Gettysburg of the West
March 27, 2006 8:17 PM   Subscribe

The Battle of Glorieta Pass is considered the turning point of the Civil War, in terms of the New Mexico Territory. It happened March 26-28th, 1862. Initially Charles L. Pyron and William Reed Scurry's Confederate force, based at Johnson's Ranch, thought that they had won the battle. They would soon learn that the Union troops, lead by John P. Slough, had circled and destroyed their supplies, leading to Scurry's retreat towards San Antonio. More detailed battle info: [1] [2]-Some site photos.
posted by rollbiz (27 comments total)
I like to think I'm a Civil War nut, but my knowledge is woefully inadequate about anything west of the Mississippi, so thanks for this post. That Civil War Battle Summaries page from your first link is a pretty good site, it has come in handy before. Speaking of west of the Mississippi stuff, the last battle of the war was fought at Palmito Ranch, TX in May 1865. The Confederates claimed it as a victory.
posted by marxchivist at 9:04 PM on March 27, 2006

I used to live about a mile from there.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:49 PM on March 27, 2006

my grandparents took us to Glorieta every summer when I was between the ages of 9 and 18... and I had never heard of this before...

and like Marxchivist above, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the Civil War, but I know very little of the battles that took place east of Arkansas...

Thanks for the post...
posted by WhipSmart at 10:00 PM on March 27, 2006

I'm guessing you're Baptist? :) When my ex-wife and I lived not too far from their gates, we used to call it "Baptistworld".

The battleground is just a few miles down the highway to Pecos. There's not much to commemorate it.

It was really pretty living in Glorieta. (Well, what little of tiny Glorieta there is, is on the south side of the Interstate. I lived off the road to Pecos.) Except the winters were hard. Believe it or not, I had to teach my ex-wife, a Canadian, how to drive on the ice and snow. But that's because in Toronto, everything's always salted down and it's not much of a problem.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:12 PM on March 27, 2006

There usually isn't much to commemorate Confederate losses to the USA. The usual crowd of Confederate sympathizers works hard to avoid ever mentioning the losses of their beloved anti-American, slave owning, nation of degenerates. Drive through any of the former CSA states and you'll see memorials of Confederate victories everywhere, and memorials to Confederate dead even in places which were loyal to America. But strangely, the victories of the United States of America over the slave owners and their dupes are almost never mentioned. If you relied on the historical markers you'd assume that the CSA won the civil war.

As a proud Southerner, a proud American, and the husband of a woman who would have been considered property by the CSA, I cheer the loss the degenerates suffered on this date and offer to piss on the graves of any slaveowners or their dupes who tried to destroy America to protect the singular evil that is slavery. And that includes a few of my own ancestors who fought on the behalf of the anti-American forces of the CSA. Up the USA and up yours to any neo-Confederate asshole reading this.
posted by sotonohito at 4:08 AM on March 28, 2006

Alrighty then.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:38 AM on March 28, 2006

Well, maybe that was a bit too vitriolic. I just get so bloody tired of all those neo-Confederate assholes who try to claim that somehow the CSA really wasn't an evil nation bent on destroying America and dedicated to continuing the abomination of slavery.

They talk about freedom (never mentioning the fact that the CSA was dedicated to preventing black Americans from being free), they talk about state's rights (never discussing individual rights), they talk about the "nobility" of the Confederate aristocrats (never mentioning that these "noble" people were murders, rapists, and thugs).

So, I'll admit that I overreacted in my above rant. But I won't say I was wrong, or that I don't have that sentiment. I despise the Confederate States of America and everything it stood for, and its modern defenders sicken me. But I could have expressed my feelings less violently.
posted by sotonohito at 5:26 AM on March 28, 2006

Well let's see then, sotonohito. Chivington- that would be the same Chivington who perpetrated the Sand Creek Massacre?There's a singular evil for you.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:13 AM on March 28, 2006

I'm certainly not going to claim that the USA and its agents have always acted in the most commendable manner. We could also note the Trail of Tears, any of the actions of Custer, the US/Philippines war, Japanese interment camps during WWII, etc. None of that makes the CSA any less evil, or the USA any less the side of right in the Civil War.

I *am* going to claim that the USA was morally superior to the CSA, and that the CSA was a nation founded on the principle that some human beings were property (see Article I section 9.4 of the CSA's Constitution, also Article IV section 2.1). The USA, to its discredit, also included the evil of slavery in its founding documents; however, to its credit, the USA later fought a war to remove that stain from its record, while the CSA fought the same war to preserve slavery.
posted by sotonohito at 7:06 AM on March 28, 2006

I *am* going to claim that the USA was morally superior to the CSA, and that the CSA was a nation founded on the principle that some human beings were property

But, sotonohito, nobody here disagrees (well, that's always a dangerous statement on MeFi, but let's say the number of disagreers is vanishingly small). This is what I find bizarre about so many threads around here: people go off on belligerent rants that would make sense in the camp of their enemies but seem ludicrous in this particular bailiwick. "Bush is BAD!" "God DOESN'T EXIST!" "The South was WRONG!" As XQUZYPHYR so eloqently said, "Alrighty then." I'm not picking on you, since you've already admitted you went over the top, just musing on this frequent quirk of commenters. It's like standing on a table in a bar right next door to Yankee Stadium and hollering "I'm a Yankee fan, goddammit, and I'll fight anyone who has a problem with that!"
posted by languagehat at 8:52 AM on March 28, 2006

The Man Who Lost the Civil War by Rick Creese is a documentary film about the campaign to steal Colorado's gold for the South and some of the strange men who fought it.
posted by johngumbo at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2006

Oh, and nice post! (Though there's something amusing about the description "the turning point of the Civil War, in terms of the New Mexico Territory...")
posted by languagehat at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2006

languagehat: I'll plead kneejerk reaction (and, yes, I know that usually you can just drop the "knee" for a better description). Aside from the fact that I'm just more interested in East Asian history, that's one of the main reasons I didn't focus on US history; a historian should be objective, and its utterly impossible for me to be objective on this subject. I dispise the CSA in an utterly irrational manner, and I have no interest in trying to change.

I did, at least, spare everyone my rant about why its buying into the neo-Confederate point of view to describe the war as "North vs. South", or to use the term "Union" instead of "American" when describing the army of the USA.
posted by sotonohito at 11:04 AM on March 28, 2006

there's something amusing about the description "the turning point of the Civil War, in terms of the New Mexico Territory..."

Yeah, not sure if it makes me more or less an idiot but I think I ripped that off from the Wiki. It was late.

Also, I forgot to mention it (and also didn't think it was FPP material) but The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is supposed to be loosely based on the event. In a little research, I took this to mean that both involved New Mexico during the Civil War.
posted by rollbiz at 11:29 AM on March 28, 2006

Pressed Rat: Yes it was the same Col. Chivington that was the Union commander in this battle, who was also repsonsible for the Sand Creek Massacre. From the Wikipedia article:

"Colonel John Chivington and his 700 troops of the First Colorado Cavalry, Third Colorado Cavalry and a company of First New Mexico Volunteers marched to their campsite in order to attack the Indians. On the morning of November 29, 1864, the army attacked the village and massacred most of its inhabitants. Only 9 or 10 Americans were killed and three dozen wounded. Between 150 and 184 Cheyennes were reported dead, and some were reportedly mutilated, and most were women, children, and elderly men. Chivington and his men later displayed scalp and other body parts in the Apollo Theater in Denver."
posted by javelina at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2006

Y'all are aware that NM was a Union territory, right? There really was no question of that being the case because of NM's history with Texas. Texas attempted three invasions of New Mexico, if you include this Confederacy attack. The first, in 1841, saw the Texans putting a few towns to the torch but were driven away by NM troops. (At that time, New Mexico was a territory of Mexico, although a little-known fact outside of New Mexico is that being as isolated as it was, enormously distant from Mexico City, New Mexicans were not happy with Mexico's revolution against Spain and continued to regard themselves as Spaniards. This is why native northern New Mexico hispanics still have a preference to self-identify as "Spanish", a designation that is scorned in most of the rest of Hispanic America with a connection to Mexico.) Again at the beginning of the Mexican American war, Texas thought to launch an invasion—but this time was turned back before even reaching New Mexico by Kearney's army who was headed that way to claim it for the US.

The prior invasion by Texas saw, as I mentioned, some villages torched and other nastiness because, you'll understand, Texas did not particularly like Mexico or Mexicans. No matter what they say today, that's still the case. In contrast to Texas's behavior when they invaded, Kearney's US army had advance scouts distribute leaflets saying, in Spanish, that the US would leave the people alone, other than occupying Santa Fe; that they'd respect their Catholic religion and way of life. Kearney occupied Santa Fe (reportedly) without a shot fired.

So at this time of the Confederate invasion, the people of New Mexico were, reportedly, wholeheartedly in favor of the Union and basically in terror of the Confederacy soliders, which were mostly Texans.

I don't recall how this happened, exactly, but the Confederate soldiers ended up retreating towards Santa Fe, and briedly occupying it as they retreated southward before the Union army, eventually to return to San Antonio.

There is really no sense in which New Mexico has an affiliation with the South, most certainly not Texas no matter how many times Texas claimed (but did not occupy) the territory for its own.

Growing up as I did, regretably, in eastern New Mexico (but not born there!), many of the people I knew claimed an affinity with Texas and the Confederacy. Which, indeed, they had. The eastern portion of the state was "unsettled" "Indian country", and didn't see anglo settlers until the very end of the 1800s, and by Texans. Most of the anglos in eastern New Mexico are from familes originating in Texas. Nevertheless, being proudly a native New Mexican, as far as I was concerned I was (and am) a Yankee. Thank god.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:05 PM on March 28, 2006

By the way, languagehat, if you see this battle in context, it had a lot of strategic importance.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:08 PM on March 28, 2006

A most informative comment, EB. Thanks.

if you see this battle in context, it had a lot of strategic importance.

Sure, I understand that. I've been reading up on the Civil War recently and appreciating the importance of the western fronts much more than I had. But come on, you've got to agree that "the turning point of the Civil War" sounds like wild hyperbole when you're talking about New Mexico. Most of the Union probably wouldn't have noticed if New Mexico had fallen off the face of the earth.
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on March 28, 2006

Yah. They still feel that way. That is, the ones that even know that New Mexico is a state. :)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:55 PM on March 28, 2006

...many of the people I knew claimed an affinity with Texas and the Confederacy

I don't know about New Mexico, but I'm told that North Carolina (where I live) is more pro-Confederate now than it was during the Civil War.
posted by marxchivist at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2006

Thanks a lot for the information, Ethereal Bligh.

I'd imagine that the North Carolina and perhaps some other places are more "Pro-Confederate" out of some ridiculous sense of nostalgia. I sure do know that when I made my trip down there I was referred to as "Yank" by total strangers as a default. Of course, I was travelling with another Northerner by the name of Sherman, a la Sherman's March to the Sea...And I was in Savannah. Might not have helped my reception.
posted by rollbiz at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2006

I think the "turning-point" nature of this battle isn't its actual outcome, but its potential outcome. If the CSA had been able to run up to Denver and steal the US treasury's gold, the US would have had a much more diffcult time continuing to finance their war production. Northern industrialization was crucial for their success and Western gold was crucial for that industrialization. Ergo, this battle would have been a turning point had the CSA won.
posted by johngumbo at 5:13 PM on March 28, 2006

Great post. Thanks.

I live in Roswell, and I honestly doubt that there are many people on these boards who live in a more remote area.

It's a three-hour drive to any town of even secondary significance (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Lubbuck, El Paso).

And you drive through a lot of nothing in that three-hour interim.

Ethereal Bligh, this isn't Civil War, but I'm 99% sure you'll love the read: "Tom Tobin, Frontiersman" by James E. Perkins.

posted by rougy at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2006

Hey, rougy. Thanks for the recommendation. If the few of us around these parts ever get the wherewithal to organize a meetup, you should come up.

I grew up in Portales 'cause we moved there from ABQ when I was three for my dad to go to university. My before-adolescence childhood was great—very boys-on-bikes small town/country adventure. I hated being there in high school, though. And if I never set foot in Portales in my lifetime, that's fine with me.

I lived in Roswell for a few months, managed a retail store downtown. During that time, I made the drive to ABQ in a bit less than an hour-and-a-half by driving 100mph on long stretches of road. But if I never see Roswell again, that's okay with me, too. I've also had the misfortune of living in both Lubbock (went to TTU for a while) and Amarillo (parents lived there for a while).

There are some people here that are as remote or more remote than you are. Keep in mind that where people are remote but there's net connectivity, places like this are a lot of folks' socializing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:21 PM on March 28, 2006

EB, that isn't entirely the case. The Arizona Territory of the CSA was created after groups in Tucson and the then-metropolis of Mesilla, NM voted to secede.
posted by dhartung at 10:29 PM on March 28, 2006

EB - we'll probably never meet, but meeting you here is...refreshing. Checked out your site and I see that you dabble in Flash, too. F8, no less. Cheers. See you around....
posted by rougy at 11:44 PM on March 28, 2006

Nice meeting you, as well. That Flash Flickr thingie came from, well, Flickr. I've never worked with Flash, actually.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:41 AM on March 29, 2006

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