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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862 fought in the New Mexico Territory outside of Santa Fe in
and around the Pigeon Ranch

UNSUNG BATTLE--Very few outside of historical academia, who focus on the American Civil War and battlefield buffs can recall the significance of the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

The outcome of the three days battle in the New Mexico Territory (March 26-28, 1862) was pivotal in keeping the entire West under federal control.

In keeping the South from invading the West, the Battle of Glorieta Pass (near Santa Fe, New Mexico) has been called the Gettysburg of the West.

Ironically, the South won the Battle of Glorieta Pass but lost the war.  Technically, Confederates forced the Union troops to retreat off the field of battle. But, because Union field officers (pre-battle) had decided to split their attack in two, one of the federal columns came across the 60 wagons containing rebel supplies.

Union troops easily overwhelmed the few guards that guarded the rebel supply wagon train, and as a result, the South had to retreat from Santa Fe to San Antonio, Texas.

The South never attempted another invasion to capture the West.  Just as one year later (1863) the South never attempted to invade the North after losing the Battle of Gettysburg.

The reason for the invasion was to capture the gold mines in Colorado and California to help fund the war effort.

If the opportunistic Union leadership had not destroyed the supply train, the rugged Confederates just might have had enough momentum to drive Union soldiers out of New Mexico and Colorado.  Then they would use Colorado as a base to invade California and capture the gold mines and seaports along the Pacific.

OUTMANOEVERED--Union commander Col. John Slough was in charge of federal troops at the Battle of Glorieta Pass.  Under his command Major John Chivington led one of the two attack prongs that skirted the main battle area. By doing so, the Union Major came over the canyon wall and arrived undetected to the site of the 60-wagon rebel supply depot and destroyed it.  Losing all supplies at Johnson’s Ranch, the South was forced to retreat back to Texas.   Ironically, the Rebs beat off the first prong of the federal attack.  They thought they had one the battle until the returned to the burned out supply depot.

Wikipedia has a detailed profile on the Battle of Gorieta Pass:

Other battle descriptions can be found at:

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