Confederate Arizona

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Territory of Arizona
Organized incorporated territory of the Confederate States
Flag of the Confederate States of America (1861-1863).svg
Wpdms arizona new mexico territories 1863 idx.png
  Coordinates 32°16′27.4″N106°47′41.8″W / 32.274278°N 106.794944°W / 32.274278; -106.794944
  Type Organized incorporated territory
Col. John R. Baylor
Dr. L. S. Owings (in exile)
Legislature Arizona Territorial Legislature
Historical era American Civil War
March 28, 1861
 Col. Baylor's Proclamation [lower-alpha 1]
August 1, 1861
 Organized by Confederacy
January 18, 1862 [1]
 Occupied by U.S.
July 8, 1862 [2]
May 26, 1865
Preceded by
Succeeded by
US flag 34 stars.svg New Mexico Territory
Arizona Territory US flag 35 stars.svg
New Mexico Territory US flag 34 stars.svg
Today part ofFlag of the United States.svg  United States

Confederate Arizona was the common name for southern New Mexico and Arizona between 1861 and 1862, when Confederate Army Colonel John R. Baylor governed the area. The official name of the region was Territory of Arizona. Confederate Arizona was also known as Arizona Territory. Effective Confederate control ended after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in March 1862. The Trans-Mississippi Department surrendered to Union forces in May 1865, ending the Civil War.

New Mexico State in the United States

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are is bordered by the state of Texas to the east-southeast, Oklahoma to the northeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

Arizona State in the United States

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Confederate States Army Southern army in American Civil War

The Confederate States Army was the military land force of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.


Delegates to the secession convention had voted in March 1861 to secede from the New Mexico Territory and the Union, and seek to join the Confederacy. It consisted of the portion of the New Mexico Territory south of the 34th parallel, including parts of the modern states of New Mexico and Arizona. The capital was Mesilla, along the southern border. The Confederate territory overlapped the Arizona Territory, established by the United States government in February 1863.

New Mexico Territory territory of the United States of America, 1850-1912

The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.

Union (American Civil War) United States national government during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Union, also known as the North, referred to the United States of America and specifically to the national government of President Abraham Lincoln and the 20 free states and four border and slave states that supported it. The Union was opposed by 11 southern slave states that formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy" or "the South".

34th parallel north circle of latitude

The 34th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 34 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean.

The physical geography differed in that the Confederate Arizona Territory was approximately the southern half of the historic New Mexico Territory. The Union-defined Arizona Territory was approximately the western half of what had been New Mexico Territory, and became the basis for the present-day state of Arizona.

Arizona was officially proclaimed a territory on August 1, 1861, following the Confederate victory at the Battle of Mesilla. The Confederate hold on the area was broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass, March 26–28, 1862, the defining battle of the New Mexico Campaign. In July 1862, the Confederate government of the Territory of Arizona relocated to El Paso, Texas. With the approach of Union troops, it withdrew to San Antonio, where it remained for the duration of the war. The territory continued to be represented in the Confederate States Congress, and Confederate troops continued to fight under the Arizona banner until the war's end.

First Battle of Mesilla battle

The First Battle of Mesilla, was fought on July 25, 1861 at Mesilla in New Mexico Territory, in present-day Doña Ana County, New Mexico.

Battle of Glorieta Pass 1862 battle in the American Civil War

The Battle of Glorieta Pass, fought from March 26–28, 1862, in the northern New Mexico Territory, was the decisive battle of the New Mexico Campaign during the American Civil War. Dubbed the "Gettysburg of the West" by some authors, it was intended as the decisive blow by Confederate forces to break the Union possession of the West along the base of the Rocky Mountains. It was fought at Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in what is now New Mexico, and was an important event in the history of the New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War.

New Mexico Campaign Military operation of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War

The New Mexico Campaign was a military operation of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War from February to April 1862 in which Confederate Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley invaded the northern New Mexico Territory in an attempt to gain control of the Southwest, including the gold fields of Colorado and the ports of California. Historians regard this campaign as the most ambitious Confederate attempt to establish control of the American West and to open an additional theater in the war. It was an important campaign in the war's Trans-Mississippi Theater, and one of the major events in the history of the New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War.


Before the start of the war, the land of the current states of New Mexico and Arizona was part of the New Mexico Territory and the Gadsden Purchase, which ran parallel to William Walker's Republics of Lower California and Sonora. As early as 1856, the territorial government in Santa Fe had raised concerns about being able to effectively govern the southern part of the territory. It was separated from the rest by the Jornada del Muerto, a difficult stretch of desert.

Gadsden Purchase A land purchase from Mexico by the United States.

The Gadsden Purchase, known in Mexico as Spanish: Venta de La Mesilla, is a 29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that the United States acquired from Mexico by the Treaty of Mesilla, which took effect on June 8, 1854. The purchase included lands south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande where the U.S. wanted to build a transcontinental railroad along a deep southern route, which the Southern Pacific Railroad later completed in 1881–1883. The purchase also aimed to resolve other border issues.

William Walker (filibuster) 19th-century American filibuster, physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary

William Walker was an American physician, lawyer, journalist and mercenary who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as "filibustering". Walker usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies. He returned in an attempt to reestablish his control of the region and was captured and executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

Republic of Sonora

The Republic of Sonora was a short-lived, unrecognized federal republic ruled by filibuster William Walker in 1854. It was based in Baja California and also claimed Sonora. Walker's exploits generated interest back in San Francisco, where bonds for the Republic of Sonora were sold, and its flag was even raised in places. His enterprise, however, suffered from a lack of supplies and discontent from within; resistance by the Mexican government quickly forced Walker to retreat.

In February 1858, the New Mexico territorial legislature adopted a resolution in favor of the creation of the Arizona Territory. The north-south border was to be defined along the 32nd parallel. The legislature proposed that all the Indians of New Mexico would be removed to northern Arizona.

In April 1860, impatient for Congress to act, the territory called a convention and 31 delegates met in Tucson. In July 1860, the convention drafted a constitution for a "Territory of Arizona" to be organized out of the New Mexico Territory south of 34° N. The convention elected Lewis S. Owings as the Territorial Governor, and elected a delegate to Congress.

Tucson, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and is home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 980,263. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second most-populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 58th largest metropolitan area in the United States (2014).

Lewis S. Owings American politician

Dr. Lewis S. Owings was an American politician, physician, and businessman from Tennessee who served as the 2nd Governor of Arizona Territory (Confederate), in exile, from 1862 to 1865. He had previously served as provisional governor of Arizona Territory from 1860 to 1861.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.

Anti-slavery Representatives opposed creating a new territory, as they feared it had the potential to become a slave state. Many people in the area were pro-slavery, with business connections in southern states, from which some had migrated. In addition, most of this new territory lay below the old Missouri Compromise line of demarcation between slave and free states.

Since the proceedings of the Tucson convention were never ratified by the United States Congress, the Provisional Territory was not considered a legal entity. For a time it operated as a de facto, if not de jure, government for the intended Arizona Territory. Dr. Lewis S. Owings, Governor of the Provisional Territory, appointed James Henry Tevis to raise the first Territorial Militia. This comprised three companies of Arizona Rangers for the protection of the Territory from marauding Apaches and bandits. [3] Two companies were raised in the Pinos Altos mining camp, and another at Mesilla.


1861 map showing the Confederate Arizona Territory Map of the United States, and Territories Together with Canada From Mitchell's New General Atlas Philadelphia SA Mitchell Jr 1861.jpg
1861 map showing the Confederate Arizona Territory

After the start of the American Civil War, support for the Confederacy was strong in the southern part of the New Mexico Territory. Some residents felt neglected by the United States government. They worried about the lack of sufficient troops to fight the Apache. These Native Americans were defending their territory against encroaching white settlement, fighting off ranchers and mining camps all over Traditional Arizona. This became open warfare following the February 3-9, 1861 Bascom Affair, that brought Cochise into the war. Arizona settlers were also disturbed by the closing of the Butterfield Overland Mail route and their stations in March 1861, which had connected the Arizona frontier colonies to the East and California.

In March 1861, the citizens of Mesilla called a secession convention to join the Confederacy. On March 16 the convention adopted a secession ordinance, citing the region's common interests and geography with the Confederacy, the need of frontier protection, and the loss of postal service routes under the United States government, as reasons for their separation. [4] The ordinance proposed the question of secession to the western portions of the territory. On March 28 a second convention in present-day Tucson met and ratified the ordinance. The conventions subsequently established a provisional territorial government for the Confederate "Territory of Arizona." Owings was elected again as provisional governor and Granville Henderson Oury was chosen as a delegate to petition for the territory's admission into the Confederacy.

Confederate units

Arizona Guards Azranger.gif
Arizona Guards

Major campaigns

Arizona Civil War New Mexico.png

Arizona was thought to be important to the role of the New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War primarily because it offered Confederate access to California. Consequently, it was the scene of several important battles in the war's Trans-Mississippi Theater.

In July 1861 a force under Lieutenant-Colonel J. R. Baylor arrived in El Paso, Texas across the border from Mesilla. With support from the secessionist residents of Mesilla Baylor's 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles entered the territory and took a position in the town on July 25. Union forces under Major Isaac Lynde at nearby Fort Fillmore prepared to attack Baylor. On July 25 the two armies met outside of town at the First Battle of Mesilla in a brief engagement in which the Union troops were defeated.

Major Lynde then abandoned Fort Fillmore and began a march north to join the troops at Fort Craig under Colonel Edward R. S. Canby. However, his retreat came to a halt in severe heat and was overtaken by Baylor. Lynde surrendered his command without a shot fired at San Augustine Springs, in the Organ Mountains. [5]

On August 1, 1861, the victorious Baylor proclaimed the existence of a Confederate Arizona Territory, which comprised the area defined in the Tucson convention the previous year. He appointed himself as permanent governor. Among his cabinet members was the Mesilla attorney Marcus H. MacWillie, who served as the territorial attorney general. [6]

The next month, Baylor's cavalrymen under Bethel Coopwood, marched north from Camp Robledo along the Rio Grande and surprised a Union force of New Mexican militia cavalry in a small engagement west of the Rio Grande at the village of Canada Alamosa, ending with another Confederate victory and the capture of 25 men of that unit including its commander. The next day after disarming and paroling the captured New Mexican enlisted men, Coopwood retired southward along the west bank of the river with the two captured Union officers and an NCO to a camp 15 miles to the north of Fort Thorn. There a Union column of Mounted Infantry sent to relieve the New Mexican militia force caught up with Coopwood, and skirmished for a few hours with the Confederates until their ammunition was depleted, forcing the Mounted Infantry to retire northward to their base at Fort Craig.

The proposal to organize the Confederate Territory of Arizona was passed by the Confederate Congress in early 1862 and proclaimed by President Jefferson Davis on February 14, 1862. [7] Coincidentally, Arizona statehood was approved exactly fifty years later on February 14, 1912. [8]

Raising the Confederate flag in Tucson. Flagraise.gif
Raising the Confederate flag in Tucson.

Efforts by the Confederacy to secure control of the region led to the New Mexico Campaign. Baylor sent Company A, Arizona Rangers to Tucson to protect the population from the Apache and delay the advance of Union troops from Fort Yuma.

In 1862 Baylor was ousted as governor of the territory by President Davis, and the Confederate loss at the Battle of Glorieta Pass forced Confederate retreat from the territory. On March 30, Union forces fought a smaller engagement against a detachment of Company A, Arizona Rangers, a Confederate force destroying supply depots along the California Column route of advance on the Gila River, 80 miles east of its base at Fort Yuma. This skirmish, known as the Battle of Stanwix Station, was the westernmost engagement of regular forces in the Civil War, and successfully delayed the advance of the California forces.

The following month a small picket troop of the Rangers north of Tucson fought with an equally small Union cavalry patrol from the California Column in the so-called Battle of Picacho Pass again delaying the advance of the California Column to Tucson.

By July 1862, Union forces of the California Column were approaching the territorial capital of Mesilla from the west but severe flooding of the Rio Grande barred their way and they had to divert north to Fort Thorn and the San Diego Crossing and wait two weeks for the water to fall enough for a crossing. With Canby advancing down the east bank of the Rio Grande and the loss of control of the countryside to New Mexican guerillas after the Second Battle of Mesilla the Confederates abandoned Mesilla and retreated south to Franklin, Texas.

In 1862 the California Column volunteers who fought at Stanwix Station and Picacho Pass fought at the Battle of Apache Pass against 500 Apaches. The battle is considered part of the American Civil War. There were also several engagements between Apaches and Confederates. The Battle of Dragoon Springs marks the only known Confederate combat deaths in the modern confines of Arizona. Other engagements include the Siege of Tubac, the Battle of Cookes Canyon, the Battle of the Florida Mountains, the Battle of Pinos Altos and a number of other smaller skirmishes and massacres.

The territorial government relocated to Franklin, then with Confederate military units retreated to San Antonio abandoning West Texas. For the rest of the war, California Column troops controlled all of Confederate Arizona, Franklin and Fort Quitman in West Texas. The government in exile remained in Texas for the duration of the war, although MacWillie continued to represent the territory in the First and 2nd Confederate States Congresses. Minor resistance in Arizona continued at the partisan level, and Confederate units under the banner of Arizona fought until the end of the war in May 1865.

See also


  1. The Confederate Territory of Arizona was proclaimed in Mesilla on August 1, 1861.

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  1. United States. Cong. Senate (1904) [1st pub. Confederate States. Cong.:1861-1862]. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865. Volume I. 58th Cong. 2d sess. S. Doc. 234. Washington: Government Printing Office. p. 691. LCCN   05012700 via Internet Archive.
  2. United States. War Dept. (1883). The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 – Volume 9. Washington: Government Printing Office. p. 722 via Cornell University Library.
  3. Hayden Pioneer Biographies Collection, biography of James Henry Tevis, p.1, Arizona State University Library
  4. "Ordinance of secession". Archived from the original on June 22, 2015. Retrieved July 5, 2005.
  5. Handbook of Texas online.
  6. Sacks, B. (1963). "The Creation of the Territory of Arizona". Arizona and the West . 5 (2): 109–148. ISSN   0894-8410. JSTOR   40167054 . LCCN   87643843. OCLC   15876763.
  8. "How Arizona almost didn't become a state". Retrieved April 27, 2017.

Further reading