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BOOK REVIEWS89 The Battle ofGlorieta: Union Victory in the West. By Don E. Alberts. Foreword by Donald S. Frazier. (College Station: TexasA&M University Press, 1998. Pp. xvi, 226. $29.95.) With the usual emphasis on the great Civil War battles and campaigns of the eastern and western theaters, it is hard for most Americans to realize that there were smaller but still important events that occurred west of the Father ofWaters in the trans-Mississippi theater. It takes even more imagination to realize that there was far western theater, which covered the balance of the United States from Texas to the Pacific, the stakes of which, were potentially as vast as the ports of California and the gold and silver mines in the Sierras and the Rockies. It is of this theater that Don E. Alberts writes. His focus is on the climactic 1 862 Battle of Glorieta, comprised of engagements at Apache Canyon (March 26), Pigeon's Ranch (March 28), and Johnson's Ranch (March 28). As neither army commander was on the battlefield, the fighting—which occurred in a narrow canyon along the old Santa Fe Trail south and east of New Mexico's capital —was left to what historianT. Harry Williams once called the"good colonels." These were the civilian volunteer officers, who knew little of military theory and had to improvise as they went along. As Alberts points out, it was a game at which the men from Colorado and New Mexico did better than the Texans, which resulted in a Yankee victory, saving the West for the Union. Alberts notes how theYankees immediately realized the controlling effect of high ground, something the Confederates never seemed to catch on to. They also had the help of the Spanish-speaking population of New Mexico; this gave the Union leaders intimate knowledge of the back route around Apache Canyon that Major John Chivington used to bypass the main battle and destroy the Confederate supply park at Johnson's Ranch. Indeed, Alberts finds this the singlemost important reason for the overall Confederate defeat, which made Chivington , later excoriated for his massacre ofthe Southern Cheyennes at Sand Creek, the hero of the campaign. Alberts dispels many myths about Glorieta. He does not find any archeological evidence that the Yankees killed the horses and mules pulling Confederate supply wagons at Johnson's Ranch—they merely scattered them. He does think the Coloradansjumped their horses over a vast chasm during the mounted charge in Apache Canyon—they used the bridge, which was not burned as earlier accounts maintained. He also does not think that the Confederates won the Pigeon Ranch part of the battle, pointing out that the Yankees accomplished their mission of keeping the Rebels from attacking Fort Union, the key Federal bastion some miles to the north on the Santa Fe Trail. While this reviewer agrees with Alberts that Glorieta was a strategic victory for the North, he cannot help but think that when the Coloradans fled the field at Pigeon's Ranch, the Texans won a tactical victory, especially in Civil War terms. In the final analysis, Alberts has produced a excellent study of a pivotal Civil War battle, right down to the actions of the individual soldier. Not only a fine 90CIVIL WAR HISTORY military historian, Alberts is also an archeology consultant and past president of the Glorieta Battlefield Preservation Society. All of this makes for a complete, in-depth knowledge of his subject, which is imparted to the reader by a masterful prose that brings the story alive as few others have. It is a book well worth reading. William L. Richter Tucson, Arizona Hurricane ofFire: The Union Assault on Fort Fisher. By Charles M. Robinson III. (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute Press, 1998. Pp. xiii, 249. $29.95.) Throughout the Civil War the Union tightened its grip on the Confederacy's seaborne commerce, but the navy's best efforts both could not stop blockade running at Wilmington, North Carolina. The area's unique hydrography made blockade enforcement difficult enough, but natural protection alone did not satisfy the Confederates. Fort Fisher, on the peninsula that divides the Cape Fear River from the Atlantic Ocean, formed the linchpin of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 89-90
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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