VAL VERDE BATTERY
VAL VERDE BATTERY. During the Texas invasion of New Mexico (see TEXAN SANTA FE EXPEDITION), soldiers of Confederate brigadier general Henry H. Sibley's brigade captured five guns, three six-pounders and two twelve-pound howitzers, at the battle of Valverde, New Mexico Territory, on February 21, 1862. Volunteers from three cavalry regiments then organized a battery with the trophy cannon under the leadership of Capt. Joseph Draper Sayers, later governor of Texas. The seventy-man unit fired its first shots as a provisional organization at the skirmish at Peralta, New Mexico Territory, on April 15, 1862. The battery was officially organized on June 1, 1862, at Fort Bliss, Texas. After the Confederate retreat from the region, the Val Verde Battery accompanied Sibley's brigade to New Iberia, Louisiana. The battery fought numerous battles and skirmishes in Louisiana. It was notable for the capture of the Union gunboat Diana in March 1863. In April the unit served in the battle of Bisland, where Sayers was seriously wounded, and performed well as the rear guard of Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's army at the battle of Vermillion Bayou. After Sayers was wounded at Camp Bisland, Capt. Timothy D. Nettles took command of the battery and retained it until the end of the war. In the summer and fall of 1863 the Val Verde battery served with Gen. Thomas Green. The Val Verde Battery also served in Taylor's army during the Red River campaign of 1864. In April the battery fought at the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill; two rifled cannons captured from federal forces replaced the two antiquated howitzers of the battery. The battery then served with Confederate forces shadowing the Union army's retreat through the end of May in skirmishes at Monett's Ferry and De Louch's Bluff. As Confederate forces disbanded in the spring of 1865, the gunners of the Val Verde Battery chose to bury their cannons rather than surrender them to federal authorities. After Reconstruction the guns were exhumed. The two six-pounders that had survived the war had badly deteriorated, but the two three-inch rifles survived and are displayed at the Freestone County Courthouse in Fairfield and at the Confederate Reunion Grounds State Historic Site near Mexia.
Don E. Alberts, ed., Rebels on the Rio Grande: The Civil War Journal of A. B. Peticolas (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984). Alwyn Barr, "Confederate Artillery in Western Louisiana, 1862–63," Civil War History 9 (March 1963). Alwyn Barr, "Confederate Artillery in Western Louisiana, 1864," Louisiana History 5 (Winter 1964). P. D. Browne, "Captain T. D. Nettles and the Valverde Battery," Texana 2 (Spring 1964). Martin Hardwick Hall, The Confederate Army of New Mexico (Austin: Presidial Press, 1978). Martin Hardwick Hall, Sibley's New Mexico Campaign (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960). Ludwell H. Johnson, Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1958). Morris Raphael, The Battle in the Bayou Country (Detroit: Harlo Press, 1975). John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963).