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Walking from Los Angeles, California to Picacho Peak, Arizona in 1862

Walk with me. It's 1862 and we're volunteers for the California Column, under the command of Colonel James H. Carleton of the Union Army, Los Angeles, California. Our plan is to march to Tucson Arizona, where the Confederate army has advanced to, and stop them from getting any further west.

The first thing we'll need to do is to walk due south to San Pedro, and then on to San Diego. It'll be a pleasant walk, along the coast, with refreshing sea breezes, and interesting towns along the way. Do you have your flask of whiskey? I have mine!

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> When we get to San Diego, we can start heading east towards Yuma, which where we'll cross the Colorado River. If it's dry, we can walk across, if not, there's a ferry at the Fort. That'll be a long walk there from San Diego, but I'm sure that they'll have some vittles for us to eat, and hopefully some whiskey!

Once we leave there, we just need to follow the Gila River northeast. The native people there will help, especially the Maricopas, and the Pimas. Good people.

OK, now this is the tricky part. Right where the Gila River bends we need to veer off and walk east towards the Pima Villages. There'll be water there, which is important as we'll be in the desert and far away from the river at that point.

From the Pima Villages we need to start walking south-southeast, following the old trail to Tucson. I hear that Johnny Reb is there and we aim to clear him out, and keep him from getting another inch closer to California!

Boy-howdy, I don't know about you, but my feet are mighty sore from all that walking, and I really miss the ocean breezes. Dang, I think I've already finished off my whiskey, and I'm still thirsty! Hold on there, someone just said that they recognize that mountain right there, called Picacho Peak. And I think I just heard a shot! Here we go, we got ourselves a fight on our hands. Give me a swig of your whiskey, will ya, and let's get the job done - for Abe Lincoln, the Union, and California!

There's a lot of information on the Battle of Picacho Peak on the web, and in history books, but the best place to learn about it is where it happened, right next to Picacho Peak State Park. If you drive back and forth between Phoenix and Tucson, you'll see the pass where the battle was fought, on the west side of I-10. Look for the big black rock, that's exactly where it was, not far from the Dairy Queen.

For reference, the Pima Villages mentioned in this narrative were where the town of Maricopa is now, at 238 and 347, just about where Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino is. And yes, the Pima people still live there. And by the way, even though the Battle of Picacho Peak wasn't really a big battle, it was enough to make the Confederates leave Tucson just about right away.

Picacho Peak State Park
Park with hiking trails leading from a campground to a 1,500-ft.-high peak and Civil War battlefield.
Address: 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ 85141
Park is open year-round
Gates are closed from 10:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m.
Phone: (520) 466-3183

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