The Battle of Valverde Battlefield
Location of the battlefield from the Battle of Valverde. The Battle of Valverde was a skirmish between the Department of New Mexico (Union Forces) and the Army of New Mexico (Confederate forces). The battle took place on February 20-21 of 1862. The Union forces were led by Colonel Edward Canby while the Confederate forces were led by Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley and Colonel Thomas Green. The battle resulted in the Union forces losing 202 men while the Confederate forces lost 187 men. The battle ended in a Confederate Victory.
Backstory and Context
In an attempt to stop federal communications between Fort Craig and military headquarters in Santa Fe, Confederate Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley led 2,500 men across the Rio Grande and followed the east side of the river to the forde at Valverde, just north of the fort. To try and stop this attempt at crossing the river, Union Colonel Edward Canby left Fort Craig with 3000 men and set forth towards the river. Once the Canby's forces were across the river from Sibley's, they opened fire and Canby sent the Calvary across the river after the Confederate forces.1
This resulted in Sibley pulling back the Confederate forces and retreated to the Old Rio Grande riverbed. This put Sibley's men in excellent position. Canby then proceeded to cross the river and began to plan his assault. Canby came to the conclusion that frontal attack would result in failure and decided to attack the Confederates left flank. However, before the Union could even begin their attack, the Confederate forces launched an attack.1
Sibley started with a charge from his cavalry, but this effort was pushed back by the Union forces. Once that attempt failed, the Confederates launched a frontal attack on the Union and were able to capture six artillery pieces. This resulted in Canby's line to have to breakup and many of his men ran. Canby had no choice but to order his men to retreat. Later on, Confederate reinforcements would arrive and just about when Sibley was going to order another attack, Canby raised the white flag and requested a truce so that they could remove the bodies from the battlefield. This resulted a victory for the Confederates, but also resulted in a large loss of troops.2
The battlefield is located near San Antonio New Mexico and is just north of the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. Its located in area that’s mostly desert. One can also see a memorial to the lives lost in the battle at the site.3
2. Battle of Valverde. Visit Socorro. Accessed April 01, 2017. http://www.socorronm.org/notable-local/battle-valverde/.
3. Valverde Battlefield Historical Marker. Mapcarta. https://mapcarta.com/23338572.