Fort Union Day


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4v50 Gary
August 10, 2013, 09:57 AM
I-25 exit 366 in New Mexico.

Today (Aug 10, 2014) is Fort Union day. Free Admission by the National Park Service.

Fort Union was the major supply depot for all the various outposts, forts, bases of the Army during the 1850s to 1890s. It was the objective of Confederate General Henry Hopkins Sibley during his failed campaign in New Mexico. Sibley actually commanded that post while he was waiting for his resignation to be accepted. He then went to Richmond and sold the Confederacy on the plan to capture New Mexico and Arizona for the Confederacy. From there, they would carve out part of California and realize manifest destiny for themselves.

Union forces (First Colorado Volunteer Infantry) marched from Colorado Springs down to Fort Union and from Fort Union to Glorieta where they stopped Sibley cold. One Union column slipped behind the Confederates and destroyed their wagon train. Without supplies, the campaign was over and the Confederates retreated to Texas. Even if Sibley's wagon train was not destroyed, advancing north would expose him to the California Column that was marching from the West and a Brigade that was being organized in Kansas that would march from the East.

Fort Union's would never have been captured anyway. Sibley lacked the siege guns and his knowledge of the post was obsolete after his resignation was accepted. A star shape fort was built further away from the bluffs that overlooked the original post (a series of log cabins without any defensive walls). After the war, adobe buildings were built to house the garrison, the blacksmith shops, the storehouses, the corral and the hospital. Most of it was pulled down but some walls remain.

As the Indian tribes in the Southwest were pacified (put on reservations) and the railroad speeded up transportation, Fort Union became obsolete and by the 1890s, was abandoned. The site today is managed by the National Park Service.

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Peter M. Eick
August 10, 2013, 12:59 PM
The hike back across Texas was a feat in and of itself. Having lived out in West Texas there is a whole lot of nothing to hike across with no supplies.

Thanks for reminding us of an interesting part of the Civil War History.

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