February 21: The Battle of Valverde, the Founding of NASCAR, and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events have taken place on February 21 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1862 – American Civil War: Engagements in Confederate Arizona: the Battle of Valverde
We’ve covered a number of battles fought in Mississippi, Virginia, and Tennessee, but how about the battles fought in the Wild Wild West? The Battle of Valverde, or the Battle of Valverde Ford, was fought from February 20 to 21, 1862, near the town of Valverde at a ford in Valverde Creek in Confederate Arizona, in what is today the state of New Mexico. It was a major Confederate success in the New Mexico Campaign of the American Civil War. The belligerents were Confederate cavalry from Texas and several companies of Arizona militia versus U.S. Army regulars and Union volunteers from northern New Mexico and the Colorado Territory.
Left in possession of the battlefield, the Confederates gained the victory but had suffered substantial casualties, reporting 36 killed, 150 wounded, and one missing out of 2,590 men. Due to the strength of the fort's walls, Confederate General Sibley decided to abandon his attempt to capture the fort and instead continued northwards towards Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where he hoped to capture much needed supplies. However, he was severely hampered by the losses in horses and mules from the battle, which forced him to dismount the 4th Texas as infantry and to destroy some supplies and wagons.
Union General Canby reported that his forces had 3 officers and 65 men killed, 3 officers and 157 men wounded, and 1 officer and 35 men missing for a total of 264. He also had additional missing and deserters (mostly deserters) thus suffering a 16% casualty rate, including deserters, of about 432 men out of 2,800 men engaged.
Considering himself to be outnumbered, he chose not to pursue Sibley, instead sending mounted detachments of New Mexico volunteers against the Confederates' rear for harassment. He would remain with the main body at Fort Craig to cut off the Confederates' supply line and to intercept reinforcements for Sibley, eventually hoping to pin the main Confederate body between himself and Union reinforcements from Fort Union.
1918 – The death of the last Carolina parakeet
The Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) or Carolina conure was a small green neotropical parrot with a bright yellow head, reddish orange face, and pale beak native to the eastern, midwest, and plains states of the United States and was the only indigenous parrot within its range, as well as one of only two parrots native to the United States (the other being the thick-billed parrot).
It was truly American kind of a bird, since it could only be found in the territory from southern New York and Wisconsin to Kentucky, Tennessee and the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic seaboard to as far west as eastern Colorado. It lived in old-growth forests along rivers and in swamps.
It was called puzzi la née ("head of yellow") or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chickasaw. Though formerly prevalent within its range, the bird had become rare by the middle of the 19th century. The last confirmed sighting in the wild was of the ludovicianus subspecies in 1910. The last known specimen perished in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo back on February 21, 1918.
1948 – Founding of NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing. Its three largest or national series are the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Regional series include the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, the Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Pinty's Series NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. It was founded on this date in 1948.
Nowadays NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 48 US states as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. NASCAR has presented races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. NASCAR also ventures into eSports via the PEAK Antifreeze NASCAR iRacing Series and a sanctioned ladder system on that title. The privately owned company was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948, and his grandson Brian France has been CEO since 2003. The company's headquarters are in Daytona Beach, Florida. Internationally, its races are broadcast on television in over 150 countries.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on February 21, at least in our view.