Sunday, November 28, 2004
Breakfast With Carolyn Calceran, Great Granddaughter of Major Trevanion Teel, C.S.A.
NOB HILL--This morning in the Flying Star I spotted Carolyn Calceran and had a chance to talk briefly with her about her noted grandfather.
The most famous officer in the Sibley's army in New Mexico was Major Trevanion Teel, C.S.A. He was in charge of half of Gen. Sibley's artillery, and is responsible for burying the cannons just north of Old Town. The cannons on display in Old Town Plaza are replicas of a couple of these 12 pound mountain howitzers. The actual pieces are in the Albuquerque Museum.
The cannons were buried during the Confederate retreat following the battle at Glorietta. They needed the carriages to transport wounded and supplies, so they buried 8 cannon barrels in a corral just northeast of the Plaza...about where the Albuquerque Museum is now. Major Teel was in charge of the operation.
The Confederate retreat from Glorietta is one of the most heroic sagas in New Mexico history. An account detailing what happened to the cannons on that trip can be found in a recently published article in El Defensor Chieftan. After losing everything at Glorietta, including ammo, food, water wagons, livestock, etc. the Texas volunteers marched back through Albuquerque heading south. At Bernardo they were forced to leave the river in order to avoid the Union forces at Fort Craig. They did not rejoin the river until they got south of the San Mateo Mountains. This journey, without food or water except what they could carry as individuals, was epic. They abandoned more cannons south of Ladron Peak. Ladron Peak can be seen in the distance on the right as you leave Albuquerque heading south on I-25.
The only cannons Maj. Teel was able to keep were the ones he captured from the Union forces at the Battle of Valverde...there were 5 of them. The Rebels were too stubborn to abandon the only thing they had to show for their foray into New Mexico. The most famous of these captured pieces was "The Blue Whistler" which saw action later in the Mexican Revolution.
Long after the war was over, Trevanion Teel returned to Albuquerque from El Paso where he was a lawyer and helped dig up the 8 buried artillery pieces. A former student of mine once told me that his grandfather had witnessed the excavation and had said the the barrels were stuffed with Confederate money.
Carolyn Calceran is Maj. Teel's Great Granddaughter. She sometimes eats Sunday breakfast at the Flying Star with her husband. I forgot to ask her how she ended up in Albuquerque. Her family's story is a wonderful and important part of our history.
One last thing...during the retreat, a carriage had to be abandoned in the Rio Salado valley north of Magdalena. Wrapped around one of the uprights for the canopy was an oil painting stolen from a residence in Albuquerque. It was a picture of Napolean: the one with the horse. When Teel was on his way to Albuquerque after the war, he had occasion to stop at a Catholic church in Socorro. On the wall was the picture of Napolean. The priest said it was a picture of a saint. Teel informed him that Napolean was no saint. What became of the picture I do not know.