Confederacy grows as Baylor defeats Federal troops in Arizona Territory and declares himself governor

July 24th, 1861

On this day in 1861, Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor led 300 men of the Confederate Second Texas Mounted Rifles in an assault on Union forces under Maj. Isaac Lynde at Fort Fillmore, Arizona. Baylor was under orders to occupy a chain of forts protecting the overland route between Fort Clark and Fort Bliss. He entered the nearby town of Mesilla that night. The next morning Lynde ordered an artillery attack on Mesilla, but after three of his men were killed and six wounded, he withdrew. Learning that Baylor had requested artillery from Ft Bliss, Lynde abandoned the fort the night of July 26. The next day, Baylor gave chase. The Confederates rode into Lynde’s camp in the early afternoon, and Lynde surrendered his force of 492 men. Baylor proclaimed Arizona Territory, C.S.A., and named himself governor. He remained there until the spring of 1862. The victory at Mesilla was one of the Civil War’s early and surprising Confederate successes.

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Confederacy grows as Baylor defeats Federal troops in Arizona Territory and declares himself governor

July 24th, 1861

On this day in 1861, Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor led 300 men of the Confederate Second Texas Mounted Rifles in an assault on Union forces under Maj. Isaac Lynde at Fort Fillmore, Arizona. Baylor was under orders to occupy a chain of forts protecting the overland route between Fort Clark and Fort Bliss. He entered the nearby town of Mesilla that night. The next morning Lynde ordered an artillery attack on Mesilla, but after three of his men were killed and six wounded, he withdrew. Learning that Baylor had requested artillery from Ft Bliss, Lynde abandoned the fort the night of July 26. The next day, Baylor gave chase. The Confederates rode into Lynde’s camp in the early afternoon, and Lynde surrendered his force of 492 men. Baylor proclaimed Arizona Territory, C.S.A., and named himself governor. He remained there until the spring of 1862. The victory at Mesilla was one of the Civil War’s early and surprising Confederate successes.

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Share this article

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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
Get your Texas Day by Day delivered straight to your inbox: