Many people do not know that the Civil War was fought as far west as New Mexico, but in fact there was a vigourous campaign conducted here. The Confederacy was desperately short of raw materials for war production. Those materials had to be imported from abroad and often paid for in gold. Gold and seaports became very important to the South.
California and the Western part of North America held both seaports and gold, and the South wanted them. In the summer of 1861, the 2nd Texas Regiment, Mounted Rifles, led by Lt. Col. John Baylor seized control of the Mesilla Valley (near present day Las Cruces) and declared New Mexico a Confederate territory.
In the winter of 1861, Confederate forces under Gen. Henry H. Sibley succeeded in capturing the major city of Albuquerque and the capital city of Santa Fe. Sibley's command comprised of three regiments of cavalry - the 4th, 5th, and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers and an independent battery of artillery, totaling almost 3000 men and at least 18 cannons.
Opposing the Sibley Brigade were a few companies of the 5th and 7th US Infantry, a few companies of the 2nd Cavalry, a battalion of the 3rd Cavalry, a few batteries of artillery, one company of Colorado Volunteers, several regiments of New Mexico Volunteers, and some untrained militia. The overall commander of the U.S. forces was Col. Edward Canby.
The Confederates attempted to reshape the destiny of this region, briefly establishing a new territory capital at Mesilla, but their reign lasted only one year.
The National Archives Index shows 12,970 men served in the Union Army from New Mexico.
Two principle battles were fought in New Mexico, Valverde on Feb. 20-21, 1862 with 389 casualties, and Glorieta Pass on March 26-28, 1862 with 331 casualties.
Evans, Clement A.
Confederate Military History
U. S. Government
The Official Records of the American Civil War
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