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The Civil War in the Desert Southwest

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV008
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$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member
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Battle of Valverde in 1862

In the summer of 1861, Confederate troops invaded New Mexico from Texas, hoping to conquer that territory and then launch a campaign to win the entire West. Historian Megan Kate Nelson examines why and how the desert Southwest—New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California—became an important site of conflict among U.S. soldiers, Confederate Texans, and Indigenous peoples during the American Civil War.

Drawing on material from her book The Three-Cornered War (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2021), Nelson surveys four phases of warfare in this often-overlooked theater, explaining how Union troops were able to push the Confederates back to Texas without winning a single battle. She describes how, in the fall of 1862, U.S. troops then turned their attention to extermination campaigns against Chiricahua Apaches and Navajos. She introduces several of the protagonists in her book—including U.S. Colonel Kit Carson, Santa Fe civilian Louisa Canby, and Chiricahua leader Mangas Coloradas—and discusses some of the sources she used to write about their wartime actions and experiences.

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