Moving Toward Arizona’s Centennial Part 3

After the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, the possibility of New Mexico and Arizona south of the 34o N being Confederate came close to reality. The South wanted access to California, the Apaches were terrorizing miners, ranches and travelers; finally the Butterfield Overland Mail was discontinued. and New Mexico and Arizona felt abandoned by the federal government. A proposal to organize the Confederate Territory of Arizona was passed by the Confederate Congress in early 1862 and proclaimed byPresident Jefferson Davis on February 14, 1862.

Efforts by the Confederacy to secure control of the region led to the New Mexico Campaign.  The Confederate loss at the Battle of Glorieta Pass forced Confederate retreat from the territory. The following month a small Confederate picket troop north of Tucson fought with an equally small Union cavalry patrol from California in the so-called Battle of Picacho Peak or Pass (April 15, 1862).

Before the Picacho Pass skirmish, Union and Confederate forces fought a smaller engagement known as the Battle of the Stanwix Station. By July 1862, Union forces were approaching the territorial capital of Mesilla, NM and the Confederate government vacated to Texas. Resistance in Arizona continued at the partisan level, and Confederate units under the banner of Arizona fought until the end of the war in May 1865. The end of the Civil War returned the territories of New Mexico and Arizona to the United States and the beginning of the march to statehood.

To commemorate the date of the proclamation by Jefferson Davis, February 14, 1912, the fiftieth anniversary was selected as official date of statehood for Arizona.

Check Wikipedia for additional information if you would like to know more about this period in Arizona’s history.

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