Battle of Picacho Peak - Confederate Pickets Defeat Union Cavalry Patrol

The Skirmish of Picacho Pass (also known as the Battle of Picacho Pass or Peak ) was fought on April 15, 1862 near Picacho Peak, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Tucson, Arizona, USA. It was fought between a Union cavalry patrol from California and a party of Confederate pickets from Tucson, and 3 Union soldiers were killed. The engagement was a tactical draw, as both sides withdrew from the field. Though actually little more than a skirmish, it has been considered the western-most engagement of the American Civil War, although a few weeks earlier a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops had occurred farther west at Stanwix Station with no fatalities, one Union private having received a shoulder wound. (There was also a July 1862 battle at Apache Pass in Arizona, fought between Union cavalry and Apache led by Cochise; however, since Cochise killed Union and Confederate troops with impartiality, this should be differentiated as a Civil War era engagement but not actually a Civil War battle.)

The skirmish took place on a slight rise overlooking Picacho Pass, a narrowing of the historic desert road along the Overland Stage route. This is a transportation corridor still channeling the transcontinental railroad and an interstate highway between a volcanic peak and the nearby Picacho mountain range. On April 15, 1862 (some authorities indicate April 16) a cavalry detachment of 14 troops rode into an ambush laid by 10 Confederate scouts from Captain Sherod Hunter’s company of Rangers recently posted at Tucson, 14 miles to the south. Two Union troops were killed on site and one mortally wounded. Three others were also wounded.