Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove is One Week Away

Next weekend (December 6-7) will mark both the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the battlefield park.
The Battle of Prairie Grove was one of the bloodiest confrontations in the West and was a major battle of the Civil War. You can learn more about the history of the battle by clicking here.
Events are planned for both next Saturday (December 6) and Sunday (December 7) at Prairie Grove Battlefield State park to commemorate the battle itself as well as the establishment of the park.
A new painting of the battle will be unveiled by Andy Thomas on Saturday morning and limited edition prints will go on sale at 11 a.m. Visitors will be able to take part in guided tours through Union and Confederate camps and witness drills and other living history presentations.
Then at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, reenactors will portray the Battle of Prairie Grove on a section of the battlefield near the historic Borden House. The actual battle stretched for miles, but the reenactments will give visitors a chance to experience some of the sound and sights of an actual Civil War battle.
Admission to the park, reenactments and Hindman Hall Military Museum are all free for the weekend, but there is a $4 parking fee to park your car. There were will be concessions on the grounds so head out to Prairie Grove next weekend to enjoy a real step back in history.
I'll have more on the Battle of Prairie Grove and planned reenactment events over coming days.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Deadline approaching for Massard Prairie Christmas orders

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Battle of Massard Prairie: The 1864 Confederate Attacks on Fort Smith, Arkansas as a Christmas gift, please note that the printers have informed me they can guarantee delivery on orders placed before December 10th.
This book explores the history of the July 27, 1864, attack on the camp of the 6th Kansas Cavalry on the outskirts of Fort Smith. This engagement was significant because it was one of the few dramatic Confederate victories in Western Arkansas and because it involved one of the great open field cavalry charges of the war in the West.
The book is also available in Arkansas at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Northwest Arkansas and at the Fort Smith Museum of History in Fort Smith.
If you would like to read more about the Battle of Massard Prairie, please click here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Overgrown Grave of an Arkansas Soldier

This is the overgrown grave of Robert A. Worthington, a soldier in Company A, 3rd Arkansas Infantry.
Worthington is buried in the old Providence Methodist Church cemetery near the rim of Providence Canyon in Lumpkin, Georgia. Several other soldiers from his family are buried there as well, but they all served in Georgia regiments.
Raised in the Spring of 1861, the 3rd Arkansas served until the surrender of General Lee at Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia, and took part in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.
Battles involving the 3rd Arkansas included the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Chickamauga. Part of the famed Texas Brigade of Gen. John Bell Hood, the 3rd Arkansas ended the war with only 144 of its 1,353 soldiers still in service and able to fight.
Company A was known as the "Arkansas Travelers" at the beginning of the war and was raised in Ashley County (in the sourtheast corner of Arkansas). Worthington enlisted at Portland, Arkansas, on February 14, 1862, and was paroled at Albany, Georgia, on May 18, 1865.
If you are interested in reading more about Providence Canyon and the Providence Church in Georgia, please visit:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Flag of the C.S.S. Arkansas

This is the flag of the famed Southern ironclad C.S.S. Arkansas.
One of the most successful inland warships ever built by the Confederacy, the Arkansas was a unique, makeshift ironclad that was actually built in two places.
Work on the vessel started in Memphis in 1861, but when that city was captured by Union troops the unfinished gunboat was carried to the Yazoo River in Mississippi for completion.
On her maiden voyage, the Arkansas steamed down the Yazoo and smashed through a flotilla consisting of the Union warships Carondelet, Queen of the West and Tyler. The Queen escaped, but the Carondelet was driven aground by the Confederate warship. Heavy damage and casualties were inflicted on the Tyler as well.
Leaving the Yazoo, the ironclad entered the Mississippi and stormed through the Union river fleet to reach the cover of the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg.
The vessel eventually engaged additional Union warships on the Mississippi but finally was destroyed by her own crew after she experienced engine trouble about 5 miles above Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Her flag is now on display at the Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia. The museum preserves the wrecks of two Confederate warships as well as numerous artifacts relating to both the Confederate and Union navies. For more information, you can visit them at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Conclusion

This is the interpretive shelter in the memorial area at Honey Springs Battlefield State Park.
The battle was a decisive Union victory. Confederate losses were about twice those of the Federals, which were reported at 75 killed and wounded. Considering the severity of the fight and number of men engaged, however, casualties were not excessive.
Cooper also reported that he was able to remove most of his critical supplies from the field before retreating, although some flour, sugar and other items were burned.
General Blunt's army occupied the battlefield after the fight and buried the dead. The next day they returned to Fort Gibson (Blunt), citing lack of ammunition and supplies necessary for further pursuit of the Confederates. Cooper withdraw south to North Fork Town.
The Battle of Honey Springs opened the way for Blunt's capture of Fort Smith later that same summer. Any hopes that the Confederates held of recapturing Fort Gibson and driving the Federals out of Oklahoma ended along the banks of Elk Creek, making the battle one of the most strategic of the war in Indian Territory.
The site of the fighting is now preserved at Honey Springs Battlefield State Park just north of Checotah, Oklahoma. A fairly new park, it offers interpretive trails and a tour road as well as a small visitor center, memorial area and picnic tables. There are no camping facilities at the park.
Our new Battle of Honey Springs pages are now active, so for more information please visit

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part Thirteen

This is the monument area at the southern end of the Honey Springs Battlefield. Memorials here honor soldiers of both sides and all races.
The monuments stand on the slope of a ridge near the site of the Honey Springs Depot. This entire area was a massive Confederate supply center at the time of the battle. General Cooper was gathering material here for his planned move north against the Federals at Fort Gibson (Blunt) and elsewhere in the region.
As the Federals pushed south, fighting the resisting Confederates, Cooper ordered the supplies that could be removed quickly taken out and the rest of them burned. Union eyewitnesses reported seeing massive clouds of smoke rising over the depot as they fought their way across the battlefield.
Realizing that the battle was lost, General Cooper finally ended the fighting and pulled his men from the battlefield. Instead of retreating south as expected, he moved his men east, believing that this might slow any Federal pursuit by creating the ruse that he was moving to effect a junction with reinforcements coming up from Fort Smith.
The Union force, however, was exhausted from its long march down from Fort Gibson and the day of fighting. General Blunt ordered his men to take up positions on the battlefield for the night and, other than occasional skirmish fire, the fighting came to a close.
Our series on the Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma, will continue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part Twelve

As the Confederates were driven back from the ground along Elk Creek, General Cooper made one last effort to stop the oncoming Federals.
Forming the 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment on this ridge near the southern end of the battlefield, Cooper attacked the Union forces as they approached down the Texas Road:
The Choctaw, under Colonel Walker, opportunely arrived at this time, and under my personal direction charged the enemy, who had now planted a battery upon the tibered ridge about 1,000 yards north of Honey Springs. With their usual intrepidity, the Choctaws went at them, giving the war-whoop, and succeeded in checking the advance of the enemy until their force could be concentrated and all brought up.
The charge by the Choctaw and Chickasaw soldiers was particularly brave when it is noted that they were armed with some of the worst weapons used during the war. A report the following year indicated that many of their guns would barely fire and were almost useless in battle. At Honey Springs their ammunition also failed them. Dampened from weather conditions, few Confederates could even fire their guns by this time of the battle and the Choctaw and Chickasaw charged into the face of well armed Union troops with virtually no ability to return fire.
Discouraged by the state of their arms and ammunition, the Native American soldiers withdrew ahead of the now reformed Union forces and provided cover for the rear of Cooper's column as it withdrew from the battlefield.
Our series on the Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma, will continue.

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part Eleven

This view was taken at the Honey Springs Battlefield on the south side of Elk Creek.
The open ground in the photograph is what remains of the old causeway that led up to the Civil War bridge. The bridge itself began just beyond the signs visible here. The green trees in the background are actually on the opposite side of the creek.
This was the critical objective of the Battle of Honey Springs. As the Confederates fell back from their main position north of the creek, holding the bridge became vital if they hoped to beat back the Union assault and defend their stockpiles of supplies at Honey Springs Depot. For the Federal forces, seizing the bridge intact provided them with control of the Texas Road and access to those some supplies.
Despite an intense fight, the shattered Confederate lines could not hold the bridge. General Cooper ordered a withdrawal and Union troops stormed across the bridge and onto the causeway visible here, pushing Southern soldiers back ahead of them.
The focus of the battle now shifted to the south side of Elk Creek.
Our series on the Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma, will continue.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part Ten

This is a view of Elk Creek from the Civil War bridge site on the Honey Springs battlefield.
As the main Confederate line crumbled, the bridge and two adjacent fords became critical objectives for the attacking Union forces. Southern troops waged a fierce fight for control of the crossings and heavy fighting took place along the northern (left) bank of the creek here.
By this stage of the battle, however, things were going badly for the Confederate defenders. Once his main line broke, General Cooper was not able to put enough men into position fast enough to hold back the Union advance. The battle degenerated into more of a fighting retreat as Southern officers tried to hold back Blunt's oncoming force long enough to withdraw most of their men across Elk Creek and save or destroy their stockpiles of supplies to the rear at Honey Springs Depot.
The bridge over Elk Creek no longer stands, but an interpretive trail leads from the tour road to the remains of the earthen causeway that led to the wooden bridge. The area is heavily wooded and a series of interpretive panels help visitors understand the nature of the fighting in the vicinity.
Our series on the Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma, will continue.