War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0487 Chapter XXI. ENGAGEMENT AT VALVERDE, N. MEX.

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Numbers 1. Reports of Colonel Edward R. S. Canby, Nineteenth U. S. Infantry, commanding Department of New Mexico.*

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NEW MEXICO, Fort Craig, N. Mex., February 22, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that a battle was fought yesterday at Valverde, a few miles above this place, between the Union troops under my command, and the Confederate force under General Sibley. The battle commenced at an early hour in the morning and was continued with unvarying success until about 5 o'clock in the evening, when, in a desperate charge of the Confederates, McRae's battery was taken, the supporting party repulsed and thrown into confusion and driven from the field at the moment that success seemed certain. The battle was fought almost entirely by the regular troops (trebled in number by the Confederates), who would not obey orders or obeyed them too late to be of any service. The immediate cause of the disaster was the refusal of one of the volunteers regiments to cross the river and support the left wing of the army.

The contemporary operations of the right wing were eminently successful, but the confusion produced by the loss of the battery could not be remedied in season to retrieve the fortunes of the day. The retreat was effected in good order and without further loss.

Under a flag the killed and wounded have been removed from the field and properly cared for. The absolute loss cannot yet be ascertained. It will probably reach 40 killed and 150 wounded, with perhaps a few prisoners.+ Large numbers of the militia and volunteers have deserted, but this adds to rather than diminishes our strength. Among the killed are Captain McRae, Captain Bascom, and Lieutenant Mishler. Among the wounded, Captain Wingate, Captain Stone, and Acting Second Lieutenant McDermott.

The troops are not dispirited by this result, as all are satisfied that we have inflicted greater losses upon the enemy than we have suffered ourselves and that the ultimate result of the contest will be in our favor.

I will report more in detail in a few days.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,


Colonel Nineteenth Infantry, Commanding Department.


Washington, D. C.


SIR: In submitting my report of the battle of Valverde I have thought it necessary for a proper appreciation of the battle itself to include a connected history of the events that immediately preceded and followed it.


*See also Canby to Adjutant-General U. S. Army, February 23, in "Correspondence, etc," post.

+But see revised statement on p. 493.