|Monuments at Honey Springs Battlefield|
The Battle of Honey Springs, fought on July 17, 1863, has been called the "Gettysburg of the West" by some historians. The site is now preserved at Honey Springs Battlefield State Historic Site just north of Checotah, Oklahoma.
Also called the Battle of Elk Creek, the battle took place when Union forces from Fort Gibson (then called Fort Blount) launched a preemptive strike against a Confederate army gathering at Honey Springs for an effort to wrest control of the Indian Nations (today's Oklahoma) from Federal troops. Commanded by Brigadier General D.H. Cooper, the Confederates were massing supplies and waiting for reinforcements to begin their long awaited campaign.
Union Major General James H. Blount, in command at Fort Gibson, learned of Cooper's efforts and, despite the fact that he was suffering from a high fever, organized an army of 3,000 men and began a secret movement across the Arkansas River.
|Position at which Blunt's Army rested.|
Even so, Cooper moved his men into position to oppose the Federals. On the surface it appeared that the Confederates were more than a match for Blunt's army. Cooper's army outnumbered Blunt by around 1,700 men, but with the exception of an experimental rifled piece, his artillery was badly outclassed and his men were armed with inferior weapons and most would experience problems with bad ammunition during the battle.
|Position of Confederate Army as battle began.|
Before the Federal cannon could open fire, however, the Southern guns opened up. A blast from one Confederate cannon blew apart the carriage of a Union artillery piece. The Federals returned the fire in a fierce artillery exchange that signaled the beginning of the Battle of Honey Springs.
I will continue to post on the battle over coming days. If you would like to learn more before then, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/honeysprings1.