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James Barrett (Civil War)

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James Barrett
BornCounty Mayo, Ireland
Died(1862-04-15)April 15, 1862
Picacho, Arizona
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861-1862
RankUnion army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant
Unit1st California Cavalry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
  • Battle of Picacho Pass 

James Barrett (died April 15, 1862), an immigrant from County Mayo, Ireland, was a second lieutenant with the 1st California Cavalry who commanded a detachment of Union Army soldiers during the Battle of Picacho Pass. He was killed during the battle and buried at the site.[1]

Battle of Picacho Pass[edit]

A band of 120 Confederate Rangers occupied Tucson, Arizona as part of their effort to expand the border of the Confederacy westward. So a pro-Union column from California, under Col. James H. Carleton, headed for Tucson to thwart the move. Carleton ordered Barrett to lead 12 men east to sweep for Confederate rebels through the Picacho Mountains,[2] a rocky spire 50 miles northwest of Tucson on the Overland Stagecoach route.[3]

It was Barrett's job to go around the mountain and cut off a Rebel escape. Instead, on April 15, 1862, when Barrett and his men encountered a patrol of Confederate Rangers near Picacho Peak, Barrett, fearing an ambush, rode with his men into the Ranger's camp and attacked them.[4] Barrett was killed, and the combat continued for more than an hour before the Rangers retreated back to Tucson.[2] The Union soldiers then moved to the Pima Indian Villages and hastily built Fort Barrett, so named for their fallen officer, at White's Mill.[5] While Barrett was killed and the Union army retreated, Union forces from California eventually moved on to Tucson and took out a Confederate settlement.[6] The engagement at Picacho Peak was the westernmost battle of the American Civil War and also one of the smallest in terms of the numbers of soldiers engaged.[3]

Grave site[edit]

Barrett and the two soldiers were buried where they fell. The bodies of the two soldiers were later moved but the lieutenant was never found. His remains lie on the valley floor beneath the creosote. A stone memorial to Barrett was erected in 1928 by the Arizona Pioneer's Historical Society and the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. and later moved to Picacho Peak State Park. It sits along the Civil War Trail.[4]

References[edit]

  1. "Arizona's military history: Battle of Picacho Pass". azcentral. Retrieved Jun 7, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Did You Know: Picacho Pass Housed A Civil War Skirmish". KJZZ. Jul 19, 2013. Retrieved Jun 7, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Battle of Picacho Peak Facts & Summary". American Battlefield Trust. May 7, 2010. Retrieved Jun 7, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Naylor, Roger. "Famous graves in Arizona: Big Nose Kate, Cochise and other notables". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved Jun 7, 2020.
  5. "Arizona Forts: page 2". Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  6. "Western peak joins most endangered Civil War sites". San Diego Union-Tribune. May 13, 2010. Retrieved Jun 7, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Masich, Andrew E., The Civil War in Arizona: The Story of the California Volunteers, 1861-65, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, 2006).
  • Orton, Richards H. Brig.-Gen., Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867, State of California, 1890.


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