Edward Hatch was born in Bangor, Maine on December 22, 1832. He served in the U. S. Army in the 1800s and rose to the rank of Brigadier General. Hatch was the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Scott Hatch. He did not start out to have a military career. After attending Norwich Military Academy in Vermont, he became a lumber dealer in Iowa and later served as a merchant seaman, both unlikely prefaces to a military career. Hatch joined the U. S. Army prior to the Civil War, entering as a private. He helped organize the 2nd Iowa Cavalry and in 1861 was serving there with the rank of Captain as the war began.
Hatch was still serving with the 2nd Iowa in Tennessee and Mississippi in the spring of 1862 and it was there that he achieved some notoriety. Union troops under General Paine were in retreat near Farmington, Mississippi when Hatch was ordered to the front to help defend Union forces as they tried to withdraw. An eyewitness account in the Annals of Iowa recalled Hatch being ordered by Paine to advance and then leading the charge against the Confederate troops “with sabres drawn.” His counterattack helped end the Confederate advance. A fellow colonel was critical of Paine’s risky order and said of Hatch’s men, “That is my regiment and they will charge Hell if ordered, but I did not expect to have them ordered there!”
Much of Hatch’s recorded service after that was also in Mississippi as he took part in the decisive Battle of Corinth and Grierson’s Raid. Corinth is located just south of the Tennessee border and was a key location due to being situated where two major rail lines crossed. After the battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, Union troops advanced on and beseiged Corinth. Confederate troops led by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard attempted to defend their positions, but ultimately retreated and regrouped, planning to attempt to retake the vital city. The Confederates began their attack in early October, 1862 under Gens. Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price with their 22,000 troops going up against against 23,000 entrenched Federal troops. After several days, almost 5,000 Confederate and 2,500 Federal losses, the Confederates were forced to concede and withdraw, preventing them from stopping the Union march to the south from Tennessee. During this action, Hatch was in command of a brigade.
Hatch also participated in Grierson’s Raid, named for Union Col. Benjamin Grierson, a cavalry officer, who led a raid into Confederate held territory as part of the Vicksburg campaign. Taking the idea from Confederate raiders like Jeb Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest who had create havoc in Union territory by similar tactics, Grierson commanded the 1,700 combined troops of the 6th and 7th Illinois and Hatch’s 2nd Iowa cavalries. Operating from April 17 to May 2, 1863, their objective was to venture into Confederate held territory and generate mayhem by destroying rail lines and railway equipment, burning buildings and supplies, destroying rail trestles and bridges. They would sometimes wear Confederate uniforms to further confuse their foes. It was a brilliantly conceived and executed plan that resulted in very few Union casualties while contributing to much confusion and loss of vital supplies for the Confederates.
Grierson was also an unlikely military cavalry commander, having been a music teacher in civilian life. Furthermore, he was reputed to hate horses due to an accident in which he was kicked by a horse as a youth. Hatch again was involved in this successful action. Hatch was wounded in 1863 and was reassigned to command a cavalry depot in St. Louis, Missouri during his convalescence. He received a promotion to Brigadier General in April, 1864. He served in the Tennessee campaigns leading troops in Franklin and Nashville where he saw the last of his Civil War combat.
Hatch left the Civil War volunteer force in 1866 but remained in the post war Army, receiving command as colonel and first commander of the 9th U. S. Cavalry, a Buffalo Soldier regiment, and briefly served as head of the Department of the Southwest, an organizational unit of the Army.
The 9th Cavalry served with distinction in campaigns against the Utes, the Comanche, and the Apache. In New Mexico, the 9th served at Forts Bayard, McRae, Wingate, Stanton and Selden. It also took part in maintaining order during the El Paso Salt War and the Wyoming Cattle War. Forty-four soldiers were killed in action, twenty-eight of whome died in battles with the Apache. Eleven members of this regiment received the Medal of Honor for their actions between 1870 and 1890.
Hatch also served as head of the Military District of New Mexico and gained a reputation as an Indian fighter. During his career he is credited with negotiating a reservation treaty with the Ute Indians, participating in the hunt for Mescalero Apache Chief Victorio and serving with honor in several other postings. Hatch died at the age of 66 in April, 1889 while serving at Fort Robinson, Dawes County, Nebraska. His remains were transported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he was interred.
The town of Hatch, in Doña Ana County, had several tentative starts. It is on the site of a settlement known as Santa Barbara, founded in 1851 and abandoned by settlers due to successful Apache raids. Two years later, it sprang up again when the Army established Fort Thorn close by, only to be abandoned once more when the fort was closed in the late 1850s. Finally, it gained a foothold around 1875 when it was renamed for Edward Hatch and has been continuously occupied ever since. It is an agricultural community known all over the United States for its chiles, exported in all major markets of the country.
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