Glorieta Pass - An Important Battle?

Norm53

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#1
In Wiki's list of CW battles, the author ascribes top significance to this battle (March 26-28, 1862), placing it in the general category of "Class A – Decisive: ... Decisive battles had a direct, observable impact on the direction, duration, conduct, or outcome of the war." (The classes are A, B, C, D.)

But after describing the battle's short-term effects, he continues, "In any case, the dream of a Confederate stronghold in the Southwest was impractical; New Mexico could not provide enough sustenance for any prolonged Confederate occupation. Furthermore, the approach of the Federal "California Column" eastward through the New Mexico Territory during the summer of 1862 would have seriously jeopardized Confederate control of the region."

Considering the above excerpts and the fact that the battle was a long way from the main theater of war east of the Mississippi, can I safely conclude that the author was mistaken in his judgment; that is, the battle was not significant, or did I miss something important?


Thank you in advance for your responses.

Norm
 

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#2
In Wiki's list of CW battles, the author ascribes top significance to this battle (March 26-28, 1862), placing it in the general category of "Class A – Decisive: ... Decisive battles had a direct, observable impact on the direction, duration, conduct, or outcome of the war." (The classes are A, B, C, D.)

But after describing the battle's short-term effects, he continues, "In any case, the dream of a Confederate stronghold in the Southwest was impractical; New Mexico could not provide enough sustenance for any prolonged Confederate occupation. Furthermore, the approach of the Federal "California Column" eastward through the New Mexico Territory during the summer of 1862 would have seriously jeopardized Confederate control of the region."

Considering the above excerpts and the fact that the battle was a long way from the main theater of war east of the Mississippi, can I safely conclude that the author was mistaken in his judgment; that is, the battle was not significant, or did I miss something important?


Thank you in advance for your responses.

Norm
According to one of our most esteemed posters @James Lutzweiler the sole purpose of Confederate Secession was to seize California and establish trade with China. Not sure how just eleven hundred men would accomplish that goal but we are assured by @James Lutzweiler that slavery had nothing to do with Secession.
The New Mexico Territory had mineral wealth such has silver which could certainly be exchanged for West European weapons.
The mystery is how eleven hundred Confederate soldiers could take over a large area and provide safety to Confederate miners in hostile Indian Territory. Plus said Confederate troops would even if successful come under attack from Union troops that could be recruited in California and other new American states.
Leftyhunter
 
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Norm53

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#3
According to one of our most esteemed posters @James Lutzweiler the sole purpose of Confederate Secession was to seize California and establish trade with China. Not sure how just eleven hundred men would accomplish that goal but we are assured by @James Lutzweiler that slavery had nothing to do with Secession.
The New Mexico Territory had mineral wealth such has silver which could certainly be exchanged for West European weapons.
The mystery is how eleven hundred Confederate soldiers could take over a large area and provide safety to Confederate miners in hostile Indian Territory. Plus said Confederate troops would even if successful come under attack from Union tr that could be recruited in California and other new American states.
Leftyhunter
Thanks. It seems that you agree that the Wiki author lacked judgment in assigning an A to the battle. Aside, I will certainly look up JL's reasoning behind his extraordinary claims and the responses to them.
 
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#4
Thanks. It seems that you agree that the Wiki author lacked judgment in assigning an A to the battle. Aside, I will certainly look up JL's reasoning behind his extraordinary claims and the responses to them.
In defense of the author had the Confederacy gained control of the New Mexico Territory and at least what is present day San Bernardino County in Southern California the Confederacy could of conceivably gained much mineral wealth. How they would of done this with only eleven hundred men is quite the mystery. Post Glorieta Pass it certainly appears the Confederate Army had to much on it's plate to attempt to seize any portion of the American South West. Definitely an interesting "what if" if McCullough had been successful.
Leftyhunter
 

Pat Young

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#5
The battle was decisive in effectively beginning the long retreat of the Texas force, but it was not decisive as to the war. A Confederate victory would have complicated the Union’s situation, but it is impossible to determine if it would have done more than slightly prolong the war. Even if they had won at Glorieta, the Confederates would still have had Union forces south of them, a Union column coming from California, and Unionists in Colorado. They were also being harassed by New Mexican guerrillas.
 

mobile_96

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#6
It seems that you agree that the Wiki author lacked judgment in assigning an A to the battle
In a 'small' nutshell,
It may not rate a A, but seems it shouldn't be far off from it. What I understand from reading 'Blood and Treasure' by Donald Frazier, was for The Confederates to take all the Union forts, and removing the usually company size troops from them, in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. Then, with no fear of Union troops at his back, Gen. Sibley would be able to move his forces over to Cal. and take control of the state, with help from the southerners living there.
Nothing was said about a railroad, but what was intended was control of the gold, silver and ports there.
 
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#7
In a 'small' nutshell,
It may not rate a A, but seems it shouldn't be far off from it. What I understand from reading 'Blood and Treasure' by Donald Frazier, was for The Confederates to take all the Union forts, and removing the usually company size troops from them, in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. Then, with no fear of Union troops at his back, Gen. Sibley would be able to move his forces over to Cal. and take control of the state, with help from the southerners living there.
Nothing was said about a railroad, but what was intended was control of the gold, silver and ports there.
A huge if that the Confederacy could of sized California. Per an article from military museum.org Los Angeles mounted rifles. Eighty pro Confederate men from Los Angeles County accompanied General Sidney Johnston from Downtown Los Angeles to Texas. Maybe pro Confederate supporter's could of rounded up a few more hundred men for a Pro Confederate Militia but that would not work out well if say a Union regiment landed by ship in San Pedro or even about 15 miles away in Santa Monica Bay
Not sure if it is supposedly true that the main goal of the Confederacy was to seize California how they would accomplish that goal with a mere regiment even if assisted by a modest local militia.
Leftyhunter
 

Taylin

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#8
Decisive in effectively ending the campaign there, as for it's long term effects I don't see a great impact on the war as a whole.

If the Sibley wins the battle then maybe the higher ups in the CSA feel confident enough to send him more men to either hold or expand control and we would see a larger battle, maybe something like Allatoona in terms of men engaged, as for the casualties who's to say?
I find the idea of the CSA seizing control of California laughable, but holding the New Mexico / Arizona territory for a little while isn't so far fetched. All in all I don't see it amounting to much - The CSA couldn't really afford to hold onto all of that land as they didn't have the manpower to adequately defend it.
 

Pat Young

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#9
Decisive in effectively ending the campaign there, as for it's long term effects I don't see a great impact on the war as a whole.

If the Sibley wins the battle then maybe the higher ups in the CSA feel confident enough to send him more men to either hold or expand control and we would see a larger battle, maybe something like Allatoona in terms of men engaged, as for the casualties who's to say?
I find the idea of the CSA seizing control of California laughable, but holding the New Mexico / Arizona territory for a little while isn't so far fetched. All in all I don't see it amounting to much - The CSA couldn't really afford to hold onto all of that land as they didn't have the manpower to adequately defend it.
Even if victorious at Glorieta, even New Mexico would have been contested ground.
 

gary

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#11
Overrated. While it stopped any advance further north, even if the Sibley's men reached Fort Union, they would never had captured it. As the major supply depot for the U. S. Army in the SW, it would have been destroyed before being surrendered. Second, after Sibley resigned his U. S. Army commission and departed for Richmond, the soldiers built a second fort in the style of Vauban that was over a mile away from the bluff that commanded Fort Union. Sibley's short range mountain howitzers could not reach it. Virtually every building at Fort Union was of adobe construction, making them fort like and immune from small arms fire (like Fort Craig near Val Verde in New Mexico).

Sibley's men would have to march over 100 miles with little in the way of towns between Fort Union and Glorietta to succor them on the march. Forage from where to sustain his march? Sibley failed to capture the depot at Albuquerque and only salvaged about 30 wagons of goods at Sante Fe. That wasn't enough to sustain his army yet alone for him to lay siege on Fort Union.

In a sense, losing at Glorietta only made the retreat a shorter march back to Texas. Had Canby been more aggressive, Sibley's army would not have even escaped.

With respects to his leadership ability, Sibley belongs there next to Floyd and Pillow. Predisposed towards the bottle, he was no logistician and should have known from his service in the SW how difficult a campaign in the SW would have been. His men were very poorly supplied for the campaign they embarked on and Sibley's hope of capturing supplies at Fort Craig, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Fort Union were based on hope and not grounded in reality.

Best movie on the subject: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Like the barkeep said, "Sibley in the white hat, he looks dead."
 

Norm53

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#12
In a 'small' nutshell,
It may not rate a A, but seems it shouldn't be far off from it. What I understand from reading 'Blood and Treasure' by Donald Frazier, was for The Confederates to take all the Union forts, and removing the usually company size troops from them, in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. Then, with no fear of Union troops at his back, Gen. Sibley would be able to move his forces over to Cal. and take control of the state, with help from the southerners living there.
Nothing was said about a railroad, but what was intended was control of the gold, silver and ports there.
So 1100 troops take all the forts, fight off Indians, NM's, and other Union forces looking for them, gather lots of gold and silver, move to CA, enlist enough support there to conquer the state, loot the CA gold fields, use the ports and their wealth to obtain foreign weapons and troops, build an armada, sail across the oceans and up the Potomac or Delaware, conquer NY, Phila. and DC with the support of the eastern Conf. armies, and win the war. Is that scenario or one similar plausible enough to warrant a B?
 
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Eric Calistri

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#14
While Glorietta Pass was a tactical victory for the CSA, the loss of their wagon train led directly to a strategic disaster. The Confederate plan for the southwest required support from both the local population and Mexico. In reality, these supports were far too limited to sustain a campaign for any period of time, and certainly not one going on to San Francisco.

I would rate the judgement in the OP somewhat overblown, but Glorietta was the largest battle in the Southwest, and CSA fortunes rapidly waned soon after.
 
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