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CONFEDERATES ON THE COLORADO

The Confederate Arizona Campaign, Spring 1862

 

by Robert Perkins

 

In the winter and spring of 1862, a tiny force of Confederate cavalry, Company A of Baylor's Regiment of Arizona Rangers conducted a brilliant campaign in the deserts of what is now Arizona. Under the command of Captain (later Colonel) Sherod Hunter, this tiny Confederate force (consisting of less than 100 men), liberated what is now the state of Arizona from the rule of the United States, carried the Confederate flag nearly to the banks of the Colorado River (the farthest west penetration of the Confederate army), delayed by more than a month the invasion of Arizona by a 2,000-man Union army from California, and fought and won the westernmost battle of the War Between the States (Picacho Pass, April 15, 1862). Yet today Captain Hunter and his command are rarely mentioned in the histories of the War Between the States, and the campaign itself is almost forgotten. This article will attempt to correct that injustice.

 

Governor John R. Baylor

Confederate Territory of Arizona

 

On February 10, 1862, Captain Hunter received the following order from his commanding officer, Lt. Colonel John Robert Baylor.1

HEADQUARTERS, Mesilla,

February 10, 1862

CAPTAIN SHEROD HUNTER

SIR. You will, without delay, move with your company to Tucson and select some point in the vicinity of that place for a camp until further orders. You will also escort Col. Jas Riley (sic) to the Mexican border, or to some point where he can get an escort from the Mexican authorities. The detachment of Capt. Helm's Company will return with Col. Riley.

 

Respectfully,

JNO R. BAYLOR

Col. Cmdg.

 

In a separate document, Hunter received specific orders for his operations after his arrival in Tucson. Hunter was to "maintain law and order both among the citizens and soldiers" in Tucson; to "cultivate amicable relations" with the citizens of the Mexican state of Sonora; to make a treaty with the chiefs of the Pima and Papago Indians, and to secure the aid of said Indian tribes against the Apaches; to attempt to open communications with California and to secure recruits for the Confederate armies therefrom; and to scout forward toward Fort Yuma and to report the activities of the Union forces stationed there.2

 

Map of the Confederate Territory of Arizona

 

The genesis of these orders goes back to August of 1861, when Baylor, at the head of 250 Confederate cavalrymen, invaded the United States Territory of New Mexico. Baylor had captured the Union garrison of Fort Fillmore (interestingly enough, Sherod Hunter had served as a civilian scout under Baylor's command during this campaign), and issued a proclamation splitting off the southern half of the New Mexico Territory and creating the Confederate Territory of Arizona.3 Tucson, although selected as the site of one of the two District Courts for the new Territory, had received little other benefit from Baylor's action. The town was under virtual siege by the Apaches, and Governor Baylor simply had no troops to spare for its protection. Mines and ranches in the area had to be abandoned, as the miners and ranchers gathered within Tucson's adobe walls to escape the marauding Apache raiders.4

 

Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley

Commander of the Confederate Army of New Mexico

 

Upon the arrival in December 1861 of Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley and his three regiments of Texas cavalry, grandly named the "Army of New Mexico" by their commander, the military situation in the Confederate Territory of Arizona changed. Rather than standing on the defensive, as Baylor had been forced to do since his victory in August, the Confederates would now take the offensive and invade the northern half of the old U.S. Territory of New Mexico, which was still under Union control. Control of this Territory, Sibley believed, would provide a base for the invasion and occupation of California, Colorado, Utah, and northern Mexico.5

 

Sibley recognized the importance of Tucson and Western Arizona for the Confederacy. It was thus that Sibley wrote, on January 27, 1862, a letter to the Adjutant General of the Confederate States Army, General Samuel Cooper, which included the following passage:

 

"With a view to the protection of the important and growing interest, chiefly mineral, in Western Arizona, and for the further purpose of opening communications with Southern California, whose people are favorably inclined to our Government, I have ordered one company (Captain Hunter's) of Colonel Baylor's command to take post at Tucson."6

 

Upon receipt of Governor Baylor's order, Captain Hunter and his men saddled up to begin a long and arduous journey that would last almost two weeks. Hunter and his men encountered great difficulties during the trip from Mesilla to Tucson, not the least of which was Mother Nature herself. Violent storms plagued the command through its entire journey, and not all of them would complete the journey alive...Private Benjamin Mays succumbed to pleurisy at San Simon whilst en route to Tucson. It was thus a battered, and likely very ragged-looking company of Confederate Arizona Rangers which rode into Tucson on February 28, 1862.7

 

Tucson, Arizona as it appeared in 1864

 

Hunter, in a report dated April 5, 1862, described in glowing terms the reaction of Tucson's people to the arrival of the Confederate troops, saying that "My timely arrival with my command was hailed by a majority, may I say the entire population of the town of Tucson."8 However, Hunter's statement is not entirely correct. While there is no doubt that the majority of the Anglo population of Tucson was of decided Confederate feelings (indeed, the local militia had, even before the arrival of Hunter and his command, gone into battle against the Apaches whilst possibly carrying a Confederate flag9, and there had been secession conventions in Tucson in March and August of 1861)10, there were, nevertheless, a number of Union Men in Tucson.

One of Hunter's first acts after his arrival in Tucson, after procuring food and clothing for his men, was to call in the known Union men. Hunter presented them with the following oath, giving them the option of either signing it or leaving Tucson:

 

"I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will be a true and loyal citizen of the Government of the Confederate States of America. And that I will bear true allegiance (sic) to the same. That I will as a faithful and good citizen observe and obey all laws of said Government. That I will at all times whenever required by the proper authority take up arms in defense of the rights and liberties of said Government. And that I hereby renounce allegiance to all and every other Government but that of the Confederate States of America. So help me God."11

 

Several, such as Sam Hughes, Peter Brady, Solomon Warner, and Esteban Ochoa, refused to sign the oath. Ochoa was especially eloquent, saying, "Captain Hunter, it is out of the question for me to swear allegiance to any party or power hostile to the United States government, for to that government I owe all my prosperity and happiness. When, Sir, do you wish me to go?" Hunter gave him an hour to gather his belongings and get out of town.12  Hunter confiscated the property of Tucson Unionists and used it to provide for the needs of his men. He also confiscated Union-owned mines in the area, but it is doubtful whether he got any of them in operation for the Confederacy.13

 

Be that as it may, however, there is no doubt that nearly everyone in Tucson was elated to have Captain Hunter and his command in the town. One did not have to be a secessionist to welcome the presence of soldiers and their protection from the marauding Apaches. And there were plenty of secessionists in Tucson who welcomed Hunter not only as a protector, but as a liberator.

 

Raising the Confederate Flag over Tucson

March 1, 1862

 

Captain Hunter's command was accompanied to Tucson by Colonel James Reily and his escort from the Arizona Guards. But Reily would not stay in Tucson, as he had important business of his own, namely a diplomatic mission to the Governor of the Mexican state of Sonora.14 However, he tarried long enough in Tucson to take part in the formal flag-raising ceremony (March 1, 1862), whereby Captain Hunter took officially took possession of Tucson, and Western Arizona, for the Confederate States of America. Reily, a renowned orator, made a rousing speech which was received with cheers by the crowd, although the words have not been recorded.15 On March 3, 1862, Colonel Reily departed for Sonora, accompanied by his escort, 20 men led by Lieutenant James Henry Tevis.16

 

Fortunately, Captain Hunter was able to gain a number of recruits for his Company at Tucson, which partially compensated for the drain imposed by the need to provide an escort for Colonel Reily. Eight Tucson residents enlisted in the Arizona Rangers at Tucson on March 1, 1862. They were Thomas Childs, William Finley, John Ham, John W. Hill, John Insalman, John Keegan, James King, and Frederick Summit. In addition, Privates Thomas McAlpine, Thomas Farrell, and Davis Wisdom, all members of the Arizona Guards which had come to Tucson as part of Colonel Reily's escort, transferred into Hunter's company at Tucson on March 1, 1862.17 Finally, Lieutenant John W. "Jack" Swilling, also of the Arizona Guards (he had commanded Colonel Reily's escort until its arrival in Tucson) remained in Tucson after the departure of Colonel Reily's escort for Sonora, and took an active part in the upcoming campaign. He may have transferred, as did the three Privates mentioned above, into Hunter's company, but if so all record of the transfer has been lost.18 Thus reinforced, Sherod Hunter and the Arizona Rangers prepared for the coming campaign.

 

The Pima Villages

 

Sherod Hunter, too, was not long idle in Tucson. On March 3, 1862, the same day that Colonel Reily left for Sonora, Captain Hunter set out with about 20-30 men (the remainder having been sent out in detachments against the ever-troublesome Apaches) for the villages of the Pima Indians. These villages were located on the Gila River, near the sites of the present day towns of Sacaton and Casa Grande, Arizona (the Pimas still live in the region, which is today encompassed by the Gila River Indian Reservation).19

 

Hunter's mission at the Pima villages was twofold. First, Captain Hunter had orders from Governor Baylor to negotiate and establish friendly relations with the Pimas, and to enlist their aid in fighting the common enemy of both the Pimas and the Confederates...the Apache.20 Second, Hunter had heard in Tucson rumors of an imminent invasion of Arizona by a Union army from California. Part of his motivation for going to the Pima villages was to investigate these rumors, and if the rumors were found to be true, to do what he could to delay the progress of this invasion.21

 

Upon his arrival, Hunter met with the chief of the Pimas, Antonio Azul.22 The Pimas had always been friendly to the white population, and the political dispute then in progress between the North and the South held no meaning for them. Hunter therefore had no difficulty in securing a mutual defense treaty between the Confederacy and the Pimas.23

 

White's Mill

 

Hunter soon discovered the truth of the rumors he had heard concerning the formation of a Union army in California, and that army's intention to invade Arizona. The California Column, a brigade of approximately 1,500 men under the command of Colonel James Henry Carleton, was indeed preparing to invade Arizona.24 In preparation for that invasion, a federal purchasing agent had been at work among the Pimas, purchasing wheat for the Union forces. The agent, one Ammi M. White, was the owner of a grist mill located at the villages, and had accumulated a store of 1,500 sacks of wheat. Captain Hunter ordered the arrest of Mr. White, and confiscated all of White's property, especially the wheat. "This (wheat) I distributed among the Indians," Hunter later wrote, "as I had no means of transportation, and deemed this a better policy of disposing of it than to destroy it or leave it for the benefit (should it fall into their hands) of the enemy."25

 

Although Hunter did not know it, the confiscation of this 1,500 sacks of wheat would prove to be one of the most effective blows he would strike against the Union California Column. The Union army had depended on that wheat being at the Pima villages when they arrived, and it proved a severe inconvenience to them when they found it was not available for their use. Indeed, the final Union advance to Tucson was delayed by more than two weeks because the Union leaders could not arrange for the supplies needed for their men. The Pimas would not accept Union currency, and would only trade their wheat for manta, a type of tradecloth. The Union forces had neglected to bring any manta with them...they had thought the wheat was there waiting for them! Captain William Calloway, commanding the advance guard of the California Column upon its arrival at the Pima villages, would write to his superiors, "Send us Manta or we will starve. We have only one day's rations at present." It took mostof two weeks to get sufficient supplies of manta to purchase enough wheat to supply the Union troops. During that time the Unionists lived on the scanty supplies they had brought wlth them, and on the generosity of the Pima.26

 

An interesting postscript to the story of the confiscated wheat was provided by John Ross Browne, author of ADVENTURES IN THE APACHE COUNTRY: A TOUR THROUGH ARIZONA, 1864. Browne informs us that in 1863 the Pimas sold over a million pounds of wheat to the Federal Government. Included in that total was much of the wheat confiscated by Hunter and redistributed to the Pima the year before.27

 

Captain William McCleave

1st California Cavalry

 

However, the siezure of Ammi White and his wheat was not to be the only incident of note during Hunter's stay at the Pima villages. As Hunter himself later wrote, "While delaying at the Pima villages, awaiting the arrival of a train of 50 wagons which was reported to be en route for that place for said wheat (which report, however, turned out to be untrue) my pickets discovered the approach of a detachment of Cavalry, and which detachment, I am happy to say, we succeeded in capturing without firing a gun. This detachment consisted of Captain William McCleave and nine men of the First California Cavalry."28

 

The manner of this capture deserves some elaboration. Captain McCleave and his escort of nine men rode into the Pima villages on the morning of a day in mid-March, 1862 (the date is uncertain...various sources give dates as various as March 6, 9, 10, 11, and 18. McCleave’s service record shows a date of March 10, and the paroles issued to the captured Union enlisted men by Hunter show a date of March 11, so it was almost certainly one of those two dates).29 Leaving his most of escort behind, McCleave went with two men to the home of Ammi White, the miller and federal purchasing agent who had been arrested by Hunter (White had, by this time, already been sent to Tucson under guard). When McCleave knocked on White's door, a man answered, dressed in civilian clothes. This was actually one of Captain Hunter’s men, roused from sleep by the knock at the door. When McCleave asked to see Mr. White, the man left and returned with another man who said he was Mr.. White (it was, in fact, none other than Captain Sherod Hunter himself, posing as the miller). Captain McCleave, who had never seen White personally, and who believed himself to be among friends, innocently answered a number of questions for Hunter. As they spoke, a large number of other men (also Confederate soldiers) drifted into the room. Finally Hunter, having learned everything he wished to know, revealed himself. Suddenly drawing his pistol, he informed the astonished Union officer that "I am Captain Hunter of the Southern army. Consider yourselves prisoners. Lay down your arms." When McCleave responded that he would do nothing of the kind, Hunter warned, "If you make a single motion I’ll blow your brains out. You are in my power, surrender immediately." McCleave did so. And shortly afterward Hunter's men captured the rest of McCleave's escort without a shot being fired.30 The outraged McCleave is said to have challenged Hunter to a fist fight, but Hunter declined, doubtless with some pointed remark to the effect that "all is fair in love and war."31 McCleave and his men were soon on their way, under guard, to Tucson.32 

 

The capture of McCleave did not end Hunter's activities at the Pima villages. While still at that place, he learned that the Union forces had been storing hay at all of the former Butterfield Overland Stagecoach stations between the villages and Fort Yuma.33 The need to provide forage for the large number of animals moving with the California Column through the arid wastes of Arizona was an "Achilles Heel" that could be exploited to delay any invasion of Arizona from California, and Hunter determined to do just that.34

Hunter sent out detachments to burn the hay, which they succeeded in doing at six of the stations.35 Although it is not certain, it is possible that some of Hunter's patrols reached the banks of the Colorado River whilst searching for these stations. But whether they did or they didn’t, these probes marked the westernmost penetration of the Confederate Army during the war. And it would be a hay-burning detachment which would precipitate the farthest west skirmish of the war, at Stanwix Station.

 

Lt. John W. "Jack" Swilling

Arizona Guards

 

On March 30, 1862, Confederates possibly under the command of Lieutenant John W. "Jack" Swilling36 were torching the hay stored for the use of the Union army at Stanwix Station, an abandoned stop on the old Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route located on the Gila River, about 80 miles east of Fort Yuma. While they were engaged in this activity, they encountered the vanguard of a force of 272 men, sent from Fort Yuma to the rescue of the hapless Captain William McCleave (captured by Hunter at the Pima villages on March 18). This Union force was commanded by Captain Wllliam Calloway. The Confederates fired at the approaching Yankee soldiers, wounding Private William Semmilrogge of the First California Cavalry in the right shoulder (Semmilbrogge survived the wound). The Confederates then fled, pursued by a detachment of Union horsemen under Captain Nathaniel Pishon. They eluded the pursuit, and by hard riding were able to bring word of the skirmish to Tucson by April 5, when Hunter's official report was made.37

 

Captain Hunter, upon learning of the approaching Union force, did two things. First, he disposed of his prisoners, paroling Captain McCleave's nine-man escort and sending them back to Fort Yuma, and sending McCleave and miller White under guard to Mesilla, on the Rio Grande.38 The escort assigned to convey McCleave and White to Mesilla was none other than Lieutenant Swilling, who had just returned from the engagement at Stanwix Station. Swilling left for the Rio Grande with his prisoners by April 6, 1862 (Swilling thus could not have commanded the Confederate forces at the upcoming battle of Picacho Pass...he was many, many miles away when the battle occurred. That Swilling was present at the said battle is one of the most persistent myths surrounding that event, found even in very recent history texts).39  Second, Hunter stationed a picket detachment on the Fort Yuma-to-Tucson road at a place called Picacho Pass. This detachment consisted of Sergeant Henry Holmes and nine men.40 There was at that place a former station of the old Butterfield Overland Stagecoach line, as well as a spring, and the elevation of Picacho Peak afforded a sweeping view of the surrounding country...a perfect observation point for pickets watching for invaders from the north.

 

The Union force encountered by the Confederates at Stanwix Station soon moved on to the Pima Villages, and thus the stage was set for the westernmost battle of the War Between the States, the Battle of Picacho Pass. Captain Calloway, the Union commander, heard upon his arrival at the villages of the Confederate picket post at Picacho Pass.41 Calloway had orders to attempt the capture of Tucson, and he realized that the pickets stationed at Picacho could warn the Confederate commander there of his approach. He therefore determined to capture them, and thereby preserve the advantage of surprise for his attack on Tucson.42

 

Calloway divided his force. Leaving the Pima Villages on April 14, he personally led the main force of cavalry and infantry from the Pima villages directly down the Tucson road. He also detached two squads, one under the command of Lieutenant Ephraim C. Baldwin, and another of 12 men under the command of Lieutenant James Barrett, and ordered them to circle around the eastern and western faces of Picacho Peak, entering the pass from the south and cutting off the retreat of the Confederate pickets holding the pass. Barrett made better time, and arrived at the pass on April 15, 1862, while Lt. Baldwin’s party and the main body were both still some miles away. He had orders to wait for the main body, but like Custer at the Little Big Horn 14 years later, he disobeyed orders and attacked immediately.43

 

Barrett sighted the Confederate campsite, and ordered his men to charge. Barrett fired his revolver and shouted for the three Confederates then at the campsite (Sgt. Holmes, and Privates John Hill and William Dwyer) to surrender. The surprised Confederates threw down their arms as the Union cavalrymen swept into the encampment, and the Unionists made them prisoners. However, the noise of Barrett's firing and shouts alerted the other seven Confederates to the danger, and they gathered together in a defensive position in a nearby thicket. There they prepared a nasty surprise for this brash Union officer and his men.

 

Barrett, learning from his prisoners that other Confederates were nearby, ordered his men to mount and move to flush them out. Barrett's civilian Scout, one Mr. John W. Jones, pleaded with the Lieutenant to go in dismounted, knowing that the mounted men would present perfect targets. It is likely that Jones also feared that the poor quality California horses on which the Union troops were mounted would likely pitch their riders at the sound of gunfire. Barrett refused to heed the words of this civilian, mounted his horse, and led his men into the thicket. The civilian scout's warnings proved prophetic...the advancing bluecoats were met by a volley of gunfire as they entered the thicket which, as Captain Calloway later reported, "emptied four saddles." Calloway doesn’t specify how the saddles were emptied, so whether the four Union riders were victims of accurately-aimed Confederate bullets, or were ignominiously dumped from the saddle as their horses reared in fear at the sound of he Confederate guns, is open to debate. 44

 

Barrett now ordered his men to dismount, and to advance on foot. For the next ninety minutes the two sides fought desperately in the mesquite and sahuaro thickets on the slopes of Picacho Peak. When the shooting ended, three of the Unionists lay dead, and three others were wounded. The dead were as follows...Lieutenant James Barrett, shot through the neck; Private George Johnston, Company A, First California Cavalry, shot through the heart; and Private William S. Leonard of Company D, First California Cavalry, shot in the back (the bullet ranging upward exiting out of his mouth).45

 

The Union dead were buried where they fell on the battlefield, and a rough wooden cross was erected to mark the spot. Interestingly, only one of them remains there today. In 1892 the Army removed the remains of Privates Johnston and Leonard to the national cemetery at the Presidio, in San Francisco, California. The remains of Lieutenant Barrett were not found at that time, however, and it would not be until 1928 that his remains would be found. Southern Pacific Railroad workers stumbled upon the remains only yards away from the railroad embankment they were constructing. These workers erected a stone monument over the gravesite in honor of the Lieutenant and the two other Union soldiers who died in the westernmost battle of the War Between the States. The monument has since been removed to Picacho Peak State Park, where it can be seen today. But Lieutenant James Barrett lies still where he fell in 1862.46

 

The three Union wounded were Corporal Botsford and Private Tobin of Company "A", First California Cavalry, and Private Glenn of Company "D" of the same Regiment. Private Tobin narrowly escaped death...he was shot in the forehead, but his hat decoration deflected a bullet that would almost certainly have been fatal otherwise. The other two received wounds that were less serious, and all three made full recoveries.47

 

Confederate Cavalry ride away from Picacho Peak

April 15, 1862

 

The Union report on the battle, penned by Captain Calloway on April 18, 1862, states that in addition to the three captured Confederates, three other Confederates were severely wounded.48 However, this is not borne out either by Confederate muster rolls or by Captain Hunter's own report of the battle. Surely if any had been wounded, Hunter would have mentioned it, and thus it seems most likely that these Confederate "casualties" were only a bit of wishful thinking on Calloway's part (Interestingly, recent research has shown that James Green and Daniel Gilleland, who were Confederate soldiers supposedly wounded at Picacho Pass, and who supposedly later died of said wounds, were not members of Hunter's Company at all, and were not present at Picacho Pass. Their compiled service records, now in the National Archives, show that James Green was a member of Company H, 5th Texas Cavalry, and Daniel Gilleland was a member of Company D, 4th Texas Cavalry, both of which units served with Sibley's Army of New Mexico which advanced up the Rio Grande toward Albuquerque while Hunter's Company went to Tucson. Private Green died of fever in a military hospital at Dona Ana on May 1, 1862, while rivate Gilleland died of wounds received in the battle of Valverde, February 21, 1862).49

 

Union Captain Calloway, upon learning of the results of the battle at Picacho Pass, seems to have been struck by misapprehensions regarding the size of Hunter's force at Tucson. In his report he states his belief that the enemy force numbered "about 200 or 230."50 He may also have read reports in some of the California newspapers which said that the Confederates at Tucson could muster as many as 1,500 men.51 He ordered a retreat, first to the Pima villages, and then to Stanwix Station. There he awaited the coming of reinforcements. These reinforcements soon arrived, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph West. West assumed command of the combined force, and ordered an advance to the Pima villages, which were reached near the end of April. An earthwork fortification, named Fort Barrett after the officer killed at Picacho Pass, was constructed near White's Mill, and the Union force settled down to gather supplies and prepare for the final advance on Tucson.52

 

James H. Tevis

 

Captain Hunter's reaction to the news of the battle at Picacho Pass was to send a detachment of ten men, under the command of Lieutenant James H. Tevis (recently returned from Sonora, Mexico, where he had commanded the escort of Colonel James Reily) to the battlefield in search of the missing Confederate pickets. Tevis arrived in time to see the retreating Union force, which he estimated at 200 cavalry and five wagons (a remarkably accurate guess), on the road toward the Pima villages.53 Hunter was dismayed when Tevis made his report back in Tucson. If he were to hold onto Western Arizona for the Confederacy, reinforcements would be needed, and quickly.

 

On April 18, 1862, Captain Hunter wrote to Governor Baylor at Mesilla, making his official report of the events at Picacho Pass. He also passed on his latest intelligence report regarding the size of the Union forces then encamped at the Pima villages, and requested reinforcements. "Our position here is rather critical," Hunter wrote in a classic understatement, "though with a reinforcement of 250 men we can hold in check all the forces that can be sent from Calafornia (sic)."54 No reinforcements were forthcoming. however, for by now the Confederate Army of New Mexico had met defeat at the Battle of Glorietta Pass, and was in full retreat back to Texas.

 

Graves of  four Confederate soldiers killed by Apaches, 5 May 1862

Dragoon Springs, Arizona

 

On May 5, 1862, Captain Hunter's Arizona Rangers had the first of two engagements with the Apache Indians. A Confederate foraging party, gathering cattle in the vicinity of Dragoon Springs (just south of the present day town of Dragoon, Arizona) was attacked by a large band of Apache warriors led by their war-chiefs, Cochise and Francisco.55. Four of Hunter's men were killed, and the Apaches stole 25 horses and 30 mules.56 The dead Confederates were buried at the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach station at Dragoon Springs. The graves were later found and recorded by the advance elements of the California Column, and in fact still exist today on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service. Rough stones identifying two of the men...one for Sergeant Sam Ford which is dated May 5, 1862 and one with no date for "Richardo," a Hispanic lad who was probably a recent recruit from Tucson...still stand on the site (Interestingly, there is a report made after the war by a former member of the Union California Column which states that the foraging party included 3 Union prisoners, members of the detachment commanded by Captain William McCleave which had been captured by Hunter at the Pima Villages in March, 1862. The said report states that these men fought the Apaches alongside their Confederate captors, and that one of them inscribed the said headstones. However, it is known that Hunter had in April paroled the 9 enlisted men captured withMcCleave and sent them on their way to Fort Yuma, and McCleave himself would have been in Mesilla by this time. So this romantic story would seem to be apocryphal). One of the other two graves probably is that of one John Donaldson, another recent recruit from Tucson, based on an obituary written by Arizona mine pioneer and mine owner Sylvester Mowry shortly afterward.57 Until recently the U.S. Forest Service had the graves incorrectly marked as being those of Union California Column soldiers, but this has been corrected with the help of the Arizona Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

 

The Confederates would have their revenge a few days later. On May 9, 1862, a force of 30 men under the command of First Lieutenant Robert L. Swope was sent out to recover the cattle and mounts lost to the Apaches on May 5. Swope surprised the Apaches and, according to a postwar account by Private Thomas Farrell of Hunter’s company, "ordered a charge, leading it himself at least three horse-lengths ahead of his men." Swope is also said to have "shot one Indian who was fixing an arrow to shoot," and "before the red could fall from his horse...had him scalped." The Apaches lost five killed, with no loss to the Confederates. Much of the livestock was recovered, and the Confederates returned in triumph to Tucson.58

On May 14, 1862, possibly upon receipt of a report (no longer extant) informing him of the Confederate reversals in New Mexico, Captain Hunter gave the order to evacuate Tucson. The Confederate cavalry rode out of town, never to return. Only Lieutenant James H. Tevis and a small detachment remained in Tucson, with orders to watch for the expected approach of the Union forces and to report their arrival to Captain Hunter.59

 

On the very same day that Hunter’s command rode out of town, Lt. Colonel Joseph R. West and four companies of California infantry and cavalry left the Pima Villages and set out for Tucson. Rather than advancing directly on Tucson, however, the Union force instead moved first to occupy Fort Breckinridge, northeast of Tucson.60 The fort had lain abandoned since the departure of the U.S. Army in May 1861, who had set it afire upon leaving. West's command arrived at the fort on May 18, raising the Stars and Stripes once again over its blackened ruins. Upon his arrival at the fort several days later, Colonel James Henry Carleton, overall commander of the Union California Column, renamed it Fort Stanford, after Leland Stanford, Governor of California.61

 

Lt. Colonel West was not present for Carleton's re-naming ceremony...he and his command had already departed for Tucson the next day. On May 20, 1862, with bugles sounding and guidons fluttering in the breeze, West's cavalry galloped into Tucson. The infantry marched in shortly afterward, with fifes and drums gaily playing "Yankee Doodle." The Union troops, expecting a fight with Hunter's Confederates, were met only by the bemused stares of Tucson's few remaining citizens after their overly dramatic entrance into the town.62

 

The last remaining Confederates in the town, Lt. Tevis and his detachment, were almost captured by the Unionists...expecting them to arrive in Tucson via the northwest road from Picacho Pass, Tevis and his men barely had time to flee from the town as the Yankee cavalrymen charged in from the northeast. Tevis later wrote of the incident, "They got too close for my health and I left." Tevis and his detachment got away clean, and later rejoined the rest of Hunter's command at Mesilla 63 . .

 

Captain Hunter and Company A, Arizona Rangers, arrived at Mesilla on May 27, 1862.64 The company was soon combined with two other Arizona units to form Lt. Colonel Philemon Herbert's Battalion of Arizona Cavalry. Hunter's Company became Company "A" of said battalion, while the Arizona Guards, under Captain Thomas Jefferson Helm, became Company "B," and the Arizona Rangers of Mesilla, formerly commanded by Captain George Frazer but now commanded by Captain Granville Henderson Oury, became Company "C." 65 When most of the Confederate Army of New Mexico, under Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley, departed for San Antonio, Herbert's Battalion was among the units left behind, under the command of Colonel William Steele, in a forlorn attempt to hold the Mesilla valley and the El Paso region for the Confederacy.66

 

A prime concern of Steele's command during this time was obtaining adequate supplies. Confederate foraging parties were sent out to requisition food, horses, mules, and other supplies from the native Mexicans of the surrounding region.67 Captain Sherod Hunter and the Arizona Rangers were involved in these foraging expeditions, and, like many other Confederate units during this period, encountered resistance from armed parties of New Mexican guerillas. On July 1, 1862, Hunter and his men had a sharp clash with these guerillas near Mesilla. Hunter's men apparently lost several horses and their equipment during this encounter, but no casualties killed or wounded. It is not known whether or not any of the guerillas fell victim to Confederate bullets during this engagement.68

 

The clash between Hunter's Confederates and the New Mexican guerillas took place as the days of Confederate Arizona were at last drawing to a close. Three days later, on July 4, 1862, advance elements of the California Column reached the banks of the Rio Grande near Fort Thorn. Within three days after that, Colonel Steele and his entire command (including Hunter and the Arizona Rangers) were in retreat to San Antonio and safety.69 The Arizona Rangers were thus among the very last Confederate units to withdraw from the Confederate Territory of Arizona, and with their going, Confederate Arizona ceased to exist.

 

NOTES

 

1The original order is found in the Sherod Hunter "Jacket" in the National Archives, "Collections of Private Military Papers of Officers of the Confederate States Army.".

2The entire document is reprinted in L Boyd Finch, "Sherod Hunter and the Confederates in Arizona," JOURNAL OF ARIZONA HISTORY, Spring 1969, pp 202-203, hereafter cited as Finch, "Hunter.".

3The invasion and capture of the Union garrison at Fort Fillmore is described by John Robert Baylor in a report to Capt. T. A. Washington, Assistant Adjutant General, C.S. Army, written on September 21, 1861 at Dona Ana, Arizona Territory, reprinted in Calvin P. Horn and William S. Wallace, CONFEDERATE VICTORIES IN THE SOUTHWEST, Albuquerque, New Mexico: Horn and Wallace, 1961, pp. 34-36, hereafter cited as Horn and Wallace; Baylor’s Proclamation creating the Arizona Territory is reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 37-39; Sherod Hunter’s participation in the campaign was later recalled by George Wythe Baylor, brother of John R. Baylor and later commander of the Second Texas-Arizona Cavalry, in which Hunter served as Major from October 1862 onwards. See Finch, "Hunter," p. 150.

4Report of John R. Baylor, September 24, 1861, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp 107-108; Patrick Hamilton, THE RESOURCES OF ARIZONA, quoted by Rufus Kay Wyllys, ARIZONA: THE HISTORY OF A FRONTIER STATE, Phoenix, Arizona: Hobson and Herr, 1950, p. 42. Hereafter cited as Wyllys.

5Trevanion T. Teel, "Sibley’s New Mexican Campaign: Its Objects and the Causes of It’s Failure." BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR, Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel, Ed., New York: Century Magazine, 1883-1888, Volume II, p. 700. Teel was John R. Baylor’s Chief of Artillery during the New Mexico campaign.

6Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley, letter to General Samuel Cooper, 27 January 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, p. 120.

7Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp 200-201.

8ibid.

9This refers to the raising of the siege of Tubac, Arizona, by the Tucson militia under Granville H. Oury in September 1861. Whether the Tucson militia had a Confederate flag is debatable. Odie Faulk, ARIZONA: A SHORT HISTORY, Norman Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970, p. 101, hereafter cited as Faulk, states that a Confederate flag was presented to the Tucson militia in May 1861 (although other sources have stated the said flag was presented to a militia company in Mesilla, not in Tucson at all). James F. Morgan, "Blue and Gray on the Gill: The Confederate Arizona Campaign," CONFEDERATE VETERAN, July/August 1990, p. 17, hereafter cited as Morgan, states that a "Confederate force under Grant Ourey" from Tucson took the field against the Apaches, implying that they did so under a Confederate flag. John Ross Browne, ADVENTURES IN THE APACHE COUNTRY: A TOUR THROUGH ARIZONA—1864, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1869, p. 150, hereafter cited as Browne, recounts the episode a bit differently. Browne states simply that a "brave and generous American, Mr. Grant Ourey," led a party of 25 men from Tucson who scattered the Apaches besiegng the town of Tubac. This is actually somewhat amusing...Browne was a strong Union man, and elsewhere in this volume (p. 25) had, in a most uncomplimentary manner, called Sherod Hunter and his command a "scattered company" of "roving bandits," and Hunter himself a "guerrilla chieftain." Browne apparently did not know, or chose not to dwell on, the fact that Grant (or Granville) Oury was a very dedicated Tucson secessionist, had actually served as Arizona’s delegate to the Confederate Congress, and later became a Captain in the Confederate Army!

10Faulk, p. 101; Wyllys, p. 143.

11The oath is reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," p. 170.

12 Charles Leland Sonnichsen, TUCSON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN CITY, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982, p. 62, hereafter cited as Sonnichsen.

13Finch, "Hunter," p. 173; Wyllys, p. 147.

14Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley, letter to General Samuel Cooper, January 27, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, p. 120.

15L Boyd Finch, "The Civil War in Arizona: The Confederates Occupy Tucson," ARIZONA HIGHWAYS, January 1989,  p. 17; Robert Lee Kerby, THE CONFEDERATE INVASION OF ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO, Tucson, Arizona: Westernlore Press, 1958, p. 78, hereafter cited as Kerby.

16Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, p. 200-201.

17Martin Hardwick Hall, THE CONFEDERATE ARMY OF NEW MEXICO, Austin, Texas: Presidial Press, 1978, pp 361-365, hereafter cited as Hall; L. Boyd Finch, CONFEDERATE PATHWAY TO THE PACIFIC: MAJOR SHEROD HUNTER AND ARIZONA TERRITORY, C.S.A., Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1996, p. 125, hereafter cited as Finch, PATHWAY.

18Finch, PATHWAY, p. 125.

19Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp 200-201; Wyllys, p. 147; Kerby, p. 78.

20The orders are reprinted in full in Finch, "Hunter," pp 202-203.

21Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

22Morgan, p. 18.

23Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

24Finch, PATHWAY, pp. 117-118.

25Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

26Captain William Calloway, report to Major Edwin Rigg, 18 April 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp 205-206; Browne, p. 111; Jay Wagoner, EARLY ARIZONA: PREHISTORY TO CIVIL WAR, Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1975, p. 455, hereafter cited as Wagoner.

27Browne, p. 111.

28Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

29Finch, Pathway, p. 266.

30Finch, Pathway, pp. 128-129.

31Finch, "Hunter," p. 176.

32Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201; William McCleave, "Recollections of a California Volunteer," quoted in Finch, "Arizona," pp. 176-177.

33Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

34Finch, PATHWAY, p. 130.

35Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201.

36Most sources state that Swilling was in command, but Finch, PATHWAY, p. 130, states that Swilling was back in Tucson by March 21, and so could not have commanded at Stanwix Station.

37Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201; Finch, PATHWAY, p. 130; Finch, "Hunter," pp 177-178. Hunter’s report makes no actual mention of the skirmish, he simply states that his pickets had "reported troops at Stanwix’s Ranch."

38Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201; Finch, PATHWAY, p. 135.

39Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 5, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, pp. 200-201. Also, on April 5, 1862, Lt. Swilling signed a document certifying his receipt from "S. Hunter Capt. Co. A Baylors Rgt," the following items..."1 Navy Six Shooter...belonging to the Confederate States of America" and "1 Navy Six Shooter belonging to Captain W McLave [sic], now a prisoner and which I am to turn over to Said Capt McLave [sic] on my arrival at Mesilla." This is found in the Sherod Hunter "Jacket" at the National Archives.

40Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 203-204. Finch, PATHWAY, p. 141.

41Finch, PATHWAY, p. 142.

42Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 205-206.

43Finch, PATHWAY, p. 142; Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp 205-206.

44The effort of the civilian scout to dissuade Barrett from going in mounted is documented in Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp 205-206. The comments about the Union riders being dumped from the saddle by their "poor quality California horses" do not appear in this report. Calloway simply states that at the first Confederate fire, "four saddles were emptied." That the Unionists were dumped by their frightened horses is a supposition based on numerous comments in the correspondence of Barrett’s commanding officer, Colonel (later Brigadier General) James Henry Carleton, urging caution when engaging in mounted combat with the enemy due to the untrained "poor quality California horses" on which his men were mounted. Given the fact that Calloway doesn’t specify how the saddles were emptied, and the fact that the fight went on for a further one and one-half hours, this seems a logical interpretation.

45Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 205-206; Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 203-204; details of the Unionists’ wounds are from Morgan, pp 19-20.

46Flyer issued by the Arizona Department of Parks and Recreation, Picacho Peak State Park (Picacho, Arizona), for the 1995 reenactment of the Battle of Picacho Pass.

47Morgan, pp. 19-20.

48Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 205-206.

49National Archives, Compiled Military Service Records for Private James Green, Company H, 5th Texas Cavalry, and Private Daniel Gilleland, Company D, 4th Texas Cavalry.

50Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 205-206.

51Finch, "Hunter," p. 187.

52Captain William P. Calloway, report to Major Edwin A. Rigg, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 205-206; Wagoner, p. 455; Finch, PATHWAY, pp. 146-148.

53Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 203-204.

54Sherod Hunter, report to John R. Baylor, April 18, 1862, reprinted in Finch, "Hunter," pp. 203-204.

55Edwin R. Sweeney, COCHISE: CHIRICAHUA APACHE CHIEF, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, p. 194.

56Finch, PATHWAY, p. 152; Finch, "Hunter," p. 190.

57Finch, PATHWAY, p. 152; Finch, "Hunter," pp 179, 190.

58Finch, PATHWAY, p. 191.

59Finch, PATHWAY, p. 153; Sonnichsen, p. 64.

60West’s itinerary and a condensed history of the campaign from the perspective of the Union California Column is given in an October 1863 report to Brigadier General W. A. Hammond, Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, by Surgeon James M. McNulty, Acting Medical Inspector of the California Column, reprinted in Calvin P. Horn and William S. Wallace, UNION ARMY OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTHWEST, hereafter cited as Horn and Wallace, "Union.", pp 81-90. Like Horn and Wallace’s other book cited elsewhere in this article, this book consists of reprinted reports taken from the United States War Department’s OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES IN THE WAR OF THE REBELLION. 

61ibid.

62Sonnichsen, p. 64; Surgeon James M. McNulty, report to Brigadier General W.A. Hammond, October 1863, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, "Union," pp 81-90; Finch, "Hunter," p. 189

63Finch, "Hunter," p. 189; Finch, PATHWAY, p. 153.

64Hall, p. 362.

65Hall, pp 355, 363, 369; Finch, "Hunter," p 191; Finch, PATHWAY, p 164.

66Finch, "Hunter," p. 192.

67Colonel William Steele, report to General Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General of the Confederate States Army, July 12, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, "Union," pp 129-130.

68Hall, p. 363; Finch, PATHWAY, pp 164-166

69The arrival of the California Column at Fort Thorn is documented by a report from Brigadier General James H. Carleton to Major Richard C. Drum, Assistant Adjutant General, U.S. Army, July 22, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, "Union," pp 40-41; as well as by Surgeon James M. McNulty, report to Brigadier General W.A. Hammond, October 1863, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, "Union," pp 81-90 The retreat of the Confederates on July 7, 1862 is documented by Colonel William Steele’s report to General Samuel Cooper, July 12, 1862, reprinted in Horn and Wallace, "Union," pp 129-130.

 

 

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Copyright 2000 by the Colonel Sherod Hunter Camp 1525, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Phoenix, Arizona.  All rights reserved. Last updated on 21 February 2003.