|War-time Sketch of the Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma|
Halting his men at the northern end of today's Honey Springs Battlefield State Historic Site, Blunt gave them time to rest while he and his escort scouted the position of Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper's Confederate army.
|Scene of Heavy Fighting early in the Battle|
As he arrived on the field, Blunt discovered that the Confederate army was positioned in thick brush and timber facing open ground across which his men would have to advance. Seeing that Cooper was prepared to fight, he ordered his men into the ranks:
|Map showing location of the Battle|
Courtesy National Park Service
The Union force then moved forward, with skirmishers out front, and "soon drew their fire."
On the Confederate side of the field, General Cooper waited until the Union troops were within easy range and then opened on them with his artillery:
|Elk Creek on the Honey Springs Battlefield|
Things quickly began to go wrong for the Confederates. General Cooper arranged his forces for a defense in detail, which allowed the Federal troops to put more power into position against his front lines. Col. Tandy Walker, meanwhile, mistook his orders and moved far out of position with his Cherokee and Creek troops.
|Texas Road on the Honey Springs Battlefield|
Heavy fighting erupted up and down the line but after two hours, the critical moment of the battle came. Confederate officers mistook a re-positioning of a portion of the Union line and thought a retreat had gun. They ordered an immediate counter-attack. The Confederates surged forward to within just 25 paces of the Union lines when the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers suddenly unleashed a deadly volley on them. The charge was shocked to a stop as dozens of men fell dead and wounded.
|Site of the Elk Creek Bridge on the Battlefield|
The Southern forces continued to fight, but their faulty ammunition caused so many problems that they began to lose hope. A retreat degenerated into a rout.
As total disaster seemed about to overwhelm the Confederate army, Col. Tandy Walker suddenly arrived on the field with his Cherokee and Choctaw soldiers. Cooper immediately ordered them to charge:
|Site of Walker's Charge at Honey Spring|
The "Gettysburg of the West" had been fought - and lost - by the Confederates and the end of the battle found them in full retreat for the Canadian River and the reinforcement column then coming up under General Cabell. Cooper ordered his supplies that could not be saved set afire and by the time the Federals occupied their camps, there was little left to capture. General Blunt did report taking one piece of artillery, 200 stand of arms, 15 wagons and one stand of colors.
|Monuments at Honey Springs Battlefield|
The battle will be reenacted in November, when the weather is a little cooler, and a major weekend of activities is planned for the 150th anniversary commemoration at the same time.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/honeysprings1.