Did you know Colorado Defeated Texas In The Civil War? Well, Sorta
As a born and raised Coloradan, I love to find any chance I can get to take a jab at my Texas friends. With the ever-growing rise of Texans moving into Colorado, it can often feel like an invasion. However, this isn't the first time Texas has attempted to launch an invasion into Colorado. As I so often like to remind my friends after a couple of drinks at Road 34, Colorado volunteers actually defeated a Texas invasion.
Back in the year 1862, during the American Civil War, Texas tried and failed (pretty miserably, I must add), to Invade New Mexico and Colorado. Thanks to my sources: the National Park Service and the American Battlefield Trust for bringing this amazing jab to my Texas friends to light.
The Texas mission was led by one Henry H. Sibley General, a Confederate Brigadier General from Natchitoches, LA. Sibley was known to his men as “Walking Whiskey Keg,” and I'll let you guess how he acquired that nickname. He was to lead a small confederate force in a series of raids to capture the resources of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah , eventually cutting west to capture key port cities in California. The Texas forces would move fast and live off the land, similarly to what led Napoleon to many of his great victories in Europe a half-century before. An ambitious plan that, if successful, would bring the entire southwest into Confederate control.
Sibley found early success in the New Mexican territory, winning some battles and then pushing farther north into the territory. Unfortunately for Sibley, a volunteer force from Colorado, composed mostly of hardy frontiersmen and miners, were on their way to join up with the New Mexican forces. They were led by Denver lawyer Col. John Slough and minister Maj. John M. Chivington.
Eventually, on March 26, Chivington and his Colorado volunteers would run headlong into one of Sibley's advancing parties after peaking Glorieta Pass in the Apache Canyon. Chivington caught the Texans sleeping, after having experienced bad weather the night before. Luckily for the Texans, they didn't have to drive in the snow that day. After the small battle, 71 Texans had been captured, around a quarter of their initial forces.
Both sides now aware of one another fighting, they would resume in force two days later. The Texas forces would find success in pushing back Slough, now fighting on the defensive. Slough would eventually have to retreat, giving the Texans a tactical victory. However, Chivington was on the Texans flank, and later in the day would find the Texan supply train being poorly guarded.
The Colorado minister would defeat the Texas forces and destroy the supply train, and just like the hopes of a Texas team winning the Superbowl, the supply train went up in flames. Although Texas had won the tactical battle, they had lost their supplies and were stranded deep in enemy territory. They may have “won” the battle, however, the campaign was lost. Eventually, Sibley would retreat back to Texas, the real reason being the ski season in Colorado was over.
The Battle Of Glorieta Pass saw the hopes of a Confederate conquest of the American Southwest dashed. Luckily the battle was over a century and a half ago, and Colorado-Texas relations have come a long way. As much as us Coloradans get annoyed with Texas drivers and skiers we won’t find anyone better to cook us some BBQ or remind us to say please and thank you at the table.
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