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Oklahoma Begins Commemoration of Civil War with Reenactment of Battle of Honey Springs
By Tourism Industry Partner
Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a special reenactment of the Battle of Honey Springs. On Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1 the original battlefield will once again shake with the roar of cannon, volley fire from thousands of muskets and ring to the clash of saber to saber combat! The reenactment of the Battle of Honey Springs is a Nationally Sanctioned Event of the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary of the Civil War. Don’t miss this event!
The battlefield will be open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. The battle will be at 1:30 p.m. each afternoon. Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free. Here are directions to the battlefield Visitors Center: 3.6 mi north of Checotah on Bus. 69; east 2.0 miles through Rentiesville; 2.0 miles north on Honey Springs Battlefield Road.
The 1,100 acre battlefield site has six walking trails with a total of 55 interpretive signs; the trails are located at (1) the Union bivouac area, (2) the Union line of battle, (3) the Texas' regiments line of battle [which includes 1/8-mile of the original Texas Road], (4) the battle at the bridge [over Elk Creek], (5) the final action, and (6) Honey Springs [the Confederate supply depot].
As part of an overall war plan, Federal forces invaded Confederate held Indian Territory. The Confederates established a supply depot 20 miles southwest of Fort Gibson at Honey Springs and made plans to drive the Federals from the area. Union Major General James G. Blunt not awaiting attack, marched out from Fort Gibson and engaged the Confederate forces under Brigadier General Douglas Cooper.
The Engagement at Honey Springs (called The Affair at Elk Creek by the Confederates) was the largest of more than 107 documented hostile encounters in the Indian Territory. The engagement took place on a rainy Friday, July 17, 1863, between the 1st Division, Army of the Frontier, commanded by Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt and the Confederate Indian Brigade led by Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper.
Cherokee and Creek regiments fought on both sides. There were approximately 9000 men involved, including other American Indians, veteran Texas regiments, and the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers (the first black regiment in the Union army).
The Federal victory opened the way for occupation of Fort Smith and the later Union victories in the Red River Valley.
Some years ago, the reenactment was moved from mid-July to late spring, because many participants fell victim to the mid-summer heat. Though the actual battle took place in 1863, a number of civil war reenactment groups choose this event as one of the major events in the first year of the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary of the Civil War.
For additional information, go to the Oklahoma History website: http://www.okhistory.org/outreach/military/honeysprings.html, or call (918) 473-5572.
The web address to follow all of the events and program associated with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Oklahoma is www.okcivilwar.org.
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