Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona

Arizona

Next to I 10 between Phoenix and Tucson

March  24, 2013

The weather has improved and we are enjoying being outside more.  Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon finishing a cupboard door for the kitchen while Bob, Patty and I watched the Nascar race on our outside tv.

I finished a cupboard door for the microwave cupboard.

I finished a cupboard door for the microwave cupboard.

Bob and Patty are enjoying the nicer weather.

Bob and Patty are enjoying the nicer weather.

Here's our outside tv and a map of all of the states that we have visited.  The rule is that we have to drive in the state with our motorhome or Casita.

Here’s our outside tv and a map of all of the states that we have visited. The rule is that we have to drive in the state with our motorhome or Casita.

Today we took a drive out of Casa Grande heading south on I 10 to Picacho Peak State Park.  Picacho Peak has a nice, little visitor center, many picnic areas, a campground and lots of hiking trails. 

 

Picacho Peak State Park's Visitor Center

Picacho Peak State Park’s Visitor Center

Picacho Peak is not only a nice state park, but it is also of historical interest. 

During the War with Mexico, the Mormon Battalion of the U.S. Army camped at Picacho Peak enroute to California on December 17, 1846. Their march is considered to be the longest infantry march on record.  Further down their route,  they were the first to unfurl the flag of the United States at Tucson. 

Plaque for the Mormon Battalion

Plaque for the Mormon Battalion

Mormon Battalion Monument

Mormon Battalion Monument

 

Two decades later, Confederates occupied Tucson in the summer of 1861 in an effort to expand into the southwest.  The Confederates wanted to hold territory from ocean to ocean.  Lookouts were stationed at Picacho Pass to watch for Union soldiers moving to retake Tucson.

In response to the Confederate occupancy, Union Captain William Calloway marched out of Yuma with a force of over 200 men.  At Picacho Peak, he ordered Lt. James Barrett and thirteen men to move around the north side of the Picacho Mountains while Lt. Ephraim Baldwin took twelve men south around Picacho Peak. Their orders were to conceal themselves, hold their positions and to not engage the Confederate lookouts unless it appeared they were planning to escape to take word of Union activity to the Confederates in Tucson. 

Picacho Pass

Picacho Pass

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The plan was for Captain Calloway’s main force of 200 men to enter Picacho Pass from the northwest, attack the Confederate encampment and then proceed to Tucson. Against orders, Barrett charged into the midst of ten Confederate soldiers camped at a stage station.  As the Confederate soldiers prepared to surrender, Barrett discharged his weapon.  It is not clear whether the discharge of his weapon was accidental or intentional, but the rebels returned fire and fled.  In the ensuing skirmish, Lt. Barrett and another Union soldier were killed.  Four other Union soldiers were wounded with one dying the next day.  The Confederates suffered no casualties, but three men were captured.

This is looking towards the site where the skirmish actually occurred.

This is looking towards the site where the skirmish actually occurred.

After the skirmish, the remaining Confederates retreated to Tucson to warn of the Union activity.  Captain Sherrod Hunter ordered his outnumbered troops to leave Tucson on May 14, retreating to New Mexico.  The Union troops arrived in Tucson on May 20, 1862 putting an end to the Confederate incursions into the Southwest.

More views at Picacho Peak State Park.

More views at Picacho Peak State Park.

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Every March, a Civil War renactment of the Battle at Picacho Peaks takes place.  Next year we are hoping to go down, camp, and watch.

Replica of a Civil War cannon

Replica of a Civil War cannon

Adding to our enjoyment were all of the colors blooming in the desert.

Our Sport Trac parked among the cactus.

Our Sport Trac parked among the cactus.

Yellow

Yellow

More color

A blooming Barrel Cactus

A blooming Barrel Cactus

This plant looks a little like a stunted lupin.

This plant looks a little like a stunted lupin.

Today was a fun drive through the desert to an interesting, historical park.

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