The Territory of New Mexico was formed under an act of congress passed September 9th, 1850, and included in its boundaries part of the lands transferred by Mexico to the United States after the Mexican War and part of the territory ceded by Texas in 1850. Its northern boundary was described as running west from the 103rd degree of longitude and the 38th degree of latitude to the summit of the Sierra Madre, thence south with the crest of said mountains to the 37th parallel, thence west to the boundary line of California. Its southern boundary followed the boundary line of the Republic of Mexico east to the Rio Grande, thence along the 32nd parallel to the 103rd degree of longitude.
This territory was enlarged on August 4th, 1854, by the addition of the Gadsden purchase; and it was reduced by the formation of Colorado Territory in 1861, which took away all lands north of the 37th parallel, and of Arizona Territory in 1863 which took all west of the 109th degree of longitude, leaving the boundaries as they exist today.
The territory covered such a large area and means of communication were so difficult that many differences arose between the old settlers in the northern part and some of the new comers in the south and southwest. Those in the south claimed that they did not have a fair representation in the government at Santa Fe; that Taos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties so manipulated the elections that it was not even worth while to send a representative to the legislature at Santa Fe to represent Dona Ana and Arizona.
On August 29th, 1856, a convention was held at Tucson and a resolution was passed to send a memorial to congress urging the organization of a separate territory of Arizona, [*149] and Nathan P. Cook was sent to Washington as a delegate to work for the passage of such a bill. The committee on territories reported against it because of the limited population included in the proposed area.
President Buchanan in his message to congress in December 1857 recommended a territorial government for Arizona, "incorporating with it such portions of New Mexico as they may deem expedient." He also advocated the building of a railroad from the western boundary of Texas, on the Rio Grande, to a point on the Gulf of California, a distance of 470 miles.
In his second annual message, December 6, 1858, he said: "The population of that territory (Arizona) numbering as is alleged, more than 10,000 souls, are practically without a government, without laws, and without any regular administration of justice. Murder and other crimes are committed with impunity. This state of things calls loudly for redress, and I therefore repeat my recommendation for the establishment of a Territorial government over Arizona." In the same message, commenting on the situation in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora, he said "the local governments of these states are perfectly helpless and are kept in a state of constant alarm by the Indians. A state of anarchy and violence prevails throughout that distant frontier. For this reason the settlement of Arizona is arrested. ... I can imagine no possible remedy for these evils and no mode of restoring law and order on that remote and unsettled frontier but for the Government of the United States to assume a temporary protectorate over the northern portions of Chihuahua and Sonora and to establish military posts within the same; and this I earnestly recommend to Congress. This protection may be withdrawn as soon as local governments shall be established in these Mexican States capable of performing their duties to the United States, restraining the lawless, and preserving peace along the border." In this message he again called [*150] attention to the need and great value of a railroad to reach California.
In his third annual message (December 19, 1859) he once more recommended the establishment of a territorial government for Arizona and to establish one or more military posts across the Mexican line in Sonora and Chihuahua.
In April 1860, another convention, composed of thirty-one delegates was held at Tucson to organize the territory of Arizona. This was to include all of New Mexico south of latitude 33° 40' and was divided into four counties, Dona Ana, Mesilla, Ewell and Castle Dome.
James A. Lucas was president of this convention and Granville H. Oury (who was a member of the New Mexico legislature in 1857, and in January 1862 was sent as a delegate from the Territory of Arizona to the Confederate congress at Richmond) was secretary.
On March 16, 1861, a convention was held at Mesilla at which James A. Lucas was the presiding officer, and resolutions were passed repudiating the United States and attaching themselves to the Confederate States. The sixth resolution passed by this convention read as follows: "Resolved, That we will not recognize the present Black Republican administration, and that we will resist any officers appointed to this territory by said administration with whatever means in our power." 1
All of this friction between the northern and southern parts of New Mexico greatly encouraged the Confederate government at Richmond to believe that if an army were sent to the Rio Grande they would have no trouble in capturing the country and opening the way for an outlet on the Gulf of California through the Mexican State of Sonora; and when this was accomplished they would be in a good position to join with the many southern sympathizers in California in an effort to capture California for the south.
In July 1861 Jefferson Davis authorized General H. H. [*151] Sibley, who had resigned his position in the Union Army and joined the Confederate forces, to proceed at once to Texas and organize a force to capture New Mexico, and in case he succeeded in doing this he was instructed to organize a military government of the Territory, the details of which were to be submitted to Davis at the earliest possible moment.
General Sibley organized his force and established headquarters at Fort Bliss, Texas, gathering supplies and ammunition here for his attack upon New Mexico. While waiting here for more troops to arrive he very much feared that the Union forces would try to capture the fort and felt that he could not hold it with the men he had, hence he tried to block such a move by getting as many of his former friends as possible among the Union officers to desert and join with him. Colonel W. W. Loring had been in command of the Department of New Mexico until he was succeeded by General Canby when he sent in his resignation. Before it was accepted and while still in the service, General Sibley wrote him the following letter from El Paso: 2El Paso, Texas, June 12, 1861
We are at last under the glorious banner of the Confederate States of America. It was indeed a glorious sensation of protection, hope, and pride. Though its folds were modest and unpretending, the emblem was still there. Van Dorn is in command at San Antonio. He has ordered four companies of Texas troops to garrison this post. They cannot be expected to reach here, however, before the 1st proximo. Meantime, Colonel Magoffin, Judge Hart, and Crosby are much exercised and concerned on account of the present public stores here in their present unguarded condition.
There are full supplies of subsistence and ammunition here for two or more companies for twelve months. The loss of these supplies by capture or destruction would occasion serious embarrassment to the cause. Meanwhile you may, by delaying your own departure a week or two, [*152] add much to the security of this property. -- Should you be relieved from your command too soon to prevent an attempt on the part of your successor to re-capture, by a coup-de-main, the property here, send a notice by extraordinary express to Judge Hart. Your seat in the stage may at the same time be engaged.
Movements are in contemplation from this direction which I am not at liberty to disclose. You will arrive here in time for everything and to hear everything. My love to those who love me.Faithfully yours,
On the night of July 23, 1861, Colonel John R. Baylor with 258 men marched up the valley from El Paso to make a surprise attack on Fort Fillmore, near Las Cruces, which was held by a force of about 700 men under command of Major Isaac Lynde. On the morning of the 25th there was some fighting at Mesilla, with a few killed and wounded on each side. On the 26th Major Lynde gave orders to abandon the fort and planned to join the Union forces at Fort Stanton. Colonel Baylor overtook Major Lynde's command near San Augustine Springs and without risking a battle or even consulting with his officers he surrendered his entire force to Colonel Baylor. For this action Major Lynde was tried by court martial and on November 25, 1861, by order of President Lincoln he was dismissed from the army. 3
The surrender of Major Lynde's force left the entire southern part of the territory in complete control of the Confederates and on August 1, 1861, Colonel Baylor issued a proclamation taking possession of the country in the name and behalf of the Confederate States of America and appointing himself the first governor. For other offices he selected James A. Lucas, secretary; M. H. McWillis (who afterwards was elected as delegate from the Territory of Arizona to the Confederate Congress, taking his seat March 11, 1862) as attorney general; E. Augorsteen, treasurer; [*153] George M. Frazier, marshall; Frank Higgins, probate judge, of the First Judicial District; L. W. Greek, justice of peace for Dona Ana county; M. A. Verirnindi, justice of peace, 4th precinct, Mesilla; Henry L. Dexter, justice of peace, La Mesa; M. M. Steinthal, justice of peace, Pinos Altos; and C. Lanches, justice of peace, San Tomas.
At least one of these officials took office at once, as the court records of Dona Ana County show that on August 8, 1861 Frank Higgins presided at probate judge, the first entry in the record book being:The Confederate States of America
This day met the Honl. the Probate Court of the above named county, Present Frank Higgins Esqr. Probate Judge, Charles A. Hoppin, clerk of the District Court & ex officio Clerk of the Probate Court and John A. Roberts Sheriff. The Judge and Sheriff holding their Commissions from Lt. Col. John R. Baylor, Commanding the Military Forces of the Confederate States in said Territory and Acting Governor of the same.
Two regular terms of this court were held in September and December of 1861, and several special terms. Frank Higgins served as judge until January 1862, when he was succeeded by John Peter Deus, who resigned in June 1862. 4
In a report made by Colonel Baylor on August 8, 1861, to General Earl Van Dorn commanding the Department of Texas, he stated:
I have established a provisional government for the Territory of Arizona, and made the appointments to fill offices necessary to enforce the laws. I have proclaimed myself governor, have authorized the raising of four companies to hold the Territory and afford protection to the citizens.
The vast mineral resources of Arizona, in addition to its affording an outlet to the Pacific, make its acquisition a [*154] matter of some importance to our government, and now that I have taken possession of the Territory, I trust a force sufficient to occupy and hold it will be sent by the government, under some competent man.
I have acted in all matters relating to the acquisition of Arizona entirely upon my own responsibility, and can only refer the matter, through you for the approval of the Government. 5
Evidently Col. Baylor and his military government did not get the support of the native population which he expected. General Canby, in command of the Union forces at Santa Fe, in a letter written to Headquarters at St. Louis, said:
The people of the Territory, with few exceptions, I believe are loyal but they are apathetic in disposition, and will adopt any measures that may be necessary for the defense of their Territory with great tardiness, looking with greater concern to their private, and often petty interests, and delaying or defeating the objects of the Government by their personal or political quarrels. 6
On October 25, 1861, Colonel Bayler wrote to General Sibley asking for reinforcements, saying that Colonel Canby was marching down the valley with a force of 2,500 men and that he would have to abandon the country. He stated that "The Mexican population are decidedly Northern in sentiment, and avail themselves of the first opportunity to rob us or join the enemy. Nothing but a strong force will keep them quiet." 7
He stated that he was being kept posted on the movements of the northern troops by Messrs. Phillips and Battle of Santa Fe and that they are "gentlemen well known as men of veracity." 8
Colonel Baylor was very anxious to secure the assistance of the many Southern men living in California and on [*155] November 2, 1861, he wrote to Major S. B. Davis:
California is on the eve of a revolution. There are many Southern men there who would cheerfully join us if they could get to us, and they could come well armed and mounted. Another thing I take the liberty of suggesting is, that a force be placed in western Arizona, to watch the landing of United States troops at Guaymas, that they may not pass through Sonora to invade us. I am reliably informed that the Government of Mexico has sent orders to the governor of Sonora to allow the passage of United States troops through that State, and agents are in Sonora buying corn and supplies for the United States troops. 9
On receipt of Colonel Baylor's letter of October 25th, General Sibley left San Antonio on November 18th for El Paso with the reinforcements asked for, and under General Orders No. 10 dated at Fort Bliss, December 14, 1861, he assumed command of all the forces in the Territory of New Mexico and Arizona. On December 20th he issued the following proclamation: 10
PROCLAMATION OF BRIG. GEN. H. H. SIBLEY TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW MEXICO
An army under my command enters New Mexico to take possession of it in the name and for the benefit of the Confederate States. By geographical position, by similarity of institutions, by commercial interests, and by future destinies New Mexico pertains to the Confederacy.
Upon the peaceful people of New Mexico the Confederate States wage no war. To them we come as friends, to re-establish a governmental connection agreeable and advantageous both to them and to us; to liberate them from the yoke of a military despotism erected by usurpers upon the ruins of the former free institutions of the United States; to relieve them from the iniquitous taxes and exactions imposed upon them by that usurpation; to insure and to revere their religion, and to restore their civil and political liberties.
The existing war is one most wickedly waged by the [*156] United States upon the Confederate States for the subjugation and oppression of the latter by force of arms. It has already failed. Victory has crowned the arms of the Confederate States wherever an encounter worthy of being called a battle has been joined. Witness the capture in the Mesilla Valley of the whole force of the enemy by scarcely half their number.
The army under my command is ample to seize and to maintain possession of New Mexico against any force which the enemy now has or is able to place within its limits. It is my purpose to accomplish this object without injury to the peaceful people of the country. Follow, then, quietly your peaceful avocations and from my forces you have nothing to fear. Your persons, your families and your property shall be secure and safe. Such forage and supplies as my army shall require will be purchased in open market and paid for at fair price. If destroyed or removed to prevent me from availing myself of them, those who co-operate with our enemies will be treated accordingly, and must prepare to share their fate.
When the authority of the Confederate States shall be established in New Mexico, a government of your best men, to be conducted upon principles with which you are familiar and to which you are attached, will be inaugurated. Your religious, civil, and political rights and liberties will be reestablished and maintained sacred and intact. In the mean-time, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the President and Government of the Confederate States I abrogate and abolish the law of the United States levying taxes upon the people of New Mexico.
To my old comrades in arms, still in the ranks of the usurpers of their Government and liberties, I appeal in the name of former friendship; drop at once the arms which degrade you into the tools of tyrants, renounce their service, and array yourselves under the colors of justice and freedom. I arn empowered to receive you into the services of the Confederate States; the officers upon their commissions, the men upon their enlistments. By every principle of law and morality you are exonerated from service in the ranks of our enemies. You never engaged in the service of one portion of the old Union to fight against another portion, who, so far from being your enemies, have ever been your best friends. In the sight of God and man, you are justified [*157] in renouncing a service iniquitous in itself and in which you never engaged.
Done at headquarters of the Army of New Mexico by me this 20th day of December A. D. 1861.H. H. SIBLEY
On the same day General Sibley issued an order that Col. John R. Baylor was to continue as civil and military Governor of the Territory of Arizona.
In a report to Jefferson Davis under date of December 14, 1861, J. P. Benjamin, secretary of war, stated that:
The population of Arizona is almost unanimously desirous of the annexation of that Territory to the Confederate States. The United States troops there, routed and put to flight by the expedition under the command of Col. John R. Baylor, had at one time abandoned the country. Under these circumstances Colonel Baylor, after satisfying himself of the wishes of the inhabitants, proceeded upon his own responsibility to assume the military government of the Territory of Arizona.
All the proceedings of Col. Baylor appear to have been marked by prudence, energy and sagacity, and to be deserving of high praise. The result of his action has been the securing to the Confederacy of a portion of the territory formerly common to all the States but now forming a natural appendage to our Confederate States, opening a pathway to the Pacific and guaranteeing Western Texas from the dangers incident to allowing the Indian tribes in that extensive territory to remain under foreign influence. Since his success in expelling the Federal troops and taking peaceful possession of the Territory an effort has been made by the United States to disturb the tranquility of the inhabitants by sending a force of about 2,500 men, under Colonel Canby, who at the last advices was marching toward the headquarters of Colonel Baylor at Dona Ana.
In organizing a more permanent Territorial government for Arizona, with its present expanded boundaries, I beg to suggest that the population is of so mixed a character, and the number of inhabitants educated in representative institutions is so limited, that it would scarcely be practicable to maintain social order and insure the execution [*158} of the laws by an elective government. Some system analogous in its nature to that adopted for the government of the Orleans Territory by the act of March 26, 1804, seems to be much better adapted at least for the present, to this Territory; and its extent of surface is so great that Congress may, perhaps, deem it proper further to imitate the example set in the act above recited by dividing it into two governments. 11
On January 17, 1862, a letter to Colonel Canby from El Paso said:
General Sibley and staff arrived in El Paso about a month ago. The troops are badly provisioned and armed, they have no money, and their paper is only taken by the merchants, not by the Mexicans. The Mexican population are much opposed to them, also at Mesilla and Dona Ana. Irisana and Ambugo goods at Mesilla have been confiscated, and that is the order of the day. S. Hart has done more to aid and assist them than the balance of the capitalists have, and has gone so far as to give a list of the principal capitalists in New Mexico, to confiscate their property, and that is their aim. 12
On February 21, 1862, a correspondent of R. L. Robertson, United States consul at Mazatlan, Mexico, wrote regarding the conditions around El Paso:
The Texans are badly armed and short of provisions. Flour and beef is all they have ; coffee and bacon they have none. They have acted about El Paso in such a manner as to enrage the whole community against them. All Mexicans are down on them. The officers have no control over them, and they do just as they please, and you know what men off a long trip please to do. Blankets, onions, wine and everything they can lay their hands on they carry off. 13
On January 18, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed an act to organize the Territory of Arizona, the northern boundary being the 34th parallel, which runs a few miles south of the town of Socorro ; Texas on the east, the Colorado River on the west, and the boundary of Mexico on [*159] the south. The governor was to be appointed by the president of the Confederacy for a term of six years, with a salary of $1,500 as governor, and $500 as commissioner of Indian affairs. The legislature was to consist of a council of thirteen members and a house of representatives of thirteen for the first year, which might be increased from time to time as the population increased, but the whole number was not to exceed thirty-nine.
All legislative proceedings were to be conducted in the English language. The congress of the Confederate States reserved the right at any time to change, modify or annul any law passed by the legislature, also to pass for the people of the Territory any law which it might deem expedient or necessary and proper. The act also provided for slavery.
No member of the legislature could hold, or be appointed to, any office which was created or the salary of which had been increased while he was a member, either during the term for which he was elected or for one year after its expiration. The members of the legislature were to receive $4.00 per day and $4.00 for every 20 miles of travel in going to and returning from sessions, the mileage being estimated according to the nearest usually traveled route.
To defray the contingent expenses of the Territory an appropriation of $1,000 was authorized. The seat of government was designated to be at La Mesilla. One delegate to the Confederate congress at Richmond was provided for, with a salary of $8.00 a day and mileage at the rate of ten cents per mile.
On February 14, 1862, a proclamation was issued by President Jefferson Davis declaring this act to be in full force and effect. 14
On March 13, 1862, President Davis sent the following names to the senate to be confirmed as officers of the new Territory of Arizona; John R. Baylor, of Arizona, governor; [*160] Robert Josselyn, of Mississippi, secretary; Alexander M. Jackson, of New Mexico, chief justice; Columbus Upson, of Texas, associate justice; Russel Howard, of Arizona, attorney; and Samuel J. Jones of Arizona, marshall. 15
The first delegate in congress to represent the Territory was Granville H. Oury, who was recognized as such January 18, 1862, the day on which the act admitting the territory was passed ; and on March 11, 1862, he was succeeded by Marcus H. Me Willie, the attorney general of the Territory under the military government of Colonel Baylor. He served until the end of the Confederate government in 1865. 16
The organization of the Territory of Arizona was only a part of a much larger plan of the Confederates which contemplated adding the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora to the Confederacy, thus obtaining control, not only of a rich mineral country, but of a seaport on the Gulf of California. In February 1862, General Sibley sent a force of 100 cavalry commanded by Captain Hunter to capture Tucson, which he did on February 28th. With these troops he sent Colonel James Reily on a mission to Governor Pesqueira of Sonora to try and arrange with him for the free entry of troops and supplies at Guaymas. In this, however, he was not successful, as Governor Pesqueira was in sympathy with the North, and refused to enter into any deal with the Confederates. Had he done so there might have been an entirely different outcome to the control of the southwest and California.
Tucson did not long remain in Confederate hands, for on May 20th, 1862, when the first of the California Volunteers under command of Colonel J. R. West reached there, they found that Captain Hunter and his troops had abandoned the town and were in full retreat to the Rio Grande. 17
[*161] This victory was followed up by the famous march of the California Volunteers, 1,400 strong under General James H. Carleton (later appointed to command the Department of New Mexico, with headquarters at Santa Fe) to drive the Confederates out of New Mexico.
The advanced column under Colonel Frye reached the Rio Grande at Fort Thorn (north of the present town of Hatch) on July 4th, 1862, and for the first time since the surrender of Fort Fillmore by Major Lynde the Stars and Stripes floated again on the lower Rio Grande.
As soon as the arrival of these troops was known, the Confederates made a hasty flight, abandoning Mesilla, Las Cruces, Franklin and all points in New Mexico, and the dream of a new Southern state and an outlet to the Pacific for the Confederacy was shattered.
A very clear idea of the general conditions in the new Territory of Arizona is given in a letter from Colonel William Steele, commanding the Confederate forces at El Paso, to General S. Cooper, adjutant general at Richmond, written July 12, 1862, in which he said: 18
General: Having recently abandoned the Territory of Arizona, and being on the point of starting with my whole command for San Antonio, I deem it advisable to give you a brief statement of the various causes that have compelled me to this step. Of the strength of the force with which I was expected to hold the Territory about 400 men you will be able to form a just estimate from the within field report. After General Sibley had withdrawn from the country the greater portion of his command, the Mexican population, justly thinking our tenure very frail and uncertain, showed great unwillingness to sell property of any sort for Confederate paper, which would of course be valueless to them should I be compelled to retire, which was at any time probable; and as I was without specie with which to make purchases, I was obliged to seize upon such supplies as were required for the subsistence of the troops and such means of transportation as would enable me to move my command whenever the necessity might arise for so doing. [*162] This occasioned so much ill feeling on the part of the Mexicans that in many instances armed resistence was offered to foraging parties acting under my orders, and in the various skirmishes which took place one captain and several men of my regiment were killed by them. Besides this, the troops with me were so disgusted with the campaign and so anxious to return to Texas that in one or two instances they were on the point of open mutiny, and threatened to take the matter in their own hands unless they were speedily marched back to San Antonio.
In the meantime the forces from California, about 1,500 strong, were steadily approaching, and on the 6th day of July their advance was at Fort Thorn, on the Rio Grande. Troops from Fort Craig had been seen the day previous moving toward the same point. Knowing this, and that the enemy, after leaving competent garrisons behind, would be able to bring 3,000 troops against me, independent of a recent re-enforcement which they received of 500 men from Pike's Peak, and 250 more with six rifle cannon, who escorted the paymaster from Kansas, the necessity of moving my force became imperative. I was then at Fort Fillmore, with but little ammunition, and notwithstanding the efforts I had made, with very inadequate means of transportation. I, however, abandoned the Territory on the 8th of July and marched for Fort Bliss, at which point I now am. As soon as this move had been determined on, the sale was ordered of all public property at Fort Bliss which was too bulky for or not worth transportation. This sale was held for specie and breadstuffs. The specie was turned over to the general hospital which I was compelled to leave at Franklin. There was besides a considerable quantity of stores that could not be sold and which were too weighty for transportation, such as horse and mule shoes, cannon, ammunition, tents &c.
To conclude, I am now about to start for San Antonio with very limited means of transportation, and insufficient supply of breadstuff and beef, depending on the contingency of meeting provisions forwarded from San Antonio, and with troops in many instances almost naked. The General hospital at Franklin under the charge of Doctor Southworth, has been provided with $830.00 in specie and credit to a larger amount with parties in Mexico. This I submit to [*163] you as a true representation of the condition of affairs in this country.Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
On August 14, 1862, General Carleton, who by that time had reached the Rio Grande and taken command, issued General Orders No. 15 in which he stated: 19
The people may now rest assured that the era of anarchy and misrule when there was no protection to life or property, when the wealthy were robbed and oppressed, when all were insulted and maltreated, and when there was no respect for age or sex, has passed away; that now under the sacred banner of our country all may claim and shall receive their just rights. Therefore let the burden of anxiety be lifted from their hearts, and once more pursue their avocations with cheerfulness, and with the full confidence that the protection which now shelters them from injustice will always be stronger in proportion as they shall be powerless to protect themselves.
1. Official Records Civil War, Ser. 1, IV, p. 39.
2. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol IV, p. 55.
3. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 15.
4. Two very interesting accounts of the proceedings of this court have been published in the New Mexico Historical Review, one by Edward D. Tittman, in Vol. Ill, Page 347, and the other by Charles S. Walker, Jr., in Vol. IV, page 253.
5. Official Reports, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 23.
6. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 65.
7. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 132.
8. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 133.
9. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 149.
10. Official Records, Ser. 1, Vol. IV, p. 89.
11. Official Records, Ser. IV, Vol. 1, p. 791.
12. Official Records, Ser. IV, Vol. 1, p. 89.
13. Official Records, Vol. 50, Part 1, p. 1012.
14. Official Records, Ser. IV, Vol. 1, pp. 853, 859, 930.
15. Official Records, Vol. 50, Part 1, p. 925.
16. Official Records, Ser. IV, Vol. 3, pp. 1187, 1189, 1191.
17. Official Records, Vol. 50, Part 1, pp. 944, 1031, 1088.
18. Official Records, Vol. 50, Part 2, p. 21.
19. Official Records, Vol. 50, Part 1, p. 44.
Original Source for This Version