Leg­is­la­tion calls for plan for new Civil War memo­rial

Some note there is al­ready a marker in Pe­cos na­tional park


GLO­RI­ETA — There’s fi­nally a his­tor­i­cal marker com­mem­o­rat­ing the key role that New Mex­ico Civil War vol­un­teers played in the Union’s vic­tory at the cru­cial Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass in 1862.

The bronze plaque was posted sev­eral months ago on a ver­ti­cal stone slab off N.M. 50, a few miles north­west of the vis­i­tors’ cen­ter at Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, which in­cludes a large sec­tion of the bat­tle­field.

Be­neath Amer­i­can and New Mex­ico flags with crossed staffs, the plaque reads:

“In mem­ory and honor of a con­tin­gent of New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers who fought along­side Union Reg­u­lars and Colorado Vol­un­teers and spear­headed a Union flank­ing move­ment at the Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass that ul­ti­mately caused the Con­fed­er­ate forces to re­treat to Texas, thereby giv­ing up on their ef­fort to an­nex the en­tire West and parts of north­ern Mex­ico to the South.”

The new marker, re­sult­ing from ef­forts by The Friends of Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, with help from state fund­ing ob­tained by state Rep. Jim Tru­jillo, D-Santa Fe, is part of a set of three.

Be­fore the park owned the site, a red gran­ite memo­rial was placed there by the United Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy in 1939 to memo­ri­al­ize Texas vol­un­teers who fought at Glo­ri­eta Pass for the Con­fed­er­acy. An­other slab hon­ors the First Colorado Vol­un­teers “who saved the Union in North­ern New Mex­ico,” erected in 1993.

But now there’s talk of an­other Civil War memo­rial at Glo­ri­eta Pass.

State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Al­bu­querque, has in­tro­duced a mea­sure at the Leg­is­la­ture that would cre­ate a task force “to plan the de­vel­op­ment of an

Amer­i­can Civil War memo­rial to be placed at the Glo­ri­eta pass bat­tle site” and make rec­om­men­da­tions be­fore next year’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

It turns out that Lopez’s mea­sure is aimed at an­other lo­ca­tion, a few miles south of the na­tional his­tor­i­cal park at a pull­out off In­ter­state 25’s north­bound lanes, ac­cord­ing to a backer of the pro­posal. Years ago, Al­fonso Sanchez, a lawyer and for­mer lo­cal district at­tor­ney, built his own makeshift memo­rial to the 1862 bat­tle there, a hand­made trib­ute to the “Get­tys­burg of the West” that has fallen into dis­re­pair in re­cent years.

Ralph Arel­lanes, chair of the state His­pano Roundtable, is a sup­porter of the Lopez’s Se­nate Joint Memo­rial 5, and helped write it. “It’s the right thing to do to honor our Civil War sol­diers,” he said.

He said the old Al­fonso Sanchez site has park­ing and elec­tric­ity. Is­sues of cost and the safety of ve­hi­cles pulling on and off I-25 at what’s now not an of­fi­cial exit or rest stop would be con­sid­ered in the task force study, he said.

And, Arel­lanes said, “it would pay for it­self over time as a his­tor­i­cal and tourist at­trac­tion.”

“Ninety-nine per­cent of the coun­try has no knowl­edge that New Mex­ico played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the Civil War,” Arel­lanes said. “Most peo­ple in the state don’t even know it.”

He said “some­thing more sig­nif­i­cant” is needed to mark the bat­tle and the ser­vice of the New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers, mostly His­panic men who were led by Lt. Col. Manuel An­to­nio Chaves.

But An­dres Romero, vice pres­i­dent of the friends of the Pe­cos his­tor­i­cal park group, said there’s no need for an­other memo­rial now that the plaque hon­or­ing the New Mex­ico sol­diers is up on the bat­tle­field in the park.

The com­ple­tion of the set of stone mark­ers, with the one hon­or­ing New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers in the mid­dle, means the cre­ation of a memo­rial has been ac­com­plished, he said.

“It’s sim­ple and where it should be,” Romero said, and not at the I-25 site, near where Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers were buried.

He called the leg­isla­tive pro­posal “du­pli­ca­tion.”

And Romero said it’s dif­fi­cult to get a waiver to rules against new memo­ri­als on Na­tional Park Ser­vice sites like the Pe­cos park.

The nearly 17-acre I-25 site is not now in the park. It was ac­quired in 2014 by the Amer­i­can Bat­tle­field Trust, a char­i­ta­ble group based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing bat­tle­field land around the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to spokes­woman Ni­cole Ryan.

She said last week that the trust’s hope is to trans­fer the site to the Pe­cos park. “Our big fo­cus is on pre­serv­ing the land,” she said.

Ryan said the trust has no spe­cific plan for what to do with Sanchez’s old home­made memo­rial off the in­ter­state.

“What we want is to tear it down,” said Romero, of the friends of the park group. Park su­per­in­ten­dent Karl Cor­dova said the state De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion is “not fond” of trav­el­ers pulling on and off at the I-25 spot via a DOT right of way to check out the ram­shackle dis­plays.

New Mex­ico plaque

Get­ting the plaque hon­or­ing the New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers in­stalled hit some bumps last year.

After The Friends of Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park got the waiver from the Na­tional Park Ser­vice to al­low the memo­rial, and Rep. Tru­jillo ob­tained $50,000 to pay for it and im­prove­ments at the memo­rial site, the park an­nounced that it would be in­stalled and there was to be an un­veil­ing at the park’s an­nual Civil War week­end in March.

The plaque was in fact un­veiled, but it was never in­stalled, at least not in its orig­i­nal form, which specif­i­cally named Lt. Col. Chaves as leader of the New Mex­ico vol­un­teer con­tin­gent at the 1862 bat­tle.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Cor­dova said at the time that the park wouldn’t put the plaque up be­cause of its fo­cus on a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual, un­like the pre­ex­ist­ing Texas and Colorado memo­ri­als.

But Romero and Rep. Tru­jillo said last year the real rea­son the plaque wasn’t ac­cepted was be­cause Chaves also fought against In­dian tribes at a time when Na­tive women and chil­dren were taken into slav­ery.

Last week, Romero blamed a spe­cific Associated Press news story that de­tailed Chaves’ vi­o­lent raids on In­di­ans, as the Leg­is­la­ture was con­sid­er­ing fund­ing for a bust of Chaves. Romero said the ar­ti­cle got the at­ten­tion of re­gional Na­tional Park Ser­vice of­fi­cials who took back pre­vi­ous ap­proval of the text of the Civil War plaque that men­tioned Chaves.

The plaque that’s now in­stalled has the ex­act same word­ing as the orig­i­nal ver­sion, ex­cept for the omis­sion of Chaves’ name as the leader of the New Mex­ico vol­un­teer con­tin­gent. The plaque with the orig­i­nal text was given to the New Mex­ico Na­tional Guard Mu­seum in Santa Fe.

The con­tro­versy still irks Romero. “You can’t judge what hap­pened 150 years ago from the point of 2019,” he said last week. “There was mur­der and slav­ery on both sides.”

The cen­ter­piece of Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park are ru­ins of the aban­doned Pe­cos Pueblo and of a huge Span­ish Colo­nial church that was built at the Na­tive Amer­i­can vil­lage.

Pe­cos park su­per­in­ten­dent Cor­dova spoke about the mat­ter in a re­cent ar­ti­cle in the mag­a­zine of the Na­tional Parks Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion. He said again that not sin­gling out an in­di­vid­ual was con­sis­tent with the two pre-ex­ist­ing Civil War memo­ri­als, but that a goal was also to make sure “we re­spect the his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of our na­tive com­mu­ni­ties, as well.”

“It’s our job to pro­tect their an­ces­tral land, and we take that very se­ri­ously,” he was quoted as say­ing. “The last thing we want to is of­fend their de­scen­dants.”


A marker at a makeshift memo­rial to the Civil War Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass off In­ter­state 25 reads “32-75 Con­fed­er­ates Killed + Buried Some­where Here.” New leg­is­la­tion would form a group to plan a new Civil War mon­u­ment at Glo­ri­eta Pass, but oth­ers note that there al­ready is one on the bat­tle­field at nearby Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park.

This plaque was in­stalled at Pe­cos Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park last year to honor the New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers who fought at the Civil War Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass in 1862.


Var­i­ous items are in­cluded in a makeshift Civil War Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass memo­rial off In­ter­state 25 that has de­te­ri­o­rated in re­cent years.

A plaque hon­or­ing the New Mex­ico Vol­un­teers who fought at the Bat­tle of Glo­ri­eta Pass has been in­stalled be­tween mark­ers hon­or­ing Texan vol­un­teers who fought on the Con­fed­er­ate side and Colorado Union vol­un­teers.

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