Civil War Military Strategies With a Confederate Kentucky and Missouri

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2018
Location
Corona, California
DISCLAIMER: I made this post on another website, one year ago about what the Civil War or an earlier version of this conflict in TTL would look like if Kentucky and Missouri had joined the Confederate States. I'm reposting here for anyone interested. If there are any errors I might have made, feel free to inform me in the comments section.

Let's just say that Kentucky and Missouri join the Confederate States regardless of the POD involved whether if it's an early Civil War in the 1850s where the United States fires the first shots or they're luckier with these states in 1861. Now, what would the military offensives for both states look like for the Union and the Confederacy respectively?

Geography - The most important thing to look at when assessing what both sides would do in Kentucky and Missouri is their boundaries and rivers. Both states are very close to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio which for the Confederates given them the opportunity to conduct raids there as well as using them as shields to protect their cities across the Mississippi and other rivers. For the Americans, having a Confederate-controlled Kentucky and Missouri would be not only very dangerous but they would have to launch major offensives there to retake them as well as install loyalist military governments there similar to what we saw with West Virginia and to an extent Tennessee. For the Unionist shadow governments of Kentucky and Missouri respectively, Joshua Speed or Cassius M. Clay would be the governor for the former and Hamilton Rowan Gamble as the governor for the latter. A Confederate-held Kentucky and Missouri also mean that some Union generals such as Ulysses S. Grant for instance would be slightly moved to another town like Evansville, Indiana.

The Confederates defending Kentucky and Missouri in 1861 would be very hard-pressed and rather precarious especially with the Union's ironclads and the fact that Louisville and St. Louis are very close to the enemy states. For 1853 or so, it's slightly easier since there are no ironclads but the Union Army would inevitably go into those states and attempt to capture both states' major cities. Missouri's size makes it rather vulnerable to being easily invaded and taken over by the Union and the best-case scenario is that the Confederates do hold onto half of the state thus leading it to be partitioned into two new states controlled by both sides. Kentucky is luckier though and the Confederates might hold onto the entire state as opposed to being partitioned.

Strategic Value - Kentucky and Missouri would undoubtedly be very important for the Confederates as it would give them access to the Ohio River and two prominent riverfront cities in the form of Louisville and St. Louis respectively assuming if they managed to hold onto one of them or both when the Union starts to rise up in the second year of the conflict. Their importance to the Confederate military would be second only to Virginia the home of the capital Richmond and a state that borders Union-controlled Maryland. For the Americans, getting Kentucky and Missouri under their control would be an important priority as it would allow them to invade and take over Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and of course the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

For the alternate Army of Mississippi/Army of Tennessee, they would be based in Kentucky or Missouri and they would glad to have these states under their jurisdiction especially natives of either state such as Albert Sidney Johnston, John C. Breckinridge, John Hunt Morgan, and John Bell Hood. For the Army of the Tennessee or whatever it's called, they would have a major problem on their hands.

Population - Kentucky's population in the 1860 census was 1.15 million making it the 9th most populous state in the Union with 919,484 whites, 10,654 free blacks, and 225,483 slaves (19.5 percent of the state's population). Missouri also had a similar total population with around 1 million whites, 3,752 free blacks, and 114,931 black slaves making it the 8th most populous state.

For 1850, Kentucky had 982,405 people (761,413 whites, 10,011 free blacks, and 210,981 black slaves) and Missouri had 682,044 people (592,004 whites, 2,618 free blacks, and 87,422 black slaves) a bit less than their 1860 sizes but they were already growing. Kentucky's slave population in 1850 was 21.4 percent which was similar to Tennessee's 23.8 percent and as for Missouri, it had 12.8 percent arguably one of the lowest in the slaveholding states surpassed only by Delaware (2.5 percent) and Maryland (15.5 percent) both of which stay in the Union for this scenario.

The South had about 8 million whites and 4.4 million blacks (free and slave) compared to the North's 19.2 million whites and 329,732 free blacks in 1860 (when you count Maryland and Delaware and exclude Missouri and Kentucky). For 1850, the South has around 3.9 million whites and 2.8 million blacks (free and slave) while the North had 13.3 million whites and 196,055 free blacks which if you add in Maryland and Delaware it would be around 13.7 million whites and 288,851 free blacks. The South with Kentucky and Missouri would have 5.2 million whites and 2.9 million blacks (free and slave) while the North with Maryland and Kentucky would again have 13.7 million whites and 288,851 free blacks.

In terms of population for the states in the Confederacy, Kentucky would be the 3rd most populous state in 1850 and 1860 surpassing the likes of Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Arkansas and Florida and as for Missouri it would be the 7th most populous state in 1850 and the 2nd most populous state in 1860. The only state that would ever surpass Kentucky and Missouri as far as population went would be Virginia which had 1.19 million in 1850 and 1.59 million in 1860. Adding in Kentucky and Missouri, the South/Confederacy would have a total population of 5.5 million in the 1850s and 10 million in the 1860s giving them extra white manpower to fight the North/Union. More accurately the South/Confederate States' white male 18-45 military age population with Kentucky and Missouri would be 1.3 million compared to its actual size of 1.06 million in 1860 in contrast to the North/United States' 4 million (4.1 million when you include Maryland and Delaware) and for the numbers in 1850, it's a bit lower than that.

As far as slaves are concerned, there would be those that successfully escape to Indiana, Illinois, or Ohio for instance, or behind Union lines where they become contraband. For any remaining Unionists especially in 1861, they would form militias to fight the Confederate-controlled governments or escape to the North to avoid capture and execution.

Cities - Louisville and St. Louis would be extremely important for the Confederates as they are thriving riverside cities and gives them access to extra resources and industry.

Louisville was already a thriving slave market that sold slaves to the Lower South (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) and its population was 68,033 in 1860 which was comprised of 61,213 whites, 4,902 black slaves, and 1,917 free blacks and 43,194 in 1850 comprised of 36,225 whites, 5,432 black slaves and 1,538 free blacks which made it the 14th/12th largest city in the Union.

St. Louis on the other hand had a population of 160,773 in 1860 specifically consisting of 157,476 whites (which was increasingly becoming dominated by Irish and German immigrants over the native white Southern majority), 1,755 free blacks and 1,542 black slaves, and 77,860 in 1850 divided into 73,806 whites (of which 67% were Southerners and 43% were Irish and Germans), 1,308 free blacks and 2,656 black slaves which would make it the 8th largest city in those years. The largest city of the South that had a 100,000+ population in both 1850 and 1860 was New Orleans, Louisiana which had 116,375 in the former year (89,459 whites, 9,905 free blacks and 17,011 black slaves) and 168,675 (149,063 whites, 10,939 free blacks, and 14,484 black slaves). The top 10 largest cities in the Confederate States with Missouri and Kentucky would be 1. New Orleans (116,375 in 1850 and 168,675 in 1860), 2. St. Louis (77,860 in 1850 and 160,773 in 1860), 3. Louisville (43,194 in 1850 and 68,033 in 1860), 4. Charleston (42,985 in 1850 and 40,522 in 1860), 5. Richmond (27,570 in 1850 and 37,910 in 1860), 6. Mobile (20,515 in 1850 and 29,258 in 1860), 7. Memphis or Savannah (22,623 in 1860 and 15,312 in 1850), 8. Petersburg or Norfolk (18,266 in 1850 and 14,326 in 1860), 9. Wheeling or Augusta (11,435 in 1850 and 12,493 in 1860) and 10. Nashville or Newport (10,165 in 1850 and 10,046 in 1860). Louisville and St Louis would be as important as New Orleans when it comes to population, shipbuilding, and fortifications from a Union naval invasion.

From the Union's perspective, a Confederate-controlled Louisville and St. Louis would be high-priority targets and they would try to take it by land and by sea. They'd also install a military ruler akin to Benjamin F. Butler just like what they did with New Orleans if they do capture those cities.




Now that we've got the basics of what the strategies of the Union and the Confederacy would look like if Missouri and Kentucky had seceded we'll look at what both of these states would look like in this scenario:

Kentucky - The state's overall role as a Confederate state in an 1861 Civil War or an 1853 Civil War would resemble Tennessee in OTL. In fact, both states actually share a ton of similarities: Both of their names have a Native American origin (Ken-tah-nen and Tanasi), Both have fertile and grassy western and central regions while their eastern region is mountainous and rocky, Both are the birthplace of iconic music (Bluegrass, Country and R&B), Both have tons of rivers (In fact they even share the Cumberland River), Both were admitted as states in the Union during the 1790s (1792 and 1796), Both are the home of famous American politicians that founded major parties (Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson), Both have cities named after historical figures (Louisville is named King Louis XVI a French monarch and Nashville is named in honor of Francis Nash one of the founders of the city), Both create iconic alcoholic beverages (Bourbon whiskey and Jack Daniels) and both have a similar percentage of slaves in 1850 (21.4 and 23.8). The strongest support in the state for the Confederacy would be located in the central and western regions where plantation slavery is common (though it works differently here than in the rest of the South) while the eastern region would be divided between Unionists and Confederates similar to its neighbor. The governor of Kentucky would be Beriah Magoffin (OTL's leader of the state in 1861-1862) or Lazarus W. Powell if it's an early war. In short, Kentucky being a Confederate state would have a lot of battles fought there on par with Virginia.

Missouri - Given how adjacent it is to Illinois and the Mississippi River there will definitely be many battles fought there just like Virginia and Kentucky. The region of Little Dixie and native-born Southerners in St. Louis would be the most supportive of the Confederacy while everywhere else would be incredibly divided at least for 1861. It would also be where the majority of the Civil War's westernmost battles would be fought between the Union and the Confederacy. In the case of the 1861 scenario, the Jayhawks from Kansas and other Unionist militias would use a Confederate-controlled Missouri as a stomping ground to launch raids and other violent attacks there. The governor of Missouri would be either Claiborne Fox Jackson (who tried to get his state to secede in OTL but failed because of the Unionist legislature and Nathaniel Lyon) or Sterling Price (who was himself governor from 1853 to 1857 and the leader of the Missouri State Guard). The Missouri State Guard would still exist for the 1861 scenario but for 1853 they wouldn't exist.





Sources:
1850 United States Census
1860 United States Census
NCPedia: Free African-American Population 1790-1860

* The total populations of the North/United States and the South/Confederate States are based on my calculations taken from the 1850 and 1860 censuses.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The Confederates defending Kentucky and Missouri in 1861 would be very hard-pressed and rather precarious especially with the Union's ironclads and the fact that Louisville and St. Louis are very close to the enemy states.
The thing I immediately want to point out is, what ironclads and built where?

The first ironclads on the Mississippi river system were built in Missouri.
 

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
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Location
Corona, California
The thing I immediately want to point out is, what ironclads and built where?

The first ironclads on the Mississippi river system were built in Missouri.
Even if the Confederacy has Kentucky and Missouri (likely half of it), ironclads would still be a big part of the conflict in 1861 and because the Union had an actual navy as opposed to having to build one from scratch they will use the to try to take Louisville and St. Louis.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Even if the Confederacy has Kentucky and Missouri (likely half of it), ironclads would still be a big part of the conflict in 1861 and because the Union had an actual navy as opposed to having to build one from scratch they will use the to try to take Louisville and St. Louis.
But they don't have a riverine navy at the start of the conflict; it takes them months of effort simply to get to the point where they can spread a blockade worth the name across the coast. Indeed, when Grant crosses at Vicksburg the ironclads run the guns from upriver instead of having new shipping sail up the Mississippi from downriver.
 

BlueandGrayl

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But they don't have a riverine navy at the start of the conflict; it takes them months of effort simply to get to the point where they can spread a blockade worth the name across the coast. Indeed, when Grant crosses at Vicksburg the ironclads run the guns from upriver instead of having new shipping sail up the Mississippi from downriver.
At least for 1861. 1853 or earlier would be different since ironclads didn't arrive in America until a decade later.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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At least for 1861. 1853 or earlier would be different since ironclads didn't arrive in America until a decade later.
While true, an 1850s Civil War would be drastically different in plenty of other ways. The amount of firearms available from overseas would be drastically less, and possibly the amount of gunpowder too.
 

BlueandGrayl

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While true, an 1850s Civil War would be drastically different in plenty of other ways. The amount of firearms available from overseas would be drastically less, and possibly the amount of gunpowder too.
Yeah, you'd also have fewer railroads for the North and none of the legislation that helped build its robust economy in 1862. I had already discussed the idea of a mid-1850s Civil War caused by Henry Clay dying of tuberculosis at Daniel Webster's house in January before he could draft his last compromise and Texas sending militia to New Mexico to claim Santa Fe only to be fired upon by a United States military garrison led by Colonel John Munroe.
 

mofederal

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Location
Southeast Missouri
Missouri had many people of unionist sentiment, in fact probably more than for secession, the idea of secession needed to be brought up at a Missouri Constitutional Convention. The bill calling for the constitution convention passed on 17 January. The election was scheduled for 18 February, with three delegates chosen from each state senate district (99 total). In addition, by an amendment submitted by Charles H. Hardin, a secession declaration by the convention would have to be ratified in a referendum by a majority vote of the state's qualified voters. Hardin's amendment passed the state senate by only two votes, 17 to 15.

Three groups contended for the convention seats. One group called for Missouri to follow the Deep South slave states such as South Carolina by declaring secession immediately, not even waiting for Abraham Lincoln to take office as President. Another group opposed secession at any time; they were the Unconditional Union Party.

The convention met on 28 February 1861 in Jefferson City, the state capital. 82 of the 99 delegates had been born in slave states, including 53 from Virginia and Kentucky. On 1 March, the convention chose as chairman former governor Sterling Price, a conditional Unionist. The convention then adjourned, and reassembled on 4 March in mercantile Library in St. Louis. On March 19 the convention voted 98-1 against secession.

The next so called secessionist convention would be held at Neosho, Missouri, and would be dominated by secessionists and led by the Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, so was Missouri's secession legal, who knows. Legal or not Missouri now had two governments, one Union and the other Confederate. The main problem was that Missouri was more or less under Union control, with many secessionist pockets of resistance, some of which would never be completely eliminated during the war.
 

BlueandGrayl

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Missouri had many people of unionist sentiment, in fact probably more than for secession, the idea of secession needed to be brought up at a Missouri Constitutional Convention. The bill calling for the constitution convention passed on 17 January. The election was scheduled for 18 February, with three delegates chosen from each state senate district (99 total). In addition, by an amendment submitted by Charles H. Hardin, a secession declaration by the convention would have to be ratified in a referendum by a majority vote of the state's qualified voters. Hardin's amendment passed the state senate by only two votes, 17 to 15.

Three groups contended for the convention seats. One group called for Missouri to follow the Deep South slave states such as South Carolina by declaring secession immediately, not even waiting for Abraham Lincoln to take office as President. Another group opposed secession at any time; they were the Unconditional Union Party.

The convention met on 28 February 1861 in Jefferson City, the state capital. 82 of the 99 delegates had been born in slave states, including 53 from Virginia and Kentucky. On 1 March, the convention chose as chairman former governor Sterling Price, a conditional Unionist. The convention then adjourned, and reassembled on 4 March in mercantile Library in St. Louis. On March 19 the convention voted 98-1 against secession.

The next so called secessionist convention would be held at Neosho, Missouri, and would be dominated by secessionists and led by the Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, so was Missouri's secession legal, who knows. Legal or not Missouri now had two governments, one Union and the other Confederate. The main problem was that Missouri was more or less under Union control, with many secessionist pockets of resistance, some of which would never be completely eliminated during the war.
This was due to the diversification of Missouri's economy to non-slavery-related industries and the arrival of European immigrants that displaced the native Southern majority by 1861. 1853 or earlier would be very different but even if Missouri is part of the Confederacy, I expect only half of it to remain with them since the state is at the doorstep of Union-controlled Illinois and they would be able to take St. Louis and the rest.
 

jackt62

Captain
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Location
New York City
I don't see a real scenario where CW breaks out in 1850 or thereabouts. The real pressure point came in 1854 with the Nebraska Act, which blew up the fragile Missouri Compromise line that was in place since 1820. Once Douglas put forth his idea of "popular sovereignty" for Kansas/Nebraska, the concept of containing slavery above 36-30 was untenable for those who opposed slavery's expansion. That Act led to the final breakup of the Whig Party and the formation of the Republican Party, whose platform posed a potential threat to those who sought to preserve and enlarge the practice of chattel slavery. Add to the fire, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 which opened the door to slavery anywhere in the United States and the election of the first Republican President in 1860, it's no wonder that war broke out when it did and not earlier.
 
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mo
The would have been crucial for the Confederacy just from the manpower perspective.....for simplicity sake will use thirds.....but border states had mabye a 1/3 who would work their way north or south probably regardless, but the remaining third would be tapped by whoever effectively controlled the state.

The Union realized this and poured manpower and supplies into the states at the expense of the more northern states to ensure holding them. While the south basically ignored them, ensuring their defeat.
 

BlueandGrayl

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I don't see a real scenario where CW breaks out in 1850 or thereabouts. The real pressure point came in 1854 with the Nebraska Act, which blew up the fragile Missouri Compromise line that was in place since 1820. Once Douglas put forth his idea of "popular sovereignty" for Kansas/Nebraska, the concept of containing slavery above 36-30 was untenable for those who opposed slavery's expansion. That Act led to the final breakup of the Whig Party and the formation of the Republican Party, whose platform posed a potential threat to those who sought to preserve and enlarge the practice of chattel slavery. Add to the fire, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 which opened the door to slavery anywhere in the United States and the election of the first Republican President in 1860, it's no wonder that war broke out when it did and not earlier.
Although to be quite frank, there are certain ways to have the Civil War break out in the mid-1850s. For instance, Texas almost went into New Mexico because they wanted to control Santa Fe against the wishes of the local administration led by Joab Houghton and the local military garrison under Colonel John Munroe. A number of Northern and Southern politicians and newspapers noted that if Texas and the United States fought at Santa Fe, civil war would erupt or at least something close to it. Indeed, there are books that already deal with the legislative debates of 1849-1850 and Texas' threats of annexation such as America's Great Debate and Texas, New Mexico and the Compromise of 1850.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
This was due to the diversification of Missouri's economy to non-slavery-related industries and the arrival of European immigrants that displaced the native Southern majority by 1861. 1853 or earlier would be very different but even if Missouri is part of the Confederacy, I expect only half of it to remain with them since the state is at the doorstep of Union-controlled Illinois and they would be able to take St. Louis and the rest.
Don't forget that Cairo is practically a Southern city, which complicates border advantage.
 

BlueandGrayl

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Don't forget that Cairo is practically a Southern city, which complicates border advantage.
Yeah, the Confederates in an ideal scenario with Kentucky and Missouri would want to claim the city. But since they have fewer resources and material than the Union especially in 1861, it's unlikely they would take Cairo though that wouldn't stop sympathizers from trying to bring it into the Confederacy. Southern Illinois too was also similar to Kentucky and Missouri in terms of economy and society.
 

jackt62

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New York City
A southern Confederacy with Kentucky and Missouri would spell great trouble for the Union war effort. The inclusion of those states in the Confederacy would have provided a contiguous riverine defensive shield between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, something similar to the eastern Rappahannock/Rapidan line that Lee defended so successfully for almost 2 years. In that scenario, southern forces control an important notch comprising the bluffs at Columbus on the Mississippi, and Paducah, which controls entryways to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. (Cairo, Illinois in the eye of the notch is basically worthless as a Union defensive station in that case.) Defending that line would have taken advantage of the limited forces at AS Johnston's command, in contrast to his wobbly effort to establish a defensive line along Kentucky/Tennessee with an epicenter located in Bowling Green and imperfect strong points at Fts. Henry and Donelson. We know that once Polk occupied Columbus and tipped that state into the Union, it opened the door for Grant's successful moves from Cairo to Paducah and Henry/Donelson, eventually turning Johnston's entire line and forcing his withdrawal to Corinth, thereby leading to the abandonment and/or seizure of the Mississippi line of strongpoints including Island No. 10, Ft. Pillow, and eventually Memphis. Kentucky and Missouri in the Confederacy could have been a game changer.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
Yeah, the Confederates in an ideal scenario with Kentucky and Missouri would want to claim the city. But since they have fewer resources and material than the Union especially in 1861, it's unlikely they would take Cairo though that wouldn't stop sympathizers from trying to bring it into the Confederacy. Southern Illinois too was also similar to Kentucky and Missouri in terms of economy and society.
In the past I did a Trent War timeline in which the Civil War ends with a negotiated peace, and:



Within hours, a major legal wrangle has begun over the city of Cairo, southern Illinois - the matter turns on the precise definition of the US-CS border and the precise position of the city.
The text of the treaty states:
The border will be the Ohio River from this point to the confluence with the Mississippi, which will then be the border downriver until the 37th Parallel.
The border shall then continue westwards from this point to the 114th line of longitude, at which point the border will follow this line until the 36th Parallel, which shall be the border from here to the Pacific.


Causing the problem is that the confluence between the Mississippi and the Ohio is one and a half miles south of the 37th Parallel - as such, the southern section of the city of Cairo, as well as Fort Defiance, are below the 37th Parallel and in what can be reasonably termed a legal grey area.
The Confederate interpretation is that the border should be taken as the 37th Parallel from the point the Ohio intersects it; the Union interpretation is that the border should travel down the Ohio and then upriver along the Mississippi to the 37th Parallel. Needless to say, neither precisely matches the text of the treaty, a matter firmly complicated by some prominent public figures from the area of Southern Illinois choosing now to advance their opinion that - due to the cultural similarity between the Confederate States and the area of Illinois known as 'Little Egypt' -the whole southern third of the state should secede and join the Confederacy.
 

jackt62

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New York City
Although to be quite frank, there are certain ways to have the Civil War break out in the mid-1850s. For instance, Texas almost went into New Mexico because they wanted to control Santa Fe against the wishes of the local administration led by Joab Houghton and the local military garrison under Colonel John Munroe. A number of Northern and Southern politicians and newspapers noted that if Texas and the United States fought at Santa Fe, civil war would erupt or at least something close to it. Indeed, there are books that already deal with the legislative debates of 1849-1850 and Texas' threats of annexation such as America's Great Debate and Texas, New Mexico and the Compromise of 1850.
For sure, there are always ways to speculate about these things. But the uproar over Texas had long been settled with its annexation in 1845 so I still don't see how a local issue would have precipitated secession and war. Moreover, the New Mexico/Texas border dispute was resolved as part of the Compromise of 1850.
 

BlueandGrayl

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For sure, there are always ways to speculate about these things. But the uproar over Texas had long been settled with its annexation in 1845 so I still don't see how a local issue would have precipitated secession and war. Moreover, the New Mexico/Texas border dispute was resolved as part of the Compromise of 1850.
Like I said, there are contemporary news reports that do discuss the then-unresolved boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico, especially in June-August 1850. Future Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens once said that if the United States ever fired upon Texas would be the signal for the entire South to come to its aid and stand up to the North or as he put it "the Rubicon" for the entire country and this was before the Fourth of July. Furthermore, as late as August 1850, Winfield Scott had sent 750 troops to beef up the military garrison in Santa Fe led by Colonel John Munroe and sent a letter that instructed him to stop Texas from seizing the city. Additionally, the whole border dispute was at a time when the issues related to slavery and expansion were still not yet solved at least until Stephen A. Douglass took the bills from the rejected Omnibus and got each of them passed individually in Congress by September.
 
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