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Stanwix Station

Stanwix Station

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Stanwix Station, in western Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach
Stagecoach
A stagecoach is a type of covered wagon for passengers and goods, strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places of rest provided for stagecoach travelers...

 line built in the later 1850s near the Gila River
Gila River
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 650 miles long, in the southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona.-Description:...

 about 80 miles (128.7 km) east of Yuma, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Yuma is a city in and the county seat of Yuma County, Arizona, United States. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state, and the population of the city was 77,515 at the 2000 census, with a 2008 Census Bureau estimated population of 90,041....

. Originally the station was called Flap Jack Ranch later Grinnell's Ranch or Grinnell's Station. In 1862, Grinnell's was listed on the itinerary of the California Column
California Column
The California Column, a force of Union volunteers, marched from April to August 1862 over 900 miles from California, across the southern New Mexico Territory to the Rio Grande and then into western Texas during the American Civil War. At the time, this was the longest trek through desert terrain...

 in the same place as Stanwix Ranch or Stanwix Station
Stanwix Station
Stanwix Station, in western Arizona, was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach line built in the later 1850s near the Gila River about east of Yuma, Arizona. Originally the station was called Flap Jack Ranch later Grinnell's Ranch or Grinnell's Station...

 which became the site of the westernmost skirmish of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. A traveler in 1864, John Ross Browne
John Ross Browne
John Ross Browne , often called J. Ross Browne, date of birth sometimes given as 1917, was an Irish-born American traveler, artist and writer.-Biography:...

, said Grinnell's was six miles southwest of the hot springs of Agua Caliente.

Skirmish at Stanwix Station


The westernmost skirmish of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 that occurred at Stanwix Station took place on March 30, 1862, when Capt. William P. Calloway and a vanguard of 272 troops from the California Column
California Column
The California Column, a force of Union volunteers, marched from April to August 1862 over 900 miles from California, across the southern New Mexico Territory to the Rio Grande and then into western Texas during the American Civil War. At the time, this was the longest trek through desert terrain...

 discovered a small detachment of Confederates led by 2nd Lt. John W. Swilling
Jack Swilling
John W. "Jack" Swilling founded the city of Phoenix, Arizona, in 1867. Other pioneers and travelers had seen and commented on the ancient Hohokam canals in that area, but it was J. W. Swilling who organized the first successful modern irrigation project in Arizona's Salt River Valley...

 burning hay, which had been placed at Stanwix Station for the California Column
California Column
The California Column, a force of Union volunteers, marched from April to August 1862 over 900 miles from California, across the southern New Mexico Territory to the Rio Grande and then into western Texas during the American Civil War. At the time, this was the longest trek through desert terrain...

's animals. After a brief exchange of gun fire with the much larger Union force, the Confederates retreated to Tucson
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

, the capital of the western district of the Confederate Territory of Arizona
Arizona Territory (CSA)
The Territory of Arizona was a territory claimed by the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, between 1861 and 1865. It consisted of the portion of the New Mexico Territory south of the 34th parallel north including parts of the modern states of New Mexico and Arizona. Its...

. The skirmish resulted in the wounding of a German born Union private named William Semmilrogge, who subsequently recovered. There appear to have been no other casualties.

The significance of the incident was twofold. First, the burning of hay, not only at Stanwix but at five other former stagecoach stations along the Gila River
Gila River
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 650 miles long, in the southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona.-Description:...

 east of Fort Yuma, considerably delayed the California Column's advance and prevented them from reaching Mesilla
Mesilla, New Mexico
Mesilla is a town in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 2,180 at the 2000 census...

, the territorial capital of Confederate Arizona, before the Confederates had evacuated almost all of their forces and removed or destroyed the supplies gathered for the Union advance by Ammi S. White. Secondly, and of more immediate importance, Swilling was able to reach Tucson and warn Capt. Sherod Hunter
Sherod Hunter
Sherod Hunter was the commander of the Confederate unit operating against Union Army forces in present day Arizona during the American Civil War...

, district military commander of western Confederate Arizona, of the approaching California Column. This led Hunter to place pickets at strategic locations, leading to the Battle of Picacho Pass
Battle of Picacho Pass
The Battle of Picacho Pass or the Battle of Picacho Peak was an engagement of the American Civil War on April 15, 1862. The action occurred all around Picacho Peak, northwest of Tucson, Arizona...

, where ten Confederate pickets were attacked by a Union cavalry detachment of about twelve. This "battle" was also only a skirmish, distinguished from the Stanwix Station fight simply by the comparatively more severe casualties, three dead and three wounded Union soldiers.

Stanwix Station (SPRR)


When the stagecoach lines were replaced in the 1880's when the Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....

 built its railroad line into Arizona from Yuma, they built a station just to the east of the Maricopa County line on Stanwix Flats and called it Stanwix Station.