Confederate memorial erected in Socorro cemetery

by Suzanne Barteau
February 18, 2012

A monument to commemorate the sacrifice of Confederate soldiers who "gave their all to liberate our beloved Texas and southland" 150 years ago in the Civil War has been erected in the western-most portion of Socorro’s cemetery.

The marker, and the establishment here in Socorro of New Mexico’s only Confederate Memorial Cemetery, is a project of the New Mexico Confederate Historical Society, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Texas Division, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, New Mexico Division.

A ceremony to mark the occasion will be a featured event during next week’s Civil War re-enactments of the Battle of Valverde and the Battles for Socorro in 1862.

Charles Mandeville, a local re-enactor who has worked tirelessly to promote this project, is a stickler for details.

"This is a design that emulates confederate headstones throughout the south," Mandeville said. "If you notice, it has a pointed top. Federal headstones are rounded on top. The reason for the pointed top was because Confederate veterans never wanted a Yankee to be able to sit on their headstone."

Just by looking at the tops of the headstones, it’s possible to stand in a turn-of-the-century cemetery anywhere in the country and pick out the graves of Confederate soldiers, Mandeville said.

The memorial weighs 5,300 pounds, and is made from a pink granite quarried from central Texas.

"Just like all the Civil War monuments you see on Civil War battlefields everywhere," Mandeville said.

The dedication ceremony will be attended by members of the hierarchy of the New Mexico Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, as well as some descendants of Texas soldiers who fought in the New Mexico campaign.

"We’re hoping to have some cavalry and artillery, and we’ll have some infantry," Mandeville said.

The event is scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, and the public is invited. From the cemetery, the infantry and cavalry will proceed down Blue Canyon Road in the direction of the plaza, to take part in the re-enactment of the Battles for Socorro scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

The Battles for Socorro began on the evening of Feb. 24, 1862, and ended early the next morning when Union forces in Socorro surrendered, marking a period of about nine weeks when the town was occupied by Confederate soldiers.

On Saturday morning, Feb. 25, the re-enactors will recreate the Battle of Valverde, which actually happened three days before the occupation of Socorro, on Feb. 21, 1862.

Copyright © 2012 El Defensor Chieftain

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