Friday, March 30, 2012

Burning Hay

Stanwix Station a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage line saw a small skirmish on March 30th 1862 which slowed the progress of Union troops, giving Confederate troops in the capital of Arizona time to evacuate.

Stanwix Station was built in the 1850’s near the Gila River to the east of Yuma, Arizona as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach line.  An advanced unit of the California Column under the command of Union Captain William P Calloway came onto a detachment of Confederates.  The Confederates under command of Second Lieutenant John W Swilling were burning hay that had been deposited at Stanwix Station for the animals of the California Column.  The two forces exchanged gun fire on March 30th 1862, before the larger force of Union troops forced the Swilling’s men to retreat.  The only casualty was a German born Union private; William Semmilrogge, who recovered.

The burning of the hay at Stanwix as well as several other stations slowed down the movement of the California Column.  This gave the Confederates time to evacuate the territorial capital of Mesilla, Arizona.  It also allowed Swilling to reach Confederate Captain Sherrod Hunter at Tucson, Arizona and warn him of the advancing Union troops.

2 comments:

SteveG said...

I am glad I found your blog! It is much like mine, dealing with lesser known incidents of the Civil War. I had never heard of this episode and it was a treat to read about it. Thanks!

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