On this day in 1893, Edmund Kirby Smith, former commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy, died in Sewanee, Tennessee. The Florida native attended West Point, served in the Mexican War, and was an officer in the Second United States Cavalry on the frontier. He entered the Confederate service in 1861 and rose to the rank of lieutenant general in October 1862, when he was given command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, including Texas. His competent administration of the department, sometimes called "Kirby Smith's Confederacy," and successful defense of the region against Union general Nathaniel P. Banks's Red River campaign in 1864 were marred by his inability to cooperate amicably with his principal field commander, Gen. Richard Taylor. In February 1864 Smith was promoted to the rank of full general, and during this time he presided over the Marshall Conferences. Kirby Smith was almost the last Confederate general in the field, but in a hopelessly isolated situation he finally surrendered to Gen. Edward R. S. Canby in June 1865.
On this day in 1864, Civil War guerrilla leader William Quantrill was arrested by Confederate forces in Bonham, Texas. The Ohio native, wanted for murder in Utah by 1860, collected a group of renegades in the Kansas-Missouri area at the beginning of the Civil War. He fought with Confederate forces at the battle of Wilson's Creek in August 1861 but soon thereafter began irregular independent operations. Quantrill and his band attacked Union camps, patrols, and settlements. While Union authorities declared him an outlaw, Quantrill eventually held the rank of colonel in the Confederate forces. After his infamous sack of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of Union prisoners at Baxter Springs, Quantrill and his men fled to Texas in October of 1863. There he quarreled with his associate, William "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and his band preyed on the citizens of Fannin and Grayson counties. Acts of violence proliferated so much that regular Confederate forces had to be assigned to protect residents from the activities of the irregular Confederate forces, and Gen. Henry McCulloch determined to rid North Texas of Quantrill's influence. On March 28, 1864, when Quantrill appeared at Bonham as requested, McCulloch had him arrested on the charge of ordering the murder of a Confederate major. Quantrill escaped that day and returned to his camp near Sherman, pursued by more than 300 state and Confederate troops. He and his men crossed the Red River into Indian Territory. Except for a brief return in May, Quantrill's activities in Texas were at an end. Quantrill was killed by Union forces at the very end of the war.
On this day in 1862, Union and Confederate troops fought the key battle of the Civil War in the Far West at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico. When the Texans of Brig. Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley's Army of New Mexico were defeated by Union forces, Confederate ambitions in the West were checked. In June 1987 a mass grave containing more than thirty bodies, casualties of the battle of Glorieta, was discovered. Only three bodies were identified, among them that of Ebenezer Hanna, the youngest fatality of the battle. All the bodies were reburied in Santa Fe National Cemetery in 1993. Hanna's journal is now in the Texas State Library.