As an author of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoy digging into the past, visiting ancient sites, and browsing antique shops. But the history I most enjoy unearthing is my own ancestry. Case in point: I recently discovered that Lewis, one of my great-great grandfathers, was a farrier for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. We'd known we had ancestors who fought for the Union, but this is our first discovery of a Confederate ancestor. That historical tidbit led me to write a blog post about farriers and horseshoes back in April. It also made me want to dig deeper, and BOY, am I glad I did! What I discovered is a connection between my Confederate, Alabama-born g-g-grandfather and my deep roots in New Mexico's rich soil.
The connection location: Fort Craig.
Fort Craig was established on the plains of New Mexico in 1854. It was one of eight forts built along the cottonwood-lined Rio Grande River valley that runs north-south through the state. The fort, one of the largest in the West, played a crucial role in that region, when unrest between American settlers and members of native tribes often erupted in violence. Records show that military units from Fort Craig pursued such notable Apache leaders as Geronimo, Victorio, and Nana. At one time the fort was home to Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 38th Cavalry, as well as the 125th Infantry, the predominantly Hispanic New Mexico Volunteers and New Mexico Militia, commanded by the famous frontiersman Kit Carson.
On February 16, 1862, the Fifth Texas Cavalry, led by Confederate Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley, arrived at Fort Craig via El Paso. His mission was exactly what the Union feared: he was headed to secure Albuquerque and Santa Fe for the South, thereby giving them access to the West's wealth.
Why is this an important fact in my personal history? Because the 5th Texas Cavalry was the unit Lewis, my g-g-grandfather, served as a farrier!
the Battle of Glorieta Pass kept Sibley from securing Albuquerque and Santa Fe, thus denying the South access to money they would desperately need in the final years of the war. Had Sibley achieved his goal, the war may have continued beyond 1865, and may have even had a different ending.
Many, many years later, my grandpa and grandma -- Lewis's granddaughter -- lived about an hour or so from the ruins of Fort Craig. They visited the site several times and enjoyed poking around a place that holds history, both for our country and for our family. I hope to visit Fort Craig the next time I'm in New Mexico.
My g-g-grandfather Lewis. Sadly, he died in El Paso, Texas in July 1862.
It is believed he was wounded in one of the battles I mentioned.
Your turn: Have you ever discovered something about your family history that surprised you? Tell me about it.
Forever within the memories of my heart.
Always remember, you are perfectly loved.
Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.