Sunday, March 25

New Mexico's Lost Cause

Rest Stop Marker on New Mexico's Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway
Occasionally, I run across lesser-known elements of history involving the War of the Rebellion (AKA Civil War) and post them on this blog. A couple of such involved DFW-area monuments to the Rebellion. They may be revisited here and here. More strangely, the proponents of “The Lost Cause,” most notably the Daughters of the Confederacy, put up markers here and there to glorify people that had nothing at all to do with the locale. In many cases, there are relevant historical stories that the Daughters forget to mention in their rush to glorify people such as Jefferson Davis.

Last month, I ran across yet another of these markers. This one was in Southern New Mexico, a bit west of El Paso, Texas. At the easternmost rest stop on I-10, the pictured monument commemorated the Daughters calling this route the “Jefferson Davis Highway.” Yup, this is the same Jefferson Davis Highway that pops up all sorts of places, including Washington State. I-10 is an interesting Interstate that gets called all sorts of things. In California, where it starts as the Santa Monica Freeway, it is also called the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, the Rosa Parks Freeway, and several other names. I’m not sure if it will keep Columbus, as he has more recently been castigated for his Indian transgressions. In New Mexico, I-10 is known as “The Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway” in most places. Well, except at this one rest stop where Jefferson Davis still reigns supreme.

The Daughters’ original memorial was nowhere in evidence unless this is an extensively restored version of it. Instead, we were treated to something New Mexico put up to commemorate another monument. Sadly, there was no mention of New Mexico’s role in the Civil War as a place that slavery and Indian extermination might take place. Jefferson Davis’s main role in such episodes was to fire the one that most wanted to kill off Indian even more than he wanted to fight Yankees.

Flags are at Half Staff due to Florida School Shooting
To make a long story short, the Confederacy laid claim to the southern half of current New Mexico and Arizona as the “Confederate Arizona Territory.” John Baylor claimed to be in charge of things until he was fired by Jefferson Davis for ordering extermination of the Apache Indians. To Baylor’s troops’ credit, history suggests they ignored his extermination orders. General Sibley led a Confederate Brigade into the claimed territory until they were chased back out following the Battle of Glorieta Pass. FWIW, Sibley's forces included Apaches (the same tribe Baylor wanted killed off). The US then divided the territory into Arizona and New Mexico, and the Confederates went back to East Texas. We visited the site of the Glorieta Pass battle, but it wasn’t much to look at.


Khal said...

Heck, I read the headline and thought you were talking about our surface transportation system.

Trevor Woodford said...

Another interesting post Steve......

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