Friday, January 07, 2011

"One Blanket and Ten Days Rations: 1st Infantry New Mexico Volunteers in Arizona 1864-1866"

Students of the 1862 Confederate New Mexico and Arizona campaign will recall the role of the 1st New Mexico, but the men whose Civil War service is recounted in Charles and Jacqueline Meketa's One Blanket and Ten Days Rations: 1st Infantry New Mexico Volunteers in Arizona 1864-1866 (Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, 1980) belonged to a different unit. In 1863, the governor of New Mexico reactivated the 1st NMVI as a three year regiment and recruited its officers and men from scratch (the original unit was disbanded).

One Blanket and Ten Days Rations is a scholarly treatment of the military service of companies A and I. In addition to capsule organizational and campaign histories of these companies, rosters, demographic data, and lists of dead, desertions, disabilities, and equipment are provided by the authors. The men of Company A were nearly all Hispanic and I only slightly less so. Both companies organized and trained at Fort Union before being sent to southern Arizona to participate in General Carleton's 1864 Apache campaign. The pair did not serve together, with A going to Fort Bowie at Apache Pass and I joining California volunteers for the unsuccessful Pinal Mountains Expedition (July - August). None of Carleton's lofty operational goals were met and the New Mexicans spent the balance of their service in garrison, patrol, and escort duties. This book is a fine documented history of arduous volunteer infantry service on a forgotten front.

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