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This week in the civil war

Union secures strategic pass in New Mexico Territory

A battle unfolded out West 150 years ago this week during the Civil War.

On March 26, 1862, a Confederate force of about 300 Texas fighters camped near Glorieta Pass in the New Mexico Territory – a strategic location at the southernmost end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the Santa Fe trail. Several hundred approaching Union soldiers, led by Maj. John M. Chivington, went on the attack, pressing in on the Confederates until artillery fire repulsed the federal fighters.

Chivington split his force into two groups on each side of the pass and put the Rebels in a crossfire before fighting halted for the day. The next day both sides regrouped and fighting wouldn’t resume again until March 28, with the Union side swelled by hundreds of reinforcements.

Confederates held their ground as the battle surged back and forth in the coming hours. Eventually a wearied Confederate force retreated to Santa Fe – and ultimately back to Texas – securing a strategic Union victory.

– Associated Press