Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Battle for Yuma
The fighting along the California-Jefferson border proved to be the only bright spot in the entire Confederate war effort. Even a month after the battle of Gettysburg and weeks after the disaster at Cairo, the Confederate western hook reached its apex. The advance across Jefferson was slow, not even reaching within a hundred kilometers of California by the time of Gettysburg. Battle was too strong a word to describe the conflict out west. Since the start of the war, the State of Jefferson has been nothing but a four-month long running battle, skirmishes between small units. The battles were mobile, but consisted of mechanized infantry and artillery. Only a few tanks were seen on either side of the battle. With a large portion of the aerospace industry in California, Americans had a decisive advantage in air power.
The start of August found the Confederate Army surrounding the city of Yuma. In the morning of August 5, Confederate forces stormed the town. For all day and night, both sides battled in street-to-street, and even house-to-house combat. By August 6, the Confederates had a firm toe-hold on the city. With more time, they likely would have crossed the Colorado River within a week. The battle ended that same day. It was not the fault of the local commander, Brigadier General Howard Wellington III, but the disasters back east forced Birmingham to recall all units out west.
The assault was abandoned after a day, and Confederate forces retreated across Jefferson. With American forces taking full advantage of the retreat, Wellington ordered a scorched Earth policy in his retreat. Railroads and highways were destroyed, any factories in the path of the Confederates were destroyed. Marginal farmlands were destroyed, along with the irrigation network built up by both American and Confederate settlers over the past sixty years. Wellington later stood trial at Charleston for his actions in the retreat. Unlike most Confederates at the Charleston Trials, Wellington was not sentenced to death. Instead, he faced ten years in a federal prison, and upon release he left the restored Union to become an advisor to the rebel government in Mexico.