Continued from Page 1
Henry Hopkins Sibley of Louisiana was less than a model officer having deficiencies of character which resulted in his having difficulties getting along with superiors,
alcoholism and an inability to manage his finances. He was to prove to be one of the worst Confederate generals ever to be appointed to command. His deficiencies were evident even at West Point which he commenced attending at age 17. He failed one year and was held back. He was arrested for making a false report, yet he graduated and received a commission to the Second Dragoons. This in itself was
surprising as assignments upon graduation at West Point were based on class ranking. Those with the top marks were assigned to engineering, while those with the lowest marks were assigned to the infantry. Sibley's class ranking therefore fell somewhere toward the middle of his class. He subsequently served well in the Mexican War where he was decorated for bravery and rose in rank.
In the mid 1850's he was assigned to Fort Belknap, Texas. There he designed the Sibley tent for use by the troops in the field. The tent was adopted by the War Department, but while acceptable for semi- permanent locations, was impractable with troops on the move due to it's size and the space it used in transport.
In 1860, Sibley was assigned to New Mexico to fight Navajos and prior to resigning his commission in May 1861, was in command at Cantonment Burgwin at Taos and Fort Union. Upon his resignation, he immediately traveled to Richmond where he won a Generalcy and approval from Jefferson Davis for recruiting a brigade of Texas volunteers to occupy New Mexico, seize the rich mines of Colorado Territory, then turn west through Salt Lake City, and take over the seaports of Los Angeles and San Diego. By one stroke, with a minimal force living off the land, Sibley would bring the entire southwest under Confederate control. He further believed that the native New Mexicans, as well as recent immigrants in Colorado, Utah and California would join his ranks, and that the Union troops in New Mexico would desert to his banner. Another of Sibley's assumptions which doomed the expedition was that he could take Fort Union and re- supply there. Fort Union served as the Quartermaster depot for all the forts in New Mexico and was at the opposite end of the Santa Fe trail from Missouri.
By the fall of 1861, in San Antonio, Sibley had raised the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Texas Mounted Volunteers plus attached artillery and supply units carrying supplies surrendered by General Twiggs. On October 22, he started west with 3200 men along the San Antonio- El Paso road, moving in detachments so as to not drain the scant water holes along the route. By late December, Sibley reached Fort Bliss where he incorporated the troops left by Baylor into what came to be known as the Sibley Brigade.
During January, the brigade marched to Mesilla, where Sibley proclaimed his invading force the "Army of New Mexico", and while at Mesilla, absorbed several local spy companies. On February 7th, Sibley started up the Rio Grande Valley toward Fort Craig, seventy miles away. Excluding detachments to staff his hospital and guard supplies, Sibley commanded 2500 Texans, fifteen pieces of artillery, and an extensive supply train.
On February 16 Sibley following the Rio Grande reached Fort Craig and found that Canby had made the fort too strong to be taken by assault. Sibley offered to do battle on the plains adjacent to the fort, but Canby refused. On advice from his colonels, Sibley decided to bypass the fort by retreating seven miles down river to a ford where they could cross to the east bank, and march one day to re-cross the river at Valverde Ford six miles up river from Fort
Craig. Realizing that Valverde Ford was Sibley's objective, Canby sent a battery of artillery and two regiments of volunteers across the river to stop the Texan advance. This force was driven off by rebel artillery.
At daybreak on February 21, 1862 Sibley sent troops to reconnoiter a road to Valverde. The force consisted of 180 men under Major Pyron and was followed by five companies under Major Raguet. Pyron's force collided with Federal cavalry and a firefight erupted. In response, Canby hurried Col Benjamin S Roberts with regular and volunteer cavalry to the scene. Hearing the same gunfire, Major Raguet joined by additional troops also raced to the river. By 10am, a section of Capt Teels Confederate artillery also reached Valverde. Several advances to the river by the Texans were driven off by a Union artillery bombardment. At this time, Union forces moved to envelop the rebel right by crossing the Rio Grande upriver from Valverde. Meanwhile, Capt. Alexander McRae continued to pound the rebel position on the east bank with the Union artillery. The rebels were forced to withdraw and by noon, the tide of battle was swinging in favor of the Federals.
By one o'clock as additional units, both Union and Confederate raced to the field, General Sibley had become so ill ( some say due to passing a kidney stone), exhausted and drunk that he retired by ambulance to the rear. He was to remain drunk for most of the remainder of the campaign and any subsequent successes were due to the strong colonels in his command.
Colonel Thomas Green assumed command of the Confederate army. On the rebel right, Capt. Willis L Lang whose company was armed only with lances, launched a charge against a company of Colorado volunteers. The Coloradoans held fire until the lancers were within a few yards and wiped them out. Shortly after three in the afternoon, Canby arrived on the field and decided to advance his right and center while using his left as a pivot, thus forcing the rebel left. To reinforce his army, Canby ordered Colonel Kit Carson's regiment of volunteers across the river. Simultaneously, Colonel Green decided to launch an all out attack on the Federal artillery. Concealed by
sand hills, Green advanced on the Union center as Major Raguet moved against a Federal battery firing on the rebel left flank. Raguet's cavalry was repulsed, Green's advance on the right however proved to be the decisive
maneuver of the battle. Despite McRae's battery pouring a deadly fire of grapeshot into the charging Texans, the rebels fell upon the Union artillery and in hand to hand savagely overran the Union guns. McRae and half of his men died at their guns.
Canby blamed the loss of the artillery on the New Mexico Volunteers, who refused to obey orders to counterattack the lost guns and instead fled the field. At this point Canby's forces were withdrawn, crossed the river where additional men were killed and retreated to the safety of Fort Craig. Canby sent a white flag into the rebel lines asking for a cessation of hostilities to remove the Federal dead and wounded. Union casualties at Valverde were 222 men killed and wounded while the Confederates lost 183. The next day the rebel dead were wrapped in blankets and buried in trenches. Federal dead, unless claimed by relatives for private burial, were interred at Fort Craig. When Fort Craig was abandoned at the end of the Indian wars, the dead with the exception of Capt. McRae were moved to Fort Union. When Fort Union was obsolete, they were again moved to Fort Levenworth, Kansas. McRae was subsequently interred at West Point.
Although winning the Battle of Valverde, the Confederates failed to take Fort Craig which sat athwart their supply lines from Mesilla. The following are the Confederate Battle Reports on Valverde as wonderfully researched by Bill Manley:
FEBRUARY 21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Brig. Henry H. Sibley, C. S. Army, Commanding Army of N. Mex.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NEW MEXICO
Battle Ground of Valverde,
February 22, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report to you, for information of the President, that I encountered the enemy at this point ( 6 miles above Fort Craig) in force at 11 o'clock yesterday morning, and after one of the most severely- contested actions, lasting until 5 pm, the enemy was driven from the field with a loss, as estimated, of four captains of the Regular Army and some 300 killed and wounded, and the capture of his entire field battery, the disabling of one 24- pounder, and the abandonment of another in the river. We have but few prisoners, among them is Capt. William H. Rossell, of the Tenth Infantry.
The enemy had upon the field about 3500 men, 1200 0f whom were regulars. We never had more than 1500 engaged. For the first time, perhaps, on record batteries were charged and taken at the muzzle of double- barreled shot- guns, thus illustrating the spirit, valor, and invincible determination of Texas troops. Nobly have they emulated the fame of their San Jacinto ancestors.
Our loss was severe.-- 40 killed, including Maj. S. A. Lockridge, of the Fifth Regiment, and Capt. M. Heuvel of the Forth. I have no reports of the wounded, but I think 100 will cover it.
Before closing this report it is especially due to Col. Thomas Greene, of the Fifth, to say that, in consequence of severe and prolonged illness and weakness resulting from it, I could only keep my saddle until 1 0'clock, and at that hour I relinquished to him the full direction of active operations. His coolness under the heaviest fire and intrepidity under the most trying circumstances are sufficiently attested by the results. I cannot commend Colonel Green too highly to the favorable consideration of the Executive.
Where so much gallantry was displayed I cannot, before reaching the reports of commanders, particularize individuals.
It will be necessary, to secure our purpose, to reinforce me largely from Texas at as early a day as possible. The force we had to contend against to near 6000 men.
I beg leave, in conclusion, to bring to your notice the intelligence and valor of the members of my staff, Maj. A.M. Jackson, assistant adjutant- general, Maj. R. T. Brownrigg, commissary of substance, Lieutenant Ochiltree, aide-de camp, and Col. W. I. Robards, Major Magoffin, and Capt. J. Dwyer, volunteer aides
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servent,
H. H. SIBLEY,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
P.S.-- Lieut. Col. J. S. Sutton, of the Seventh Regiment (Col. William Steele's), in command of his battalion, and Capt. Willis L. Lang, of the Fifth, greatly distinguished themselves, and were both severely wounded, and I should not omit Lieut. D. M. Bass, of the Captain Lang's company, who was severely wounded in front of the charge leading the Lancers upon the enemy.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. Sibley,
FEBRUARY21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Maj. Charles L. Pyson, Second Texas Cavalry.
SOCORRO, N. MEX., February 27, 1862
MAJOR; on the morning of the 21st instant I left our camp, opposite Fort Craig, with 180 men of my command, under Captains Walker and Stafford, Lieutenant Nicholson, of Capt Coopwood's Spy Company, and Lieutenant Jett, Company B, Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers, to reconnoiter the road leading to the river near Valverde. Upon reaching the river, I could see the water, with none of the enemy intervening. I immediately dispatched a note to the general commanding, stating the road was clear and the water in sight, and proceeded leisurely to the river to water our horses, they having been over twenty-four hours without water.
When I reached the woods I discovered a body of cavalry, which I supposed to be about four companies, and immediately gave chase, they withdrawing to my left. I followed until reaching the bank of a slough in the bottom, when I found myself of a large force of small arms. Immediately my men were formed along the bank, when the action commenced, and for over one hour, by courage and determination of the men, I was enabled to maintain the position in the unequal struggle, when I was relieved by the Forth Regiment Texas Volunteers, under the Command of Lieut. Col. W.R. Scurry.
For nearly two hours our joint commands held our position against odds of three to one, checking every attempt to outflank us and checking every effort to drive us back. The arrival of Teel's battery of artillery was the first re- enforcement we received, but it was soon followed by Major Lockridge's battalion, of the Fifth Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, and about 1 o'clock Colonel Green reached the field and took command.
Late in the afternoon a general charge was made along our line, by which a battery of artillery, consisting of six guns, was taken and their left driven back.
Following rapidly up on our seccesses, the enemy were driven back on all points, and the field at Valverde was won.
It is proper to state that the officers and men of my command behaved in the most gallant manner, and where all were equally brave it would be invidious to particularize. It is sufficient to say that it was a day on which deeds of personal valor were continually occuring.
I cannot consent to close this report without bearing testimony to the gallant bearing and personal valor of Colonels Green, Scurry, and Sutton, and Majors Ragnet and Lockridge, and others equally courageous.
I have the honor to be, sir, your, most respectfully.
C. L. PYRON,
Major, Second Texas Mounted Rangers
Maj. A.M. JACKSON,
Assistant Adjutant- general, Army of New Mexico.
FEBRUARY21,1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Lieut. Col. William R. Scurry, fourth Texas Cavalry
VALVERDE, N.Mex., February 22, 1862.
MAJOR: Early in the morning of yesterday, while the army was encamped on the east side of the Rio Grande, opposite Fort Craig, I received orders to march with my command , Fourth. Texas Mounted Volunteers, and take posession at as early an hour as practicable of some point on the river above Fort Craig at which water might be obtained. By 8 o'clock the regiment took up the line of march, accompanied by Capt. George M. Frazier, of Major Pyron's battalion, with his company acting as guide for the command. Supposing that we were the advance of the army, to prevent suprise I ordered Major H. W. Ragnet to take the advance, with four companies and Captain Frazier's company, throwing out the same front and flank patrols. In a short time, I learned that Major Pyron , with 180 men, was in our advance. Aware of the great vigilance of that active officer, I recalled Major Ragnet and reunited the regiment. A report was received from Major Pyron that the road was clear of the enemy and the river in sight, but in a short time, a second message was received, through Capt. John Phillips, from the major, informing me that a large mass of the enemy was in his front and threatening an attack. As his force was but small, I was fearful that he would be overpowered before we could reach him, and accordingly pushed forward, guided by Capt. Phillips, as rapidly as our horses could carry us, to his relief, and found him gallantly maintaining a most unequal contest against vastly superior numbers. Dismounting my command, we formed on his right and joined in the conflict. For nearly two hours we held our position in front of an enemy now known to be nearly 5000 strong, while our own forces were not over 700 in number.
Immediately upon reaching the field Captain Frazier joined the command to which he belonged, where he did good service during the remainder of the day.
Upon opening fire with the light howitzer battery, under Lieut. John Riley, it was found to be ineffectual against the heavier metal of the enemy. It was therefore ordered to cease firing and be withdrawn under cover.
At about 1 o'clock Captain Teel, with his two guns of his battery reached the ground. Being placed in position on our right he opened a galling fire upon the left flank of the enemy, whereupon the enemy commenced a furious cannonade upon him from their entire battery., consisting of eight guns. So heavy was their fire that the captain soon found himself with but five men to work the two guns. A bomb exploding under his pieces had set the grass on fire, still, that gallant officer held his position and continued to fire upon the enemy., himself seizing the rammer and assisting to load the piece.
Seeing his situation, I ordered Lieutenant Riley, with his command, to join him and assist in the efficient working of the guns. During the balance of the day this brave little band performed the duty assigned them. Judging by the heavy fire on the left that Major Pyron was hard pressed, Captain Teel, with more of his guns, which had just reached the ground, was dispatched to his relief. Major Ragnet, with four companies of the regiment, was ordered to maintain our position there. I remained on the right with the balance of my command and two pieces of Teel's battery, under Lieut. J. H. McGinnis, to hold in check the enemy, who were moving in force in that direction to turn our flank. At this time Major Lockridge, of the Fifth Regiment, arrived on the field and reported himself with a portion of that command. He was ordered to join our troops on the left. During all this time the fire of the enemy had been extremely heavy, while, owing to the shorter range of most of our guns, our fire was reserved until they should approach sufficiently near our position to come within range of our arms, when they were invariably repulsed with loss. Soon after the arrival of Major Lockridge, Colonel Green reached the field and assumed command.
At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, in extending our line to prevent the enemy from turning our right, I found myself with only two companies, Captain Hardeman's and Crosson's, opposed to a force numbering some 400 men, the other four companies being several hundred yards to my left. It was there that the daring charge was made by Captain Lang, of the Fifth Regiment, with a small body of lancers. But desperate courage was ineffectual against great odds and superior arms, and this company there sustained the greatest loss of life of any company in the brigade. This charge, otherwise unfortunate, had the effect of bringing the enemy within range of our guns, when two pieces of Captain Teel's battery and the small arms fire of Captain Hardeman's and Crosson's companies opened an effective fire upon them, before they rapidly retreated with considerable loss. Just before sunset Lieut. Thomas P. Ochilitree, of General Sibley's staff, brought an order to prepare for a charge all along the line of our position, went our brave volunteers, unmindful of the driving storm of grape and canister and musket balls sent hurling around them. With yells and ringing shouts they dashed on and on, until the guns were won and the enemy in full retreat before them. After carrying the battery, their guns were turned upon themselves, Captains Hardeman and Walker manning those on the right. Lieutenant Ragnet, of Riley's battery, being on the ground, I placed one gun in his charge, manning it with such of the men as were nearest. The rammer being gone, a flag staff was used instead. Captain Teel coming up, an effectual fire was kept up as long as the enemy was within reach. In the meantime a most timely and gallant charge was made by Major Ragnet from our left, thus effecting a favorable diversion at the moment of our charge upon their battery. This charge by Major Ragnet and his command was characterized by desperate valor.
In the last brilliant and successful charge, which decided the fortunes of the day, there were six companies of the Fourth Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, under their respective Captains, Hardeman, Crosson, Lesueur, Foard, Hampton and Nunn. Besides those, I saw Captains Shropshire, Killough and McPhaill of the Fifth Regiment and Captain Walker of Major Pyron's battalion.
The brave and lamented Major Lockridge, of the Fifth Regiment, fell almost at the muzzle of the enemy's guns.
Major Pyron was also in the thickest of the frey, and contributed much by his example to the success of the charge, as did also Lieutenant Ochiltree, of the generals staff.
There were others there whom I now regret my inability to name. Where all, both officers and men, behaved so well it is impossible to say who is deserving of praise. The enemy retired across the river, and were in full retreat when Major Ragnet, Captains Shannon, Adair, Alexander Buckholts and Lieut. Thermond reached the field with their companies, mounted. I asked and obtained permission from Colonel Green to cross the river with these companies to pursue the fleeing foe.
When the head of the column reached the opposite shore we were ordered to return. Night closed in on the hard won field of Valverde. This brilliant victory, which , next to Heaven, we owe to the heroic endurance and unfaltering courage of our volunteer soldiers, was not won without loss. Of the regiment which I have the honor to command there were 8 killed and 56 wounded, 2 of which were mortal.
It affords me great pleasure to be able to bear testimony to the calm, cool and discriminating courage of Colonel Thomas Green during the fight. Major Pyron also deserves great credit for his soldierly bearing from the commencement to the close of the battle. Of the general's staff, Major Jackson was early on the ground, as was also Major Brownrigg, Captain Dwyer, and Lieutenant Ochiltree, actively engaged in the discharge of the duties assigned them. Each of these gentlemen exhibited that high courage which I hope will ever distinguish the officers of the army. To Majors Jackson and Brownrigg I am endebted for valuable aid in the early part of the action.
It is due to the adjutant of this regiment, Ellsberry R. Lane, that I should not close this report without stating that he was actively and bravely engaged in the discharge of his duties on horseback until his horse failed, when, taking a gun, he entered the ranks of Captain Hampton's company, and did duty as a private during the remainder of the day.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant
W. R. SCURRY
Lieutenant Colonel, Comdg. Fourth Regt. Texas Mounted Vols
A. M. Jackson,
Assistant Adjutant- General, Army of New Mexico
FEBRUARY 21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Major. Henry W. Ragnet, Fourth Texas Cavalry
CAMP VALVERDE, ARMY OF NEW MEXICO
February 23, 1862
MAJOR: About sunrise on the 21st instant, while in camp opposite Fort Craig, I was ordered by Lieut. Col Scurry to take four companies of the Fourth Texas Mounted Volunteers, to which would be added Captain Frazier's company, from Major Pyrons battalion, and march as an advance to the river at the best point for approaching it above the fort, supposed to be about 6 miles distant. After marching 3 miles I was ordered to halt and join Lieut. Col Scurry who was approaching with other companies of the regiment and Lieut. Riley's artillery.
Our course was then changed for the nearer point on the river. After a half hours march, while descending a cation, the rapid advance of the head of our column gave notice that we were approaching the enemy, and emerging into a valley, the firing of skirmishers told that Major Pyron, who had been marching on our left flank, was already engaged with the enemy. A half a mile gallop brought us within range of the enemies artillery, when Lieut. Col. Scurry ordered us to dismount and advance, when we were soon within range of their small arms, and took position on the right of Major Pyron, behind a low bank, about 9am.
After we had taken this position about half an hour the enemy moved up on our right with the evident intention of flanking us, which at the time would have been fatal, when Lieut. Col. Scurry, dividing the command, assigned that position to me, and moved up to the position occupied by him during the day, and checked their advance.
The troops at this time with me were Major Pyron, with his battalion of 180 men, under Captains Walker, Stafford and Frazier, and Lieutenants Nicholson and Jett, and four companies of the Fourth Regiment, under Captains Buckholts, Scarborough, Heuvel and Alexander.
About noon one piece of Captain Teels battery, Lieut. Bradford, was added to my position, which did good service until the heavier metal of the enemy silenced it. Soon after the arrival of this gun Major Lockridge arrived with three companies of the Fifth Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, under Captains Shropshire, Campbell and Ragsdale and Major Pyron, and Lieut. Bradford's commands were withdrawn to the right. Major Lockridge called my attention to the gun, which had been partly disabled and silenced, on our left, at the foot of the mesa, where it had been placed in an endeavor to disable the enemy's battery on the west bank of the river. I ordered Company B, Fourth Regiment, Captain Scarborough, to the rescue, and with part of that company, under their captain and Sargeant Nelson, of Company H, Fourth Regiment, Captain Alexander, and some of that company, I succeeded in drawing the gun by hand from its perilous position amid the hottest cannonading on that part of the field, losing only one man killed and a few wounded..
The horses of this gun had nearly all been killed by the enemy's artillery. This gun then used by three of Lieut. Riley's company, assisted by a few others, until I ordered the fire discontinued for want of gunners, leaving it double shotted, to await an anticipated charge of the enemy. The enemy threatened us in such large numbers and their fire was so heavy that Major Lockridge and myself sent messengers to Col. Green for re-enforcements, failing to get which, Major Lockridge deemed it prudent to fall back to a sand bank, about 100 yards to our rear, which was done by companies, after the artillery and the wounded had been removed. This gave us a better position, as the ground was somewhat broken in front.
The section of Teel's Artillery was now withdrawn to the right, leaving only one howitzer, under Lieut. Woods, who had arrived at our position. Lieut. Col. Sutton now arrived on the field, approaching in our rear, when a messenger was dispatched asking that he be ordered to remain with us. He soon marched up to the right and then returned. Major Lockridge now told me that we were to move up and join the forces on the right for a charge, that he would cover any movement to get horses, which were on the left and rear. Ordering the companies of the Fourth Regiment to horse, I soon marched up on the right of the rear of the rest of the command, dismounted, and ordering the companies then with me, under Capts Buckholts, Heuvel and Alexander, of the Fourth, and Capt. Ragdale, of The Fifth, into line of advance.
Col Green rode up and ordered me to reserve my command for a charge as cavalry. No sooner were we mounted than an order came from Major Pyron to move down on the left and menace the enemy, now flanking us in large force, Marching down to within 600 yards I dismounted my command under cover, when I was joined by Capt. Scarborough, of the Fourth, and received an order through Capt. Dwyer to charge the enemy.
Aligning in single rank, I charged to within about 100 yards of the enemy's lines, composed of infantry, supported by cavalry on each flank and in the rear and by artillery on their right, when. looking back, I saw great confusion from the wounded and fallen horses, for we had aligned and advanced under heavy fire of their infantry and artillery. I thought we could break their lines , and ordered my command to fall back and rally at the sand bank which we left on our rear and left. When I arrived at the sand bank I found that most of my command had passed it for some others still on their left, and that the position was untenable, as the enemy's artillery now raked it. I ordered those there to follow those yet in advance, and rallying, we could return.
Finding Lieut. Woods, with one howitzer, uselessly exposed under the enemy's fire, I ordered him to a position between the enemy and the train, to protect it as well as he could, and ordering such of my command as I meant to join in on the action on the right, I galloped down, then too late, however, to participate in that brilliant charge which gave us victory.
A few moments after reaching the river bank Lieut. Co. Scurry asked permission of Col. Green to cross and pursue the enemy with fresh companies that had just come up, which permission granted, I joined with my command who were present, and as the head of our column gained the opposite shore we were ordered back. Shortly after the arrival of the flag of truce ended the battle of Valverde after sunset.
During the entire day my position on the left was under fire of the enemy's heaviest artillery, and their small arms, whose longer range enabled them to keep out of our small arms range. When they threatened an advance and would reach our aim they were repulsed.
The gallant Major Lockridge, of the fifth, while in command of the left, won the admiration of all who saw him, and whose regrets are now mingled with those of his other friends at his death. The brave Heuvel, of this command, who fell in the charge he had so impatiently waited for, added another to the list of our gallant dead at Valverde.
For the officers and privates whom I had the honor to command on that day I can well say that they never faltered in their dangerous duty, and for those, less than 200, whom I lead to the charge against more than eight times their numbers, together with artillery, the recital of the act is their praise. This charge, though at the cost of nearly one- fifth of the men and horses in killed and wounded, succeeded in checking the flank movement of the enemy in time to enable the charge which won the day to be made.
Very Respectfully, your obedient servent,
HENRY W. RAGNET,
Major, Fourth Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers
Assistant Adjutant- General, Army of New Mexico
FEBRUARY 21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Col. Thomas Green, Fifth Texas Cavalry
CAMP VALVERDE, N. Mex.,
February 22, 1862
SIR: I have the honor of submitting to you the following report of the battle of Valverde, fought on yesterday a part of the brigade of General Sibley, under my command.
While in the act of turning Fort Craig, on the east side of the Rio Grande, Major Pyron, with 200 men, was sent to reconnoiter, early on the morning of the 21st, the route around the mesa, north of the fort, and secure a footing on the river above. While Major Pyron was approaching the river with his command the enemy appeared in considerable numbers between his command and the river on the north of the mesa, and opened on him, about 8 o'clock, a heavy fire of artillery and small arms. The gallant Pyron, with his brave little force, kept up the unequal contest for an hour or two, until the arrival of Lieut. Col. Scurry with a part of his regiment, and Lieut. Riley's howitzer battery. Scurry took position behind a low line of sand hills. About this time one section of Capt. Teel's battery came up and took position and replied to the fire of the enemy.
Confederate Col. Greens Battle report on Valverde
At 12 o'clock, while under the orders of the general, I was threatening the fort on the south side of the mesa. I received his orders to move up, with all my disposable force, to the support of Lieut. Col. Scurry and Major Pyron, after leaving a sufficient force to protect the train which was then moving from our late camp around the mesa to the battlefield, and which was stretched out for several miles. Our train was threatened by a considerable body of troops of the enemy, who made their appearance on the mesa. Detaching Lieut. Col. Sutton's command and a detachment from my own regiment to protect the train, I moved up, with as much speed as practicable, with eight companies of my regiment, sending forward Major Lockridge, with two companies of lancers, under Capts. Lang and McCown. My companies were placed in the line of battle, between Pyron on the left and Scurry on the right, except three, which were sent by me, under Lieut. Col. McNeill, to drive the enemy from the north point of the mesa, where they were annoying our left and threatening our train.
After these dispositions I moved up to the line of battle myself, and by orders of the general took command of the forces present. The enemy during the day, and, with little intermission, kept up a brisk cannonade upon us, to which our 6 pounders, under Captain Teel, replied with effect. The enemy repeatedly advanced with their skirmishers to near our lines, killing many of our horses tied in the rear.
About 3pm a most galling fire was opened upon Lieut. Col. Scurry's command, on our right, by 300 or 400 of the enemy's riflemen. Captain Lang, of the Fifth Regiment, with about 40 of his lancers, made at this time one of the most gallant and furious charges on these light troops of the enemy ever witnessed in the annals of battles. His little troop was decimated, and the gallant captain and Lieut. Bass severely wounded, the latter in seven places. The enemy were repulsed by this gallant charge, and our right was for some time unmolested.
Large bodies of the enemy's infantry having crossed the river about 3:30 pm, bringing over with them six pieces of splendid artillery, took position in front of us, on the bank of the river, at a distance of 600 yards. In addition to this body of troops two 24-pounder howitzers were placed on our left flank by the enemy. These were supported by a regiment of infantry and a regiment of cavalry. The heaviest fire of the whole day was opened about this time on our left, which was under the command of the gallant Lockridge. Our brave men on that part of the line maintained the unequal fight with desperate courage, though overwhelmingly outnumbered. Lieut. Col. Sutton, now coming up with part of his battalion, took position on our left.
The enemy, now being on our side of the river, opened upon us a tremendous fire of round shot, grape and shell. Their force in numbers was vastly superior to ours, but, having the most unbounded confidence in the courage of our troops, I ordered a charge on their battery and infantry of regulars in front, and at the same time Major Ragnet, of the Fourth, with four companies of the same, and Captain Ragsdale's company, of the fifth, were directed by me to charge as cavalry upon the infantry and Mexican cavalry and the two 24- pounder howitzers on our left flank.
Our dismounted troops in front were composed of parts of the Fourth and fifth Regiments Texas Mounted Volunteers and parts of Lieut. Col. Sutton's and most of Major Pyron's battalions, and Teel's, Riley's and Wood's batteries of artillery, numbering about 750 on the ground. Major Ragnet's cavalry numbered about 250, making about 1000 men in the charge.
At the command to charge, our men leaped over the sand bank, which had served as a good covering for them, and dashed over the pen plain, thinly interspersed with cottonwood trees, upon the battery and infantry in front, composed of the United States regulars and Denver City Volunteers, and in a most desperate charge and hand to hand conflict completely overwhelmed them, killing most of their gunners around their cannons and driving the infantry into the river. Never were double barreled shotguns and six shooters used to better effect. A large number of the enemy were killed in the river with shotguns and six shooters in their flight.
While we were occupied with the enemy in front, Major Ragnet made a gallant and most timely charge upon the infantry and cavalry of the enemy on our left flank. This charge was made against ten times the number in Ragnet's force, and although we suffered severely and were compelled to fall back, he effected the object of his mission, and occupied the attention of our powerful enemy on the left, while our dismounted men were advancing upon those in front and running them into the river.
So soon as the enemy had fled in disorder from our terrible fire in front, we turned upon his infantry and cavalry and 24-pounders on our left flank, just engaged by Major Ragnet. We charged them as we did those in front, but they were not made of as good stuff as the regulars, and a few fires upon them with their own artillery and Teel's guns, a few volleys of small arms, and the old Texas war-shout completely dispersed them. They fled from the field, both cavalry and infantry, in the utmost disorder, many of them dropping their guns to lighten their heels, and stopping only under the walls of the fort. Our victory was complete. The enemy must have been 3000 strong, while our three actually engaged did not exceed 600. Six splendid pieces of artillery and their entire equipage fell into our hands, also many fine small arms. This splendid victory was not achieved without severe loss to us.
Major Lockridge, of the Fifth, fell at the mouth of the enemy's guns, gallantly leading our brave troops to the assault.
Lieut. Col. Sutton, of the Seventh, fell mortally wounded at the head of his battalion while assaulting the enemy's battery.
Several of our officers were desperately wounded, some of them no doubt mortally. Among them are the gallant Captain Lang, of the Lancers, and Lieutenant Bass, both of Company B. Lieut. Hubbard, of Company A, Fifth Regiment.
Captain Heuvel, of the Fourth, fell in the gallant charge of Major Ragnet. He was one of the most distinguished of the heroes of the day. Like the gallant Lang, of the fifth, he could not appreciate odds in a battle.
I cannot say enough praise of the gallantry of our surviving officers and men. it would be invidious to mention names. Were I to do so, the rolls of captains, lieutenants, and men would have to be inserted. I will only mention the principal field and staff in the engagement. The cheering voice of Lieut. Col. Scurry was heard where bullets fell the thickest on the field. Lieut. Col. McNeill, and the gallant Major Pyron, who has been mentioned, displayed the most undaunted courage. Major Ragnet, of the Fourth, though wounded, remained at his post, and retired not until the field was won. The captains, lieutenants and men in the action displayed so much gallantry that it would be invidious to make distinctions. They fought with equal valor and are entitled to equal credit with the field and staff here mentioned.
I will not close this report without a just need of praise to the general staff, who served me as aides-de-camp during the day. Col. Robards was in the dashing charge of the gallant Lang, and wounded in several places.
Capt. Tom Ochiltree, aide-de-camp to General Sibley, was exceedingly useful to me on the field and active during the whole engagement. He assisted me in the most critical moment to cheer our men to the assault. He deserves the highest praise for his undaunted chivalry and coolness, and I recommend him to the general for promotion.
Captain Dwyer was also very useful, gallant, and active during the whole action.
I cannot close without the mention of Captain Frazier, of the Arizona Volunteers. To him, more than others, we are indebted for the successful turning of Fort Craig. He led us over high ground around the mesa to the east of the fort, where we at all times had the advantage of the enemy in case he had attacked us in the act of turning the fort.
I will only personalize further by mention of my own regimental staff.
Sergeant Maj. Sheppard shouldered his gun and fought gallantly in the ranks of Capt. McPhaill's company in the charge. Lieut. Sayers, adjutant of the Fifth, during the whole day, reminded me of a hero of the days of chivalry. He was a gallant, daring and dashing soldier, and is as cool in a storm of grape, shell, canister, and musketry as a veteran. I recommend him, through the general, to the President for promotion.
Our killed and wounded are as follows:
2nd Regiment Texas Mounted Vol., Major Pyron's Command
Killed 4, Wounded 17 Missing 1
4th Regiment Texas Mounted Vol., Lieut. Col. Scurry's command
Killed 8 Wounded 36 Missing 0
5th Regiment Texas Mounted Vol. Col. Green's command
Killed 20 Wounded 67 Missing 0
7th Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers. Lieut. Col Sutton's command
Killed 2 Wounded 26 Missing 0
Killed 2 Wounded 4 Missing 0
Killed 36 Wounded 150 Missing 1
Since which time Lieut. Col Sutton of the Seventh, and 2 privates of the Fifth, and 2 of Teel's battery, have died from wounds received in battle. The enemy's loss was far greater than ours. The precise number cannot be ascertained by us, as many were killed in the river, and as the enemy's white flag, asking permission to gather up their dead and wounded, came almost before the sound of the last cannon had ceased to reverberate in the hills. It is confidently asserted by many of our officers and men that the enemy, under the flag of truce, picked up many small arms and carried them off with the dead wagons, that they also carried off their two 24-pounder howitzers which were left by them in the river. It is certain that during the cessation of the hostilities they picked up a company flag and guidon of my regiment, left on the field during our charge, while they were gathering up their wounded and dead, and it is said these are considered by them trophies. I do not believe that the commanding officer of the enemy is aware of these facts, as he would have spoken of stolen flags as trophies.
I think, from the best information in my possession, that the enemy's loss must have been in killed and wounded at least 350 or 400. Among their killed were several gallant officers. The gallant McRae fell at his guns. Several other captains and lieutenants were killed. Captain Rossell, of the Tenth U.S. Infantry, and several privated of the Fifth and Tenth Infantry and Denver City Volunteers, were taken prisoners.
Colonel Fifth Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers.
Maj. A.M. JACKSON,
Assistant Adjutant- General, Army of New Mexico
21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Col. William Steele, Seventh Texas Cavalry.
CAMP NEAR FILLMORE, N. MEX.,
March 1, 1862
GENERAL: I have received a verbal express from General Sibley, the numerous parties of Mexicans in the employ of the enemy rendering it dangerous to write. Our forces turned the enemy's position by crossing the river to the east side, which drew him out of his entrenchments, and an engagement ensued just above Fort Craig, which commenced about 9 o'clock in the morning on February 21, amd lasted, with little intermission until near sunset, when the enemy was driven in confusion from the field. We captured seven pieces of artillery and a considerable number of small arms were picked up. Much of the Mexican portion of the enemy fled to the hills. The regulars and Pike's Peak Volunteers returned to the fort. Our forces were encamped on the field when my informants left. Our loss is stated at 38 killed and 106 wounded. Major Lockridge is recollected as one of the killed. General Sibley had been sick some days previous to the action, and the command devolved upon Col. Thomas Green, who was in command most of the day, General Sibley being unable to remain long upon the field.
This account agrees with the information I had a few days previous as to the contemplated movement. I received this intelligence the day after the stage left for San Antonio and have delayed writing, hoping to get some more particulars, but as yet have none.
Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Colonel Seventh Texas Mounted Regiment
GENERAL S. COOPER,
21, 1862.-- Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Capt. Powhaten Jorden, Seventh Texas Cavalry.
IN CAMP NEAR SOCORRO, N. MEX.,
February 27, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the First Battalion of the seventh Texas Mounted Volunteers in the battle of Valverde, N. Mex., on February 21. The first Battalion of the Seventh Regiment, under the command of Lieut. Col. J. S. Sutton, with Companies C and H of the Fifth Regiment, were detailed as a guard for the transportation on the morning of the 21st. Before the train had gotten barely out of camp we were appraised of the fight having commenced at Valverde Crossing of the Rio Grande by hearing the sullen roar of the cannon. The train being in danger of attack, we were kept in position as the guard, and all thought for a time the Seventh would have no share in the conflict, but in two hours after the commencement of the battle an officer appeared with the order for us to move on to the battlefield. Colonel Sutton detached from his command Companies A and F, of the Seventh, and Company C, of the Fifth, to remain, and then gave the order to go forward, when the remainder of his command, consisting of Companies B, F, and I, of the Seventh, and F, of the Fifth, moved on to the scene of action. We went at a gallop, and were met on the field by Major Lockridge, who ordered us to take position on the left. We were held for an hour or more, running the gauntlet by countermarch under a most galling and destructive fire from their batteries.
While in this position we lost two men and some 3 horses were killed. The battle having now continued several hours, the charge was ordered, and the Seventh was most gallantly led in the charge by Lieut. Col. Sutton, who fell mortally wounded when within 20 paces of the enemy's battery. The battle was now soon ended, and victory was ours, though purchased by the Seventh with the death of the heroic Sutton. The Seventh did its duty bravely, nobly, all acting gallantly.
To make mention of individuals would be unjust. They all share equally the dangers of the field, and all deserve equal praise. To Capt. Rudden S. Pridgen and his company (H, of the Fifth), who acted with our command, we must give great credit for their coolness and gallantry, and wish himself and company to share with us whatever credit may fall to our command.
Accompanying is the list of killed and wounded, together with the horses killed in the battle, as furnished by captains of companies. (note: list not affixed)
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain Comdg. First Battalion,
Seventh Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, Army of N. Mex.
General H. H. Sibley,
C. S. Army
Note: One source (not mentioned elsewhere or in the Confederate battle reports) indicated that the Texans lost many supply wagons to a suprise cavalry charge by the New Mexico Volunteers and gives this shortage of supplies as a reason for Sibley's decision to bypass Fort Craig and continue north toward supply depots in Albuquerque. If this is true, obviously the Confederates learned little from this supply train loss and were to repeat the error as Glorieta Pass with disastrous consequences.
FEBRUARY 21, 1862.--Engagement at Valverde, N. Mex.
Report of Capt. Trevanion T. Teel, Texas Light Artillery.
CAMP LOCKRIDGE, N. Mex., February 27, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report to the general commanding the Army of New Mexico the operations of the light battery which I had the honor to command in the battle of Valverde, N. Mex., on February 21.
I received orders on the morning of the 21st, at camp, 8 miles below the battleground, and opposite Fort Craig, to detach one section of the battery, under Lieut. Bradford, to march to the front of the column and head of the train to Valverde, and place the other section and remain myself in the rear with the Second Regiment of Sibley's brigade, which orders were executed.
About an hour after the head of the colomn had moved I received intelligence that a large body of the enemy's cavalry, infantry, and artillery had taken up the line of march for Valverde.
I then placed the section of the battery in command of Lieuts Bennett and McGinnis, and went to the head of the column, before reaching the head of the train I heard the firing of the advance at Valverde.
I found Lieut. Bradford, with his section, at the head of the train, and ordered the pieces to the place of firing at a gallop, and in a few minutes it was placed in battery about the center of Lieut. Col. Scurry's regiment, and commenced firing upon the battery of the enemy and his line in a few minutes. I lost 1 man killed and 2 wounded, which left but 5 cannoneers to man the two pieces. I then kept up the fire alternately with the pieces. Finding it impossible to use the two pieces with steady and effective fire, I called upon Lieut. Col. Scurry for men to fill up the detachments of the guns, which were immediately sent from Lieut. Riley's company of howitzers. After sustaining the action for some time the enemy changed his front. I then placed the section in another position.
Lieuts. Bennett and McGinnis having by this time reached our line, I ordered them to place their section in battery, which they did, and opened upon the enemy with good effect.
From the great length of the enemy's line and his superior number I found it necessary to detach the pieces. Lieut. Bradford was sent to the extreme left flank with his piece to support Majors Lockridge and Pyron's commands, which had been engaged with the enemy for more than an hour, Lieut. McGinnis, with his gun, on the right of Major Lockridge's battalion, Lieut. Bennett at the center of the right flank, and the other piece at the extreme right flank, Lieut Riley, with his battery of howitzers, on the left wing, and Lieut. Woods with his battery of howitzers on the right wing. The different pieces and howitzers changed positions, however, during the action as circumstances required, and were used with effect whenever the enemy presented a front or his battery in view.
Having received orders that our troops were about to charge the enemy, I placed the guns in battery upon the extreme right flank as a reserve, in case the charge was unsuccessful, so that I could open the line of the enemy with raking shots or engage his battery until our troops would prevent my firing by closing with the enemy. The charge was made by our line, and in eight minutes his battery was captured and his troops completely routed. Lieut. Ochiltree, aide- de- camp, rode back and ordered the guns forward, which order was executed, and soon the enemy's guns, as well as ours, were opened on his retreating forces. Firing was kept up from our guns until the enemy's rear was out of range of them. I then ordered the firing to cease.
I lost 4 men killed, including 2 who died the day after the battle, and 6 wounded, 25 horses killed and wounded, one gun partially disabled, and eight sets of harness rendered unserviceable.
I refer with great pleasure to the gallant conduct of Lieut. Bennett, McGinnis, and Bradford, of my company, as well as Lieuts Riley, Woods, Ragnet, and Falcrod, of the batteries of howitzers, also of the non- commissioned officers and privates of all the batteries.
I cannot close my report without bearing testimony to the bravery and coolness of the officers under whom I acted during this sanguinary and well- contested battle. Col. Green, and especially Lieut. Col Scurry, who so promptly manned my guns
from his regiment ( the First), and who was present with my guns under the heavy fire in the morning, and whose
voice was heard above the din of battle and smoke, and flame, and death, encouraging the men to stand by their posts. Also the lemented Lockridge, Major Jackson, assistant adjutant- general, Major Brownrigg, brigade commissary, Lieut. Col McNeill and Lieut. Ochiltree, aide-de- camp, who were rallying the men to charge and were in the line leading on the troops, also Capt. Dwyer, of the staff, Col. Robards, and Major Ragnet. Also the deep obligations I am under to Lieut. Col Scurry, and Capt. Scarborough and his company, who hauled out a disabled piece by hand under hot fire, to Capts. Campbell, McPhaill, and Killough, and their respective companies, for the promptness and willingness with which they replaced the killed and wounded of my guns, many of their comrades having been killed and wounded while
aiding in manning the battery during the action.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. T. TEEL,
Maj, A.M. JACKSON,
Assistant Adjutant- General, C. S. Army.
Thus ended the Battle of Valverde. The Confederates won the battle and by crossing the Rio Grande to the north of Fort Craig, hoped to cut the federal supply line from Fort Union. They failed to take Fort Craig to augment their 10 days rations and in fact, left Fort Craig as an impediment blocking their supply line from Mesilla. Further, the Confederate logistical supplies were insufficient and Sibley's Brigade too lightly equipped to be anything more than a large raiding party. Losses in animals and supply trains made their situation even worse. Facing starvation, the Confederates could not invest further efforts on Fort Craig and they abandoned the battlefield and resumed their march north toward Albuquerque hoping to find supplies.
Today little remains of Valverde Battlefield as it was fought on a sandy flood plain and subsequent floods since the battle have obliterated everything.
Due to the heavy losses of horses at Valverde, the 4th Texas was dismounted and their horses were distributed to the 5th Texas. Abe Hanna, a Confederate enlisted man wrote in his journal: "I had my horse killed in the battle of Valverde and I am now on foot..........I now feel the pleasure of soldiering in New Mexico more plainly then I have ever done before, notwithstanding the severity of the climate and the hardships of the march.....without wood or water and but little grass and being in the dead of winter.
On March 2, Sibley's Brigade reached Albuquerque and found that the federals had destroyed the military depot there prior to abandoning the site. An advance party of Confederates reaching Santa Fe 2 days later, found the same state of affairs. The Texans did capture a small post at
Cubero, which was reported as follows:
MARCH 3, 1862.-- Capture of Cabero, N. Mex.
Report of Capt. A.S. Thurmond, Third Regiment, Sibley's Brigade.
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