When Arizona Was a Confederate Territory

To most Americans, Arizona seems as far from the battlefields of the American Civil War as one can get.

But it was in the first year of the Civil War that what we think of as Arizona came into being — as a Confederate territory. In fact, Confederate actions in the Far Western theater of the war reveal the extent to which the Confederate flag became a symbol of white supremacy and conquest….

By late July 1861, the vanguard of Confederate Manifest Destiny arrived in New Mexico Territory. A lawyer and rancher named John Robert Baylor led 350 soldiers from the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles across the border, occupied the town of Mesilla and forced the surrender of 400 soldiers at Fort Fillmore, the Union’s southernmost military installation in New Mexico.

On Aug. 1, 1861, Baylor sat down at his headquarters in Mesilla and, putting pen to paper, created the Confederate Territory of Arizona and appointed himself its governor.



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