Clipped From Tucson Daily Citizen
: FAGE 22 T U C S O N D A I L Y C I T I Z E N - . i U Desert, Â· Â· MONDAY, JUNE, J2, 1972 Battalion memorial Copper plaque honors Army's .1846 Morinon Battalion. Photos and text by Dan Tortorell A 'scouting party of Confederate Confederate cavalrymen skirted along the" dusty escarpment of Picacho Peak. Sweat blended blended with trail dust to give men and animals a claylike, appearance appearance as 'they moved single file through shadows cast by the saguaros. Suddenly a dozen soldiers of the Union forces attacked from behind,. In the brief skirmish, fne men were killed. The incident, on April 15, 1862. -warranted but a few paragraphs in the Civil Wai- archives, but local history buffs claim the Battle of Picacho Picacho Pass was'the only engagement engagement bought on Arizona soil. Where soldiers fall in battle, monuments to their memory rise. In 1928 the Arizona Pioneer Pioneer Historical Society and the Southern Pacific Co. erected a pyramid shaft of native native lava rock with a bronze plaque to the memory of there Union soldiers buried at the battle site. Picacho Peak State Park grew around the monument, and for years the area was a favorite rest stop for tourists traveling old U.S. 84 between Tucson and Phoenix. A second monument across the road honors a Mormon battalion which, on Dec. 17,1846, camped at the site during a long infantry march. With the coming of the interstate interstate highway, U.S. 84 became an. access xoad, and the park Â·was nudged into obsolescence Slowly, nature began a reclamation reclamation process. Desert growth returned and rodents found cool refuge under foundations. Rains gullied the burrows undermining the concrete pads, and brush and weeds began began to camouflage man-made scars OIL the landscape. But deeper scarring was yet to come. The seldom-patrolled area Bypassed watering post 'A fountain and tub recall busy days before completion of 1-10. obliterating old monument became a nest for beer busts and aa uncharted camping ground for transients. The area is choked with litter. Â· Several years ago vandals scaled the rocky pinnacle" and ripped away the bronze plaque. . The Mormon plaque is snugged into copper-bearing rock nearby. Several of the rocks have been removed, Â·however, and the plaque is open prety to further vandalism. vandalism. . - ' Â· " An An old, weathered park sign, engulfed by brush, lies untethered, ravaged occasionally occasionally for fuel Saguaros around the old monument bear the scars of rock-throwing marksmen. marksmen. ?; : . Â· Stall quiet and restful, the park has become a refuge for the living things of the desert. Families of quail parade, double-time, along the dusty footpaths. Noise from. the nearby interstate highway is muted by the forest of creosote creosote bushes and palo verde trees. In -the ;quiet can be' heard the warblings of cactus wrens harmonizing to the funereal funereal tempo of the dove. Beneath,the monument lie the remains of:. Lieut. James Barnett.Pvt. George Johnson, and Pvt--William's: Leonard, of the Union army. Their heroism heroism was cited 'during the unveiling unveiling of the monument. Gov. George W.'P. Hunt, Arizona's first governor, gave the dedicatory dedicatory speech and taps were sounded, just 44 years ago. Rusty claws which once embraced embraced the stolen plaque now reveal only th'at the monument monument once had significance. Its identity discarded, the lonely rock shaft jutting out of the weeds stirs the curious passersby. It also stimulates the ingenuity of others as they pause in homage to place a garland of beer cans into the groping iron claws. Â· Fire-seared park sign The old Picacho Peak sign sagging in the absence of maintenance, is disappearing as campers use it for fueL Lettering on the sign is now nearly obliterated. Missing marker This memorial plaque is gone--vandals took it. Tourists'lei Beer and oil cans honor Civil War dead today. Dedication ceremony, 1928 . . . Â· . . Â·Â· . ; . - - . Â· . . - Â· ; . . Â· ' . . ' ' Â·. J Â· ' ; GQV. George W. P. Hunt, fourth from left, was among Picacho memorial. The shaft bearing'the plaque the prominent ArSzonans who helped dedicate the was made of lava rock. Desecration without ceremony, 1972 The park was once filled by early-day auto tourists. Now, only a few campers come, leaving litter and a ruined memorial. Cans on the memorial are used targets for rocks.