Monday, October 17, 2005

Civil War in the Southwest - 4

After the tactical victory at Valverde, Sibley's army left Canby and Fort Craig in his rear and resumed his northward march. Santa Fe fell to the Confederates and the vast supplies at Fort Union were threatened. Fortunately for the Federals, reinforcements arrived and they were able to assemble a mobile force under the command of John Slough to meet the advancing Confederates. When the two armies met in the mountains, a multi-day seesaw fight ensued. The Battle of Glorieta was indecisive but Colonel John Chivington's destruction of the Confederate supply train at Johnson's Ranch far to the rear was disastrous. Sibley's army was forced into a calamitous retreat back to Texas.

This final phase of the campaign is well told in two books, Don Alberts' The Battle of Glorieta: Union Victory in the West and John Taylor's (who we've seen before with Valverde but now teamed here with Thomas Edrington) The Battle of Glorieta Pass: A Gettysburg in the West. Both are worth reading, but I think Alberts' book and his grasp of the subject is superior overall. His strategic overview is more detailed and he does a better job of constructing a battle narrative. Additionally, Alberts' traditional-style maps show more information and are altogether more useful. Taylor does continue his fine numbers and losses analysis from his previous Valverde work and puts together an excellent order-of-battle for Glorieta that also includes unit strengths.

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