Richard Mize of NewsOk.com reports that despite not being a state 150-years ago in 1861, Oklahoma will be observing the Civl War’s sesquicentennial starting on April 30-May 1 with a re-enactment of the Battle of Honey Springs, starting at 1:30 pm.
The Oklahoma Historical Society is putting on the reenactment, promising that “the original battlefield will once again shake with the roar of canon, volley fire from thousands of muskets and ring to the clash of saber to saber combat,” as they state on their site.
Oklahoma during the Civil War was Indian Territory, and it was here some of the most ferocious fighting of the entire war took place, with white soldiers, for the first time in the war, finding themselves as the minority on both the Union and Confederate sides as African and Native Americans represented significant portions of each of the armies.
Around 9,000 men fought on a hot, wet Friday on July 17, 1863. “Indians, Texas and soldiers from the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, the first black regiment in the Union Army. Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, commanding the 1st Division, Army of the Frontier, clashed with Brig. Gen Douglas H. Cooper, commanding the Confederate Indian Brigade,” Mize writes. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, told Mize, “I’m in the business of sharing history with the public and don’t have the luxury of giving people a six-hour lecture on the Civil War and Reconstruction.”
While both generals gave conflicting reports of casualties, the Battle of Honey Springs became a decisive victory for the Union Army. The Confederates were poorly equipped (a rain squall ruined much of their gun powder), while claims were made that General Cooper was a poor military tactician.
The Cherokee Nation played a large role in shaping the outcome of this battle and the Civil War itself. Molly Jarvis, vice president of Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, told Mize, “Cherokee Nation had an abundance of physical resources that played a significant role in shaping the Civil War in the region. The Civil War anniversary is also a unique opportunity to work with the state of Oklahoma to recognize an honor the historic site and locations from 150 years ago.”
Aside from the reenactment, the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group at Cherokee Nation Entertainment offers group tours through October include the Honey Springs battlefield, as well as Capitol Square in Tahlequah, the antebellum Murrel Home in Park HIll, and Fort Gibson Historic Site, which was held by both sides several different times during the war. For more information, call (877) 779-6977.
The Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group at Cherokee Nation Entertainment