Saturday, February 21, 2009

Confederate Victory In The West

An early Confederate success, was in the New Mexico campaign on February 21, 1862 during the Battle of Val Verde. The Confederates under Brigadier General Henry H Sibley hoped to take Fort Craig, capturing supplies and doing away with the Union garrison stationed there.

Sibley’s brigade of about 2,500 were within 15 miles of the Fort on the evening of February 13. He judged the it to be to strong to take by frontal attack, so he had his troops deploy with hopes of getting the Union soldiers out in the open. However Colonel E R S Canby didn’t have much faith in his volunteer Union troops, and refused to be lured out into the open. Seeing that his tack wasn’t working General Sibley moved his men near Val Verde, north of Fort Craig, to cut off the Federals communications between to Fort and Santa Fe.

On the morning of February 21, 1862 four companies of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles under Major Charles Pyron, along with the 4th Texas Mounted Rifles went ahead as an advanced scouting party. Union scouts informed Colonel Canby of the movements of the Rebels. He sent the 5th New Mexico Infantry under Colonel Benjamin S Roberts out to secure the ford on the Rio Grande. The two armies met on opposite sides of the river. The guns the of the Confederates were mostly short range and wouldn’t reach the Union soldiers. In the late afternoon the Confederates attacked at the Union center taking six artillery pieces and breaking the Union line. Canby ordered a retreat back into the Fort.

As the Confederates held the battle field they claimed the victory. General Sibley still felt that the fort was to strong, and so abandoned it and moved on towards Albuquerque and Santa Fe in search of supplies. The Confederates lost 230 men and 475 Union men were killed or wounded.

Some really good extra reading
Battle of Val Verde

Bloody Valverde: A Civil War Battle on the Rio Grande, February 21, 1862

The Guns of Valverde (Civil War in the Far West)

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