The Battle of Albuquerque was a small engagement between the United States Army and Confederate forces during the American Civil War.

With the Confederate’s defeat at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, ending their incursion into the Southwest territories, General Henry Hopkins Sibley's Army retreated toward Albuquerque and occupied the city for several days in April 1862. They were hotly pursued by Union General Edward R. S. Canby, whose primary mission was not to directly engage the fleeing Confederates but to determine whether or not they still had the will to fight.

To this end, the Union set up their artillery at a considerable distance from the city and commenced a light bombardment.

Albuquerque in the 1860s was very different than the city is now. The modern city encompasses some 189 square miles, straddles both sides of the Rio Grande and has a population of 545,852 in the metro proper and almost a million if you count its greater statistical area, i.e. the outlying towns such as Rio Rancho, Tijeras, Edgewood, and the like. During the Civil War, Albuquerque was a small town of 1600 people and not yet the boom town it would become in the 1870s with the addition of the railroads. The city occupied a small crick in the Rio Grande corresponding to modern Albuquerque’s Old Town and Sawmill District.

The area the Union occupied would have been high desert but now is a city block with a Wal-Mart and several other businesses.

These are the coordinates if you want to use Google Maps to see the scale of the battle:

35.096111, -106.669861 Albuquerque Old Town
35.110703, -106.609991 Union Encampment

The Union bombardment lasted for two days, however General Canby ceased shelling the city when he learned that the Confederates would not allow the city’s populace to seek cover.

Since his mission had successfully determined that the Confederates would fight and because he had successfully drawn another Confederate army out of Santa Fe (Colonel Tom Green), Canby retreated at night.

The Confederate’s situation was untenable. With a hostile local citizenry and dwindling supplies, they left Albuquerque on April 12 to continue their retreat back to Texas.

The Battle resulted in zero Confederate casualties and one Union death. Additionally, Maj. Thomas Duncan, of the 3rd US Cavalry was wounded during a light skirmish near the city. He would later serve as a brigadier general after the war, though medical complications from his wound would cause him to retire early.

As for the Confederates, when they fled the city, they abandoned eight mountain howitzers which they buried to prevent them from falling into Union hands. Some of these have been recovered and at least one is on display in Old Town Plaza.

The Battle of Albuquerque is a rather obscure battle, so much so that even most native Burqueños don’t know there was a battle. The most famous Civil War battle in New Mexico is the Battle of Glorieta, and that tends to overshadow this small conflict in New Mexico history. The Battle has been the only time in Albuquerque’s history where an enemy army occupied the city (Santa Fe, by contrast, has been occupied, set siege upon, and razed multiple times in history, most notably during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 where anybody in that city who wasn’t killed had to march all the way to Mexico City or perish).

A request.

(I couldn't find any information on the one person who was killed. I don't know if that's a statement on the banality of war or not. You're the only one killed at a rinky-dink battle that nobody remembers because it didn't have much effect on the outcome of the war, and nobody remembers your name as a consequence. Bleh.)


Alberts, Don E. The Battle of Glorieta: Union Victory in the West. Texas A & M Univ Press, 2004.

Eicher, John H., et al. Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press, 2001.

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