Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, USA
Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper, CSA
Blunt led elements of the District of the Frontier against the 1st Brigade, Native American troops.
Union losses were about 80, while the Confederates lost about 640.
Union and Confederate troops had frequently skirmished in the vicinity of Honey Springs Depot. The Union commander in the area, Major General James Blunt, correctly surmised that Confederate forces (mostly Native American troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Douglas Cooper) were about to concentrate and would then attack his force at Fort Gibson. But he had ample supplies, and had recently arrived with fresh troops.
He decided on a preemptive attack, to fight the Confederates at Honey Springs Depot before they were joined by Brig. Gen. William Cabell’s brigade, advancing from Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Blunt began crossing the swollen Arkansas River on July 15, 1863, and by midnight on July 16-17 he had a force of 3,000 men, composed of whites, Native Americans, and African-Americans, forcemarching toward Honey Springs. Shortly after dawn skirmishing began and by midafternoon there was full-scale fighting. The Confederates had wet powder, causing misfires, and the problem intensified when rain began. After stopping one Federal attack, Cooper pulled back to issue fresh ammunition. In the meantime, Cooper began to experience command problems, and he learned that Blunt was about to turn his left flank. The Confederate retreat began, and although Cooper tried a rearguard action, many of those troops failed and fled. Different tribes headed in different directions, but few were in any mood to fight again even if officers found them.
Any possibility of the Confederates taking Fort Gibson was gone. Following this battle, Union forces controlled the Indian Territory north of the Arkansas River. They could also think about advancing.
Content provided by:
American Battlefield Protection Program, Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service.