Monday, September 19, 2011

Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Part Two

Honey Springs Battlefield
The Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma, sometimes called the Gettysburg of the West, was fought not far from the city of Checotah on July 17, 1863. Please click here to read the first post in this series.

The fierce artillery exchange having failed to dislodge either army, despite the destruction of a couple of cannon, the two generals now prepared for direct infantry assault. General D.H. Cooper, commanding the Confederate army had roughly 1,700 more men and was positioned as well as possible in the edge of the heavy timber that bordered Elk Creek.  Despite his superiority in numbers, many of his men were using antiquated arms and faulty ammunition.

Slope down which the Federals attacked.
The Federals, led by General James H. Blunt, while smaller in numbers, possessed superior artillery and much better small arms. Their ammunition was far superior to that of the Confederates and they also possessed the advantage of advancing down slope as they approached the Southern lines.

When he decided that his cannon had done as much as possible, Blunt ordered his infantry to advance. The men stepped off across open ground, with their lines of battle spread out along each side of the old Texas Road. The Confederate artillery punched holes in the battle lines, but they continued to advance. It took two hours, but Blunt finally broke the Southern lines. The Confederates fell back across the Elk Creek bridge and adjacent fords, fighting as they went.

Original Site of Elk Creek Bridge
The fight for control of the bridge, by which the Texas Road crossed the creek, was fierce. Troops from Texas held back Blunt's advancing soldiers while the Confederate artillerymen managed to get their cannon across.

As the Union army surged up the slope on the south side of the Creek, Cooper's Native American forces launched a courageous attack against them. This assault was beaten back and the Confederates, still skirmishing, had no choice but to withdraw from the field. Behind they left piles of supplies they had not had time to destroy, along with most of their camp equipment and other items.

While exact casualties remain unknown, Union forces reported losses of 16 killed and 61 wounded in the battle. The Confederates reported their losses as 134 killed and wounded, with another 47 lost as prisoners of war.

The site of the battle is now preserved at Honey Springs Battlefield State Historic Site. I'll take a closer look at the park in the next post. Until then, you can learn more by visiting

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