Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Battle of Val Verde

Driving on I-25 from El Paso, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico USA just south of the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge and Socorro, you pass a really imposing and dramatic volcanic mesa made of black rock off to the east. Nowdays it is named Contadero Mesa, but over time has gone by various names including Ciénega de Mesilla de Guinea, El Contadero, Senecú, and Black Mesa.

There have been people traveling past here since well before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

In May 1598 the Oñate expedition passed by here. And there are other historical references to the place in 1680, 1766, 1773, and 1819.

Link re Contadero Mesa:

Just south of this dramatic geologic feature is one of the largest forts ever constructed by the U.S. Army in the middle to late 1800's while the American Government was fighting the wars with the native inhabitants, the aboriginal Indians, which eventually resulted in their virtual elimination. It is located at N 33.63446, W-107.01293 and can be easily driven to over roughly a 5 mile very good dirt road.

Fort Craig was held in private ownership for many years, and because it was protected as private property rather than being a part of the federal bureaucracy it is also one of the most well preserved 19th century western desert forts.

Link to Fort Craig:
Another link to Fort Craig:

Built in 1854 Fort Craig was never breached or defeated. It was constructed with high earthen ramparts and a dry moat in a design such that whatever direction it was attacked from the defenders inside the fort could flank the attacker. It was built to protect the nearby settlements along the Rio Grande river and also to protect travelers from raids by the Indians.

I have no problem with the mental concepts of the vastness of the universe, distances measured in light years, pottery that is 2,000 years old or even shards from the first European farmers about 5,500 B.C. But it is hard for me to visualize that only about 90 years before I was born there were native wild Indians living off the land right here in my dry desert homeland. And the soldiers were out there with their modern weaponry doing their best to exterminate them.

In February of 1862 soldiers from Ft. Craig took part in one of the few civil war battles fought on New Mexico Territory. About five miles northeast of Ft. Craig several thousand soldiers with the Union Army and about 2,500 soldiers of the Confederate States of America fought a battle. The rebels were victorious in this battle. There were about 450 casualties in this battle.

The location of the battle of Val Verde is about N 33.70118, W-107.96430 A high clearance vehicle is recommended.



And after the Civil War the Buffalo Soldiers served at Ft. Craig.