Gr Gr Grandpa Andrew Chapman and the 2nd Texas Mounted Rangers
Posted July 8th, 2012 at 04:43 PM by Baltis
Andrew Chapman and the 2nd Texas Cavalry go to New Mexico
Andrew was born to Elijah and Miriam Chapman in 1836. The family had lived in Giles County, Tennessee since 1817 when Andrew's grandfather, William Chapman came west from Virginia. The family had not moved west in the first migrations through the southern states but were buying lands and moving in behind as the earliest settlers pushed even further west. Staying with this pattern, Elijah sold his Tennessee land for a tidy profit in 1845 and took the family to a new farm near Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Andrew spent his youth on the farm near Fort Smith. They lived close to the Indian Nations in an area whose history is often dominated by stories of raucous trading posts. Andrew turned 18 in 1853 and the family moved to Central Texas where Elijah bought land in both Williamson County and Bell County. They settled near Florence on a 100 acre plot where the family reported 4 horses and 2 slaves on the 1855 property tax rolls. In 1858 Andrew married Agnes Ratliff. The Chapman and Ratliff families had been close for generations moving together from Virginia to Tennessee to Arkansas and then to Texas.
The young couple had their first child the next year in 1859 and named him, James Elijah after his grandfathers, James Ratliff and Elijah Chapman. A year later the Civil War started and Andrew's family got put on hold while he volunteered for service with the 2nd Texas Cavalry Battalion. Many of the men are known to have prior service in the Texas Rangers and the battalion was sometimes known as the Texas Rangers or the Texas Mounted Rifles. Andrew's background made him an excellent choice.
In 1861 the young men of Texas were offered two distinct choices for service in the Civil War. Not between the North or the South, but whether to serve the south by going east to Virginia or stay in Texas as part of the planned Confederate invasion of New Mexico. Many of the army officers in West Texas and Arizona resigned their commissions shortly after Fort Sumter and stayed behind as the Federal forces abandoned the West Texas forts. Brigadier General Van Dorn was named Confederate commander of the Department of Texas. He and Lt. Colonel John Baylor (a known frontiersman) started by raising two volunteer regiments at Fort Bliss.
Lt. Col. Baylor scored a couple of easy victories right away with some aggressive behavior. The Union army held southern New Mexico with a 500 man garrison just across from El Paso called Fort Fillmore. Baylor tried a surprise attack with his newly raised regiments (300 men) in July. A deserter tipped off Union Commander Lynde so Baylor had to divert his column. They went to the undefended town of Mesilla which he promptly occupied to the delight of its residents. Lynde briefly tried to attack the Confederates but, after meeting resistance, the Federals pulled back to their fort. Lynde continued to worry and decided to lead his men across southern New Mexico to Fort Stanton. Unfortunately, the federal column carried little water and the late July heat quickly overcame the column causing the men to fall out with exhaustion by early afternoon. Meanwhile, over in Mesilla, Lt. Col. Baylor saw the smoke from Fort Fillmore and sent out a mounted force in pursuit. They encountered thirsty groups of men who quickly surrendered in return for water. Baylor’s pursuit became a rescue operation as they rounded up Lynde and his entire command, taking them all prisoner. Without facility to take the 500 men prisoner, Baylor took their parole and sent the Union soldiers off to Fort Stanton. This time with enough water to make the trip.[ii]
While Baylor grabbed southern New Mexico and started clamoring for permission and troops for an expedition into Arizona, the Confederate government took notice of the situation and named General Henry Hopkins Sibley commander of the army in New Mexico “with the important duty of driving the Federal troops from that department.” His orders included instructions for raising three regiments of cavalry and one of artillery for the invasion of New Mexico. Sibley planned to travel light and have his troops ‘live off the land’ on a rapid and aggressive campaign up the Rio Grande to Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Most of Sibling’s recruits came from the frontier counties of Texas. They formed into local companies and rode first to San Antonio and then to Fort Sibley. The ranks of the 4th, 5th, and 7th Texas Mounted Cavalry regiments filled with men and became the First Texas Cavalry Brigade. Once they marched to El Paso in late 1861, Baylor’s 2nd Texas Cavalry (and several attached companies from the Mesilla area) were added to complete the Army of New Mexico. The men were highly motivated as most had “entered the service for the war, not for pay, but for love of country.” The brigade was “composed of what is probably the best material for an army the world affords. That distinct type of mankind, the south-western frontiersman, inured to all hardships, of indominable energy, familiar with the use of fire-arms, at home on horseback, and fired with the love of country and for the redress of wrongs. There is no conflict which they would not undertake, and none can occur on these lines in which they will not be perfectly successful.”[iii]
General Sibley took command of all the troops but left Colonel Baylor in charge of all civil and military affairs in southern New Mexico. When Sibley finally marched north in February 1862, Baylor remained in Mesilla with one company of the 2nd Texas Cavalry. Sibley sent one of Baylor’s independent companies (Captain Sherod Hunter) west to Tucson where the population was reported sympathetic to the Confederate cause. Major Charles Pyron had proven a capable field commander during the time in Mesilla. He would lead the remaining companies of the 2nd Texas on the march north with Sibley and the Army of New Mexico. The available records show four companies of Texans, five companies of volunteers recruited from Mesilla, and one artillery unit. Historian and author Martin Hardwick Hall believes there may have been one or two additional companies of late recruits for the 2nd Texas Cavalry that also joined the column.[iv] All together the regiment consisted of about 250 men.
The Army of New Mexico started a cold march up the Rio Grande February 7, 1862. They moved in scattered formations for several days until arriving close to the Union forces at Fort Craig. Under command of General Canby, the Federal forces totaled around 3800 men of which 1200 were regular army. Sibley realized the fort could not be stormed by his army and his supplies were insufficient for a siege. He maneuvered the army into position hoping to draw them out into a fight. At first Canby resisted but Sibley then responded by having the Confederate Army cross the Rio Grande and bypass Fort Craig on the other side of the river. Canby couldn’t just leave Santa Fe and Albuquerque to the Confederates without a fight so he prepared a move to prevent Sibley from recrossing the river at Valverde Ford.
Battle at Valverde
February 21, 1862
Early in the morning of February 21, Major Pyron led 180 men of the 2nd Texas on a scout patrol along the river to Valverde Ford. Many of his men had knowledge of the area and Captain Frazer’s company stayed behind to serve as guides to Major Raguet who followed with a large column. They moved forward cautiously, well aware that Federal pickets heard the ruckus raised by the Confederate mules the night before. The animals had not been watered all day and, when tethered so close to the river, they simply bolted for the water. Anyone familiar with mule behavior can assure the reader that every living creature for miles around alerted to the Confederate position.
Pyron’s advance ran directly into the advance elements out of Fort Craig. Canby sent them to head off the Confederates at Valverde Ford. The Union men got there first but only by minutes. They crossed the river and could see Pyron’s men advancing toward them about 450 yards away in a cottonwood bosque (grove of trees running along the side of a river). The Rio Grande shifted its course some years prior leaving a wide river bottom with rolling sandy terrain leading to the former bank with several rows of cottonwoods. The position provided excellent cover and defense for whoever might hold it.
The first clash went badly as the 2nd Texas found itself driven back by Union infantry supported by McRae’s artillery battery which had set up on the west side of the Rio Grande. Pyron’s men held their position within the bosque under heavy fire. General Sibley described the event, "On reaching the river bottom at Valverde, it was ascertained that the enemy, anticipating our movement, had thrown a large force of infantry and cavalry up the river to dispute the water with us. Pyron immediately engaged him with his small force of 250 men, and gallantly held his ground against overwhelming odds until the arrival of Scurry."[v] Men of the 4rth Regiment came with Colonel Scurry and formed a line with the 2nd Texas holding on to their right side. From that position they held until mid-afternoon while the two armies formed a line across from one another.
During the early afternoon Union artillery crossed the river and took position about 850 yards from the Confederate lines. McRae's battery was increased to six guns facing the Confederate right flank which included the 2nd Texas. A number of infantry units supported McRae including Kit Carson's regiment of New Mexico volunteers. As time went on, Colonel Green (Sibley was in the rear either drunk or sick) determined to break the Union line by attacking across the front. First he ordered a cavalry charge on the Union right. Although the men and horses were badly shot-up, their attack drew fire and attention away from the main assault which then came from the Confederate right flank with Pyron and men from the 2nd, 4rth, and 5th Tex regiments. They charged McRae's Union artillery "unmindful of the storm of grape, canister, and musket balls sent hurling against them. * * * They would hit the ground and fire their small arms and when the artillery charges had passed over, they would spring up to advance again in the same fashion. The employment of such tactics kept the casualty rate at a minimum, at the same time leading the Federals to believe their guns were doing far more damage than they actually were."[vi] In his first report, Sibley described the taking of McRae's guns, "For the first time, perhaps, on record, batteries were charged and taken at the muzzle of double-barreled shotguns, thus illustrating the spirit, valor, and invincible determination of Texan troops. They have emulated the fame of their San Jacinto ancestors."[vii]
Once the Texans got close enough to McRae's battery, several sharpshooters took over and picked off many of the cannoneers allowing the remainder to approach directly. They engaged in a hand to hand struggle killing both Captain McRae and his lieutenant. With the artillery taken Confederate forces turned the pieces toward Union lines and began using them against their 'late owners'. The Union support troops lost their nerve and fled. Colonel Green wrote, "We charged them as we had those in front, but they were not made of as good stuff as the regulars, and a few fires upon them with their own artillery and Teel's (Confederate artillery) guns, a few volleys of small-arms, and the old Texas war-shout completely dispersed them. They fled from the field, both cavalry and infantry, in the utmost disorder, many of them dropping their guns to lighten their heels. . . Our victory was complete."[viii]
With victory at Valverde, General Canby took most of the Union army and retreated into Fort Craig. The Confederate army was left to a choice. They could drive north to Albuquerque and into the heart of New Mexico or they could stay and assault Fort Craig. Sibley knew his resources were low and no siege of the fort could be undertaken. Judging a direct assault upon the fort out of reach due to Canby's manpower and well constructed defenses, Sibley sent Major Pyron and the 2nd Texas to Albuquerque as the advance patrols to his army. On the approach into town, Pyron could already see fires burning where the Union army was burning all their stores on the retreat north.
The lack of stores caused several problems. First, Sibley was obliged to spend several weeks scouring the outlying towns around Albuquerque and Santa Fe in order to gather enough supplies to carry on his campaign. He succeeded in gathering the three months worth of food and equipment necessary to move forward but now the populace resented him and a large Union army threatened his rear at all times. As if that weren't bad enough, the extra time taken in 'living off the land' provided an opportunity for several regiments of volunteers from Colorado to move south and block the Santa Fe Trail. The main Union supply depot for New Mexico was at Fort Union northeast of Santa Fe. In order to claim control of the area and put his men in position to demand surrender from Canby, General Sibley needed to take that fort.
March 25, 1862
The process of regrouping and scavenging supplies kept the army occupied for more than a month without any movement toward Fort Union. At that point scouts reported Union movement out of the fort toward Santa Fe. On March 25th, Major Pyron responded by taking 80 men of the 2nd Texas and the attached San Elizario Spy Company, Brigands, and Arizona Rangers north to scout the Santa Fe trail. The column totaled no more than 300 men and moved to Johnson's Ranch at the southern mouth of Apache Canyon. Apache Canyon is actually the western part of Glorieta Pass through which almost all travel into New Mexico must pass. Fort Union was out the northern end and Santa Fe out the southern end. The area was extremely rocky and had a dry arroyo running down the length. Apache Canyon is about a quarter-mile wide with steep sides and narrow ends.
During the night of the 25th, Pyron sent a 20 man scouting party from Company F forward through the canyon. They failed to return by morning so he cautiously started his men in motion up the canyon. At the same time, Union commander Chivington marched some 1,340 men into the canyon from the northern end. Chivington was well aware of Pyron's presence as the Confederate scouting party had blundered into his camp during the night and all been captured. Men from Colorado ('Pike's Peakers') formed the bulk of Chivington's army and were anxious to prove themselves against the Texas regiments. The two armies ran into each other a few miles in from Johnson's Ranch. Pyron ordered his men into formation and started firing his artillery within a couple of minutes. The initial shelling surprised the inexperienced Pike's Peakers sending them backwards into confusion. Chivington remained cool and rallied his troops into a line across the canyon. He outnumbered the rebels and was able to send three companies up the canyon sides to get better position above and outflank the confederates. Pyron ordered retreat which provided Chivington an opportunity to send cavalry charging forward to scatter the Confederate soldiers. He failed to send them which allowed Pyron to rally into a second defensive line across the canyon about a mile and a half back from the first.
The new location was narrower at the bottom allowing for Pyron to spread troops up both sides of the canyon springing from a nice arroyo crossing at the bottom. The Confederate guns blocked the road running in a zig-zag pattern down the center of the canyon. Again Chivington sent men high on the sides to attack Pyron's flanks. Even though better prepared than the first time, the Confederate flanks didn't have enough men to hold the attackers back. Federal troops gained position above and started firing into the main Confederate line below. Pyron tried to execute an orderly retreat but this time Chivington saw his chance and sent a cavalry charge right into the center of the defense. The 2nd Texas tasted defeat for the first time and retreated haphazardly back down the canyon. Union men from the flanks got behind and Pyron had another 50 or so men taken prisoner. With something between 6 and 15 dead and wounded the regiment was down by over 25%.
Luckily enough darkness came on allowing the Confederates to regroup at Johnson's Ranch where they had started the day. Pyron sent a request for 8 hour truce to Chivington for burying the dead and removing the wounded. Chivington agreed to the truce and also became uneasy at the thought of Confederate reinforcements arriving from Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He carried the day against a smaller foe but, instead of pressing the advantage, Chivington retreated on the 27th to a position all the way at the far end of Glorieta Pass.
March 28, 1862
Chivington was correct to be concerned about Confederate reinforcements. Colonel Scurry arrived at Johnson's Ranch with the other Texas regiments around 3am on the 27th and setup defense against Union attack. After taking prior losses and leaving forces to guard the rear, the Confederate Army of New Mexico had an effective strike force of only 700 men but they remained largely undefeated and highly spirited. Once it became clear that Chivington was disinclined to continue his attack of the day before, Scurry started arranging a move up Glorieta Pass to assault the Federals.
Scurry started his army in the morning and marched some six miles into Glorieta Pass before once again running into a Union column moving headlong into the Confederates. This time the 2nd Texas represented only a small part of the total force and were used more as a mobile reserve. Unlike the action at Apache Canyon two days earlier, the Army of New Mexico had all of its regiments on hand and matched up to the Union force very well. The battle in Glorieta Pass progressed very similarly to Apache Canyon except in reverse. This time the Union formed a battle line and were attacked across the front by Scurry's regiments. Pyron and the 2nd TX supported the right flank where the Yanks found themselves beaten back.[ix] Scurry failed to send in cavalry (or didn't have any) at the time of Union retreat allowing them to regroup into a new defensive position at Pigeon's Ranch about 400 yards behind the 1st line. The ranch offered strong defenses with an adobe wall in the center and a small hill on the Union right flank. As before, the lines stretched up steep canyon walls into some extremely rocky areas.
The 2nd Union line proved very stubborn. At first they drove Scurry's Texans back in the center and along the right side killing Major Shropshire in the process. Colonel Scurry sent Majors Pyron and Raguet to pressure the Union line from the left where they "opened a galling fire upon their left from the rock on the mountain side." Scurry worked rapidly and led the center and right side hard against the Union men driving them slowly back into an organized retreat. At that point, "the intrepid Raguet and cool, calm, courageous Pyron had pushed forward among the rocks until the muzzles of the guns of the opposing forces passed each other. Inch by inch was the ground disputed, until the artillery of the enemy had time to escape with a number of their wagons. The infantry also broke ranks and fled from the field."[x]
With the day ending, Scurry did not press the Union army any further and they retreated from Glorieta Canyon mostly intact. Scurry's army did not fare so well. Just as they commenced to celebrate the victory, word came of disaster from the rear. The Confederate supply train had been left at Johnson's ranch since early morning. A Union column under Major Chivington circled around the top of Glorieta Pass across the mesa to a point above the mostly undefended wagons. Even though having won a bitter fight to control Glorieta Pass, Scurry lost almost all of the Army of New Mexico's supplies. Not only were they unable to press onward to Fort Union, the Texas regiments were obliged to return to Santa Fe hungry and greatly dispirited. Scurry tried to encourage the men with praise for adding "another victory to the long list of triumphs won by the Confederate armies." He praised them and boasted "it will not be long until not a single soldier of the United States will be left upon the soil of new Mexico."[xi]
Scurry's words had true prophetic value but not as regards the Union army. Instead of the Union retreating north to Colorado, the Confederate Army of New Mexico would return to Texas and pull back all the way to San Antonio. General Sibley had remained in Santa Fe during the battles at Glorieta Pass and now tried to face rebuilding the supply train once again. Even with plundering all the remaining stores in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the lost wagon train could not be replaced. The situation got worse. Just as Scurry pulled the main combat regiments back to Santa Fe, General Canby got nervous down at Fort Craig and started moving around the countryside. While victorious at Glorieta, the Texan regiments had also taken a physical beating. Their losses exceeded 20% of the original force. The 2nd Texas had already fought three major engagements during the campaign to include having a large portion of the regiment's attached companies captured at Apache Canyon. General Canby's movement from Fort Craig placed the Army of New Mexico between two Union armies. Either of which equaled or exceeded the fighting strength of Sibley's force.
Retreat from New Mexico
April 16, 1862
General Sibley adopted a drastic plan to extricate his army from the trap. Instead of marching back down the Rio Grande, he planned to bypass Fort Craig by taking a western route around the mountains of southern New Mexico. The Union commanders weren't so much fooled by Sibley's move as simply unwilling to follow along without better supplies for themselves. Captain Roberts of the 5th New Mexico Infantry described the situation thusly: "the Texan troops are in retreat out of the country, having been compelled by our operations to abandon most of their supplies of all kinds and to take the mountain route behind the Socorro range to avoid the capture of their small remaining force of the 3,000 troops that invaded the Territory. They have abandoned their sick and wounded everywhere on their line of retreat, and are leaving in a state of demoralization and suffering that has few examples in any war. the long line of their retreat over Jornada and wastes of country without water and that furnish now supplies will render their march extremely difficult and aggravate the ordinary sufferings of a disorganized army under defeat."[xii]
Even though they suffered greatly, most of Sibley's remaining troops made the trip safely. They finished the detour and got back to the river after some nine days without food or fresh water. The men kept alive by eating the oxen and other draft animals as they died of thirst in the desert. By the end of April, General Sibley was back to Fort Bliss setting up his headquarters. He received the following from Richmond written at the very time his army set off into the desert:
"RESOLVED by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the Thanks of congress are hereby tendered to Brigadier General H. H. Sibley, and to the officers and men under his command, for the complete and brilliant victories achieved over our enemies in New Mexico.
Approved, April 16, 1862"
The New Mexico campaign taught General Sibley a valuable lesson which he shared with Richmond in his reports. The lesson being his army must have a strong base of supply in order to carry out operations necessary for an occupation. Beginning on May 20, 1862 he ordered the 2nd Texas to abandon Fort Bliss and return to San Antonio. Their one-year enlistments were fast running out and Sibley needed to get reorganized and rebuild his brigade.
Throughout the research and time looking into the actions of the 2nd Texas Cavalry I hoped to find actual mention of Gr Gr Grandpa A. J. Chapman but never came across mention of his name. It is actually quite difficult to locate mention of someone not in a leadership role but it would have been nice to find him in some of the muster rolls, or somewhere. But, no confirmation on that yet. So far he only shows up in the records at the Confederate Home. However, the 2nd Texas continued throughout the war and saw action several other times including the Red River Campaign of 1864. While this blog entry has gone too long, I have already arranged to continue the story of the 2nd Texas by ordering some primary and secondary sources from the Red River campaign to supplement what is available in the Official Records. Coming soon.
Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign, Martin Hardwick Hall, 18
[iii] Ibid at 28, quotes attributed to New Orleans Daily Picayune of October 20, 1861 and Mesilla Times of January 15, 1862 respectively.
[iv] Ibid at 38, difficult to put Andrew Chapman specifically into any of these listed units. His records indicate Co. G which may later turn out to be one of the independent companies converted or a company recruited after the September 1861 muster rolls which are the best available for Baylor’s command. One possibility of note is the San Elizario Spy Company commanded by Bethel Coopwood whose muster of July 11, 1861 is known incomplete.
[v] 2nd account of Sibley after Valverde, Official Records of the Civil War,
[vi] Sibley's New Mexico Campaign, Martin Hardwick Hall, 68
[vii] Report of General Sibley, Feb 22, 1862, Official Records
[viii] Green to Alexander Jackson, Feb 22, 1862, Official Records, Volume IX, page 522
[ix] Report of Major Scurry, March 31, 1862, Official Records
[x] Report of Major Scurry, March 31, 1862, Official Records, Volume IX, Page 541
[i][i][xi] General Order No. 4, March 28, 1862, reprinted in Sibley's New Mexico Campaign, Hall, 108
[xii] Report of Colonel Roberts, April 23, 1862, Official Records
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