As with the local Apaches and other Indians, the Mexican community in the area was divided between those opposed to the U.S. government and those fiercely loyal to it. The latter included Lt. Col. Manuel Chavez and his New Mexico volunteers.
While the main Union body took on the Confederates at Pigeon's Ranch. Chavez led Chivington and a force of some 450 soldiers over the high Glorieta Mesa that the Confederates had considered impassable. The Federals came down on the other side at the Johnson Ranch, at the entrance to the pass. There, they drove off the Rebel guards and destroyed the Confederates' 150-some wagons and the supplies they contained, killing hundreds of draft animals in the process.
Word of this disaster reached the Rebels fighting in the canyon. Realizing they were all but cut off and now without the wherewithal to wage war, they beat a hasty retreat and kept going until they were back in Texas. They lost half their men along the way. The Rebels never returned, and Confederate dreams of a vast conquest in the West collapsed for good.
When you go
Getting there: Take New Mexico Highway 50 southeast from Santa Fe to the western section of the battlefield, where the road meets I-25. Nearby on the interstate is a privately maintained and extravagantly decorated memorial to the Glorieta battle.
* About 4 miles farther, near the summit of the pass, where New Mexico 50 picks up again at a second intersection with I-25, is the scene of the easternmost fighting, including the house at Pigeon's Ranch. The ranch house at Kozlow-ski's is still there. To the east is a vast expanse of land formerly belonging to the late actress Greer Garson, which she sold to the government to keep developers from building townhouses there.
* The entrance to Pecos National Historical Park, of which Glorieta is a part, is on New Mexico Highway 63 about 2 miles south of Pecos.
Pecos National Historical Park, P.O. Box 418, Pecos, NM 87552-0418
www.nps.gov / peco / index.htm
* In addition to the battlefield, the park contains the towering remains of a nearly four-centuries-old adobe Catholic church, as well as ruins of an extensive pueblo settlement and remnants of an Indian civilization 10,000 years old. The park's collection of ancient Indian artifacts is one of the richest in the nation.
Lodging: Santa Fe abounds in good accommodations and restaurants. Two hotels I recommend are the Inn at Loretto (211 Old Santa Fe Trail; 800-727-5531; www. hotelloretto.com; doubles from $239 to $269) and La Fonda (on the Plaza at 100 E. San Francisco St.; 800-523-5002; www.lafondasantafe. com; doubles from $219).
For more information about visiting the Santa Fe region, contact the New Mexico Department of Tourism (800-733-6396; www.newmexico.org) or the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-777-2489; www.santafe.org).