Action picked up west of the Mississippi River in June. In Texas, Governor Edward Clark issued a proclamation declaring a state of war with the United States, and he called on Texans: “You are now engaged in a struggle for your liberty. Of its propitious termination, there can be no doubt; but in order to make the contest decisive, and of short duration, it is necessary that your most powerful energies should be called forth.”
Clark anticipated greater hostility from Native American tribes in western Texas once all the Federal forces had withdrawn. He dispatched state officials to negotiate peace agreements with the Five Civilized Tribes, and he communicated with President Jefferson Davis about effecting Native alliances.
In the Indian Territory, Choctaw Nation leader George Hudson declared that his tribe was “independent, and free to enter into alliance with other governments.” Hudson cited the Federal government’s failure to pay its 1860 annuities as the reason for the break from the Federals. Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation reiterated his tribe’s official neutrality and directed his people in the Indian Territory to respect their treaty obligations to the U.S.
Farther west, Colonel Edward R.S. Canby took command of the Federal Department of New Mexico after Federal officials received news that Colonel William W. Loring had resigned his command of that department to join the Confederacy. Canby took up headquarters at Santa Fe, where he soon received word that Texans, “aided perhaps by some dissatisfied individuals in Arizona,” were poised to invade the territory (present-day New Mexico and Arizona). This was Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor’s 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles, who were heading west from San Antonio on a purported “buffalo hunt.”
Canby enlisted 15 Mexicans as spies to observe the Texan advance along the Pecos Trail. He also concentrated Federals at Fort Fillmore near the border at Mesilla, the declared Confederate capital of what the Confederates called the Territory of Arizona. Federals expected the Texans to occupy Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, and use it as a launching point for the invasion. Henry Hopkins Sibley was promoted to Confederate brigadier general and assigned to recruit Texas volunteers to join Baylor’s force in conquering the New Mexico Territory. This would create a path from the Confederacy to California.
On the Pacific Coast, Brigadier General Albert Sidney Johnston had resigned his commission in the U.S. Army to join the Confederacy in May. He had been one of the highest-ranking U.S. officers. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott directed the Federal commander of the Department of the West at St. Louis: “The Secretary of War directs that you arrest General A.S. Johnston if he returns from California by overland route.” Johnston ultimately eluded the Federals and became a Confederate general.
In Arkansas, Brigadier General Ben McCulloch was authorized by the Confederate government to aid the Missouri State Guard. Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson was a secessionist who had asked the Confederacy for military aid against the Federal forces in his state. As June ended, McCulloch led a militia force out of Fort Smith to join forces with both Brigadier General Nicholas B. Pearce’s Arkansans and Major General Sterling Price’s Missourians.
- Cutrer, Thomas W., Theater of a Separate War: The Civil War West of the Mississippi River. The University of North Carolina Press, (Kindle Edition), 2017.
- Faust, Patricia L. (Patricia L. Faust ed.), Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
- Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971.
- Smith, Dean E. (Patricia L. Faust ed.), Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
- United States War Department, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1 – Vol. 4. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1880-1902.
- United States War Department, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 2 – Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1880-1902.