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American Civil War West of the Mississippi

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Canby at Valverde

by A. W. Evans, Lieutenant-Colonel, U.S.A.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War
p. 699-700

Colonel Canby reached the field of Valverde in the afternoon, during the lull, proceeding to the position of McRae's battery. One or two shots were fired from it after his arrival without eliciting a reply. After consultation and examination of the position, he moved that battery about two hundred yards to the left and directed the placing of its supports, which had hardly - if at all - got completely into position when the Texan charge was made. It was a surprise, and the attacking force (picked men) was superior in numbers to the supports of the battery - certainly to the regulars in support. Hall's battery (its commander is now Major R. H. Hall, 22d U. S. Infantry) was an extempore one of two 24-pounders, one of which was disabled in the course of the day by the breaking of its trail, and was taken off the field. His position was on the extreme [*700] right, down the river, a mile from McRae, with a great gap between. Neither Captain Wingate's battalion nor Colonel Carson's regiment was in support of him. They were nearer McRae. Just before the charge upon the latter Major Duncan sent up for reinforcements, announcing that a charge was about to be made upon him; and Carson's regiment and Company H, 7th Infantry, Captain Engraham, were sent, but did not reach him in time, or only got half-way. One of MeRae's caissons (possibly a limber-box, but I think the former) was blown up in the fight, - it was said, by one of Ins sergeants firing his pistol into it to prevent its capture, but this is not authenticated. The New Mexican volunteers in support broke early, and caused much confusion. It was reported that the muzzles of the cannon had been elevated for distant firing, and that in the flurry they were not depressed, thus firing over the heads of the approaching enemy. The ammunition was, I think, only round shot and spherical case; there was no grape.

That the Union troops were successful in the morning under Colonel Roberts and were defeated in the evening under Colonel Canby was the fortune of war. It is not always correct to argue post hoc, propter hoc. The result would probably have been the same if the commanders had been reversed, or if Colonel Canby had remained at Fort Craig.

Original Source for This Version

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