The Civil War in the Southwest

We came out on the right day

We came out on the right day

To anyone reading this with a slow internet connection, I’m sorry. This one will be rather picture heavy.

I’m a huge history buff. I really love it. It’s great when you have people like the re-enactors who spend their time and money giving us a taste of what life was like in points in history. We happened to be out at Picacho Peak Campground this weekend during the Civil War In the Southwest re-enactment. They do demonstrations and obviously act out the battles. There were three that they performed for us. The first was the battle of Val Verde. We got to watch the whole battle of this.

This was the view from out camp site

This was the view from out camp site

As we walked from our camp site we could hear the cannons during their “Artillery Demonstration.” We were close enough that we could watch the whole thing from the comfort of our RV. But we walked up to the battlefield. There are signs warning you no to go in there. We just followed the rope around and over into the group viewing area.

Smoke after a cannon volley.

Smoke after a cannon volley.

As we walked around the Union fired off a volley of cannon fire. It was as you would expect rather loud. The battle of Val Verde was one of the Confederate “Victories” in the Southwest. Though it was a rather Pyrrhic victory, as during the battle a lucky shot by the Union destroyed their reserve ammunition.

As my wonderful woman was taking pictures of this...

As my wonderful woman was taking pictures of this…

...This walked up behind us.

…This walked up behind us.

I’m really happy we chose to head out to Picacho Peak this weekend. It was a short hop from Phoenix, and well worth the trip. Of course if you don’t want to camp out for the Civil War(or can’t get a spot), they do have a parking lot that’s $10 per vehicle. Sadly it’s only one weekend per year. Here are some more of the pictures my better half got of the battle:

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Not bad...

Not bad…

...but I prefer ours

…but I prefer ours

After the battle was over we headed over to the camps. There’s the Union, and the Confederate sides. The Union side had quite a few demonstrations of life in the 1860’s. There were a few shows over in the Confederate side, but we kinda rushed through there. Probably because they didn’t have the kinds of demonstrations going on that the Union had. Though we did get to take a look at the camp setups they had.

20140315_111034During the battle we happened on a veteran watching the battle. He was a Vietnam Vet, and my hat goes off to any vet, but to those Vietnam Vets, they got the worst end of the deal. Not only did many not want to go to war, but did, but many came back only to be spit on(or worse) by the protesters. Thank you veterans. I won’t try to pretend to know what you went through in that war, but thank you for your service.

After leaving the two camps, we headed back to the RV to grab some food. It was windy as all heck and the awning which I had rolled out was in shambles. I hadn’t expected it to get quite so windy, but it did. And the awning had yanked the metal mounts from their moorings. A little ladder, some hammer, a couple screws, and everything was right as rain again. With the exception that obviously I’ll have to figure a more secure method of mounting everything.

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After lunch, I pretty much watched the next battle from the comfort of our RV. Because my camera wouldn’t focus on anything but the window screen, I only got one pic and it was kinda boring. Oddly enough, our dog let us know he was not a huge fan of cannon fire. He can handle thunder and lightning. He can handle fireworks. But I guess cannon fire was just asking too much for him.

Since we missed the battle anyway, we went for a stroll around the park to find which spots were the best views outside of being there for the Civil War. We returned to the camp site at about 3:15 and I had missed the cavalry demonstration I had been wanting to see. We rested for a few minutes, and were headed over to watch the “Battle of Picacho Peak.” It was scheduled to start at 3:30. and by the time we headed over, we were walking around the fenced in area, and heard “And that’s the end of the battle of Picacho Pass. Little more than a skirmish.” From what I gathered, the re-enactment took longer than the real battle. Thirteen Union soldiers against ten Confederate soldiers. Three Union soldiers dead, and three captured Confederates.

Ladies looking the part.

Ladies looking the part.

There were some interesting sights on the sidelines. For instance, many people outside of the re-enactors also dressed up for the part. And at least one creepy girl who prayed at the fake graves of the long dead soldiers. It wouldn’t have been creepy except it was long after the event had closed, and she did it all alone.

Just a tad creepy.

Just a tad creepy.

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Since we essentially missed the two things I wanted to see(but wasn’t too sad that I had missed them), we set off on a little hike. Around the park are several hiking trails. We took a rather quick trail, because it was already getting very windy and in the desert, wind can bring massive dust storms. We didn’t want to be sitting a mile and a half from our vehicle, and unable to get out of the dust when it hit.

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Darn, no way to fire it.

Darn, no way to fire it.

I managed to find something that interested me while hiking around the park. A replica Howitzer. There is actually a lot of information in the loop called Monument Loop. It tells more about the battle than even the re-enactors tell. Basically, the whole battle was because a Union soldier fired on surrendering Confederates. The aftermath of the battle was that because the soldiers got away, the Confederates occupying Tucson had enough time to hightail it back to the Rio Grande.

That night, the wind kicked up really rough. I had plans of sitting by the fire for most of the night, but that turned into me tending a blast furnace… The next morning we returned to our home in Phoenix in time for part of the landing gear(nylon reduction gears) to give out pretty much as I expected it would. But fortunately for me, it was high enough to get my truck out from under it, and we were able to visit a friend for bowling that afternoon. And we got to see him do this:

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After we got back home, I repaired the landing gear with no curse words, and it works perfectly.

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