Monday, October 13, 2008
Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part One
On July 17, 1863, Union and Confederate forces engaged in a fierce battle along Elk Creek, a sluggish stream that flows through the Creek or Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma.
Sometimes called the "Gettysburg of the West," the engagement is known today as the Battle of Honey Springs or Elk Creek and was a dramatic Union victory that changed the course of the war in the West.
The battle took place when Union General James Blunt, suffering with fever, learned that a Confederate army was assembling at Honey Springs Depot on the Texas Road near present-day Checotah. Then at Fort Gibson (called Fort Blunt by Union forces), Blunt decided to strike the General Douglas H. Cooper's gathering Confederate force before the Southern general could move against his own command.
The result was one of the more dramatic rapid campaigns of the Civil War. Blunt moved 3,000 men and 12 pieces of artillery across the swollen Arkansas River, drove back Confederate pickets and slammed into Cooper's main force at Elk Creek.
The battle was unique because the forces of both sides were multi-racial in nature. Blunt's command included white, Native American and African American soldiers, while Cooper's force included both white and Native American troops.
As our series continues tomorrow, we will begin to retrace the Honey Springs campaign with a look at Blunt's command post at Fort Gibson (Blunt).