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Knights of the Confederacy

 

 

Colonel George Madison, C.S.A.
By Patrick Gerity, 2010

 

Early references to George Madison identify him as a businessman working just south of Tucson, Arizona. His business dealings involved mining ventures as a possible owner of several mines in the area. While Madison’s service during the War Between the States is documented, very little is know of his life before or after the War.

In 1861, General Henry Sibley organized the Army of New Mexico to occupy New Mexico territory and move northward into the Colorado territory. George Madison was commissioned as a Captain by General Sibley with a two fold mission within the boundaries of the Colorado territory. Captain Madison was to disrupt federal mail and communication lines and he was to help organize and recruit Colorado men for Confederate service. In late 1861 there was a vigorous effort within Colorado to recruit and train soldiers for Confederate service among the miners and settlers who came from the Southern States. Recruits were sent to a number of “camps” in the Pikes Peak region, and eventually concentrated at the primary Confederate training encampment at Mace’s Hole (near present day Beulah, Colo.). General Sibley had commissioned Colonel John Heffner to create a Confederate Regiment in Colorado, and Colonel Heffner’s operation base was at Mace’s Hole. It was hoped a significant force could be raised within Colorado to join General Sibley’s Army of New Mexico upon his anticipated capture of the territory, in order to access the Colorado gold mines for the Southern cause.

During late 1861 Captain Madison, along with 35 soldiers, was very active disrupting federal mail and communications lines throughout southern Colorado. Ft Garland, a federal outpost in the San Luis valley, was a primary target for Confederate activity. Captain Madison had successfully stopped mail delivery to the fort and a raid was planned to capture the fort as the Army of New Mexico marched its way up the Rio Grande valley in early 1862. Colonel Heffner’s regimental strength at Mace’s Hole was at about 600 soldiers, so plans were in progress for a raid on Fort Garland to distract the federal army as it moved to engage General Sibley to the south. Before the planned raid Colonel Heffner had allowed many of the soldiers to take a break and visit home. At the same time the federal authorities had become aware of the location of the Confederate Camp and raided the encampment. Those soldiers in the camp were taken prisoner without a fight, but the majority of the troopers where on furlough and not in the camp when the raid occurred. Had the Camp been at regimental strength that day Colorado might have witnessed its first battle of the War. With the camp disbanded and Confederates taken prisoner the planned raid on Fort Garland was abandoned and many of the Confederate recruits simply blended back into the crowd of miners and supply merchants, focused on making money and not the glory of fighting.

By this time The Army of New Mexico had advanced to Santa Fe and was moving towards Fort Union along the Santa Fe Trail through Glorietta Pass. The ensuing battle from Apache Canyon, Pigeon Ranch, and Johnson’s Ranch ended with the Confederate’s holding the field of battle but losing their supply train. With the loss of the much needed supplies General Sibley decided to withdraw from New Mexico as pushing any further was not going to result in total victory. Colonel Heffner, his officers, including Captain Madison, and any remaining troopers in Colorado were ordered to join the Army of New Mexico as it retreated back down the Rio Grande into the Confederate territory of Arizona and on to El Paso. During this march Captain Madison was assigned to lead troops of the 2nd Mounted Texas Rifles. This unit was under the overall command of Lt Colonel John Baylor, Confederate Governor of Arizona. Madison stayed at Mesilla, the Confederate capital of the Arizona Territory, as the Army of New Mexico moved from El Paso back to its home on San Antonio.

Captain Madison served under Lt. Colonel Baylor in the Arizona Territory from April through June of 1862. During this time his leadership skills gained a promotion to the rank of Colonel, as he fought smaller skirmishes with Native American and federal troops between Mesilla and Tucson. Tucson was eventually abandoned on May 14th, 1862, and Mesilla was abandoned by July 4th, as Confederate forces moved back to San Antonio. From this point Colonel Madison was assigned to the 3rd Texas Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade. This unit served in eastern Texas and the coast of Louisiana for the next few years. This unit would eventually be part of the Red River campaign in Louisiana in the spring of 1864. Madison was engaged at the Battle of Sabine Crossroads (Mansfield, La) on April 6th, 1864 and the Battle of Pleasant Hill on April 9th. In May, as part of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade, Madison participated in the battle at Yellow Bayou (Bayou DeGlaize or Norwoods Plantation).

By the summer of 1864 Colonel Madison wanted to organize an expedition to retake the Arizona/New Mexico territories. John Baylor, now a member of the Confederate Congress, had also been pushing Richmond to support a recapture of Arizona from federal control. In December 1864, Baylor proposed sending a force of 2,500 into the territories as well as creating alliances with Plains Indian tribes to break federal communications lines into the southwest. This proposal was supported by the Confederate War Department, and approved by President Davis. Madison was prepared to lead troops back into his home territory.

John Baylor was again commissioned as a Colonel in the Confederate States Army on March 25, 1865 and began travelling towards west Texas from Richmond. While in route Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9th. Baylor passed through Shreveport, Louisiana and on May 14th , finding the Army of the Trans-Mississippi in disintegration, proceeded into Texas and ended up in Huntsville as General Kirby Smith surrendered, thus ending the War in the Trans-Mississippi. Colonel George Madison never fulfilled his desire to retake Arizona for the Confederacy. Very little information is known about George Madison after the end of the War.

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