The Battle of Picacho Pass or the Battle of Picacho Peak was an engagement of the American Civil War on April 15, 1862. The action occurred all around Picacho Peak, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Tucson, Arizona. It was fought between a Union cavalry patrol from California and a party of Confederate pickets from Tucson, and marks the westernmost battle of the American Civil War.
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The Battle of Picacho Peak.
Each year hundreds of spectators descend on Picacho Peak State Park to watch re-enactments of an Arizona Civil War skirmish and the New Mexico battles of Glorieta and Val Verde.
Visitors travel from around the country to experience three fascinating historic battle re-enactments complete with lifestyles of the soldiers in the southwest during the 1860s. More than 200 re-enactors come from many states and will camp at the park with their authentic Civil War camping gear.
Civil War battles across America were well documented and history teachers carefully covered each battle across the East Coast, but few ever thought what was happening in the West during this time. A battle of the American Civil War was a skirmish fought near a rocky spire called Picacho Peak located between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The new highway follows the old wagon route that passed Picacho in 1862.
In 1860 the New Mexico Territory, which consisted of the lands that would become the states of Arizona and New Mexico, was sparsely populated. It ranked 34th in population out of 43 states and territories with only 83,009 inhabitants. It was 37th in black populations, with just 8 whom were all free. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the U.S. Government recalled the majority of its troops from the West to build the Union army for the fighting in the east. Henry Hopkins Sibley joined the Confederacy and convinced Jefferson Davis that he would raise an army in Texas and invade New Mexico territories. He proposed that mineral resources would fill the coffers of the Confederacy and fund their massive war effort.
In February 1862, a band of Confederate Rangers under Capt. Sherod Hunter raised the Stars and Bars of Tucson, Arizona, part of an effort to create an ocean-to-ocean Confederacy. In order to thwart this move, a Union "Column from California" under Col. James H. Carleton set out across the lonely desert toward Tucson. On April 15, Union cavalry under Lt. James Barrett met with Confederate Rangers near Picacho Peak, a rocky spire 50 miles northwest of Tucson. Barrett was killed almost immediately and fierce combat continued for more than an hour before the Federals retreated. Although the Rangers' victory at Picacho Pass delayed the Union force, the following month Carleton's Californian's eventually took Tucson without firing a shot.