War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0633 Chapter XXI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records


Fort Craig, N. Mex., February 23, 1862.


Washington, D. C.:

SIR: After the battle of the 21st instant there remained for the troops at this post but three plans of operation:

1. To retain this post to the last extremity, await the arrival of the re-enforcements that had previously been asked for, and upon their arrival, by concerted operations in the direction of the Pecos and the Rio Grande, defeat the enemy and force him to retreat down that river, and in that event cut off his retreat with the force at this point. This post is regarded as of paramount importance, not only for the purpose above indicated, but to intercept any re-enforcements that might be sent from Texas, and with a view to ulterior operations against the Mesilla Valley.

2. To abandon the post and endeavor to throw the force now here above the enemy, impede his further progress up the river, and then unite with any force that might be found above. This course would involve the loss of the supplies on hand, the abandonment of an important strategic point, and of the sick and wounded who could not be transported.

3. To bring on a second battle with the Confederate Army, and submit this portion of our Army and New Mexico to the chances of that battle. The organized Confederate force in the battle of the 21st was above 2,500 men. Our own force on the field was 2,200 of whom more than half were volunteers and militia. Our loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 222 in the regulars and Colorado Volunteers; in the New Mexican Volunteers about 15.* The loss of the Confederates was somewhat greater, but independent of the loss of our battery the proportional disparity of force was increased by the results of the battle.

The first of these plans was in my judgment best calculated to secure the ultimate success of our operations, and was concurred in by the several commanders and functionaries of the Territory who were consulted. It was adopted, and measures immediately taken to carry it into effect.

I have disembarrassed myself of the militia by sending them away, and have arranged with the officers of that force to impede the operations of the enemy, obstruct his movements if he should attempt to advance, and cut off his supplies, by removing from his route the cattle, grain, and other supplies in private hands that would aid him in sustaining his force. I have also sent away all the public animals not required for the immediate service of the post.

I am now organizing a partisan force from the volunteers, for the purpose of operating on the flanks of the enemy. This force will be composed of picked men, and I anticipate some good results form their action. If there be any consistency of purpose or persistence of effort in the people of New Mexico, the enemy will be able to add but little to his resources from a temporary occupation of the country.

If the enemy should determine to advance, I will send a part of the regular cavalry now here to re-enforce our troops in the northern part of the Territory, as they are now deficient in that class of troops.

On the night of the 21st instructions were sent to the commander above to remove or destroy any public property that might fall into the hands of the enemy. Major Donaldson, quartermasters, having volun-


*But see p. 493.