MAP OF SANTA FE NATIONAL CEMETERY
Santa Fe National Cemetery is located within the city limits of Santa Fe, N.M., approximately one mile northwest of the main plaza. Thirteen years before the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth Colony, the Spanish had established a small settlement in Santa Fe, N.M. Santa Fe would soon become the seat of power for the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande and the oldest capital city in North America. Santa Fe is the site of both the oldest public building in America, the Palace of the Governors, and the nation's oldest community celebration, the Santa Fe Fiesta, established in 1712 to commemorate the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico in summer 1692. Conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta and his men laid out the plan for Santa Fe at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the site of the ancient Pueblo ruin of Kaupoge, or “place of shell beads near the water.” When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Santa Fe became the capital of the province of New Mexico. With the Spanish defeat came an end to the policy of a closed empire; American trappers and traders journeyed into the region along the 1,000 mile Santa Fe trail beginning in Arrow Rock, Mo. For a brief period in 1837, northern New Mexico farmers rebelled against Mexican rule, killing the provincial governor in what has been called the Chimayó Rebellion, and occupying the capital. The insurrectionists were soon defeated and peace returned to Santa Fe for almost a decade. In 1846, at the outset of the Mexican-American War, President James K. Polk asked General Stephen Watts Kearny to muster an army and march 1,000 miles into the Southwest to claim that region for the United States and organize territorial governments along the way. Kearny, faced with a Mexican administration weakened by years of occupation and political turmoil, was able to take Santa Fe without firing a shot. In quick succession, he won over the local leadership, assured a peaceful transition to a new civilian government and implemented a new legal code for the territory before continuing on to Arizona and California. While there was little armed conflict in the territory of New Mexico during the Civil War, there were some engagements in the area of Santa Fe. Confederate General Henry H. Sibley raised and equipped a column to secure the secessionist claims in the New Mexico and Arizona region. Undermanned, often commanded by secessionist sympathizers and largely abandoned, the U.S. installations in the region were initially unable to defend themselves. News of the Confederate advance into New Mexico quickly raised volunteers from the Colorado Territory who took up the march. In addition, a large "California column" was raised to help defend the city of Santa Fe. Toward the end of March 1862, Union Major John M. Chivington encountered a Confederate force southeast of the city, where the Santa Fe Trail crossed the mountains. Several days of skirmishes culminated in a battle at Glorieta Pass. Although the Confederates held their own, several hundred Union soldiers moved to the far end of the canyon and attacked the unprotected supply train. After bayoneting the pack animals and burning the wagons, the Union forces left Sibley's men little choice but to make the long trek back to Texas. The campaign not only ended Southern ambitions in the Southwest but it also forced the Confederate abandonment of Fort Bliss outside El Paso, Texas. At the close of the Civil War, the federal government established a cemetery for the reinternment of Union soldiers who died during the brief military activity in the area. The ground initially chosen was located just west of Santa Fe and is currently part of Santa Fe National Cemetery. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Fe, who owned the property, donated the land to the United States in 1870. Santa Fe’s initial designation as a national cemetery was short lived. In July 1876, the War Department decided that, to save expenses, its status should be downgraded to that of a post cemetery. The superintendent was transferred to Mound City National Cemetery, Ill., and the quartermaster was transferred to Fort Macy, a local post in Santa Fe. Nine years later, however, it was re-established as a national cemetery.
Graves Z356A through Z475A photographed on 11/21/18.