I've been trying to find old newspaper articles covering the Battle of Glorieta Pass as close to the date it happened, but strangely the term "Glorieta Pass" isn't coming up in the databases I've used, so I'm assuming the battle didn't receive its name until much later. Furthermore, perhaps at the time, people didn't know it newsworthy, and its only after analysts studying what happened that they figured it should be named a battle.

I found this article from the Chicago Daily Tribune (see the first column, right in the middle). Here is the verbatim text:

Kansas City, March 31.--Advices from Ft. Union, New Mexico, say a main body of Texans were camped at Albuquerque. Sixty of them had arrived at Santa Fe. It is reported that Col. Canby had captured a train of sixty wagons and 400 Texans. Communication between Santa Fe and Fort Union had been cut off. An advance would be made about the 22nd, by troops at Fort Union, assisted by two small batteries, when it is expected communication with Fort Craig will be restored. All post office effects at Santa Fe have been removed to Fort Union.

Is this describing the Battle of Glorieta Pass? The numbers, dates seem slightly off, and Col. Canby is given credit to the event, which he isn't in some books, but I assume a newspaper will have a vastly different perspective than a historian.

  • It seems likely to me that the place name "Glorieta Pass" became well known only after the railroad went through it in 1879. You might look on old maps and gazateers to see if the place name was used much before then. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 15:20
  • The 1857 babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/… atlas does not show a "Glorieta Pass", but this might be because of the scale. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 16:00
  • 3
    See pp530-545 of google.com/books/edition/The_War_of_the_Rebellion/… for use of the place name "Cañon Glorieta" in March 1862 by participants of the battle. You'll see on p 533 that Canby was the commander of the Department of New Mexico, in effect the "Theater commander." The "press briefing" your Chicago Daily Tribune got its info from would have been held at Canby's HQ. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 17:16
  • Have you been able to find the 31 March KC newspaper article? Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


The telephone was invented in 1876, but the game of "telephone" was played during the American Civil War. Your 4 April 1862 Chicago newspaper article is a copy or paraphrase of one or more articles appearing in a Kansas City newspaper a few days before, based on telegrams received in KC from reporters in New Mexico. Those reporters would have gotten the news from the Army, at a 19th century equivalent of a press conference at the headquarters of the "Department of New Mexico" or from a more informal process of being shown the dispatches. The reporters would not, in all probability, have spoken with actual participants of the actions described, but rather with someone in their chain of command, who in tern derived their information from dispatches sent by the commanders in the field, who were participants. The military authorities played one game of "telephone", and then the newspaper people played another, before the news appeared in print.

Lucky for us, we can read those dispatches, anthologized in works such as The War of the Rebellion. On p.527 is a report dated 11 March, from Capt. Enos in Fort Union to his commander, Maj. Donaldson, also in Ft. Union:

... On the afternoon of the 1st instant I received reliable information that a body of Texans, about 400 strong, supposed to be the advance guard of the enemy, had reached the town of Belen, 35 miles below Albuquerque. Upon this intelligence I ordered that every preparation be made for destroying the public stores...

And on p.533 we have the 29 March report from Col. Slough to his commander, Col. Canby, about the battle itself.

... We took and destroyed their train of about 60 wagons, with their contents, consisting of ammunition, subsistence, ...

This has the effect of cancelling the newspaper round of "telephone".

At the time Col. Canby was the commander of the "Department of New Mexico", in effect the theater commander for all operations in New Mexico. That Slough sent him a report is indirect evidence that Canby was not present at the battle. It seems most likely to me that after the battle, Canby announced the outcome to the press, in something like a modern press conference, and reporters were shown the relevant dispatches. Details like 400 Texans and 60 wagons are easy to scribble into reporters' notebooks, and because of the game of "telephone" described above, ended mashed together in the 4 April Chicago news story. Canby was the commanding officer in New Mexico, and it is natural for a reporter to ascribe his subordinates' victory to their supperior, Canby.

So I think the answer to your question is: what appeared in the 4 April Daily Tribune is indeed a report of battle of Glorieta Pass and of its lead-up, but one that is so garbled and condensed as to be unintelligible.

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