Saturday, December 27, 2014

Civil War in Arizona: Picacho Pass skirmish photo gallery

Click here for battlefield panoramas from Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Harris Farm, Manassas, Malvern Hill, Salem Church,  Spotsylvania Courthouse and more.

The Picacho Pass skirmish, a decisive Confederate victory, was fought April 15, 1862, 
40 miles north of Tucson, Ariz.
A wayside marker explains the skirmish at Picacho Pass, fought in the far distance.
The plaque at left notes that the three Union dead at Picacho Pass were buried on the battlefield.
 Two of the soldiers were later disinterred and re-buried in a San Francisco cemetery.

                              Picacho Pass, state-owned land, is accessible with a permit.
                              (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL-SCREEN PANORAMA.)

A plaque in Picacho State Park is dedicated to the
 Confederate frontiersmen who defended Picacho Pass.
The Civil War wasn't just fought in the East and South. Fighting took place in the Southwest and Far West at such far-flung places as Glorieta Pass in the New Mexico Territory; Palmetto Ranch on the banks of the Rio Grande River, near Brownsville, Texas; and in the Arizona territory at Dragoon Springs, Stanwix Station and elsewhere. 

On April 15, 1862, a skirmish was fought in the shadows of the Picacho Mountains, about 50 miles north of Tucson, among thick mesquite and saguaro cactus. Led by Lieutenant James Barrett of the 1st California Cavalry, an advance party of 13 Union soldiers battled nearly a dozen Rebels at the advance outpost near Tucson, quickly taking three prisoners at Picacho Pass before they were routed. Among the three Yankee dead was Barrett, who was killed instantly by a bullet in the neck and buried in an unmarked grave near railroad tracks that still border the battlefield.

Twenty-five days after the fighting, a general order was issued to honor the two other Union soldiers who died. When the names of privates George Johnson and William S. Leonard were called at roll  for the remainder of the war, it stated, their companies were to respond: "He died for his country!" The remains of Johnson and Leonard were recovered and re-buried in a cemetery in San Francisco. No Rebel was killed at Picacho Pass and the Confederates had few wounded, if any.   

Located on state-owned land that requires a permit to visit, the skirmish site is located across two three-lane highways opposite Picacho Peak State Park. On a beautiful, crisp winter morning, I crossed railroad tracks and two gulleys and maneuvered through sagebrush to shoot the interactive panorama posted above of the battle site.

The skirmish was fought in the shadow of the Picacho Mountains.
Saguaro cactus are abundant at the Picacho Pass skirmish site. 
Reenactors commemorate the Picacho Pass skirmish each March at Picacho Peak State Park.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating Civil War tale. I passed through Picacho Pass several times recently and had no idea there was a Civil War site there. I'll have to stop next time.