First Battle of Mesilla
Second Battle of Mesilla
Sibley's New Mexico Campaign
Battle of Valverde
Battle of Glorietta Pass
Prior to the
residents in the southern part of New Mexico
Territory had long complained that the territorial government in
was too far away to properly address their concerns. Their sense of
abandonment was further confirmed at the beginning the Civil War,
when regular troops were withdrawn from the area. As a result, a secession
convention was held at Mesilla, New Mexico
in March, 1861, where citizens voted to join the Confederacy and formed
militia companies to defend themselves.
Union Troops gone from the southern part of
Territory as well as
the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles under Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor were
sent to occupy the series of forts along the western
frontier, as well as advancing into New Mexico
to attack the Union forts along the Rio Grande River.
six miles southeast of Mesilla sat the tiny post of
Fort Fillmore. Originally
established to control the local Apache, the post had declined over the
years, fallen into serious disrepair and its troops removed. However, when
the Union found out that the Texans were coming in to the territory, they
reinforced the fort.
First Battle of Mesilla
July, 24, 1861, 250 troops of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles
crossed the Rio Grande River into Mesilla, arriving to the
cheers of the population. A company of
Confederates quickly joined Baylor there. Planning to attack
the Union force at Fort Fillmore the next day, they were
thwarted by a Confederate deserter who informed the
Fort Fillmore's commander,
Major Isaac Lynde.
Taking the offence, Lynde left a small force
behind to guard the fort and marched on Mesilla on July 25th.
Leading some 380 Union troops, he approached the town and demanded Baylor's
surrender. When the Confederates refused, the Union opened
fire with his mountain howitzers and the infantry was ordered
to advance. However, heavy sand and corn fields interfered
with this attack. Lynde then ordered his cavalry and three
companies of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles, to charge the
Able to repulse the oncoming Union
troops, both sides then began skirmishing at long range. After
three Union enlisted men died and two officers and four other
men were wounded, Lynde ordered a return to the fort. The
Battle of Mesilla resulted in a Confederate victory.