The Gettysburg of the West: A Missed Opportunity

Glorieta Pass[1]

The Gettysburg of the West: A Missed Opportunity

By: Jacob McCloud

Beginning on March 26, 1862, one of the most overlooked battles of the Civil War took place. Early on in the war, the Confederate states were trying to expand their territory in order to gain more supplies and support. The reason they needed these things had to do with the fact that the Union held a superior number in both of these categories, and the Confederate states had been cut off with a naval blockade. These events led to a Southern invasion of New Mexico and eventually the defeat of the Southern soldiers at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, which proved to be costly for the Confederate states.

After Jefferson Davis approved the campaign, Henry Sibley, a Confederate leader, raised a brigade of three mounted regiments, the 4th, 5th and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers, along with supporting artillery and supply units.[2]  After leaving San Antonio, the Rebels moved into southern New Mexico, capturing the towns of Mesilla, Dona Ana, and Tucson, and continued their advancement north.[3] After defeating the Union forces at Fort Craig on February 21, Sibley left some of his army to occupy Albuquerque and Santa Fe while the rest of his troops headed east of Santa Fe along the Pecos River towards Fort Union. [4] The Union and Confederate forces eventually met at Pigeon’s Ranch near Glorieta Pass where Colonel John Slough and his 1,300 men clashed with Sibley’s men.[5] The Confederate forces pushed the Union forces further down the pass, but nightfall forced the Confederates to halt their advancement.[6] The turning point of this battle occurred when “Major John Chivington led an attack on the Confederate supply train, burning 90 wagons and killing 800 animals.”[7] Chivington’s raid eliminated the supplies necessary to continue the Confederate’s attack on the North, so they were forced to retreat.[8] Although there were not many casualties, the victory at Glorieta Pass marked the end of Confederate involvement in the westernmost front of the Civil War.[9]

The Gettysburg of the West was not a major turning point during the Civil War, but the impact it had on the South proved to be costly.  The reason the Battle of Glorieta Pass proved to be so costly had to do with what the Confederates missed out on when they were defeated. Not only were men killed, but also, they lost their opportunity to take over new lands for the Confederacy, which is what they desperately needed. If the Confederates would have succeeded in their overall plan, they would have taken New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and eventually parts of California. These lands would have given them more room for agriculture to provide food for the people of the Confederacy that were limited by the blockade. Also, the lands would have provided the South with more supplies and territory to fuel the war effort. Some examples include the rich mines of the Colorado territory, filled with silver and gold, which would have boosted the South’s economy, and the sea ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which would have stretched the Union’s blockade and possibly established a Confederate naval system and trade.[10] Also, if they would have acquired all of these lands, they would have been able to increase the manpower of their army. Although there would have been conflicts between slave and non-slave states, it is reasonable to assume that many would have joined the war effort. Lastly, the South would have gained control of the transcontinental railroad, which would have hindered the North’s travel to the west while giving the Confederates a way to deliver supplies and travel through their newly acquired territory.[11]

In the end, the South was forced out, but it is always interesting to see what could have happened in the most western theater of the Civil War. For further discussion, what if the South would have won? If they would have won this battle and eventually pushed the Union soldiers out of the area, the Confederate states would have gained access to an immense amount of land and supplies. Would that have changed the war? It is hard to decide if this would have changed the war, but it is fairly obvious that the Confederates would have put up a better fight and would have possibly made the war last longer. Why is this battle so overlooked? Obviously, the eastern and main western front grabs most of the attention because of the importance of the areas being fought over, and the massive amount of supplies, soldiers, and fatalities involved. Overall, the Battle of Glorieta Pass hurt the Confederate’s chances of gaining territory and supplies that would have benefited their war effort.

[1] Picture from http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/91glorieta/91glorieta.htm.

[2] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass: Union Victory in the Far West,” Civil War Trust, accessed November 12, 2014, http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/glorietapass/glorieta-pass-history-articles/glorietaalberts.html.

[3] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History, accessed November 12, 2014, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-glorieta-pass.

[4] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[5] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[6] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[7] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[8] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[9] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[10] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass,” Civil War Trust.

[11] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass,” Civil War Trust.

The Overlooked Legacy of “Stonewall” Jackson

stonewall                                                                                               [1]

The Overlooked Legacy of “Stonewall” Jackson

By: Jacob McCloud

Lieutenant General “Stonewall” Jackson has been recorded as one of the most outstanding generals of the Civil War. He had the ability to lead his men without fear in a way that was different than most, if not all, Confederate leaders. Similar to General Robert E. Lee, Jackson was loved by his men and had the ability to motivate them to fight, but he has definitely not received the same amount of attention that Lee has. Because of these things, two major questions come up. Why was “Stonewall” Jackson so effective as a leader and has his impact been overlooked because of General Lee? Although some disagree, it is hard to argue against the fact that “Stonewall” Jackson played a major role during the Civil War.

Thomas Jonathon “Stonewall” Jackson was born January 21, 1824 in Clarksburg, Virginia.[2] After a difficult childhood, Jackson went to West Point and eventually fought in the Mexican War.[3] In 1861, Jackson’s home state of Virginia seceded from the Union, which led Jackson to join the Confederate army.[4] He quickly made his name at the Battle of the First Manassas when his soldiers witnessed him out on the front lines with the rest of the men. They said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”[5] Because of Jackson’s leadership and courage on the battlefield, he was given the nickname “Stonewall” Jackson.  Jackson’s military career continued at Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Seven Days Battle, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg where he earned the ranking of lieutenant general.[6] After his promotion, Jackson fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a major victory for the Confederates, and at Chancellorsville.[7] After the battle, Jackson was accidentally shot in the arm by some of his own men while he was making a reconnaissance.[8] After having his arm amputated, Jackson suffered from pneumonia and eventually died eight days after being shot on May 10, 1863.[9] The loss of Jackson was a devastating blow to the Confederate forces.

When it comes to Jackson’s success as a leader during the Civil War, there were multiple reasons that made him so special. Unlike most commanders who would sit back behind the lines and watch the battles take place, Jackson was right there with his men either sitting on his horse or standing and fighting. This was different from most other officers. Jackson’s men found motivation in his leadership during battles. They cared for their leader and were more willing to fight because of his actions. Also, Jackson’s brilliant battle tactics made him an even bigger threat to the Union forces. Because of this, Jackson’s men were, for the most part, successful throughout the war. All of these things led to Jackson being one of Lee’s most reliable officers until his death in 1863. Although most agree with the information mentioned above, what was the reason that made Jackson so unique during the Civil War? After researching, it is clear that his religion played a major role in his lifestyle, which carried on to the battlefield. Jackson’s strong relationship with God made him courageous and fearless. The text states, “‘Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.’”[10] This belief was clearly portrayed on the battlefield. A mixture of his faith in God, his unique leadership approach, and his brilliant battle tactics led to him being such a successful Confederate leader.

“Stonewall” Jackson’s impact was very prominent during the Civil War, but today, many overlook it. Anytime people refer to the Confederacy, they are more than likely going to talk about General Robert E. Lee. Obviously, he was the Confederate general that was well-know and well-liked by most, but how much credit does he take away from other leaders like Jackson? He was one of Lee’s best men and played a big role in many Confederate victories. After reading the information above, it is hard to argue against the fact that he deserves more credit than what he has been given. Jackson’s impact on the war was unmatched by most, yet it has been consistently overshadowed by Lee. Jackson’s different approach to leadership, superb military tactics, and participation in many Confederate victories are the reasons why this argument is true.

After reading all of the information necessary for this post, some questions come to mind. First, do you agree that Jackson’s impact has been overlooked by many because of General Lee? Secondly, how big of an impact do you believe Jackson had on the Civil War? Clearly, he was influential as a leader, but did his loss seriously hurt the South’s chances of winning the war? Thirdly, why were more leaders not willing to take on the same approach that Jackson took? If Jackson was so successful, you would think that other Confederate leaders would adopt his strategy. In the end, “Stonewall” Jackson was a unique leader and had a huge impact on the Civil War.

[1] Picture from http://www.vahistorical.org/collections-and-resources/virginia-history-explorer/thomas-jonathan-jackson.

[2] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust, accessed on October 11, 2014, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/thomas-jackson.html.

[3] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website, accessed October 11, 2014, http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/stonewall-jackson.

[4] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[5] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[6] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[7] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[8] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[9] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[10] “Stonewall  Jackson Quotes,” American Civil War Story, accessed October 11, 2014, http://www.americancivilwarstory.com/stonewall-jackson-quotes.html.

Extra Credit

Extra Credit

By: Jacob McCloud

The CSA: The Confederate States of America is a unique film that explains the events during and after the Civil War based on a confederate victory. Director David Wilmot and producer Spike Lee create a fake history film to show what the world could have been like if the South would have won the Civil War. Wilmot uses the documentary to show that history is written by the winners.[1] The information in this film puts the “what if” discussion we have covered in class to use. Sometimes it is necessary to see what could have happened to understand what actually did happen. To briefly summarize the movie, after a Southern victory, they annex the Northern territory and promote their ideas and beliefs, including slavery, throughout the land.[2] Many individuals of the North, including Abraham Lincoln, moved north into Canada.[3] Next, the movie describes major events such as the conquering of Cuba and South America, America’s involvement with Adolf Hitler during World War II, America’s attack on a Japanese naval base, and the issue between the Confederate States and the Canadian border.[4] A few years later, the presidential candidate, John Fauntroy, kills himself after he is accused of being a descendant of someone who had sexual relations with a slave.[5] At the end of the movie, it shows the how the commercials throughout the film were based on true events.[6] Overall, the mockumentary gives the viewers a new perspective on what could have possibly happened if the Civil War would have ended in a Confederate victory.

When it comes to learning new information from this movie, it is difficult task to do due to the fact that the movie presents made-up information based on a Confederate victory. What I did learn is how big of an impact the Civil War had on the world we live in today. The events in the movie take the opposite position of what happened in the past. For example, the United States attacked a naval base in Japan on December 7, 1941, which is completely opposite of what happened.[7] Also, it talks about how Harriet Tubman was executed when she was actually a hero during and after the Civil War.[8] This makes you think about whether or not this actually could have happened if the Confederate states won. Overall, the movie makes you grateful for the world we live in, and curious about what could have been.

When it comes to the effectiveness of the movie, it definitely did its job in showing how all of history past the Civil War would have been different.  The only criticism I have is the order of the movie. It was presented in chronological order, but it was difficult to keep up with what was going on. The movie would jump from one event to another. It might just be my lack of understanding of American history, but I was confused about where the movie was going a lot of the time. I think the commercials that were mixed in throughout the film were what really made this movie hard to understand. Plus, it is very confusing to watch this movie because you have to relearn history. Everything in this movie is backwards.

The subject matter truly shows the counterfactual ideas of the movie. Although it may be considered humorous to most, it was necessary to make the movie as “factual” and interesting as possible.  In the end, the overall purpose of the film was to show how “frightfully easy it is for the soul of a corrupted nation to stay corrupt, as each generation sacrifices its ideals for the convenience of tradition.”[9]

The parts of the movie that I found to be the most intriguing were the commercials that were shown throughout the film. While you are watching them, you consider them to be ridiculous, but at the end, you find out that some of the commercials are actually true. Some examples include the Coon Restaurant Inn. In the movie, it shows an African American woman promoting others to eat at her restaurant.[10] At first, I thought it was pretty hilarious that the directors would come up with an idea like this to convey their argument, but at the end, I found out that this was an actual restaurant. Another example was the Darky Toothpaste. In the movie, a man states that the toothpaste was necessary for a “shine that is jigaboo bright.”[11] Overall, these commercials were the most interesting part of the movie. It used examples that nobody would believe to be true and showed that they are actually facts in the end.

Overall, the information from the film is very closely related to what we have been learning in this class. Like I mentioned before, we have been learning about the “what ifs” of history and this movie perfectly explains that idea. What if the South would have won the war? How would that have affected the history of our nation? This movie answers those questions.

[1] “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” A.V. Club, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.avclub.com/review/csa-the-confederate-states-of-america-4084.

[2] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD, directed by Kevin Wilmott, (2004, Lawrence, Kansas).

[3] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[4] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[5] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[6] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[7] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[8] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[9] “CSA: The Confederate States of America,” A.V. Club.

[10] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

[11] CSA: The Confederate States of America, DVD.

This Day in History: September 18, 1862

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[1]

This Day in History: September 18, 1862

By: Jacob McCloud

            On this day, September 18, 1862, the South retreated after the bloodiest single day of the Civil War, which took place near Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland.[2]  After this major battle, the South lost 10,318 of 38,000 engaged, while the North lost 12,401 of 75,000 engaged.[3] The scene of the battlefield was horrific. Thousands of dead or injured soldiers covered the land. Most individuals are aware of this brutal battle, but many are unaware that the day after this massacre, the North missed a chance to defeat the Confederate army and turn the momentum of the war in the North’s favor.

September 18, 1862 put the Confederates in a difficult situation after such a horrendous day. After retreating from Antietam Creek, the Confederate and Union soldiers remained in their positions. At this time, General Lee’s army was in a very vulnerable position because they had lost a quarter of their force, their backs were facing the Potomac River, and his men were extremely tired due to two weeks of strenuous marching.[4] The Confederate army had experienced about all that it could at that time and were subject to defeat if they were attacked again. On the other side, the Union army received thousands of additional troops to aid their attack on the Confederates.[5] General McClellan had the upper hand at this point but failed to deliver the final blow due to the belief that the Southern army was not as weak as most people believed they were. He believed that the Confederate army had around 100,000 men and 40,000 other soldiers on their way from Harper’s Ferry.[6] McClellan was urged by many major political figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, to take out the Confederate army, but he still did not attack.[7] Although this was a difficult choice at the time, it proved to be costly for the North. If McClellan would have listened to the people around him, he would have attacked the weakened Virginian Army of the Confederacy, and would have had a great chance of defeating them. Because the Northern army did not make a move, the Southern army was able to sneak away from the threat of attack. All of this points to McLellan’s inability to make crucial decisions on the battlefield. His hesitance to make critical decisions during the Civil War led to a slight margin of victory at Antietam when it could have been a great defeat. This eventually led to the end of his role as a commanding officer in the future years of the Civil War.

September 18, 1865 proved to be extremely important for both sides. For the South, they were able to escape being defeated by the Northern army, but they lost the overall battle of Antietam, losing many soldiers. For the North, the small margin of victory over the Southern troops gave Abraham Lincoln the victory he needed to introduce the Emancipation Proclamation.[8] This document declared that slaves in the rebellious states “’shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.’”[9] The war shifted from a focus on Unionism to a desire to protect the African American’s human freedom.[10] This day in history allowed the Emancipation Proclamation to set the foundation of the beliefs that the Union had for fighting the Civil War.

After reading all of the information necessary for this post, it is easy to say that the Battle of Antietam played a huge role during and after the Civil War. Some major questions that come up are what would have happened if the South would have won the battle? The same situation applies for the North. If they would have taken advantage of their numerical advantage, would the war have ended a lot sooner than it actually did? Overall, September 18, 1862 played a critical role in defining our nation as it is today.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Antietam#mediaviewer/File:Battle_of_Antietam.png.

[2] “Battle of Antietam,” History Website, accessed on September 17, 2014,  http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-antietam.

[3] “Battle of Antietam,” History Website.

[4] “McClellan Lets Lee Retreat from Antietam,” This Day in History, accessed September 17, 2014, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mcclellan-lets-lee-retreat-from-antietam.

[5] “McClellan Lets Lee Retreat from Antietam,” This Day in History.

[6] “McClellan Lets Lee Retreat from Antietam,” This Day in History.

[7] “McClellan Lets Lee Retreat from Antietam,” This Day in History.

[8] “Battle of Antietam,” History Website.

[9] “Emancipation Proclamation,” History Website, asscessed on September 17, 2014, http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation.

[10] “Emancipation Proclamation,” History Website.