Often referred to as the Skirmish at Albuquerque, this confrontation took place in and around this portion of city from April 8-9, 1862. The event was part of the New Mexico campaign to liberate the New Mexico Territory from the Confederacy. In the Mesilla Secession Convention of 1861, the territory of New Mexico left the Union and a Confederate government established, with forces under CSA General Henry Hopkins Sibley occupying such towns and cities as Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Union forces of the California Column and Colorado Volunteers, under Union General Edward Canby, were sent to liberate the territory. Albuquerque would be one of the final clashes in the territory after Confederate forces and government were forced to flee after the Battle at Glorieta Pass two weeks previous resulted in Union victory. This virtuously bloodless clash in Albuquerque was a Union victory. A plaque about the the battle sits on the south side of the Old Town Gazebo. The final battle for New Mexico took place the next week in the Peralta area next to Albuquerque.
The Confederates were on the retreat from New Mexico Territory after the Battle of Glorieta Pass. On April 8, Sibley's 4th, 5th and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers occupied Albuquerque for a second time as they retreated southeast to Texas. Colonel Canby moved his army up from Fort Craig to ascertain the strength of the Confederates in Albuquerque.
Canby's artillery opened fire at long range from the edge of town for two days. The Union artillery ceased firing when a local citizen informed Canby the Confederates would not permit the civilians to seek shelter. Canby felt he had accomplished his mission; he knew the Rebels were still willing to put up resistance. The Union demonstration also caused Colonel Tom Green to hastily pull out of Santa Fe and move to Sibley's aid, hoping to counter attack in the morning. Under cover of darkness Canby's forces slipped away without the rebels' knowledge.
Lacking the resources to take a large force captive, Canby hoped the Confederates would concentrate their forces together and move out of New Mexico in one unit. The rebels did indeed end their occupation of Albuquerque a few days later on April 12. Sibley left behind the sick and wounded along with eight mountain howitzers, buried near the edge of town.