Today in History:

Native Americans' role in the Civil War

Navajos and Chiricahua Apaches were a serious challenge to the Union Army’s campaign to gain control of New Mexico at the beginning of the American Civil War. Southern Democrats, led by Mississippi senator (and future Confederate president) Jefferson Davis, had argued that the acquisitions from Mexico, particularly New Mexico Territory, “can only be developed by slave labor in some of its forms.” The amount of food and cotton that New Mexico plantations would produce, Davis imagined, would make that Territory a part of “the great mission of the United States, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to establish peace and free trade with all mankind.” Republicans considered slavery to be a “relic of barbarism” and argued that it should not be expanded into the western territories. “The normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom,” their 1860 party platform asserted. Preventing Confederate occupation of New Mexico Territory and clearing it of Navajos and Apaches were twin goals of the Union Army’s Civil War campaign in New Mexico read more at