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Battle of Valverde is focus of Reenactment

By Staff | Aug 2, 2013

At the annual Civil War Reenactment in Renfrew Park, the battle this year will be Valverde, fought on Feb. 21, 1862 in Arizona Territory, now part of New Mexico. It will be held on August 9-11 with the actual reenactment of the battle taking place on Aug. 10.

Although this battle led to a Confederate victory, it stopped the intended drive to expand westward adding California to the Confederacy.

The reenactment will start on Aug. 10 with reveille at 7 a.m. The camp will open to the public at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m. there will a dress parade in the yard behind the Renfrew Museum House. A tactical event will be held at 10 a.m. After a luncheon break, there will be a military nine count firing competition, followed by the Valverde Battle at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, reveille will be sounded at 7 a.m. and at 8 a.m. the camp will be open to the public. A dress parade will be held behind the Museum House followed by a 10 a.m. period church service in the same location. A generic battle will be held at 1 p.m. after a lunch break. The camp closes at 1:30 p.m.

The Valverde confrontation was an intense one with the Union forces bearing the greater loss – 432 men killed, wounded, captured, or missing, compared to the Confederate loses – 158 killed, wounded, or missing.

The Confederate forces were under the command of Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley, who commanded over 2,500 troops, while the Union leader was Colonel Edward Canby with some 3,800 troops. The Union army’s advantage in troop strength did little to effect the outcome of the battle as, according to historians, only about a thousand members of the Union forces were experienced soldiers.

Among the troops, the some 2,000 men in the First Regiment of New Mexican volunteers were under the command of Kit Carson.

At the height of the battle, Canby blocked the Confederate attempt to cross the Rio Grande and take Fort Craig. Instead of a frontal assault, he attacked the Confederate left, weakening his center. The Confederates, taking advantage of this, attacked the Union center in three successive waves. This broke the Union battle line and many men deserted. To avoid another assault, Canby raised the white flag so that he could remove the bodies of the dead and wounded, leaving the outcome of the battle to the Confederates.

Valverde is also notable for being the first and last lancer charge of the war.

There is no fee to attend the reenactment

Renfrew Museum and Park is home to a federal-era Pennsylvania German farmstead, bequeathed to the borough of Waynesboro by its last private owner, Mrs. Emma Nicodemus. It is open to the public from April to October for tours and special events; the grounds are open from dawn to dusk.

For additional information , call Renfrew Museum and Park at 717-762-4723 or visit the website at www.renfrewmuseum.org. Renfrew can also be found on Facebook.