Indian Territory Battlefront
Battle of Honey Springs - July 17th 1863
A little history
The Battle of Honey Springs, also known as the “Affair at Elk Creek", took place on July 17th 1863 between Federal units under the leadership of Major General James G. Blunt and Southern troops commanded by Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper.
The Confederate commander had gathered about 6,000 of his troops at Honey Springs, along the Texas Road, where he awaited another 3,000 troops under Brigadier General James Cabell from Fort Smith. The plan was to attack and annihilate the Federal Army’s “Union Indian Brigade” garrisoned at Fort Gibson north of the Arkansas River.
Blunt decided to attack Cooper’s force before it could be aided and marched his 3,000 men all night. They reached the Confederate line on the morning of July 17, 1863, rested for nearly two hours, then began the attack with more than an hour of artillery fire. That was followed by fierce hand-to-hand combat which led to the collapse of the Confederate center.
Battle of Bayou Maynard - July 27th 1863 - Hypothetical scenario
A little fantasy
Considering his troops not numerous enough, General Blunt decides not to move to the offensive against Cooper's troops around Honey Springs.
Aware of an impending rebel offensive against Fort Gibson, Blunt rallies around Fort Gibson a small army of 4,600 men and at the same time solicits his superior, Major General Shoefield, commanding the Missouri Department, for additional reinforcements.
At first reluctant, Shoefield allows Colonel Cloud, commanding the District of Southwestern Missouri, to detach a support column. This column, commanded by Colonel LaRue Harrison, leaves Cassville, Missouri, July 24th 1863 and will arrive just in time to support Blunt.
On the Confederate side, General Steele, commander of the District of Indian Territory, decides to move to action. For this he decides to bring together Cooper's troops, based in Honey Springs, to those of Cabell, based in Fort Smith. Steele's plan is to attack Fort Gibson by the southeast, from the east bank of the Arkansas River.
Cooper's Indian Brigades cross the Arkansas River at Webber Falls on July 21st, 1863 and were joined the next day by Steele and Cabell's troops. Steele reorganized his troops in 2 divisions, each of them commanded by Generals Cabell and Cooper, and started his newly named "Army of Indian Territory", 7700 strong on july 26th 1863 by the end of the morning.
Blunt, fully aware of Steele's maneuver, decides to go and meet Steele, taking positions along the Bayou Maynard River, a small tributary of the Arkansas River.
On the morning of July 27th, Steele sets off his troops by dividing them into 3 columns: Cabell and his 2 brigades on the far left, Cooper in the center in command of 3 brigades, and Watie on the far right, whose mission is to bypass the northern defense line. Blunt, meanwhile, cut off 3 brigades along the ridge line overlooking Bayou Maynard, and a last brigade to block the passages downstream of the river. Around 10 a.m. the first shots rang out.
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