindicated from the imputation of cowardice by the presumption of treason, he ordered a retreat to the fort, which his men were next day engaged in fortifying, when surprised, at 10 1/2 A. M., by an order to evacuate that night. The commissary was ordered to roll out the whisky, from which the men were allowed to fill their canteens, and drink at discretion. No water was furnished for the weary march before them, over a hot and thirsty desert. They started as ordered; but, before they had advanced ten miles, men were dropping out of the ranks, and falling to the earth exhausted or dead drunk.

At 2 A. M., a Texan force was seen advancing on their flank, whereupon Lynde's Adjutant remarked, “They have nothing to fear from us.” Our men were halted, so many of them, at least, as had not already halted of their own accord; and the officers held a long council of war. Many privates of the command likewise took counsel, and decided to fight. Just then, Capt. Gibbs appeared from the officers' council, and ordered a retreat upon the camp, saying, “We will fight them there.” Arrived at the camp, our soldiers were ordered to lay down their arms, and informed, “You are turned over as prisoners of war.” The subordinate officers disclaimed any responsibility for this disgraceful surrender, laying the blame wholly upon Lynde. Our men were paroled, and permitted, as prisoners, to pursue their course northward, after listening to a speech from Col. Baylor, of their captors, intended to win their good-will.

Their sufferings, on that forlorn march to Albuquerque and Fort Wise, wee protracted and terrible; some becoming deranged from the agony of their thirst; some seeking to quench it by opening their veins, and drinking their own blood. Maj. Lynde, instead of being court-martialed and shot, was simply dropped from the rolls of the army, his dismissal to date from his surrender;9 and Capt. A. H. Plummer, his commissary, who held $17,000 in drafts, which he might at any moment have destroyed, but which were handed over to and used by the Rebels, was sentenced by court-martial to be reprimanded in general orders, and suspended from duty for six months!

New Mexico, thus shamefully bereft, at a blow, of half her defenders, was now reckoned an easy prey to the gathering forces of the Rebellion. Her Mexican population, ignorant, timid, and superstitious, had been attached to the Union by conquest, scarcely fifteen years before, and had, meantime, been mainly under the training of Democratic officials of strong pro-Slavery sympathies, who had induced her Territorial Legislature, some two years before, to pass an act recognizing Slavery as legally existing among them, and providing stringent safeguards for its protection and security — an act which was still unrepealed. Her Democratic officials had not yet been [21] replaced by appointees of President Lincoln. Her Delegate in Congress, Miguel A. Otero, had issued10 and circulated an address to her people, intended to disaffect them toward the Union, and incite them to favor the Rebellion; but her Democratic Governor, Abraham Rencher, though a North Carolinian, upon receiving news of Lynde's surrender, issued a proclamation calling out the entire militia force of the Territory, to act as a home guard; which call, though it added inconsiderably to the effective force of her defenders, was calculated to exert a wholesome influence upon public opinion, and keep restless spirits out of mischief Col. E. R. S. Canby, who had succeeded to the command of the Department, was a loyal and capable soldier, and was surrounded, for the most part, by good and true men. When the new Governor, Henry Connolly, met11 the Territorial Legislature, a very wholesome and earnest loyalty was found well-nigh universal, so that the Governor's cautious recommendation that the act for the protection of slave property be modified, as needlessly severe and rigorous, was promptly responded to by an almost unanimous repeal of the entire act, leaving the statute-book of New Mexico clean of all complicity with the chattelizing of man.

Meantime, Col. Canby was quietly proceeding with the organization of his militia and other forces for the inevitable contest, crippled throughout by the want of money, munitions, and supplies of all kinds. Even directions and orders, so plentifully bestowed on most subordinates, were not vouchsafed him from Washington, where the absorption of all energies in the more immediate and momentous struggle on the Potomac and the Missouri, denied him even an answer to his frequent and importunate requisitions and representations. An urgent appeal, however, to the Governor of the adjacent Territory of Colorado, had procured him thence a regiment of volunteers, who, though falling far enough short of the efficiency of trained soldiers, were worth five to ten times their number of his New Mexican levies. Making the best use possible of his scanty or indifferent materials, he was probably about half ready to take the field when apprised that the Texans were upon him.

Gen. H. F. Sibley had encountered similar difficulties, save in the qualities of his men, in organizing and arming, in north-western Texas, the “Sibley brigade,” designed for the conquest of New Mexico. His funds were scanty, and the credit of his Government quite as low as that depended on by Canby; but the settled, productive districts of Texas were not very remote nor inaccessible, while Canby's soldiers were for weeks on short allowance, simply because provisions for their comfortable subsistence were not to be had in New Mexico, nor nearer than Missouri, then a revolutionary volcano, where production had nearly ceased. Two insignificant collisions had taken place near Fort Craig.12 In the earlier, a company of New Mexican volunteers, Capt. Mink, were routed and pursued by a party of Texans, who, in their turn, were beaten and chased away, with considerable loss, by about 100 regulars from the fort. [22] The surviving Texans escaped to Mesilla; and Canby occupied the frontier posts so far down as Fort Staunton, leaving Fort Fillmore still in the hands of the Texans.

Gen. Sibley, who had hoped to advance in the Autumn of 1861, was still at Fort Bliss, within the limits of Texas, on the 1st of January, 1862; but moved forward, a few days thereafter, with 2,300 men, many of them trained to efficiency in the Mexican War and in successive expeditions against Apaches and other savages, wherein they had made the name of Texan Rangers a sound of terror to their foes. For Canby's regulars and American volunteers, they had some little respect — for his five or six thousand New Mexicans, none at all. Advancing confidently, but slowly, by way of Fort Thorn, he found13 Canby in force at Fort Craig, which he confronted about the middle of February. A careful reconnoissance convinced him that it was madness, with his light field-guns, to undertake a siege; while his offer of battle in the open plain, just outside the range of the guns of the fort, was wisely declined. He would not retreat, and could not afford to remain, consuming his scanty supplies; while to pass the fort without a contest, leaving a superior force undemoralized in his rear, was an experiment full of hazard; he therefore resolved to force a battle, and, with that view, forded the Rio Grande to its east bank, passed the fort at a distance of a mile and a half, and encamped nearly opposite, in a position of much strength, but entirely destitute of water, losing 100 of the mules of his baggage-train during the night, by their breaking away, in the frenzy of their thirst, from the weary and sleepy guards appointed to herd them. He was thus compelled to abandon a part of his wagons and baggage next morning, as he started for the river, the smallness of his force not permitting him to divide it in the presence of a capable and vigilant enemy.

When his advance, 250 strong, under Maj. Pyron, reached, at Valverde, a point, at 8 A. M., where the river bottom was accessible, fully seven miles from the fort, they found themselves confronted by a portion of our regular cavalry, Lt.-Col. Roberts, with two most efficient batteries, Capt. McRae and Lt. Hall, supported by a large force of regular and volunteer infantry. Our batteries opening upon him, Pyron, greatly outnumbered, recoiled, with some loss, and our troops exultingly crossed the river to the cast bank, where a thick wood covered a concentration of the enemy's entire force. The day wore on, with more noise than execution, until nearly 2 P. M., when Sibley, who had risen from a sick bed that morning, was compelled to dismount and quit the field, turning over the command-in-chief to Col. Thomas Green, of the 5th Texas, whose regiment had meantime been ordered to the front. The battle was continued, mainly with artillery, wherein the Federal superiority, both in guns and in service, was decided, so that the Texans were losing the most men in spite of their comparatively sheltered position. To protract the fight in this manner was to expose his men to constant decimation without a chance of success. [23] Canby, who had reached the field at 1 P. M., considered the day his own, and was about to order a general advance, when he found himself anticipated by Green, at whose command his men, armed mainly with revolvers, burst from the wooded cover and leaped over the line of low sand-hills behind which they had lain, and made a desperate rush upon McRae's battery confronting them. Volley after volley of grape and canister was poured through their ranks, cutting them down by scores, but not for an instant checking their advance. They were 1,000 when they started; a few minutes later, they were but 900; but the battery was taken; while McRae, choosing death rather than flight, Lieut. Michler, and most of their men, lay dead beside their guns. Our supporting infantry, twice or thrice the Texans in number, and including more than man for man of regulars, shamefully withstood every entreaty to charge. They lay groveling in the sand in the rear of the battery, until the Texans came so near as to make their revolvers dangerous, when the whole herd ran madly down to and across the river, save those who were overtaken by a cowardly death on the way. The Colorado volunteers vied with the regulars in this infamous flight.

Simultaneously with this charge in front, Maj. Raguet, commanding the Texas left, charged our right at the head of his cavalry; but the disparity of numbers was so great that he was easily repulsed. The defeat of our center, however, soon altered the situation; our admirable guns being quickly turned upon this portion of the field, along with those of the Texans, when a few volleys of small-arms, and the charging shout of the victors, sufficed to complete the disaster. No part of our army seems to have stopped to breathe until safe under the walls of the fort. Six excellent guns, with their entire equipage, and many small-arms, were among the trophies secured by the victors. The losses of men were about equal--60 killed and 140 wounded on either side. But among the Confederate dead or severely wounded in the decisive charge, were Lt.-Col. Sutton, Maj. Lockridge, Capts. Lang and Heurel, and several lieutenants. Col. W. L. Robards and Maj. Raguet were also wounded, though not mortally. The celerity of the flight precluded the taking of more than half-a-dozen prisoners, among them Capt. Rossel, of the regulars, captured while crossing the river.

Fort Craig was still invulnerable; though a flag of truce, dispatched by Canby as he reached its gates, was fondly mistaken for a time by the Texans as bearing a proposition to surrender. It covered an invitation to a truce for the burial of the dead and proper care of the wounded, to which two days were given by both armies; when a Rebel council of war decided that an assault was not justifiable, but that they might now safely leave Canby to his meditations, and push on up the river into the heart of the Territory. They did so, as they anticipated, without further opposition from the force they had so signally beaten. Leaving their wounded at Socorro, 30 miles on the way, they advanced to Albuquerque, 50 miles further, which fell without resistance, and where their scanty stock of provisions was considerably replenished. [24] At Cubero, 60 miles westward, they obtained more provisions and some ammunition. Still advancing on Santa Fe. the Confederates encountered,14 at Cañon Glorietta, or Apache Pass, 15 miles from Santa Fe, near Fort Union, a new Federal force of 1,300, composed partly of regulars, but mainly of green Colorado volulteers, the whole commanded by Col. John P. Slough. The Rebel force actually present, under Col. W. R. Scurry,15 was decidedly inferior in numbers,16 but in nothing else. The narrowness of the cañon precluded all flanking, enabling the Rebels to span it with a line of infantry, which instantly charged, with the Texan yell, revolver and knife in either land. Our forces scarcely waited to be in danger before breaking and flying in the wildest confusion. In a few moments, not a man of them remained in sight of the Rebels.

Scurry halted, re-formed his men, brought up his guns, and fired a few shots to ascertain the position (if position they still had) of his adversaries, and then ordered Maj. Shropshire, with his right, and Maj. Raguet, with his left, to charge with cavalry and develop the new Federal line, while he would lead forward the center at the first sound of their guns. Delay ensuing, he moved to the right to ascertain its cause, and found that Shropshire had been killed. Immediately taking command of that wing, he advanced and attacked — the left opening fire, and the center advancing, as he did so. Three batteries of S guns each opened a deadly fire of grape, canister, and shell, as they came within range, tearing through their ranks, but not stopping their advance. A short but desperate hand-to-hand conflict ensued, our infantry interposing to protect their guns, which were saved and brought off, with most of our wagons. But our infantry soon gave way, and the Texan victory was complete. Their loss was reported by Scurry as 36 killed and 60 wounded ; but among the former were Majors Shropshire and Raguet, Capt. Buckholt, and Lt. Mills. During the fight, which lasted from noon until about 4 P. M., Maj. Chivington, of Colorado, with four companies, gained the rear of the Rebel position, and destroyed a part of their train, also a cannon, which he spiked ; when, learning that Slough was defeated, he decamped. Our total loss was reported at 23 killed and 50 wounded; while in a skirmish with Pyron's cavalry, the morning g before, Slough took 57 prisoners, with a loss of only 15.

Sibley entered Santa Fe in triumph soon afterward, meeting no further resistance. He collected there all that remained of his little army, and confiscated to its use whatever of provisions and clothing, of wagons and animals, he could lay hands on. But he found the population, with few exceptions, indifferent or hostile, the resources of food and forage extremely limited, and his hold upon the country bounded by the range of his guns. Never had heroic valor been persistently evinced to less purpose. Before he had rested a month, he found himself compelled to evacuate his hard-won conquest, and retreat [25] by forced marches to Albuquerque, his depot, which Canby, advancing from Fort Craig, was seriously threatening. He reached it in time to save his supplies, but only to realize more completely the impossibility of attaching New Mexico to the Confederacy, or even of remaining in it. He evacuated it on the 12th of April, moving down both banks of the river to Los Lunal, thence to Peralto on the east side, where he found Canby looking for him. Some fighting at long range ensued, with no serious results; but Sibley, largely outnumbered, crossed the river during the night, and pursued his retreat down the west bank next morning, Canby moving almost parallel with him on the east. The two armies encamped at evening in plain sight of each other.

Sibley, in his weakened condition, evidently did not like this proximity. “In order,” as he says in his report, “to avoid the contingency of another general action in our then crippled condition,” he set his forces silently in motion soon after nightfall, not down the river, but over the trackless mountains, through a desolate, waterless waste, abandoning most of his wagons, but packing seven days provisions on mules, and thus giving his adversary the slip. Dragging his cannon by hand up and down the sides of most rugged mountains, he was ten days in making his way to a point on the river below, where supplies had been ordered to meet him, leaving his sick and wounded in hospitals at Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Socorro, to fare as they might. He naively reports that “sufficient funds in Confederate paper was provided them to meet every want, if it be negotiated;” and honors the brothers Raphael and Manuel Armijo--wealthy native merchants — who, on his arrival at Albuquerque, had boldly avowed their sympathy with the Confederate cause, and placed stores containing $200,000 worth of goods at his disposal. He states that, when he evacuated Albuquerque, they abandoned luxurious homes to identify their fixture fortunes with those of the Southern Confederacy, and considerately adds, “I trust they will not be forgotten in the final settlement.”

In closing, Gen. Sibley expresses the unflattering conviction that, “except for its political geographical position, the Territory of New Mexico is not worth a quarter of the blood expended in its conquest ;” and intimates that his soldiers would decidedly object to returning to that inhospitable, undesirable country. These and kindred considerations had induced his return to Fort Bliss, Texas, and now impelled him to meditate a movement without orders still further down the country.

Col. Canby wisely declined to run a race of starvation across those desolate mountains, in the rear of the flying foe, but returned to Santa Fe, whence his order, of even date17 with Sibley's official report, claims that the latter had been “compelled to abandon a country he had entered to conquer and occupy, leaving behind him, in dead and wounded, and in sick and prisoners, one-half of his original force.”

1 December 5, 1860.

2 February 18, 1861. He immediately and openly declared that the Union could not last 60 days, and warned officers, if they had pay due them, to draw it at once, as this would be the last.

3 February 5, 1861.

4 Feb. 1. The Convention met this day at Austin, and at once passed an ordinance of Secession, subject to a vote of the people at an election to be held on the 23d just.; the ordinance, if approved, to take effect on the 2d of March. Texas was therefore still in the Union, even according to the logic of Secession.

5 April 17, 1861.

6 April 13.

7 See his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.--Report, Part 3, pp. 364-72.

8 July 24, 1861.

9 July 27, 1861.

10 Feb. 15, 1861.

11 Dec. 2, 1861.

12 In October, 1861.

13 Feb. 19, 1862.

14 March 24.

15 Representative from Texas in the XXXIIId Congress.

16 Col. Scurry, in his official report, declares that he had but 600 men present fit for duty.

17 May 4, 1862.

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