The ‘Stars and Bars’ once flew over Santa Fe

Guest Author Allan D. Kissam – travel articles focused on local history

The flags of the Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War

Recently at Santa Fe, New Mexico, I visited lands where slavery had been so pervasive its practitioners ignored the US Civil War abolition and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. My schooling had taught me everyone was freed after this war resulted in the reunified United States.  Except New Mexico was not a state yet, so it did not apply. It took the Anti-Peonage Act of 1867 to finally put to death the illegally practiced servitude in the area going back to the early Spanish occupation, and the United States in general.

Civil War Near Santa Fe

Near Santa Fe is a Civil War battlefield, Glorieta Pass, which is widely termed as the Gettysburg of the West. It was fought by Confederate men from Texas, and. for the Union, mostly men from Colorado. I found myself wondering why these men fought such an important battle so far from the active Virginia battlefields. Beyond going where they were told the Texans had to know about the gold found in Colorado and its being the Union land-route to California. Colorado men had to know the South wanted their lands and would terminate a livelihood built on Union. Classic reasons for fighting.

It is unlikely that any had altruistic reasons for fighting and freeing slaves. For example; on the Union side Major Chivington later, as a Colonel, led Colorado volunteers in the massacre of Indians at Sand Creek, Colorado.

How to Get to the Battlefield

All the background here is intended to peak interest in visiting the area of Santa Fe, for its mostly good historical reasons. It is a short drive to the Glorieta Pass Battlefield. So much of it is on park and private lands of the historic Santa Fe Trail, look into guided tours and visiting requirements first. Here are maps and linked pictures of the battlefield – Click first on Santa Fe at the left edge, and then on Glorieta Pass to see the area pictures. Map of Santa Fe Trail and Glorieta Pass Battlefield

Lodging, Food, and Local Culture

So, where to stay and eat at Santa Fe? A hotel that is most beautiful and historical is the La Fonda Hotel. Events surrounding this hotel go back to the early 1600’s when the Spanish-owned site was undoubtedly the first lodging house in North America. In its dark woods bar is where interviewing scientist occurred for the nearby Los Alamos atom bomb efforts of World War II.

Many fine restaurants in the area provide a lunch and dinner, but breakfast must include Cafe Pasqual’s.  The food is special and the restaurant operates an adjacent art studio featuring Southwestern artist. Local Native American culture can be experienced at San Ildefonso Pueblo and a fine tour of cultural sites along with New Mexican Indian food.

Like nearly everyone coming here, I drove out thinking about how I could reorganize my life to live here. It is that special.


Author Note – the opinions herein are my own although I was hosted for my trip to Santa Fe.

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