Picacho Peak Endangered
Most Endangered Battlefields 2010
Picacho Peak, AZ - April 15, 1862
IN FEBRUARY 1862, a band of Confederate Rangers under Capt. Sherod Hunter marched into the small, frontier settlement of Tucson and raised the Confederate flag. Hunter hoped to secure the Confederate Southwest and, in taking another step toward the Pacific, ultimately create an ocean-to-ocean Confederacy. But Union forces in California had other plans. In early April, Union Col. James H. Carleton formed a “Column from California” of 2,350 men, and set out across the lonely desert toward Tucson.
On April 15, Union cavalry under Lt. James Barrett met with Confederate Rangers near Picacho Peak, a rocky spire 50 miles northwest of Tucson. Barrett was killed almost immediately and fierce combat continued for more than an hour. Exhausted and leaderless, the Union cavalry retreated and returned to the main body to the north. Although the Rangers’ victory at Picacho Peak delayed the Union force, Carleton’s Californians took Tucson without firing a shot the following month.
The economic downturn has significantly decreased funding for a wide variety of state programs, particularly parks and other cultural sites. Although the problem is nationwide, no state park system has been harder hit than Arizona’s, which lost 61 percent of its park funding last summer and has laid off half of its employees in the last three years.
The budgetary situation has forced the shuttering of several state parks already, with another round of closures expected this summer. Only nine of the state’s parks will remain open to welcome visitors. Individual sites are seeking their own means of meeting operational expenses, including partnering with local governments, charging temporary admission fees and seeking private donations. In the case of Picacho Peak State Park, unless an interim solution can be found, the site will close to the public on June 3, 2010, without any definitive plans in place for its reopening.
CWSAC did not classify Picacho Peak in its 1993 report.