Book Review: Rebels in the Rockies: Confederate Irregulars in the Western Territories


by Walter Earl Pittman

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014. Pp. viii, 252. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 0786478209

An Overlooked Episode of the Civil War

In his newest work Pittman, who earlier gave us New Mexico and the Civil War, takes a look at secessionist irregulars in the far western theater, from the Texas frontier to the Pacific Coast, albeit with rather more attention to New Mexico and New Mexicans than other territories and people. 

Pittman opens by noting that Confederate sympathizers were not unknown in the western territories.  He then discusses the initial efforts by these greatly outnumbered secessionist sympathizers to bring California, Arizona, and New Mexico into the Confederacy, which failed largely through the swift mobilization of Unionist supporters. Some of these secessionists went on to become irregulars, contesting Union control and abetting the eventually unsuccessful Confederate invasion of New Mexico in 1862. With the defeat of that effort, some irregulars engaged in raiding, even as far as Colorado, while others supported Confederate operations further east, notably in Louisiana. 

Pittman covers these many activities, and the men – merchants, gamblers, soldiers, adventurers – who took part in them, in most cases giving us the first coherent account of many events. This is an excellent contribution to the history of the Civil War in the far west and the study of irregular operations during the war.


Note: Rebels in the Rockies is also available as an e-book, 978-1-4766-1438-0.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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