Chivington’s surprise attack at Johnson’s Ranch – Main Phase – Morning and afternoon, March 28th
The decisive tactical maneuver of the Battle of Glorieta was led by Major Chivington (see Marker 3). Five hundred Union soldiers, under Chivington, separated from Slough’s main force early in the morning of March 28, before the fighting began around Pigeon’s Ranch. Chivington and his men climbed atop Glorieta Mesa, south of the Santa Fe Trail, and marched across the mesa to a point at the unprotected Confederate rear where the Rebels stockpiled their food, ammunition, and other vital supplies. Guided by Lt. Colonel Manuel Chavez of the New Mexico Volunteers, the Union soldiers reached the western rim of Glorieta Mesa (seen to your right) by 2 p.m. Below them, the Texan camp at Johnson’s Ranch (present day Cañoncito) lay vulnerable. Chivington sent his men down a steep bank from the mesa top to burn the Confederate supply wagons and run off the Confederate mules and horses they discovered corralled at the site. Eighty Confederate wagons and the supplies they contained were destroyed, and most of the mules and horses wee stampeded up a narrow canyon. Only a few Confederate guards and teamsters managed to escape toward Santa Fe. Stripped of their vital supplies, the Confederates decided to withdraw to Santa Fe to regroup and resupply. With the wagons burning and exploding, the Union soldiers retraced their route over the mesa, this time guided by former Polish priest and Union chaplain Alexander Grzelachowski. That afternoon and evening, soldiers on both sides suffered additional hardship when a lat-winter snowstorm dropped nearly a foot of snow in the area of the pass. Late that night, Chivington and his weary troops finally returned to Camp Lewis at Kozlowski’s Stage Stop. Confederate forces remained at Pigeon’s Ranch. Thus ended the most successful Union action in the Battle of Glorieta.