Thousands of volumes have been written about the Civil War, but another conflict the country was involved in at the same time has been generally overlooked: The war with the Navajo.
The conflict between American authorities and the Navajo began almost as soon as the U.S. took control of the New Mexico territory in 1846 and had its roots in the long struggle the Navajo had waged with the Spanish and Mexicans since the 1660s. It would not end until 1866 and the “Long Walk” in which the last bands of the Navajo surrendered and were taken to a reservation at Bosque Redondo.
In July 1863, Col. Kit Carson began a campaign against the Mescalero Apache and then the Navajo. Between September and January, Carson and his men chased the Navajo, killing and capturing some and destroying Navajo property.
On Sept. 12, 1863, in the middle of a flood of political items, this short report from Leavenworth, Kan., citing accounts in Albuquerque, N.M., made it to the pages of the Democratic Banner:
“We learn that on the 28th of July, Col. Kit Carson, with part of the First New Mexican Regiment, had a fight with the Navajo Indians beyond Fort Canby. The Indians were defeated with the loss of 13 killed and over 20 wounded and many prisoners.”
For more on this overlooked chapter of history, see the 2006 book “Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West,” by Hampton Sides.
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