Baylor declares himself governor of Confederate Territory of Arizona

August 1st, 1861

On this day in 1861, the controversial John R. Baylor declared himself governor of the Confederate Territory of Arizona in what is now Mesilla, New Mexico. Baylor, born in Kentucky in 1822, had come to Texas at an early age. During the Civil War he commanded the Second Texas Mounted Rifles, who were ordered to occupy a chain of forts protecting the overland route between Fort Clark and Fort Bliss. In July 1861 Baylor seized Mesilla without opposition and pursued the federal Seventh Infantry, which had evacuated Fort Fillmore, east into the Organ Mountains. Baylor secured their surrender in the battle of Mesilla at San Augustine Pass on July 27. Though he was subsequently promoted to colonel, Baylor was succeeded in Mesilla by Henry Hopkins Sibley and removed from command in the spring of 1862 after ordering the extermination of the local Apache Indians. The victory at Mesilla was nonetheless one of the war's early and surprising Confederate successes, and Baylor's dashing actions in the summer of 1861 added to his fame as a folk hero. He died in 1894.

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Baylor declares himself governor of Confederate Territory of Arizona

August 1st, 1861

On this day in 1861, the controversial John R. Baylor declared himself governor of the Confederate Territory of Arizona in what is now Mesilla, New Mexico. Baylor, born in Kentucky in 1822, had come to Texas at an early age. During the Civil War he commanded the Second Texas Mounted Rifles, who were ordered to occupy a chain of forts protecting the overland route between Fort Clark and Fort Bliss. In July 1861 Baylor seized Mesilla without opposition and pursued the federal Seventh Infantry, which had evacuated Fort Fillmore, east into the Organ Mountains. Baylor secured their surrender in the battle of Mesilla at San Augustine Pass on July 27. Though he was subsequently promoted to colonel, Baylor was succeeded in Mesilla by Henry Hopkins Sibley and removed from command in the spring of 1862 after ordering the extermination of the local Apache Indians. The victory at Mesilla was nonetheless one of the war's early and surprising Confederate successes, and Baylor's dashing actions in the summer of 1861 added to his fame as a folk hero. He died in 1894.

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Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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