Monday, May 27, 2013

Colonel Cross, in his own words

Colonel Edward E. Cross was one of New Hampshire's most compelling Civil War soldiers. While I was working on Our War, several fellow historians with an interest in Cross helped me find documents that Mark Travis and I did not see before we wrote My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross and the Fighting Fifth. Today I thought I'd share one of the more interesting of these letters with you.

It requires a little background. I used the letter in the Our War chapter about Cross's striking statement to a friend in July 1861. "I am ready for the wars," he wrote. But what did he mean?

Cross had been interested in "things milingtary" since his youth, but his principal military experience came between January 1859 and June 1861, which he spent in Arizona. At the time, Arizona was not yet a territory in its own right but part of the New Mexico Territory.

Don Miguel Antonio Otero
Cross went there as an officer and investor in a silver-mining company. On behalf of the company, he started The Weekly Arizonian, the first newspaper in Arizona, and later manged a mine. Inevitably he was drawn into the effort to secure the area -- namely to make it safe from attacks and thefts by Apaches and other American Indians.

By late 1859, his reputation was already such that Don Miguel Antonio Otero, New Mexico’s delegate to Congress, asked him to report on how and where to position U.S. troops to make New Mexico Territory more hospitable for settlers and miners. As I write in Our War, Cross's report to Otero was "a tour de force."

Edward R. Sweeney, author of a comprehensive biography of Cochise, found the report in the National Archives, and John Fahey, a mutual acquaintance, shared it with me.

Here is Cross's Dec. 29, 1859, letter to Otero:

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