Honey Springs Battle

Honey Springs

The Affair at Elk Creek

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Union and Confederate troops had frequently skirmished in the vicinity of Honey Springs Depot in the Indian Territory of east-central Oklahoma. The Union commander in the area, Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, correctly surmised that Confederate forces, mostly Native American troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper, were about to concentrate and attack his force at Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River. He decided to meet and engage the Confederates before they were joined by Brig. Gen. William Cabell’s brigade, advancing from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Blunt began crossing the swollen Arkansas River on July 15th, and, by midnight on July 16-17th, he had a force of 3,000 men composed of whites, Native Americans, and African Americans, marching toward a Confederate depot at Honey Springs. Blunt skirmished with Rebel troops early on the morning of the 17th, and by midafternoon, full-scale fighting ensued. The Confederates had wet powder, causing misfires, and the problem intensified when rain began again.  After repulsing one attack, Cooper pulled his forces back to obtain new ammunition. In the meantime, Cooper began to experience command problems, and learned that Blunt was about to turn his left flank. The Confederate retreat began, and although Cooper fought a rearguard action, many of those troops counterattacked, failed, and fled. Any possibility of the Confederates taking Fort Gibson was gone. Following the battle, Union forces controlled the Indian Territory north of the Arkansas River.

Battle Facts

Result

Union Victory
COMMANDERS
Forces Engaged
9,000

Union

3,000

Confederate

6,000
Total Estimated Casualties
716

Union

79

Confederate

637