ADVANCE OF THE CALIFORNIA COLUMN
TO ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO.
In early 1862, Colonel James H. Carleton, commander of the
District of Southern California and the First California Volunteer Infantry, was ordered
by Brigadier-General George Wright, commander of the Department of the Pacific, to organize,
equip and lead an expedition from Southern California through Arizona, into New Mexico to
reinforce the Department of New Mexico and aid in the expelling of the Confederate forces then in New Mexico.
Confederate Army of the Southwest, was then advancing up the Rio
Grande in its conquest of New Mexico. The Army of the Southwest was under the command of Brigadier
General Henry H. Sibley, formerly a major who had served in New Mexico. Sibley had been to Richmond, talked to President Davis, and convinced him to take New
Mexico, then California, and then the South would have control of the southern route, and
eventually have the Pacific Coast. By mid 1861, all of the regular troops with the following
exceptions, had been withdrawn to the East and the seat of the rebellion. The troops remaining in the southwest and the Pacific
Coast were as follows:
9th U.S. Infantry in Department of the Pacific.
3rd U.S. Artillery in Department of the Pacific
5th U.S. Infantry in Department of New Mexico.
These regulars were to remain in their respective
Departments until the end of the war.
exception is, several batteries of the 3rd Artillery were ordered
east in 1863. By then
of the Pacific had more than adequate soldiers to defend the
The California Volunteers who were involved with the march
from California to the
Grande and into western Texas were as follows:
1st California Volunteer Infantry
Colonel James H. Carleton, Lieut. Col. Joseph R. West;
Colonel Joseph R. West
Company A, Capt. Edward B. Willis
Company B, Capt. Valentine Drescher
Company C, Capt. William McMullen
Company D, Capt. Hugh A. Gorley
Company E, Capt. Thomas L. Roberts
Company F, Capt. Washington L. Parrin
Company G, Capt. Henry A. Green
Company H, Capt. Bernard J. McMahon
Company I, Capt. William P. Calloway
Company K, Capt. William Moore
5th California Volunteer Infantry
Colonel George W. Bowie
Company A, Capt. Joseph Smith
Company B, Capt. Charles A. Smith
Company C, Capt. John S. Thayer
Company D, Capt. William ffrench
Company E, Capt. Benjamin F. Harrover
Company F, Capt. James H. Whitlock
Company G, Capt. Hugh L. Hinds
Company H, Capt. Sylvester Soper
Company I, Capt. Joseph Tuttle
Company K, Capt. Thomas Theo. Tidball
1st California Volunteer Cavalry
Lieut. Col. Edward E. Eyrie; Maj. David Fergusson
Company A, Capt. William McCleave
Company B, Capt. Emil Fritz
Company C, Capt. Edward D. Shirland
Company D, Capt. Nathaniel J. Pishon
Company E, Capt. William C. Mead
2nd California Volunteer Cavalry
Company B, Capt. John C. Cremony
3rd United States Artillery
Light Battery A, First Lieut. John B. Shinn
Thompson's Howitzer Battery
First Lieut. William A. Thompson, Company E, 1st California
This command was composed of men from various companies and
were assigned to duty under Lieut. Thompson.
This Unit was composed of
2 12-pounder Mountain Howitzers mounted on Prairie Carriages, drawn by mules.
This battery is referred to by some as the "Jackass
Battery". But due to a extra hot and dry spring
Arizona and a very extremely hot summer, reaching 115 degrees in
the shade at Fort Yuma,
did not completely work out as planned.
Some watering holes were drying up, which necessitated
troops having to make an extra small march to the Gila River for
Due to an extremely wet rainy season in the winter of 1861
and 1862, in Southern
getting transportation ready and waiting for roads to dry out,
getting required stores
to support the advancing 2,300 men devolved upon Colonel
Carleton. By February
1862, he had his advance units at Fort Yuma, on the Colorado River.
After the muster in of additional California Volunteers,
Colonel Carleton, in a series of
troops replacements to outlying Southern California posts had
concentrated his troops, and in a series
of slow movements by detachments, marched them from Los Angeles to
Fort Yuma, 250
to the east and south.
The troops were now concentrated, supply lines were established by
sea from San Francisco, San
and a base of deembarking in the Gulf of California was
established. Also, a Supply
Depot on the Arizona side of the Colorado was established -- all was ready for the
march of the Column
Carleton's orders and directives prescribed a precise line
and method of march, to be
by detachments along the now abandoned Overland Mail Route --
and watering facilities as his line of march.
The men on the march, as ordered by Colonel
would carry their knapsacks and all of their equipments on their
person. This was hard, but
wanted his men hardened for the hardships that were to come.
These detachments, from one
to two companies, would march with an interval of twenty-four
hours between them. They were to
march at night, to keep them out of the hot sun of the day.
The cavalry for the most part,
their horses over half the distance to Tucson, so that they would
be fresh when needed.
The first detachments, 24 hours in advance, were to clean
out and enlarge the water
clean and enlarge the springs so that the water capacity would be
larger so that the next
would have enough water. The
following detachments would clean and enlarge
the leading detachment did not get it accomplished.
The distance from Fort Yuma to Tucson, which followed the
abandoned Overland Mail
along the Gila River, was 273 miles.
This route varied from almost on the river to at some
10 miles south of the river.
The hardest part was the Gila Bend cut off, which was a 40
stretch with little or no water.
The main march commenced in February 1862, and the last
units of the column were
Tucson by August 1862, and the advance were already well into New
Mexico and into
At the Pima Villages, Mr. Amni White had established a
Flour Mill and purchased
and other crops from the Pima and Maricopa Indians who were
friendly with the
Americans. These Indians were farmers, and with an almost continual
flow of the Gila River, provided
water and their farms flourished.
They grew melons, fruits and some vegetables, and
wheat, which was used for flour. Thus, the Column would have amply
supply along the
of march. Hay was
stacked at the Stage Stations along the Gila for the animals of
The Confederate troops, in February, 1862, under Captain
Sherod Hunter, occupied Tucson,
and then sent his scouts out along the road to California.
As they passed the stacked
the stockpiles were destroyed, thus creating a forage supply for
the column. Mr. Amni
was captured, and all stocks at his mill were confiscated by the
Confederates. Being unable
to take this flour and
other supplies with them, gave them to the Indians.
A brief list of affairs, are here listed concerning the
various encounters with the forces
the Confederate States and the Apache Indians during their march
to the Rio Grande.
Stanwix Station, Capture of Captain McCleave, Battle of
Picacho Pass, Eyrie's Affair
Apache Pass, and the Battle of Apache Pass.
All of these affairs happened from April to
1862 in Arizona during the march.
These will all be addressed in later articles.
The advance for the most part went as planned, but had a
few minor setbacks,
to Confederate troops, Apache Indians, an extremely hot spring and
summer, and a scarcity of
as the desert heated up. Also including the destruction of much needed forage and supplies by
Going back to late 1861, Lieut. Col. John R. Baylor upon
his advancement into Mesilla,
Mexico, created the
Confederate Territory of Arizona, the northern boundary being the
34 degree of latitude, the southern boundary the boundary of
Mexico, the eastern boundary
Rio Grande River and the western boundary the Colorado River. Mesilla was designated
the Capitol of the Territory, and Baylor proclaimed himself
governor of the new territory.
was all later confirmed
by the Congress of the Confederate States, keeping the same
1st California Cavalry was the first unit to start the advance
into Arizona. Captain
William McCleave, Company A led the advance.
Captain McCleave taking a escort of 9 men,
in advance of his company for a juncture with Mr. Amni White at
the Pima Villages. Capt.
left his escort at a water hole and went forward with two men to
White's Mill. Here
was surprised and captured by Capt. Hunter, on March 6, 1862.
The remainder of Captain McCleave's
escort was also captured and taken captive.
They were paroled the next day, March
7, 1862. These
paroled troops retreated back westward and informed Col. Eyrie of
of McCleave. The
capture of Captain McCleave will be dealt with in a later article.
In the meanwhile, Hunter's men destroyed the stockpiles of
hay that had been gathered
the line of march, this
was done at six of the stations to the westward of the Pima
was again a cause of delay for Carleton.
So far, his stocks of hay had been destroyed, his
Captain captured, and the pile of accumulated supplies at Pima
Villages was either
or given back to the Indians by Captain Hunter.
The advance again moved forward, this time under Captain
William Calloway, with his
Company I. 1st California Infantry, Capt. Calloway, 97 rank
and file; Company A, First
Lieut. James Barrett,
83 rank and file; Company
D, 1st California Cavalry, Capt. Nathaniel Pishon,
92 rank and file; Lieut. Phelan's "Jackass Battery" 2
12-pounder Mountain Howitzers,
carried on pack mules, a total of 274 rank and file. The command advanced to Stanwix Station,
80 miles west of Fort Yuma. Here,
soldiers while scouting to the west, surprised
two of the pickets of the command. Shots were exchanged
and one man was wounded. The two Confederate scouts retreated eastward to
inform Hunter that there was a general
advance into Arizona
by the Union forces. This incident occurred in late March.
Calloway advanced forward to the Pima Villages, and there
was informed again of Capt.McCleaves
capture, and also that there was Confederate force at Picacho Pass
Station, on his
line of march. Calloway, when a day and a half march out of Pima Villages, planned a pincer
sending two lieutenants with a small force each, to encircle the
south and he would continue along the main road and take them in
front. Due to delays,
impulsive Lieutenant Barrett, who was well ahead of the others,
encountered the Confederates
a fight ensued resulting in Barrett's death.
Three Confederates were captured and three Union soldiers
killed. The Battle of Picacho Pass was fought April 15, 1862. This
Battle will also be addressed
in a later article. Calloway,
then heard that there
was a very strong force in Tucson, of
some 500 men who were well entrenched. He decided
upon a retreat, believing that he was badly outnumbered.
He retired back to the Pima Villages, and continued
westward until meeting Lieut.
Col. West, First
California Infantry who was moving
forward. Calloway then again advanced, now with
towards Tucson. The
plan that was visioned by
Carleton, was to capture
Tucson and Hunter's command intact,
but after Picacho Pass fight, surprise was now
of the question.
The advance of the troops towards Tucson continued.
On May 20, 1862,
Company B, 1st California Cavalry charged into the town from the
west, while another
charged in from the east. But, the
Confederate forces had previously evacuated the Post
Tucson, May 14, 1862. The
Confederates were gone.
The command that entered Tucson, came not by the direct
route from the Pima Villages, but by
another route through Fort Breckenridge, on the junction of the
San Pedro River and Arivaipa
Creek. The Stars and
Stripes were raised over Fort Breckenridge, and the post was
Fort Sanford, in honor of the governor of California. West then continued his advance to
Tucson, leaving a garrison at
Fort Sanford, where he arrived May 21, 1862.
Lieutenant Shinn, accompanied by two companies of infantry,
advanced by the direct
leaving the Pima Villages on June 1, 1862 and arriving at Tucson,
June 5th, 1862 Two days
later, June 7th, 1862, General Carleton arrived on June 7th, 1862
to be greeted by a four
salute from Shinn's Battery A.
Thus, the first half of the advancement was now accomplished
with its many setbacks
delays, plus two encounters with Confederate forces during the
march which commenced
February and ending with Carleton's arrival in Tucson.
This advancement took almost four
By all means not the fastest march ever conducted in
military annals, but one has to
the logistics involved, hot desert climate, lack of water, and unforeseen
the first stage of the march.
When one takes into the account, from the very inception of
the plan, the implementation of the plan, the gathering of forces,
supplies, setting up the supply
from beginning to end, 6 months, then it would be considered a
Carleton after seeing the the miserable conditions in Tucson,
and on his own, created the Territory of Arizona, naming himself
as governor and his
Benjamin C. Cutler, Military Secretary of State. With this order was established, apprehending brigands,
murders, southern sympathizers,
them before a Military Tribunal, and either sentencing them to
imprisonment at Fort Yuma
expelling them from the territory.
All of the rolling equipment was in a very sad state, and
required extensive repairs. The
of the wagons were shrunk, wagon boxes badly deteriorating, and
all harness was in
stage of drying out and breaking.
All of these necessary repairs, including shoeing of mules
horses would be required before further advancement to the Rio
Grande could be continued.
Two depots were established, the Quartermaster Depot at the
Plaza de las Arman, and
Overhail Depot at the Plaza De La Mesilla., where the Overland
Mail Company had its
facilities located. Once
these depots were established the repair of the rolling stock was
Tucson then was established as the major depot between
Arizona Depot on the Colorado
and Mesilla, New Mexico. From
this point, all repairs and transfer of supplies occurred. Tucson
had become supplier to many of the outlying smaller posts, picket
stations, etc. in southern Arizona.
was to remain so until the final departure of the California
Volunteers in 1866.
After all affairs were in order, within a short period of
time, Carleton continued his
to the Rio Grande.
The first unit pushed forward, under the command of Lieut.
Col. Edward E. Eyrie, First California
Cavalry, with Companies A, B, and C.
Eyrie's march was uneventful until he reached
Pass, June 29, 1862, 125 miles east of Tucson on the Overland Mail
Route. Here, while watering
his horses and men, there occurred an affair with the Apache
Indians, which resulted in the death
of three of his men. A
short pursuit was given but there
were no results. This affair will also be dealt with in a later article.
Eyrie then proceeded out of the pass and when out in the
encamped for the night. During
the night, shots were fired in to the camp, slightly wounding
the Assistant Surgeon and killing a horse.
The next day, Eyrie continued his march along the mail
route, and on July 4, 1862, raised the
Stars and Stripes over abandoned Fort Thorn on the Rio Grande
Lieut. Col. Eyrie established contact with Colonel
Chivington, First Colorado Volunteers
Fort Craig, New Mexico, and commanding the District of Southern
New Mexico. Eyrie
to continue his advancement on to Mesilla,
but was overruled by Colonel Chivington,
then later Colonel Howe, who superceded Col. Chivington in the
command of the district. Eyrie,
after all being a guest in this district and department, followed
the orders of the District
At this time, July 6, 1862, Captain William McCleave was
exchanged for two Confederate
who were prisoners of the Union forces.
Mr. Jones, the expressman, sent by General
who had been captured, also was returned.
These men were held as prisoners in
by Colonel William
Steele, 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers, whose force numbered
400 to 600 men, exact figures are unknown. 400 and 600 men.
The next command to make the march from Tucson to the Rio
Grande, was Captain
Roberts, Company E, 1st California Infantry.
Robert's command, consisted of the
troops, Company E, 1st California Infantry, Company B, 2nd
John C. Cremony, Lieut. William A. Thompson's Howitzer Battery,
consisting of two
Mountain Howitzers on Prairie Carriages, his small battery was
companies of the 1st California Infantry.
Also accompanying this command, was a Wagon Train
consisting of twenty-two wagons, under Wagon Master Mr. Jesse
Allen. Roberts force
of 126 men including the teamsters.
His line of march was along the Overland Mail Route, from
Cieneiga, San Pedro
Dragoon Spring, thence to Ewell's Springs and into Apache Pass and
then to the
at San Simon, where he was to set up a forward supply point, for
the other advancing
of the California Column. Roberts' march went well until he
entered Apache Pass,
15, 1862, when the
rear of his command was attacked by Apaches.
Roberts fought his way
to the Station, and there deployed his small force and fought the
Indians for about six hours, finally
driving them off, after using the howitzers.
Roberts had previously divided his command, leaving
Captain Cremony with the cavalry who were advancing to Ewell's
water, retired to the western summit of the pass, and left a
small detachment there. He then retired
to Ewell's Springs to insure the safety of the wagon train.
Roberts had dispatched a small cavalry
detachment from the pass to warn Cremony of the fight with the
by about 50 Apaches when it was out of the pass and into the flat
A running fight ensued, and several horses were killed,
one private wounded, and one private
cut off and driven to the south.
This last private made a one man stand against about
Teal's story will be related later in another article.
After getting the command reorganized, Captain Roberts
again advanced into Apache Pass
July 16th, and again a fight ensued with the Apaches over the
spring. After a short
Apaches, when again fired upon by the howitzers of Thompson's
Battery, retreated in haste over
the ridge. Watering
was then accomplished and Roberts left the pass and passed out
the flat country and on to San Simon Station, where he established
a small forward supply
as ordered. The
Battle of Apache Pass, July 15 and 16, 1862, will be covered in
dealing with the affairs, battles, skirmishes, encountered during
the march. Also, to make
mention of a mascot involved in the fight, Old Butch and his
story, will also be covered
an article about Old Butch.
Captain Cremony, with his company, was to escort the empty
wagons back to Tucson.
did not use the Pass Road, as his command was not large enough,
and the safety of the
wagons was paramount. Cremony's
return was uneventful and the wagons all arrived safely
at the Tucson Depot. Roberts
sent dispatches with Captain Cremony, and in them he
recommended the establishment of a post in the pass, as that each
also have to fight for water.
The next detachment sent forward, was accompanied by
General Carleton. When
Pass, Carleton wrote General Order No. 25, July 27, 1862 establishing the post in the
to be named Fort Bowie, in honor of Colonel George W. Bowie,
commanding officer of the
California Infantry. Carleton's
order was quite explicit, in him he wanted the post supplied and
armed, who was to be the garrison and also the post commander.
Carleton then moved on to the Rio Grande, and arrived there
August 7, 1862, at a point
miles of Fort Thorn. Following
on Carleton's heels were the remainder of the California
Column. Carleton, whose command numbered
officers and men, was concentrated on the Rio Grande, and ready to do battle.
The California troops were not engaged with
Confederate forces, as they had all retired into Texas.
The California troops now manned posts from Fort Yuma to
Mesilla, New Mexico. A major supply and repair facility at Tucson, a garrison at Fort
Bowie, at El Reventon, Tubac,
Pedro Crossing, and even abandoned Fort Buchanan. The California troops occupied
in west Texas, Fort Davis, Fort Quitman, Fort Bliss, and Franklin,
Texas, as well as several
posts along the Rio Grande. Now
ensued not fighting Confederates as was the original
of the War Department and the Department Commander General Wright,
three year constant warfare with the hostile Indians of Arizona and New
Mexico, the Apaches and
the Navajos of northern New Mexico.
Territory of Arizona was now divided into two Military Districts,
the District of Western
Arizona, headquarters at Tucson, Major David Ferguson, 1st
California Cavalry as the
and the District of Arizona, headquarters at Mesilla, New Mexico,
Colonel Joseph R. West. In
October 1862, Carleton was ordered to the command of the
of New Mexico, but through his insistence, he retained the
California Column under
command until the end of the war.
In summing up the march of the California Column, from
January to August, 1862,
the volunteers were gathered at Fort Yuma, 2,350 rank and file,
marched from Yuma
the Rio Grande and into Texas, a distance of over 1,000 miles,
establishing and manning depots,
forts and other points, under the harshest of conditions in itself
is a remarkable feat due to the planning and foresight of General
Carleton. Also, the fortitude and resolve of the Volunteer Soldiers
who accomplished this feat, who died and suffered extreme
to serve their country in her time of need.
Written by Arnold
Copyright © 2000 Arnold Franks