The Civil War in the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, is an untold story to most Americans. Throughout the Civil War pro-Union and pro-Confederate Indian tribes, and factions within the tribes, struggled for control of this region. The turning point in that conflict was the Battle of Honey Springs fought on July 17, 1863. Most of the troops who fought in this engagement were Blacks or Indians, with White troops on both sides being in a distinct minority.
The orders of battle for both sides were as follows:
- 1st Brigade – Colonel William R. Judson
- 2nd Indian Home Guard — Lieutenant Colonel Fred W. Schaurte
- 1st Kansas Colored Infantry— Colonel James M. Williams(W), Lieutenant Colonel John Bowles
- 6 Companies, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry — Captain Edward R. Stevens
- 2nd Brigade – Colonel William A. Phillips
- 6 Companies, 2nd Colorado Infantry — Colonel Theodore H. Dodd
- 1st Indian Home Guard — Colonel Stephen H. Wattles
- Detachments of 6th Kansas Cavalry — Colonel William F. Campbell
- 2nd Kansas Light Artillery
- 1st Section — Captain Edward Smith
- 2nd Section — Lieutenant John P. Grassberger
- 3rd Kansas Light Artillery — Captain Henry Hopkins
1st Brigade, Indian Troops – Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper
- Texas Brigade – Colonel Thomas C. Bass
- 20th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted) — Colonel Thomas Coker Bass
- 29th Texas Cavalry – Colonel Charles DeMorse (W)
- 5th Texas Partisan Rangers— Colonel Leonidas M. Martin
- Indian Brigade – Brigadier General Douglas Cooper
- 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles — Major Joseph F. Thompson
- 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles — Lieutenant Colonel James M. Bell
- 1st Choctaw—Chickasaw Mounted Rifles — Colonel Tandy Walker
- 1st Creek — Colonel Daniel N. McIntosh
- 2nd Creek— Colonel Chilly McIntosh
- Artillery & Cavalry
- Lee’s Battery— Captain Roswell W. Lee
- Scanland’s Squadron Texas Cavalry — Captain John Scanland
- Gillett’s Squadron Texas Cavalry — Captain L. E. Gillett
The Union had around 3,000 men and the Confederates between 3,000-6,000.
Union General Blunt, getting wind that Confederate General Cooper’s brigade was at Honey Springs, Indian Territory, an important Confederate supply depot in the Indian Territory, decided to launch an assault before Conferate General William Cabell’s brigade and Cooper’s force could link up.
During the battle the Confederate troops had problems with wet gunpowder, increased by rain squalls that day. After some back and forth fighting the Confederates eventually retreated and the Union Army took Honey Springs. This was the largest battle fought in Indian Territory. After this victory the Confederates were always short on supplies in the Indian Territory and fought the rest of the war in the Territory by relying on guerilla actions and cavalry raids.