Ghosts of Glorieta Pass

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Sport a little known piece of New Mexico history in style.

Think the Civil War was an east coast thing. Think again. The Battle of Glorieta Pass (March 26–28, 1862) in the northern New Mexico Territory was the decisive battle of the New Mexico Campaign during the Civil War. Some refer to the battle as the Gettysburg of the West due to its overall significance to the war.

Starting in Texas, the Confederate Army planned to move north into the New Mexico Territory. They hoped to make their way toward the Colorado gold mining camps and eventually travel west to the coast to take seaports at Los Angeles and San Diego. To take Colorado and continue the campaign, the Confederates needed to take Fort Union, a supply center for Federal forces across the territory and beyond.

Confederate Brig. Gen. Henry H. Sibley had captured Santa Fe and Albuquerque. On the way to Fort Union, Sibley next hoped to control the Santa Fe Trail passes through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Sibley's Confederates in the area were a few hundred mounted volunteers from Texas commanded by Major Charles L. Pyron. On March 26th, Pyron advanced to Glorieta Pass on the trail and skirmished inconsequentially with Colorado infantry and regular U. S. Cavalry posted in Apache Canyon. Both sides gathered reinforcements the next day. On March 28th, Confederate reinforcements under Lieut. Col. William Scurry attacked the Federals under Colonel John P. Slough resting and filling canteens near Pigeon’s Ranch. The fighting dragged on throughout the day, as the Confederates gradually forced Slough to retreat eastward. When a detachment of Union infantry burned their supply train, the Rebels were forced to retreat and the Union controlled the West through the remainder of the war.