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The Picacho Pass Monument and the Battle of Picacho Peak that was made in honor of the battle fought in the Civil War. Picacho Pass is located 50 miles northwest of Tuscan, Arizona. The battle took place on April 15, 1862, and was an engagement of the Civil War. The engagement at Picacho Peak was the westernmost battle of the American Civil War and one of the smallest battles. This battle was fought between the Union cavalry in California and the confederates from Tuscan Arizona. The Confederates won the battle, which is why the monument is considered a Confederate monument. This monument was created and put in by President Jefferson Davis. In 1984 the Children of the Confederacy, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Arizona Historical Society all added a plaque of their own to this monument.

Battle of Picacho Pass

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The Battle of Picacho Peak is different than some of the other battles during the Civil War. The primary Confederate Generals were Captain William P. Galloway and General Sherod Hunter. Confederate Captain Sherod Hunter caused the battle because of his occupation of Tucson in February 1862 with his company of fewer than 100 rebels who had ridden west of Mesilla. Their territory was located on the Rio Grande; Mesilla was the capital of Confederate Arizona, which was a territory that stretched from the plains of Texas to the Colorado River. For the Union, Captain William McCleave was in charge of a company of California soldiers who rode out of Fort Yuma and headed up the Gila. This was the Union’s first step toward gaining power over the Far Southwest again. His company was in the advance party of 2,300-man California Column, and he was a prisoner of Confederate General Hunter. There was actually a lot of uncertainty when the battle actually happened, whether the battle was April 15 or April 16, but when Hunter returned to Tuscon, he wrote the report on April 18 and said the battle was on April 15.

           Around April 14, Calloway left the Pima Villages, knowing that the rebels were somewhere in the Picacho Pass, and that is when they captured the rebels. Hunter reported that 200 Union troops were retreating towards the Pima Villages that he followed, and that is where he saw three more companies of infantry and two companies of cavalry. Some judged this fight as a draw, but the Californians or the Union were defeated, leaving the confederates with the victory. There were only 11 casualties during this battle, and six of them were on the Union side, and five were on the Confederate side. The exact location of this battle is unknown, but people believe that it occurred on the east side of the railroad about a mile north from the Picacho Peak exit off the interstate highway 10.

The park itself is about 1500 feet and has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. The battle of Picacho Peak was the most significant civil war clash to take place in Arizona. On April 26, 1966, it got approved to be a state park for 640 acres of their land, which was section 15 and officially opened as a state park on Memorial Day, May 30, 1968. On August 1. 1981 two more parcels were added to the park making a total acre of 3,747 for the state park.

           The monument at Picacho Pass is a part of a more extensive discussion because it is not necessarily known as a confederate monument idolizing one person, but more so of the battle itself. The Picacho Pass Monument was actually the first Confederate Monument in Arizona, making this one a little more significant than some of the other Confederate Monuments because of the history. The Battle of Picacho Pass was also the furthest west battle of the Civil War. After this monument was added, a few other monuments were added, such as the Ten Commandments Memorial in 1964 and the Pioneer Women Memorial in 1968. This was the first Confederate monument that Arizona had. This monument is more of a tribute to the battle and the lives lost. It is only a Confederate monument because that is who won this battle.

After the death of George Floyd, Confederate monuments all over the United were put into question whether that should stay or be removed. After a lot of back and forth, Arizona decided to keep this monument because it represented the battle more than anything else. It was for the troops who willingly gave their lives in defense of those principles of democratic government that they believed, and it stands as a memorial in honor of them and to remind the people of the freedoms that they fought for at the cost of their lives. At the bottom of this monument, it reads, “a nation that forgets its past has no future.” This quote is important to note because it directly says that if the nation ignores the past and acts like it never happened, there is no hope for change.

The Confederate Monument of Picacho Pass has a lot of history and controversy to it; even the battle itself has controversy. The debate of the original battle’s actual date and if the monument should be removed or not was put into question. The meaning behind this monument goes more profound than the original date of the battle and the battle itself. This battle represents the part that Arizona played in the Civil War, so even though this is a Confederate Monument, it’s more about the battle than anything else.

Head, Jim. American Battle Field Trust. "Clash at Picacho Peak." Accessed on March 2021. Https:// 
American Battlefield Trust. "Picacho Peak Picacho Pass." Accessed on March 2021.
Eatherly, Charles R. "History of Picacho Peak State Park." Picacho Peak State Park. 2018. Accessed on March 2021. 
Bruggeman, Seth C. “Memorials and Monuments.” The Inclusive Historian's Handbook. July 18, 2019. Accessed on March 2021.   
Finch, L. Boyd. "SANCTIFIED BY MYTH: The Battle of Picacho Pass." The Journal of Arizona History, vol. 36, no. 3, 1995, pp. 251–266. JSTOR, Accessed March 2021.
Head, Jim. "Clash at Picacho Peak." Https:// Accessed on March 2021.
Duda, Jeremy. "Arizona's First Capitol Monument Was to Confederate Troops. Why?" AZMirror. 22 June 2020. Accessed on March 2021.
Fischer, Howard. "Confederate Marker Stolen from Picacho Peak." Arizona Capitol TImes. 24 July 2020. Accessed on March 2021. peak/