The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941

THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. XLIV OCTOBER, 1940 No. 2
CONFEDERATE WESTERN AMBITIONS
W. H. WATFORD
In the first year of the American Civil War the newly-formed
Southern Confederacy attempted by military force to extend its
jurisdiction to the Pacific Coast. While the attention of the
divided nation was fixed on the early great battlefields of the
war, an initial effort was made to capture the Federal military
posts in the Territory of New Mexico, apparently with the object
of ultimately taking over California and the southwestern terri-
tories of the United States and several northern states of Mex-
ico. The impelling motives for the conquest of this vast domain
were Southern desires for an outlet to the Pacific, control of
the immense gold and silver treasures flowing from the mines
of the west into Union coffers, and important aspects of the
Confederate foreign policy. The realization of these objectives
would have made the campaign one of the most momentous
of the entire Civil War.
The scale of the military operations covers the overland routes
from New Mexico to three points-San Antonio, Los Angeles, and
Denver. The Texans marched over six hundred miles through
a stretch of dry and unsettled country to El Paso, and then
almost four hundred miles further up the Rio Grande. The
Union forces, volunteer troops from Colorado and California,
crossed mountains and deserts to drive them back to San An-
tonio. These movements, together with the political and mili-
tary importance of the campaign, provide a narrative as absorb-
ing as any in the annals of western history.
I
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the population
of the western territories of the United States was divided in

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/. Accessed July 13, 2014.