Friday, 11 October 2013

The Battle of Glorieta Pass

The next day we returned to Pecos NHP to walk the Glorieta Battlefield trail before taking the ranger guided battlefield tour.
For some reason, I had this idea that the battlefield trail would be flat,   why when Pecos is surrounded by mountains I have absolutely no idea, but I did.  So as we were taking the tour in the afternoon we walked the 2½ mile trail much faster than normal.
This is at the top of a mesa and how the trail looks now,
but in March 1862 Union and Confederate troops would’ve had a very different view.   Local farmers and ranchers would’ve felled the trees for fuel or building and grown crops in the cleared fields.   Soldiers on both sides would’ve had good views and ditches and arroyos would’ve provided much needed cover for both sides during the battle.
There is a lot of information about the battle, which is also known as the Gettysburg of the West, but trying to put it in a nutshell, the Confederates saw the Santa Fe Trail
Part of the original Santa Fe trail

as a way to conquer the west, opening up a route to the pacific ports and the Colorado goldfields.   Union soldiers from Colorado and New Mexico blocked their way. 

Things seemed to be going the way of the Confederates who had their headquarters at Pigeons Ranch

however their supply train was left near Johnsons Ranch the Confederate commander, thinking ‘there was no way’
it could be attacked left only a small party guarding it.   What a mistake that was!
Union soldiers marched from their camp near Kozlowski’s Trading Post,
climbed Glorieta Mesa, attacked and destroyed the supply train, then marched back and joined in the battle.   That’s at least 12 miles, marching, climbing mesas, engaging the enemy and then returning to fight a battle! 

Part of the battlefield is in private hands just of I25, it is open to the public, there is no charge to visit, although donations are appreciated.   
Ranger Roger who led our tour was really enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable on the subject giving us masses of information.   Naming the Generals involved, although I must admit that sometimes I got lost with the names and wasn’t sure which General was on which side!  The fact that the battle took place in March so it would’ve probably been cold and snowing, not something I thought about on a nice sunny day. 

Even now discoveries are still made on the battlefield, not so long ago during house renovations a mass grave was discovered and the remains removed for reburial. 

Not far from Pigeons Ranch there are memorial stones for the men who fell during the battle.

We had a fascinating day gaining an insight into one of the battles of the American Civil War. 

Have fun, we are!

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