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JOHN ROBERT BAYLOR

The Life and Times of Arizona's Confederate Governor

 

by Robert P. Perkins

 

It is a little known fact that Arizona held status as a Territory of the Confederate States of America during that nationís unsuccessful war for independence. Easily the most important man in the story of the Confederate Territory of Arizona was John Robert Baylor, who created the Territory by proclamation on August 1, 1861, and served as its governor during the entire period of its existence. This is his story.

 

John Robert Baylor

Lt. Colonel, 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles

Confederate Governor of Arizona

 

John Robert Baylor was born in Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky, on July 27, 1822. His parents were Dr. John Walker Baylor and his wife Sophie Marie Weidner Baylor. Baylorís father was a U.S. Army Surgeon who had served in the Black Hawk War and was later stationed at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory.1

 

In 1833 Dr. Baylor left the army and moved, with his family, to Second Creek, near Natchez, Mississippi. Two years later (May 25, 1835), young John and his brother, Henry, were sent off to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend school at Woodward College. They were to remain in that school for over two years, and it was while they were away at school (on January 30, 1836) that their father died in Mississippi.

 

Shortly after the Baylor boys returned from Ohio in 1837, the now widowed Sophie Baylor took the family to Little Rock, Arkansas, where her widowed daughter had opened a boarding house. John was not to remain there long, however, for the Texas frontier was calling him.

In 1840, the now 18-year-old John and his brother Henry moved to Texas, settling on the farm owned by their uncle, William M. Baylor, near La Grange. Soon after his arrival John had one of those experiences that shapes oneís future life. In early August of 1840, John and Henry Baylor, along with a cousin, joined in a pursuit of a band of Comanches. Over the next several months they took part in several other pursuits and battles against these ruthless Indians. It was here that John apparently began to develop a deep and unabiding hatred of Indians, which would later lead him to advocate harsh measures against them, and finally cost him the governorship of Arizona.

 

During General Adrian Wollís invasion of Texas in 1842, John and Henry Baylor served with Captain Nicholas Mosby Dawsonís Company of Texas Cavalry. They became separated from the company during a sudden rise of the waters of Peach Creek, which probably saved their lives, for Captain Dawsonís Company was wiped out nearly to a man at the Battle of Salado (September 18, 1842).

 

Perhaps shaken by this close brush with death, John now decided to leave Texas. He rejoined his mother, who had recently moved back to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Mrs. Baylor had arrived at Fort Gibson in January 1842, and she now operated a boarding house for officers. Baylorís brother-in-law, Captain James Lowes Dawson, was now the government agent for the Creek Indians, and helped John to secure an appointment to establish a school for Creek Indian youths. Beginning on July 1, 1843, John served as teacher at the new school, where for the next year he endeavored to teach as many as 35 scholars.

 

However, events beyond Johnís control were about to send him back to Texas. On July 8, 1844, John was present when Captain Dawson became involved in a fight which resulted in the death of Dawsonís opponent. John apparently had no direct role in this event, but both he and Captain Dawson were arrested and charged with the murder. Both soon managed to escape, however, and fled to Texas.

 

John settled in Marshall, Texas, where he shortly met and fell in love with Miss Emily Hanna. The romance blossomed, and on March 27, 1845 John and Emily were united in marriage at Marshall. Shortly after the marriage they were to be found at Rose Prairie, Fayette County, Texas, where by 1850 John R. Baylor is listed in the Federal Census as a Farmer whose real estate was valued at $5,500. By this time he and Emily had three sons.

Baylorís new-found affluence brought him much respect in the local community, and in 1853 John was elected to the Fifth Texas Legislature (November 7, 1853 to February 13, 1854), representing Fayette County. Meanwhile, he had begun to study law, and he was admitted on August 17, 1854 to practice in the District Court of Fayette County.

 

 

John was soon involved in disputes with the Comanche Indians that hardened his anti-Indian attitudes even further. In July 1855 he was commissioned as Special Agent and placed in charge of the Comanches at the Brazos Agency. Baylor took his family to the agency and bought a ranch on the Clear Fork of the Brazos in Parker County. He observed that the Comanches, though officially settled peacefully on the Brazos Agency, continued to raid and pillage in Texas. John was outraged by this duplicity on the part of the Indians, and became a vocal advocate of taking harsh measures in dealing with them. This attitude led to his replacement as Special Agent on May 18, 1857.

 

George H. Thomas

 

But Comanche depredations continued with no apparent reaction by the government, and finally, John R. Baylor decided to take matters into his own hand. On May 23, 1859 he raised a vigilante party of some 250 to 350 Texas frontiersmen (accounts differ as to the number) who went to the Brazos Agency and with the intent of clearing it out.2 Baylor and his men encountered the Commanches near the reservation and a sharp skirmish ensued in which "several Texans and quite a number of Indians" were killed. The defeated Commanches retreated hastily to the protection of the Reservation, pursued by Baylor's force. The reservation garrison of United States Army troops, commanded by Major George H. Thomas (who later became famous as a Union General during the War Between the States), had stood by throughout this affair and done nothing. Major Thomas now sent a message to Baylor, stating that if the latter would withdraw his men, he would see that the Indians were removed from the reservation to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Baylor accepted these terms, and the Texans went home. Shortly afterward, the Brazos Agency was closed, and the Comanches were removed from Texas.3 However, the Comanches continued their raids from their new base in Oklahoma, and Baylor was compelled to lead other expeditions against them during 1859 and 1860.

 

The 1860 Census found John R. Baylor residing in Weatherford, Texas, with his wife and seven children. John gave his occupation as "lawyer," although he was engaged in ranching as well, his real estate being valued at $2,000 and his personal property (which included seven slaves) at $10,700. Interestingly, Johnís younger brother George Wythe Baylor was living with him at the time, and gave his occupation to the Census taker as "Indian Killer."

 

During the winter of 1860, as dire predictions of secession and war filled the air following the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States, John and George Baylor went to San Antonio, Texas to visit their mother, who had moved there from Fort Gibson some time ago. On their return trip they stopped at the Texas state capital of Austin, where on December 8, 1860 they both signed a petition calling for delegates to meet in Austin to consider withdrawal from the Union.4

 

The petition drive was successful, and in late January 1861 an election was held for delegates to the Texas Secession Convention. Baylor was elected as a delegate to this convention, and strongly advocated secession.5 On February 1, 1861, the Convention put the issue to a vote, and an Ordinance of Secession was passed. On February 23, the vote of the Secession Convention was ratified by a vote of the people of the State, and Texas formally left the Union.

 

One issue that greatly concerned the Texas secessionists was the possible reaction to the secession of Texas by the several-thousand-strong garrison of United States troops that were stationed there. Would they resist, and attempt to hold the State for the Union? Shortly after the end of the Secession Convention, therefore, John R. Baylor had issued a call for 1,000 men to take part in a "buffalo hunt on the plains."6 In reality, Baylor was recruiting a Regiment of Mounted Rifles, whose purpose would be to confront the forces of the United States upon the secession of Texas from the Union, should those forces decide to resist the secessionist movement there. 7

 

David Twiggs

 

As it turned out, Baylor's force would be unnecessary for that purpose, as the commander of the United States forces in Texas, General David Twiggs, was a Southerner and a believer in the sovereign right of States to secede from the Union. "If an old woman with a broomstick should come with full authority from the State of Texas to demand the public property, I would give it up to her," Twiggs said, and when the test came (on February 15, 1861) he was as good as his word.8

 

But Baylor continued recruiting for his Regiment, which by March 19, 1861 was fully manned and designated as the Second Regiment of Texas Mounted Rifles. The Regiment was accepted into the Confederate service on May 23, 1861 and divided into two Battalions, the first (of four companies) being commanded by Colonel John S. "Rip" Ford, and the second (of six companies) by Baylor, who was now a Lt. Colonel. Ford's Battalion was sent south to the area around Brownsville, Texas, and Baylor's was sent to occupy the now-abandoned Federal forts in far-west Texas.9 Unknown to him, this assignment would soon propel him to the governorship of a new political entity...the Confederate Territory of Arizona.

 

The march made by John R. Baylor and the Second Texas Mounted Rifles through the waterless plains of west Texas was a long one, and garrisons had to be left at several forts along the way (Camp Hudson, and Forts Clark, Lancaster, Stockton, Davis, and Quitman). It was thus that Baylor's force did not reach their final destination (Fort Bliss, at El Paso, Texas) until July 1, 1861. By that time Baylor's Battalion, which had initially numbered about 700 men, had dwindled to less than 400 due to desertion and the need to garrison the abandoned posts along the way. 10

 

Baylor himself did not arrive at Fort Bliss until July 13. Upon his arrival he became concerned by reports that large Union forces were concentrating at Fort Filmore, near Mesilla and in easy striking range of his post at Fort Bliss. These reports were true...Major Isaac Lynde was already in command of over 700 men, and more were on the way from the posts in far western Arizona, as these were abandoned as a result of the orders issued by Colonel Edward Canby in May, 1861. Baylor also became aware of the pro-Confederate feeling in "Arizona" (which at that time was a term used to identify the region south of the Gila River). A strong secessionist movement existed there, which had voted at Conventions held at Mesilla and Tucson in March 1861 for the secession of Arizona from the Union and had requested the annexation of Arizona by the Confederacy.11

 

 

Armed with this information, John R. Baylor made a momentous decision. He would lead his tiny force in an invasion of Arizona, defeat (and if possible capture) the Union force at Fort Filmore, and he would support the pro-Confederate elements of the population in the creation of a Confederate Territory of Arizona. On July 23 set out with 250 men (the remainder of his force being left behind as a garrison at Fort Bliss) for Mesilla.12 They crossed the Rio Grande at San Tomas, and in less than 24 hours were camped about 600 yards outside Fort Filmore. Baylor then decided against a direct attack on the fort, recrossed the river, and entered Mesilla.

 

Major Lynde, upon discovering that Confederate troops were in the town, crossed the river with his entire force and demanded their surrender. Baylor refused, and Lynde ordered his men to attack. Union howitzers fired a couple of shots (which did no harm to Baylor's men, but wounded some townspeople who had gathered on a nearby hilltop to watch the fight), and the Union cavalry formed up to charge. As they did do they were hit by enfilade fire from one of Baylor's companies, which had taken up a concealed position alongside the road leading into Mesilla. Three Union soldiers fell dead, and several others were wounded. The Union cavalry retreated in disorder, riding through their own infantry and throwing them into confusion. Major Lynde then ordered his force to retreat back to Fort Filmore. The Confederates were too stunned by the sudden Union retreat to follow, and the battle was over.

 

Baylor expected the Unionists to return the next day, and ordered his men to fortify the town of Mesilla. But to his amazement, the first rays of daylight on July 26 revealed columns of black smoke rising from Fort Filmore. Major Lynde, without consulting his staff, had decided to abandon the post and march his force to Fort Stanton, 154 miles to the northeast. Baylor soon discerned Lynde's plan, and ordered his men on a forced march to cut off the retreat of the Union force. Local scouts had told him of a pass through the Organ Mountains, about 4 miles south of San Augustine Springs, which were sure to be the first destination of Major Lynde's Union troops. If Baylor could get there before Lynde arrived, they could cut the Yankees off from the only available water supply in the area, and force their surrender.

 

Baylor's plan worked exactly as he wished. Riding hard, Baylor's men gathered up and disarmed several hundred Union stragglers, many of whom had foolishly filled their canteens with whiskey from the abandoned hospital stores at Fort Filmore. They pushed on to the pass, and when Major Lynde arrived on July 27 he found Baylor's force drawn up in line of battle, blocking the way through the pass and access to the springs. Lynde's force still outnumbered that of Baylor by this time, but the Union troops were exhausted after their long, waterless march and in no condition to fight. Major Lynde, considering his options, decided to surrender. At one fell swoop, John Robert Baylor had captured the only significant Union force in the southern half of the New Mexico Territory.

 

Returning to Mesilla, Baylor put in motion the second part of his plan. On August 1, he issued a "Proclamation to the People of the Territory of Arizona," which began as follows...

 

"The social and political condition of Arizona being little short of general anarchy, and the people being literally destitute of law, order, and protection, the said Territory, from the date hereof, is hereby declared temporarily organized as a military government until such time as Congress may otherwise provide.

I, John R. Baylor, lieutenant-colonel, commanding the Confederate Army in the Territory of Arizona, hereby take possession of said Territory in the name and behalf of the Confederate States of America." 13

 

 

The Confederate Territory of Arizona, as created by John R. Baylor on 1 August 1861

The proclamation declared that the new Confederate Territory of Arizona was to "comprise all that portion of New Mexico lying south of the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude." The proclamation then went on to specify the organization of government in the new territory. The capital of the Territory was to be at Mesilla, and there were to be district and probate courts at Mesilla and Tucson. All laws and enactments of the old U.S. Territory of New Mexico, not in conflict with the laws or Constitution of the Confederate States, were to continue in full force and effect. And of course, the proclamation named a slate of Territorial officers who would be appointed by Baylor.

 

On August 2, 1861 Baylor appointed the first officers of the new Territory. As specified in the Proclamation, Baylor himself would be Territorial Governor. James A. Lucas of Mesilla would be Secretary of the Territory; Marcus H. McWillie would be Attorney General; E. Augorstein would be Treasurer; and George M. Frazier of Mesilla (who was also serving as Captain in the local militia company, the Arizona Rangers) would be the Territorial Marshal. By the end of August all of the Territorial offices were filled.14

 

And indeed, it is interesting to note that the District Courts and Probate Courts of the new Territory were in operation almost immediately after Baylor declared them in existence. The records of the First District Probate Court (at Mesilla), for instance, begin on August 8, 1861, exactly one week after Baylor's proclamation.15 Thus, within a very short time, Confederate government in the Territory of Arizona was in operation. It would continue to operate efficiently until the fall of the Territory to Union forces in July 1862, a testimony to Baylorís organizational skills.

 

Granville Henderson Oury

Arizona's first delegate to the Confederate Congress

 

It soon became apparent that the people of Arizona were firmly behind Baylor's creation of a Confederate Territory of Arizona. On August 28, 1861 a Convention of the People of Arizona was held at Tucson. This convention ratified Baylor's action of August 1, and elected a Delegate from the Territory of Arizona to the Confederate States Congress. Granville Henderson Oury of Tucson was elected to this position (as he had at earlier conventions in April 1860 and March 1861). Governor Baylor accepted the proceedings of this Convention, including the nomination of Oury as Territorial Delegate, and Oury was soon his way to Richmond, there to assume his seat in the Confederate Congress.16

 

Col. Edward R. S. Canby

Union Commander in New Mexico Territory

 

Upon assuming the office of Governor of the Confederate Territory of Arizona, Baylor found himself faced with a military situation which can only be described as grim. Baylor had only about 450 men (250 at La Mesilla, and another 200 at Fort Bliss) with which to hold the vast expanse of the new Territory for the Confederacy.17 Although one of Baylorís first acts as Governor had been to muster into the Confederate service all of the local militia companies which existed in the Territory, this only added about 200 more men to his force. The Territory faced a myriad of threats, both internal and external, ranging from possible invasion by the Yankees (who had a force of approximately 2,000 men under the command of Colonel Edward R. S. Canby at Fort Craig, about 100 miles north of La Mesilla), to raids by Mexican Bandits from Sonora and attacks by marauding Apaches. Obviously a force of 650 men was insufficient to meet all the demands placed upon it, and Baylor expressed his frustration to his superiors in a letter dated September 24, 1861, part of which reads as follows...

 

"I would again urge the necessity of forwarding with haste reinforcements. The Indians are exceedingly troublesome, and the Sonora Mexicans are threatening to rob Tucson, and have robbed Tubac. As I have before stated, I cannot, with the limited force under my command, keep the enemy [i.e. the Yankees] in check and afford any protection to the citizens. My opinion is that [Union] troops are on the way from California to this Territory; but I shall do all in my power to hold the Territory against all odds." 18

 

However, despite Baylorís pleas, no reinforcements were immediately forthcoming, and the Confederates in Arizona had to make do with their own resources. And, despite the many handicaps he faced, Baylor did remarkably well with the limited resources at his command.

 

To keep the Yankees in check, Baylor sent patrols up the Rio Grande which kept watch on the Union post at Fort Craig, and skirmished with Yankee patrols sent down to gather intelligence on the Confederate forces. The largest of these engagements took place on September 27, 1861, when the Yankees sent a strong reconnaissance force (consisting of two companies of cavalryóalmost 200 menóunder the command of Captain R.M. Morris) down toward Mesilla . This force was engaged at Canada Alamosa (about 40 miles south of Fort Craig) by approximately 100 Confederate troops under the command of Captain Bethel Coopwood, and turned back.19 This and other lesser skirmishes along the border between Confederate and Union-held territory had the net effect of keeping the Yankees from getting any kind of firm picture of the weakness of the Confederate forces facing them, and deterred their cautious commander, Colonel Canby, from making any large attacks on the Confederate Territory.

 

Apache Warriors

 

Unfortunately, the other threats to the new Confederate Territory would not be so easy to manage. This was especially true of the ever-troublesome Apaches. Governor Baylor, upon his arrival in Arizona, found these ruthless Indians engaged in what one contemporary source has called "a saturnalia of slaughter" so severe that "it seemed the last glimmer of civilization was about to be quenched in blood."20 This situation stemmed from the abrupt withdrawal of the United States Army from the territory upon the outbreak of war in May 1861. The Apaches watched the soldiers go, and knowing nothing of the great conflict which was unfolding in the lands to the east, came to believe that the soldiers were leaving because they, themselves, had driven them out. Now they were engaged in a war of extermination aimed at driving the Whites forever from their domain. Wagon trains were being attacked and the people in them massacred; mines and ranches were being attacked and burned by the Apache; and even such large settlements as Tubac, Tucson, and Pinos Altos were either under attack, or under threat of attack.21 The entire territory was in a state of panic and chaos, and all looked to Governor Baylor and the Confederate Army for their salvation.

 

Most of Baylorís force was occupied in keeping watch on the Yankees, however, and he had but little to spare to pacify the Apaches. Most of this duty fell on the local militia units which had recently been mustered into Confederate service, especially the Arizona Guards of Pinos Altos, who fought several successful engagements against the Apache between August 1861 and February 1862. But as courageous and intrepid as these Arizona militiamen were, they could not be everywhere at once, and the depredations of the Apaches continued, more or less unabated.

 

Captain Sherod Hunter

Company A, Baylor's Regiment of Arizona Rangers

 

One other action Baylor took in dealing with the Apache threat was to authorize the formation of a Regiment of Arizona Rangers. This regiment was to be patterned after the Texas Rangers with which Baylor was familiar, and would be used for similar purposes (i.e. Indian fighting and peace-keeping along the frontier areas of Confederate Arizona). Recruiting for this regiment began in December 1861, when Sherod Hunter (who was at the time a First Lieutenant in Captain George Frazierís Company of Arizona Rangers, a militia unit based at Mesilla) was commissioned Captain and ordered to raise the first company.22 As it turned out, Captain Sherod Hunterís Company A, Baylorís Regiment of Arizona Rangers, would be the only one of the proposed six to be recruited. This company was formally mustered into service on January 25, 1862, and would see service in the Spring of 1862, not against the Apaches, but against the Union California Column.23

 

Robert P. Kelley

Editor of the MESILLA TIMES

 

Throughout the autumn of 1861, Baylor barraged his superiors in Richmond with letters informing them of his desperate situation and requesting reinforcements. Baylor held no illusions about his ability either to pacify the Apaches or to repel a full-scale invasion of the Confederate Territory of Arizona by the large force Union force gathering at Fort Craig, and in the late autumn of 1861, having heard nothing from his superiors and having received no reinforcement, he began to make preparations to abandon Mesilla and fall back into west Texas. This brought him into conflict with some of the more hawkish elements of the local population. These people found their voice in Robert P. Kelley, editor of the largest newspaper in Arizona, the MESILLA TIMES.24 Upon learning of Baylor's intention to abandon the Mesilla region, Kelley launched into a "tirade of abuse" (to use George Wythe Baylor's phraseology) against Baylor, using his editorial column as the vehicle. Baylor allowed this to pass without response for several weeks.25 But on December 12, 1861, Kelley printed a scathing editorial lambasting Baylor for considering such a retreat, and strongly intimating that Baylor's actions were due to fear rather than to military necessity.26 George Wythe Baylor later described what happened next...

 

"...some of his men and officers told him [Baylor] if he did not notice it they would. To prevent his soldiers from getting into any difficulty with a civilian, Col. Baylor on meeting Kelley in Bull's Store told him that his abuse must be stopped or he would make it a personal matter. Kelley, who had been misled by the Col's forbearance, not only refused the demand but added additional insult and drew a large bowie knife. Col. Baylor picked up a rifle that was leaning against the wall of the store and struck Kelley over the head, knocking him down, and sprang on him, seizing his wrist to prevent his using his knife. Col. Baylor had just gotten up from a sick bed, and finding Kelley was getting stronger and he weaker, told him if he did not drop the knife he would kill him. Kelley only made a more desperate effort to use his knife when Col. Baylor drew his revolver with his left hand and shot him through the jaw and neck. The knife flew from his hand then, and he [Kelley] died in a few days."27

 

Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley

Commander of the Confederate Army of New Mexico

 

Not long afterward, however, new developments caused Baylor to abandon his planned retreat from Arizona. On January 11, 1862, Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley arrived at Mesilla with three regiments of Texas Cavalry, grandly styled the "Army of New Mexico."28 With the arrival of this new Confederate force, Governor Baylor must have felt that his pleas had finally been answered. But it soon became apparent, however, that Sibley had come not in response to Baylorís pleas, but with an agenda of his own. And it soon became clear that he was prepared to emasculate Baylor's force if necessary to carry out his plans.

 

Sibleyís plans called for an attack on the Union force at Fort Craig, after which the Confederate army would march north to take Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the important post at Fort Union. And, rather than adding to Baylorís defense force for the Confederate Territory of Arizona, he would actually reduce it. Sibley ordered Baylor to turn over to his command over half of his force, which would, as a battalion of mounted rifles under the command of Major Charles Pyron, go north with Sibleyís Army.29

 

However, Baylor saw that Sibleyís army would now take primary responsibility for dealing with the Yankee threat, and that this would allow Baylor to use all his remaining resources in the pacification of the Apaches. Baylor would now be able to take a more aggressive stance in dealing with these troublesome Indians. However, the force at his disposal was still woefully inadequate to pacify this threat, and Baylor grew increasingly frustrated as he led chase after fruitless chase in pursuit of the elusive raiders.

 

During one of these pursuits Baylor used a tactic that would later cost him his governorship, when he ordered it used by all the forces under his command. In January 1862, Chiricahua Apaches ran off 100 horses belonging to the Confederate Army, driving the stock into Mexico. Governor Baylor immediately set out in pursuit of them with a large force. Baylor doggedly pursued the trail deep into the Mexican state of Chihuahua, until finally he reached to town of Corralitos (about 100 miles south of the international line). There he captured nine Apaches (one man, three women, and five children). Declaring his belief that it was "justifiable in killing the Indians and recovering the animals," Baylor executed the adults and took the children as prisoners.30

 

Village of the Pima Indians, fierce foes of the Apache who Baylor sought to enlist as allies

 

Governor Baylor, seeing that military force alone would not solve the problem of the Apaches, determined to use other means as well. First, he sent Captain Sherod Hunter into Western Arizona with orders to negotiate treaties with the Pima and Papago Indians, long-time enemies of the Apache.31 Hunter and his command arrived in Tucson on February 28, 1862. There is some reason to believe that his arrival may have deterred a major attack on the town by the Apaches, although this is not certain. At any rate, Hunter sent his men out on patrols to pacify the surrounding area, and for a little while, at least, Tucson felt safe from the threat of Indian attack.32

 

On March 3, Hunter proceeded to the Pima villages, located on the Gila River, near the site of the present day town of Sacaton. He met with the Chief of the Pimas, Antonio Azul, and, in pursuit of his orders, made a treaty for mutual defense against the Apaches.33 There is little doubt that the treaty would have been of great use but for the fact that the Confederate Territory of Arizona collapsed shortly after it was negotiated. Governor Baylor's essay into diplomacy thus proved devoid of results.

 

Finally, desperate to find a solution to the Apache menace, Governor Baylor decided upon a policy of extermination. He issued an order on March 20, 1862 specifying that Confederate commanders in the Territory were to "use all means to persuade the Apaches or any tribe to come in for the purpose of making peace, and when you get them together kill all the grown Indians and take the children prisoners and sell them to defray the expense of killing the adult Indians. Buy whiskey and such other goods as may be necessary for the Indians and I will order vouchers given to cover the amount expended. Leave nothing undone to insure success, and have a sufficient number of men around to allow no Indian to escape."34 Baylor also may have instructed that poisoned food should be left for Indian consumption, although this is not certain.35 Whether any of Baylor's subordinates actually carried out their Governor's dastardly plans is unknown. There is no record that any of them did so, at any rate.

 

However, Baylorís Apache troubles were soon to fade into the background as news of a disaster suffered by General Sibleyís forces at the Battle of Glorieta Pass reached Baylorís capital at Mesilla. Sibleyís Army of New Mexico had, as earlier mentioned, marched north to invade and conquer those part of the old U.S. Territory of New Mexico which were still under Union control. After winning a major battle against the Union forces at Valverde in February 1862, Sibley marched north, took Albuquerque and Sante Fe, and by March 20, 1862 stood ready to make the final assault on the vital U.S. post at Fort Union (in the mountains east of Sante Fe). 36

 

On March 28, 1862, the Army of New Mexico met a strong Union force at Glorieta Pass (a few miles west of Fort Union), and although they won a great tactical victory on the battlefield, they suffered a major strategic defeat when a small Union force managed to get into the rear of the Confederate force and fall upon the Confederate wagon train, which they destroyed. Almost all of the supplies necessary for the continuance of the campaign went up in smoke, and the Confederates were left with no alternative but to retreat back to Mesilla.37

 

Events progressed rapidly from that point. Shortly after news of the Confederate disaster at Glorieta reached him, Baylor learned that Union forces were invading the Confederate Territory of Arizona from California. Captain Sherod Hunter, stationed at Tucson, informed him that the California Column, a Union brigade of approximately 2,300 infantry and cavalry, had entered Arizona and was threatening Baylorís western flank. Hunterís activities had bought some precious time for the Confederates in Arizona...Hunter had confiscated and distributed back to the Indians a store of grain which had been accumulated for the use of the Union forces at the Pima villages, and Hunterís men had also severely mauled a Union scouting force at the Battle of Picacho Pass, leading their cautious commander, Colonel Joseph West, to tarry at the villages for a month while supplies were gathered and reinforcements were brought up...but it was clear that the handwriting was on the wall for Confederate hopes in Arizona.38

 

When the pitiful remnants of Sibleyís Army of New Mexico finally arrived back in Mesilla in late April 1862, it must have been apparent to Baylor that the end was in sight. Baylor maintained himself at Mesilla through May and June of 1862, but by end of that month had left for San Antonio. The last Confederate troops would evacuate the Mesilla region in early July 1862, and with their going, the Confederate Territory of Arizona ceased to exist.39

 

When the Territory fell, some Confederate leaders were willing to abandon it. For example, General Sibley, whose Confederate Army of New Mexico had suffered disaster in Arizona, stated his own belief that Arizona and New Mexico were "not worth a quarter of the blood and treasure which had been expended" for their conquest and defense, and many other Confederate leaders shared his view.40

 

However, John Robert Baylor thought otherwise, and in this he was supported by the many Arizona secessionists who ardently desired to see Arizona liberated from the rule of the hated Yankees. With their support, Baylor began to work to raise a new army with which he would invade and recapture Arizona for the Confederacy.41

 

Baylor had received orders on April 14, 1862 from George W. Randolph, Confederate Secretary of War, instructing him as follows...

 

"You are authorized to enlist volunteers in Arizona Territory and to muster them into service, singly or by companies, for three years or the war, to be organized as soon as a sufficient number of companies are mustered into a regiment, electing field officers. You will continue to organize regiments under this authority until a brigade has been raised for the defense of the Territory."42

 

Armed with this authority, Baylor began preparations to raise this new "Arizona Brigade" almost immediately after his arrival in San Antonio, Texas, sometime in July 1862. Baylor set up his headquarters at Eagle Lake, Texas (located between San Antonio and Houston), and began to organize and recruit.43 He planned to raise five Battalions of Mounted Rifles, each of 500 men, for a total of 2,000 men in the brigade. Recruiting went well, and by December 1862 Baylor already had 1,500 of the planned 2,000 men signed up. However, arming and equipping the men had proved to be extremely difficult, with the result that only three companies (about 300 men total) had been armed, and those "indifferently" at that.44

 

President Jefferson Davis

 

However, just when Baylor's plans for the re-capture of Arizona seemed about to mature, he was suddenly removed from command. News of Baylor's March 1862 order for the extermination of the Apache Indians had only just reached the Confederate Government in Richmond, and President Jefferson Davis was outraged when he heard of it. He immediately removed Baylor from his post as Governor of Arizona, stripped him of his rank, and cashiered him from the Army.45

 

Baylor, as befitted his nature, did not take this affront without protest. The manner of his protest was, to say the least, unique. On December 29, 1862, he wrote to Major General John Bankhead Magruder, commander of the Department of Texas. With his letter he sent an Apache shield, taken from a chief who had been killed by Baylor personally. The shield was decorated with a scalp, which Baylor's accompanying note described as "a woman's fair tresses--those of a Miss Jackson, who had been murdered during one of the frequent raids."46 According to George Wythe Baylor's postwar account, the shield was also decorated with the scalps of little infants, "dressed like the skin of some animal, painted with bright colors and ornamented with beads."47 Baylor requested that the shield "be sent to His Excellency the President, to enable him to judge whether there is not some cause for the bitter feelings I, in common with the people of our frontier, entertain toward the Indians."48 Magruder's reaction at receiving this grisly talisman can only be imagined. All we know for sure is that he did not forward it on to President Davis, and managed to persuade Baylor to take back both his note and his "gift."49

 

It appeared that Baylor's Confederate career was over, but this was not so. Shortly after his removal from command of the Arizona Brigade, Baylor enlisted as a private in one of the Texas cavalry regiments serving in the Galveston campaign of January 1863.50 Later that same year he ran for and won election to the Confederate Congress, where he served until the end of the war, tirelessly promoting efforts to gain Confederate Government support for the recapture of Arizona from the Yankees.51

 

In December 1864, Baylorís passionate entreaties finally bore fruit, in a way. He proposed sending a force of 2,500 Texans to retake New Mexico and Arizona for the Confederacy. Baylor argued that as many as 10,000 Confederate sympathizers could be recruited in northern Mexico and Arizona to support this effort, and (surprisingly, considering his history of anti-Indian rhetoric and action) that an alliance with the Plains Indians could be made which would break the lines of communication between Missouri and the far west, thus isolating the Union forces there from reinforcement and maybe even forcing them to deploy troops from Arizona to counter the Indian threat. Amazingly, this wild proposal fell on sympathetic (and perhaps desperate) ears in the Confederate War Department, who passed it along to President Davis. And again, in a surprising move, Davis agreed. 52

 

Therefore, on March 25, 1865, John Robert Baylor once again was commissioned as an officer in the Confederate States Army, with the rank of Colonel.53 He was given permission to recruit in the frontier counties of Texas, and was shortly on the road, heading for his new assignment. Eight days later, General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were forced to abandon Richmond, and seven days after that, to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

 

By the time Baylor reached Shreveport, Louisiana on May 14, he found the Army of the Trans-Mississippi in the process of disintegration. Baylor proceeded on into Texas, where in Houston he found soldiers deserting in droves. Clearly, the Confederacy was dead, but not yet buried. It would be only a matter of time before that, too, would occur.

 

Baylor continued his journey, however, and at Huntsville, he found a crowd of soldiers in the early stages of a riot and threatening to storm the State Prison, where it was believed the Confederate Government held large stocks of clothing which had never been issued to the troops. Baylor, clad in "a long linen duster" and armed with an ivory-handled revolver, attempted to calm the angry men by praising their war service. When this did not work, Baylor placed his hand on his revolver and shouted, "Iíll be damned if you will rob your State. I will protect her property!" For a few moments nobody moved, and then the crowd began to disperse.54 A few days later General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi, and the war was over.

 

After the war John R. Baylor settled first in San Antonio, then at Montell, Uvalde County, Texas, where he worked as a rancher and continued his political career. His maverick behavior continued to provide copy for journalists for years after the war. He was involved in more than one gunfight, and at least one knife fight (an 1881 affair in which he killed a man named Gilchrist on the streets of Uvalde, Texas by stabbing him through the heart) during the postwar years. Following the incident at Uvalde, he was described by the local newspaper as "a man who does not seek a fight, but is always ready to defend himself whenever the occasion requires." He died on February 8, 1894 and is buried at Montell, Texas. 55

 

John Robert Baylor was a product of the wild Texas frontier, and although some of the actions taken by him may seem outlandish, foreign, or even brutal to us today, we should remember the context of the times in which he lived. It was a time and place where a man survived by being willing to take the lives of others in defense of his person and property, and Baylor showed that he was up to that challenge on many occasions. But he should be remembered for much more than that. It is due to his efforts that Arizonaís dream of separate territorial status became a reality. Without the creation of the Confederate Territory of Arizona, it seems unlikely that the U.S. Territory would have been created in 1863. And if it had, either in 1863 or at a different date, it certainly would have had different borders. Indeed, it is quite possible that without him, todayís Arizona would not even exist. If for no other reason than this, we should remember John Robert Baylor, Arizonaís first and only active Confederate Governor.

 

 

Some clipart on this page was used courtesy of

 

 

and

 

 

The music file of "The Yellow Rose of Texas"  was composed and is copyrighted by Barry Taylor.  Great, ain't it? For more great midi files like this one, check out THE CONTEMPLATOR'S FOLK MUSIC SITE.

 

 

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Copyright 1999-2007 by the Colonel Sherod Hunter Camp 1525, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Phoenix, Arizona.  All rights reserved. Last updated on 23 July 2007.