Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Battle of Massard Prairie - July 27, 1864

Massard Prairie Battlefield Park
The 27th of this month will mark the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Massard Prairie, which took place in 1864 at Fort Smith.

The battle was an overwhelming Confederate victory and resulted in the death, wounding or capture of 151 Union soldiers from the 6th Kansas Cavalry and the capture of a large amount of arms, ammunition and other supplies from that regiment. The Confederates lost 33 killed, wounded or missing in the battle.

News of the cavalry fight was widely reported in both North and South during the weeks and months after the battle. Over the next week I will post some of the accounts that appeared in the newspapers of both sides.

The following is from the October 5, 1864, issue of the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle and Sentinel which in turn was quoting the Meridian (Mississippi) Clarion:

An account is given of a brilliant little victory that was gained early in August by a party of Choctaw and Texas troops, all under Gen. Gano. The fighting took place five miles S.E. of Fort SMith, in Mesard Prairie. The Lincolnite forces consisting of the "Kansas Sixth" and the so-called home guards. The first had long been a "crack" regiment, alike noted for its ferocity, fanaticism and brutality. Gen. Gano divided his Texans into two bodies, while the Choctaws formed a third. One held in person on the center, whilst the others executed a flanking movement on either hand.

Advancing to the summit of an eminence where Yankee balls were whizzing all around him, Col. Folsom prevailed on his Choctaws to accompany him over a broad space to the face of the enemy. The other bodies charged simultaneously, and the robbers finding themselves previously assailed in front and on both flanks, commenced a skedaddle from the rear, whilst others fought with desperation, until assured of quarters, when they surrendered. - Many of our men clubbed with their guns and dealt stunning blows; several guns were in this way broken. One hundred and twenty-seven were captured and about sixty killed. The pursuit was kept up to within two miles of Ft. Smith. The number of the enemy's wounded could not be ascertained. Our men obtained a rich booty - 200 Sharp's rifles, 400 revolvers, hundreds of excellent saddles, a considerable number of over coats and many other things.

The Battle of Massard Prairie and a subsequent attack against the outer defenses of Fort Smith forced the Federals to pull most of their troops into the line of rifle pits and batteries that surrounded the city. This opened the door for the successful Confederate crossing of the Arkansas River that led to the stunning victory at Cabin Creek in what is now Oklahoma. The Cabin Creek fight resulted in one of the greatest supply captures of the entire Civil War.

To learn more about the Battle of Massard Prairie, please consider my book on the topic. It is also available in Amazon Kindle format. You can read more about the battle at

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