From the time of the organization of the Territory of New Mexico, which embraced Arizona, up to 1867, when it was abolished by act of Congress, peonage prevailed in that Territory. Peonage was one of the worst forms of slavery and it is described fully by W. W. H. Davis in his work entitled “El Gringo” as follows:

“Another peculiar feature of New Mexico is the system of domestic servitude called peonage that has existed and still exists in all the Spanish American colonies. It seems to have been an institution of the civil law, and in New Mexico, is yet recognized by statute, (about 1855). The only practical difference between it and Negro slavery is that the peons are not bought and sold in the market as chattels; but in other respects I believe the difference is in favor of the Negro. The average of intelligence among the peons is lower than among the slaves of the Southern States; they are not so well cared for, nor do they enjoy so many of the blessings and comforts of domestic life. In truth, peonism is but a more charming name for a species of slavery as abject and oppressive as any found upon the American continent.

“The statutory law recognizing its existence in the Territory is dignified with the title of ‘Law regulating contracts between master and servants.’ This is all well enough on paper, as far as it goes, but the statute is found to be all upon the side of the master. The wages paid is the nominal sum of about five dollars per month, out of which the peon has to support himself and family. The act provides, among other things, that if the servant does not wish to continue in the service of the master, he may leave him upon paying all that he owes him; this the poor peon is not able to do and the consequence is that he and his family remain in servitude all their lives. Among the proprietors in the country, the master generally keeps a store, where the servant is obliged to purchase every article he wants, and thus it is an easy matter to keep him always in debt. The master is required to furnish the peon with goods at the market value, and may advance him two-thirds the amount of his monthly wages. But these provisions, made for the benefit of the peon, are in most instances disregarded, and he is obliged to pay an enormous price for everything he buys, and is allowed to run in debt beyond the amount of his wages, in order to prevent him leaving his master. When parents are, as the statutes term it, ‘ driven into a state of slavery’ they have the right to bind their children out as peons, and with this beginning, they become slaves for life. When a slave runs away from his master, the latter goes after a justice of the peace, or some other civil magistrate, and takes out an warrant of the debt,’ which authorizes the arrest of the peon in any part of the Territory. One of the most objectionable features in the system is, that the master is not obliged to maintain the peon in sickness or old age. When he becomes too old to work any longer, like an old horse who is turned out to die, he can be cast adrift to provide for himself. These are the leading features of peonism, and, in spite of the new name it bears, the impartial reader will not be able to make anything else out of it than slavery.”

New Mexico was considered slave territory. The Organic Act had provided that New Mexico should eventually be admitted as a slave or free state as its people in their constitution might decide. The New Mexicans had no slaves, and desired none. The few that were introduced into the territory were mostly as body servants. The Territory being under the control, to a great extent, of Southern men and Southern influences, which controlled the legislation, a law was passed in 1857, prohibiting, under penalty of fine and hard labor in the penitentiary, the residence of free Negroes or mulattoes in the Territory for a period exceeding thirty days. And, in 1859, an act was passed ‘to provide for the protection of property in slaves in this territory.’ It provided punishment for the enticing away or aiding the escape of a slave, making it a felony punishable with imprisonment from four to ten years; it prohibited the furnishing or sale of arms to slaves, and all trade with them except with the master’s written consent. It provided stringent and detailed regulations for the return of fugitive slaves, including his sale if not claimed. It forbade masters giving their slaves the use of their time; permitted stripes for insolence and disorderly conduct, and branding for crime; declared that slaves could not testify in court against free persons. It prohibited and annulled all marriages between whites and blacks; forbade emancipation; required slaves to have passports when absent from their masters’ premises, and expressly provided that this law should not apply to peonage, but only to African slavery.

A resolution was adopted in Congress to annul all the acts of the New Mexican Legislature authorizing involuntary servitude except for crime, which passed the house, but not the Senate. This, however, was repealed in December, 1861. In 18656 the act of 1857 against free Negroes was repealed and in 18667 an act was passed abolishing all involuntary servitude in the Territory.

It was generally supposed that public opinion among the natives of New Mexico favored Negro slavery and that their sympathies were all with the secession movement, but when the test came it was found that the masses favored the Union cause, and five thousand or six thousand of troops, volunteers and militia, rallied to the support of the Union. They could not, however, be considered as ardent Unionists. This act was inspired more from hatred of the Texans who composed the Confederate invasion. Arizona was thought to be controlled entirely by Secessionists, and the Apaches, and Navajos, while not regarded as partisans of the South, yet it was thought they would be a potent factor in the defeat of the Union forces. Troops in the Territory of New Mexico were barely sufficient for defensive warfare against the Indians, besides there were military stores in New Mexican forts worthy of capture, to say nothing of the excellent opportunity for the display of Texan patriotism, for it was fully expected that Southern California and Colorado would rally to the Southern cause. It failed because the enterprise was entrusted to Texans alone, whose resources were limited, and New Mexican sympathy for the South and animosity for the National Government proved less potent than their Union proclivities, prejudice against African slavery, and hatred of Texas. California not only remained true to the Union, but sent a column of volunteer troops to drive the rebels out of Arizona; and Colorado, under energetic Union management, was able to control the strong Secession element within her border, and to send a regiment which struck the decisive blow in ridding her Southern neighbor of the invaders.

“It is stated,” says Bancroft, “on authority not very clearly denned, that attempts were made in the Autumn of 1860 and spring of 1861 by Colonel W. H. Loring of the mounted rifles, of later fame in Egypt as Loring Pasha, temporarily in command of the Department, with the aid of Colonel George B. Crittenden, commanding an expedition against the Apaches, both officers having been sent to the territory for that special purpose, to attach the New Mexican troops, through the influence of Southern officers, to the Confederate cause; also that this plan was defeated by the efforts of Lieutenant Colonel B. S. Roberts. However, this may have been, the rank and file remained true to their allegiance, with the exception of a single soldier, and even he is not known to have joined the enemy. Many of the officers, however, made haste to espouse the Confederate cause, including Loring – succeeded by Canby in the command- Crittenden, and Major W. H. Sibley. This was in June, 1861, about the same time the territorial secretary, Alexander M. Jackson, resigned his office to go South; and the project of invasion began to assume definite shape.

“Major Sibley was made brigadier general, and ordered to Texas in July to organize and command the expedition; ex-secretary Jackson became his assistant adjutant general of the Army of New Mexico, and the order for the brigade to advance was given on November 16th. Before Sibley’s arrival, however, operations had begun. Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor, second mounted rifles, C. S. A., occupied Fort Bliss on the Texas side in July, crossing into New Mexico, and occupying Mesilla on the 25th. On the 1st of August he issued a proclamation as Governor, taking possession in the name of the Confederate States. He declared all offices vacant, organized a military government, fixed the capital at Mesilla, divided the territory into two judicial districts, the first being all east of Apache Pass, and in a proclamation of August 2nd, appointed civil officers, including Jas. A. Lucas as secretary, M. H. McWillie as attorney general, E. Angerstein as treasurer, and Geo. M. Frazier as marshal; with H. C. Cook and Frank Higgins as judges, and J. A. Roberts as sheriff of the first or eastern judicial district.

“Major Isaac Lynde of the seventh infantry, in command of the southern district of New Mexico, had a force of about 700 men at Fort Fillmore. He was a northern man, whether a traitor or a coward is not quite clear, but in a few days, perhaps on July 27th, he surrendered his whole force as prisoners of war to Baylor. A little earlier, orders had been sent to the Arizona commandants to abandon Forts Buchanan and Breckenridge, which they did, destroying all property that could not be removed. On the march these garrisons heard of the surrender of Lynde, and directed their course, about 450 strong, to Fort Craig. In December, Baylor’s Confederate force was estimated by Canby at 800 Texans, besides 200 or 300 volunteers from the floating Mexican population of Mesilla Valley.”

In 1861 a convention was held in Tucson, which formally declared the territory of Arizona a part of the Confederacy, and in August of that year, Granville H. Oury, was elected delegate to the Southern Congress. Baylor, in his proclamation of August 1st, declared the territory of Arizona to comprise all that part of New Mexico south of latitude 34°, and all offices under the laws of “the late United States” or of the territory, vacant, but all laws not inconsistent with those of the Confederate States, were continued in force. He made Mesilla the capital and organized a military government with himself as governor. This act of Baylor’s was approved by the Confederate Congress, and Arizona was admitted as a part of the Confederacy, with Granville H. Oury as delegate.

Baylor, in one of his fights with the Indians, poisoned a sack of flour, which killed some fifty or sixty savages. Upon learning of this, Jeff Davis deprived him of his position in the Confederate Army, and also of his title of Governor of Arizona. Thereupon Baylor went back to Texas, and was elected to the Confederate Congress in his old district. These facts were told me by a relative of Colonel Baylor’s, who is now one of the prominent citizens of this State.

Early in 1862 a force of two or three hundred Texans under Captain Hunter, marched westward from Mesilla, and in February, took possession of Tucson for the Confederacy. There was no opposition. If there were any Union men left they sought safety in flight across the border to Sonora. The details of Hunter’s expedition into Arizona are lacking. There is no record that he ever attempted to confiscate any private property belonging to the Unionists. He sent a portion of his command to the Pima Villages, and had it not been for the California troops, 1800 strong, which about that time had arrived at Fort Yuma, there is little doubt but what he would have continued his march to Fort Yuma, and taken possession of the entire territory.

Lieutenant Colonel West, commanding the advance of General Carleton’s California column, sent out parties from Fort Yuma and these were the only troops that came into contact with the Confederates. In February, 1862, Jones was sent with dispatches to Tucson, and fell into the hands of Hunter, who released him and sent him back by another road, bearing the first definite news that Tucson had been occupied by the Confederates. Captain William McCleave, of Company A, First Cavalry, being sent out to look for Jones, was captured with three men at the Pima Villages on the 6th of April, and was carried to Mesilla, but soon afterwards was exchanged. Captain William P. Calloway was sent up the Gila with a strong force to rescue Captain McCleave. At the Pima Villages, he heard of a Confederate detachment of 16 men said to be under Lieutenant Jack Swilling, and sent Lieutenant James Barrett with twelve men to cut them off. Pursuing the enemy into a chaparral, Barret was killed with two of his men, one or two of the foe being also killed, and three taken prisoners. This was the only skirmish of the campaign with Confederates. It occurred on the 5th of April on the spot known as El Picacho, and it was the only fight between the Confederates and the Union troops on Arizona soil.

On May 20th, Lieutenant Colonel West, with the advance of the California Column, raised the Stars and Stripes over Tucson. Captain Hunter had retreated to the Rio Grande, losing several men and much property on the way in a fight with the Apaches. A fort was established at the Pima Villages by the Californians, and called Fort Barrett in honor of the only officer killed by Confederate bullets in Arizona Forts Buchanan and Breckenridge were reoccupied, the latter being named Fort Stanford, but both positions were soon abandoned as the sites were undesirable, and the buildings had been destroyed. A post was also established seven miles from Tucson, at what was later called Camp Lowell. Early in June General Carleton arrived in Tucson, and declared the territory under martial law.

When the California troops were first raised it contemplated landing them at Guaymas, and marching them overland through Chihuahua and Sonora, the consent of the Mexican Government having been obtained for this purpose, but the appearance of Confederate troops in New Mexico and Arizona and their first successes in this territory, caused the authorities to fear that they would establish themselves securely in New Mexico and Arizona, and these territories be used as a base of supplies and lead them to organize a force for the invasion of California, consequently it was decided to reinforce the troops of New Mexico with a force from California, and thus prevent them from obtaining a foothold in New Mexico; hence the formation of the California Column. The following is General Wright’s suggestion to the War Department for the organization of this expedition and the indorsement of Major General McClellan approving the same:


“Headquarters Department of the Pacific,
San Francisco, Cal., December 9, 1861.
“Brig Gen. L. Thomas, Adjutant General U. S. Army,
Washington, D. C.
“General: I beg leave to submit to the consideration of the General-in-Chief the proposition to recapture the forts in Arizona and New Mexico, by a command to move from the southern district of this State, with the exception of a battery of light artillery, which I am now organizing. All the troops required for the expedition are in the southern district. I have ordered a company of the Ninth Infantry, regulars, to relieve the company of the Third Artillery at San Juan Island; the latter to come to the harbor of San Francisco. A company of the Third Artillery will be designated for the battery. We have the guns, horses and equipment all ready, being those left here by Company C, Third Artillery, (late Ord’s Battery). I have now in Southern California, the first California Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Carleton; the first California Volunteer Cavalry, a battalion of five companies, under Colonel Eyre. I estimate that this force, with the battery which I propose to send, will amount to about one thousand five hundred men. They are fine troops and well officered, and under the command of Colonel Carleton, an officer of great experience, indefatigable and active, the expedition must be successful. I have never seen a finer body of volunteer troops than those raised in this State. They are anxious for active service, and, feeling as we all do, that w T e are able to retake all the forts this side of the Rio Grande, I may be pardoned for urging the movement. The difficulties and delays experienced on the present route of the overland mail show us the absolute necessity for opening the Southern route; and. why should we continue to act on the defensive, with Fort Yuma as our advanced post, when we have the power and will to drive every Rebel beyond the Rio Grande?

“In my communication of October thirty-first, I submitted to the General-in-Chief the propriety of our occupying Guaymas, the chief seaport of Sonora, and I still think it of great importance that we should do so, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Rebels. At that time I was inclined to make Guaymas my base of operations; now I think Yuma a better point from which to move. In anticipation of a favorable reply to the proposition I have made, I shall go on making arrangements to move promptly when authorized to do so.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
G. Wright, Brigadier General U. S. Army, commanding.
(Indorsement)


Adjutant General’s Office,
December 18, 1861.
“If the movement in progress has not already been authorized, please do so at once.
George B. McClellan, Major General

In accordance with the suggestion of General Wright, the expedition was organized and consisted of the First California Cavalry, five companies, under Colonel Edward E. Eyre; the First California Infantry, ten companies, under Colonel James H. Carleton; a light battery of four brass field pieces, under First Lieutenant John B. Shinn, Third Artillery, U. S. A. Afterwards the First California Infantry, under Colonel George W. Bowie, was sent to reinforce the “Column,” the whole amounting to about twenty-five hundred men.
The troops composing this Column were assembled at Fort Yuma in April, where a large amount of military stores had been sent overland from Los Angeles, and by boat from San Francisco. All the boats on the Colorado River were seized for military purposes, and no one was allowed to pass Fort Yuma without giving a full account of himself, particularly as to his loyalty to the General Government.

In the meantime, on April 5th, Captain Hunter of the Confederate Army had occupied Tucson, with instructions to operate as far down as Fort Yuma. Following is his report of his operations:


Tucson, Ariz.
April 5, 1862

“Colonel John E. Baylor:
“Sir:
After a march, made as rapidly as practicable, from the Rio Grande, attended by some violently stormy weather, but without any accident or misfortune save the loss of one of my men, (Benjamin Mayo), who died at the San Simon, I have the honor of reporting to you my arrival at this place on February twenty-eighth. My timely arrival with my command was hailed by a majority, I may say the entire population, of the town of Tucson. I found rumors here to the effect that the town was about being attacked by a large body of Indians; that the military stores of the Federal Army to a large amount had been burned at Guaymas, and that troops from California were on the march up the Gila River for this place; and these reports were so well accredited that a few of the citizens, more ultra in their Southern feelings than the rest, were about leaving rather than fall into the hands of their Northern foes, to sacrifice all their interests in this place, and look for safety among their Southern brethren on the Rio Grande.

“Immediately after the departure of Colonel Reilly on March third for Sonora, accompanied by an escort of twenty men under Lieutenant Tevis, I started with the rest of my command for the Pima Villages, where, after my arrival, I negotiated friendly relations with the Indians, arrested A. M. White, who was trading with them, purchasing wheat, etc., for the Northern troops, and confiscated the property found in his possession, a list of which I send you. Among the articles confiscated, were one thousand five hundred sacks of wheat, accumulated by Mr. White and intended for the Northern Army. This I distributed among the Indians, as I had no means of transportation, and deemed this a better policy of disposing of it than to destroy or leave it for the benefit (should it fall in their hands) of the enemy.

“While delaying at the Pima Villages, awaiting the arrival of a train of fifty wagons, which was reported to be en route for that place for said wheat, (which report, however, turned out to be untrue), my pickets discovered the approach of a detachment of cavalry, which detachment, I am happy to say to you, we succeeded in capturing without firing a gun. This detachment consisted of Captain McCleave and nine of his men, First California Cavalry. The Captain and Mr. White I sent in charge of Lieutenant Swilling to the Rio Grande.

“I learned also, while at Pima Villages that at every station, formerly Overland, between that place and Fort Yuma, hay had been provided for the use of the Federal Government, which hay I had destroyed at six of the stations thus provided. My pickets on yesterday reported troops at Stanwix ranch, which is on this side of Fort Yuma, eighty miles.

“Allow me to say in conclusion, that I have no opinion to offer in relation to all these rumors that are afloat, but give them to you as I receive them, knowing that your judgment and experience will dictate the proper course to pursue.

“I am, sir, your obedient servant,
“S. Hunter, “Captain Company A.”

It seems from Captain Hunter’s report that the only property of any kind confiscated by his command, was that belonging to or supposed to belong to the Federal Government, and the only civilian arrested was Mr. White at the Pima Villages, whom Hunter declared to have been an agent of the Federal Government, engaged in gathering wheat, etc.

The Confederate Congress passed an Enabling Act for the Territory of Arizona, which was approved on January 18th, 1862. The limits of the Territory extended east and west along the Mexican border from the Colorado River to Texas, and followed the 34th parallel of latitude on the north. The seat of Government was fixed at Mesilla. The government organized by Col. Baylor was recognized. The Territory was divided into three Judicial Districts, the three judges of which could act as District Judges and Supreme Court judges in the Territory; probate judges and justices of the peace, the latter of whom were given jurisdiction in cases in which the amount was below one hundred dollars. Appeals could be taken to the Supreme Court of the Confederate States in all cases where the amount involved was over one thousand dollars. In any matter, however, in connection with slavery, an appeal could be taken to the Supreme Court of the Confederate States, without reference to the amount involved. Slavery was established as a permanent institution in the following language:

“The institution of slavery in said Territory shall receive all necessary protection, both from the Territorial Legislature and the Congress of the Confederate States.” The Pima and Maricopa Indians were protected in their property holdings.

The Executive power was vested in a Governor to be appointed by the President of the Confederate States, who was to hold office for six years and reside at the seat of government in the Territory, also a Secretary of said Territory who was also to hold office for six years.

The Legislative authority of the Territory was vested in the Governor and a Legislative Assembly, the Legislature to consist of a Council and House of Representatives, each to have thirteen members at its first session, to be increased thereafter by the Legislature as the population increased, but the whole number at no time to exceed thirty-nine.

The franchise was given to every free, white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years, who should be a resident of the Territory, but no officer, soldier, seaman or marine, or any other person in the Army or Navy of the Confederate States, or attached to troops in the service of the Confederate States, not being a citizen of the said Territory, was allowed to vote or hold office in said Territory.

This enabling act was a long instrument, covering almost every point, the principal thing, however, being that everywhere slavery was fully protected and established. It was to take effect upon the proclamation of the President, which was as follows:


“By The President Of The Confederate States Of America: Proclamation.

“Whereas, an act of the Congress of the Confederate States of America entitled ‘An act to organize the Territory of Arizona,’ was approved by me on the 18th day of January, 1862; and whereas, it is therein declared that the provisions of the act are suspended until the President of the Confederate States shall issue his proclamation declaring the act to be in full force and operation, and shall proceed to appoint the officers therein provided to be appointed in and for said Territory:

“Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do issue this my proclamation declaring said ‘Act to organize the Territory of Arizona, ‘ to be in full force and operation, and that I have proceeded to appoint the officers therein provided to be appointed in and for said Territory.

“Given under my hand and the seal of the Confederate States of America at Richmond, this fourteenth day of February, A. D. 1862.
“By the President:
“(Seal) Jefferson Davis.
“R. M. T. Hunter, “Secretary of State.”


There is no record that I have been able to find that the Confederate Government in Arizona was fully established. Granville H. Oury was recognized as a Delegate from Arizona Territory from January 18th, 1862, and admitted to his seat. The Territory was represented by Marcus H. McWillie, who” was admitted March 11th, 1862. It does not appear whether the term of Mr. Oury had expired, or whether he had resigned. McWillie held his position until the close of the War.

On May 29th, 1862, Col. Baylor, the Governor of Arizona, was authorized to raise five battalions for the Confederate service. This amount of men was probably enlisted in the Confederate Army from Arizona.

December 21st, 1864, John R. Baylor, who had been elected to the Congress of the Confederate States, and had been admitted to his seat May 2nd, 1864, wrote a letter to the Secretary of War, urging that an expedition be sent into New Mexico and Arizona to recover those territories. He urged that by recapturing Arizona, a route would be opened into Southern California, and that from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand men could be raised in California and in Arizona and New Mexico for the Confederate cause. He also stated that quite a large number of men could be enlisted in Mexico. He insisted that that was the opportune time for making the effort. The proposition was submitted to the President of the Confederate States, and in his reply under date of January 5th, 1865, Jeff Davis said:

“The commanding general of the Trans-Mississippi Department could best judge of the propriety of detaching any portion of his command for the proposed expedition into New Mexico and Arizona. We can here decide that if a large force would be requisite that it would be impracticable to spare it. If it be possible to raise in Mexico and in New Mexico and Arizona a number of Southern refugees from California and elsewhere equal to the smallest number named, and who would organize themselves for service with our armies in the field, it would certainly invoke every feasible effort to accomplish such an end. Colonel Harrison thought that could be done and suggested the peculiar capacity of the Hon. Mr. Baylor for the service indicated – that of raising the force and putting it into service.”

January 24th, 1865, Col. Baylor again urged the Secretary of War for permission to fit out the expedition in Texas to invade New Mexico and Arizona. I make the following extract from his letter:

“Once in the Territories, which are now abundantly supplied with goods, enough property could be confiscated for the use of the Government to defray the expenses of the troops, and as the United States Government is now working numerous silver mines I see no reason why we might not control the same mines and make them yield a revenue for our purposes.

“It will be remembered that there has been no attempt to recruit for our Government in this section of the country, and so strong is the Southern feeling in Southern California that the United States Government has never succeeded in enforcing the conscript law or draft there. The people, never having felt the ravages of war, are enthusiastic and would not hesitate to join us in this struggle for independence. Should you think proper to honor me with a commission for the enterprise I have suggested I can only say that I will, as I have ever done, serve my country with all the zeal and ability I possess.”

At this time Grant was hammering Lee’s dwindling army in front of Richmond; Sherman was driving before him the small force of Johnson on his victorious march from Atlanta to the sea; everything indicated the speedy collapse of the Confederate Government, so no action was taken in the matter, and it is surprising that Col. Baylor could not realize the fact that the Government at Richmond was rapidly nearing its downfall.


Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 2, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.

Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.