Posts from the ‘1861’ Category

From the Civil War Journal of Sgt. Sam Bloomer, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Co. B, Dec. 24, 1861-Jan. 9, 1862

The following is an excerpt from the Civil War Diary of Sergeant Sam Bloomer, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Company B, while the regiment was at Edward’s Ferry. The entries are from the period December 24, 1861 through January 9, 1862. The entries were transcribed by Jeffrey S. Williams from the originals that are located at the Minnesota Historical Society.

The grave of Color Sgt Sam Bloomer, 1st Minnesota Infantry, at Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater, Minn.

Tuesday Dec 24th       Last night was an awful cold disagreable and windy night for the guard. Today it was freezing most all day. Had no drill in the forenoon so I went over to the picture gallery and had one more pretty taken to send off. Had a Brigade drill but Gen Gorman was gone to Washington on some official business, so in his absence Col. Tompkins of the NY 2d drilled them very much against thire good will for he run them in double quick all the while. We had no dress parade on some account. We had or rather passed a dull Christmas Eve.

Christmas Wednesday Dec 25            This morning dawned very pleasant and the whole day it was a very dull Christmas to us. Last night our sutler had a lot of goods come with all kinds of marks on them. Some were marked knifes and forks, boot blacking, pepper & c. But our Col smell a rat and had the wagon taken up to the guard house, and this morning had the boxes opened up and lo and behold they contained a lot of choice Whiskey & Brandy which to his surprise were taken up to Poolesville to the hospital department to be used in that institution. During the day 2 or 3 kegs of beer were got and some of the boys began to feel rather light headed. Had no drills, nor even dress parade I suppose the reason was it was Christmas and it dont come but one in a year. I for one wish that we had Christmas every day on the drilling account, not because we had a such good time for it was the dulest Christmas that I ever spent in all my life and I hope I never shall again. Being a soldier is not like being at home on that day. The boys in my mess got a lot of Oysters and good fresh milk and made a good soup of them. But I had to look on and see them go in right down good ernest, as I am no Oyster eater. I could not stand it to look on so I pitched in and eate a lot of bread and Molassas for a substitute of the Oysters “perhaps that is a poor substitute.” Sergeant Binns has received his papers preparatory to his discharge to day and will probably leave for Stillwater in a few days.

Thursday Dec 26th       The weather this morning was pleasant but soon the clear blue skies were over cast and like if there was a storm brewing. Our company clerk has been to work on the payroles as the pay day will soon be around again. We had no drills today nor even dress parade on some account unbeknownst to me. Some of our men being at work a short distance from camp, where they could see the Virginia shore. And they state that they saw the Rebels in a very large column marching south. A large force first of infantry then a very long line of Batteries and cavalry & c. This evening quite a large number of battery men belonging to Bakers Brigade who were going to Washington after new guns for they lost the ones they had were lost at the battle of Balls Bluff.

Friday Dec 27th           The morning dawned pleasant but the wind blew very hard from the northwest and very cold and disagreeable. We had a very good company drill. We drilled as skirmishers the first one we had for some time and in the afternoon had quite a long Brigade drill but had no dress parade on account of the lateness of the houre. Gen Gorman has returned to camp from Washington whither he has been for a few days on some official business. This evening we received orders to be ready to go on picket tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock and were to stay until Tuesday when we would be mustered in again for two months, it making the 4th mustering or 8 months in the service.

Saturday Dec 28th       The [weather] still continues to be fine but cool. This according to orders received last night we got ready for to go on picket. After I was all ready to go Lieut Sinclair came to my tent and told me that the Capt had detailed me to stay in camp and help build his log house. It was very much against my good will to stay but stay I had to. At 9 AM the company started and we went to work taking down the Capt’s tent and dug a foundation. After dinner some of us went after a load of logs. When we were coming back we met a funeral going to the burying place with two soldiers that had departed this life while in thire Countries service. They were members of the Michigan 7th Vol. The regiment had no drills to day But had dress parade at the usual houre. Orders were read that the Monthly Mustering would take place on Tuesday Dec 31st at two o’clock and stating the different Mustering and inspecting officers of the different Brigades and regiments. Some other orders were read but were of no importance.

Sunday Dec 29th       The morning was fair but cool during the day the sun shone warm. About 10 AM a battery of 4 guns went down by here to relief that which was down at the ferry, the one that went down has just arrived from Washington. Shortly I with some others went down to the ferry to see the boys. There I saw two of the new guns that shoot 60 shots in a minute. Likewise we we saw a small boat that is being prepared for two guns and to be used for a gunboat on the Potomac. It is to be propelled by 14 oars. Our Capt took some more liquor yesterday some belonging to Col. Tompkins of the 2nd NY. The ditches are dug for the fort or stockade and some of the timbers are hauled. Had dress parade. Orders were read that all guard and pickets any where near a telegraph line should guard the wire and posts and see that nothing happend to it and report to headquarters if it should be broken any where. Last night an alarm was occassioned below the ferry where the Mich. 7th is doing picket duty. Some floating ice made a noise and they thought that a boat was coming across with rebels in it and some of the men up and fired at the supposed enemy “but did not kill any” which roust the whole line of pickets. But every thing quiet the rest of the night “No more rebels floating down the river.”

Monday Dec 30          The morning dawned fair. I worked all day on the Capt’s house. The companies had a drill in the forenoon But no regimental drill. At dress parade orders were read to the affect that every man should be ready for inspection or a general muster tomorrow at 9 o’clock AM and Lieut Hoyt was releast from the Quartermaster department and Adjutant Leach was to take his place. I received one letter from Stillwater this Eve. The Michigan 7th buried 2 more of thire soldiers today. The measles are raging to a considerable extent in thire regiment.

Tuesday Dec 31 the last of 1861        The morning was cold but fair it being mustering day there was cleaning of Brass, Blackening of boots, scouring of guns & c. About 9 o’clock Co E was inspected and immediately started off to releif our company from picket. About 10 AM the whole Brigade marched in review then our regt came to camp, stacked arms on the parade ground and went to thire quarters. Our company came to camp about 12 and were soon ready for inspection. About 2 we were marched on the parade ground, answered to our names and had our arms and knapsacks inspected. Had no dress parade. A flag of truce went across the ferry today at 1 PM with communications from Gen Stone to Gen Hill at Leesburg. Last night two Negroes came across from Virginia in a boat and were taken up to Gen Stone by the 7th Michigan.

Wednesday January 1st 1862              Last night at 12 o’clock all the bands in this vicinity commenced to play. They “4 in number” made considerable noise and kept it up untell daybreak. I finished a letter in the morning then I was detailed as Corpl of the guard. About 10 AM the Balloon was again sun high above the high tree tops. It was let up in the same place that it went up before it remained up about an hour during the day we had considerable fun arresting drunken men. Tied up three to a post set by the guard house for that purpose and bucket gaged one besides quite a number of others were disposed of in the guard house. At dress parade orders were read or rather the transfer of A Davis from Co I to our Co B. The weather was very fine and warm untell about 10 o’clock at night the wind got in a Northwest and blew a perfect gale and cold enough to freeze a person.

Thursday Jan 2d, 1862                        The weather this [morning] was very cold and windy and continued to be so all day, I wrote one letter to Eph McCanifie The companies had very short drills during the day on account of the cold wind. Had dress parade an order was read prohibiting all officers from detailling soldiers to act as thire servands or do any kind menial service for them “a good order that was I think” one other order was read that all enlisted men that was found cutting up any ungentlemanly acts with any of the neighbours or inhabitands would be promptly arrested by the nearest guard and would be punished accordingly by order of Gen Stone. About 6 o’clock PM Charles Scheffer from Stillwater arrived here. We were all very glad to see him, he came to arange the soldiers alotments.

Jan 3d 1862                                         This morning was I think as cold if not the coldest of the season. The company had a short drill this fornoon and in the afternoon we had a long Brigade drill. Gen Gormans lady and Secretary Camerons sister in law and one other lady were present to see us perform likewise Mr. Scheffer. Had no parade on account of the late houre. This evening a lot of mittens came from Stillwater for some of the boys. They were sent by the Ladies arniver social circle. They intirely forgot this child…just as well I suppose. This evening about 8 o’clock it commenced to snow.

Saturday Jan 4th 1862                         This has been rather a wintery day in morning. It was snowing but stoped about 9 o’clock AM. The air was very cold. We then went up and allotted some of our pay some allotted $5 and some 10 per month, it varying from 5 to 100. The Capt allotted 30 and the both Lieuts 25 a piece. I allotted 7 ½ or 15 at a payment. Today was the day set for the exchange of prisoners from Leesburg some 3 or 400 in Number but I have not learnd whether the exchange took place or not. It appears that the rebels cant feed our prisoners there for wish to exchange them for those that our men took at Balls Bluff some 30 in number. Had dress parade but no orders were read of any importance. Mr. Scheffer spent part of this with us in our tent.

Jan 5                Co. inspection very early for Scheffer’s benefit. Dress parade. Orders by Gen. Stone to private soldiers inciting insubordination among the negroes.

Jan 6                No drill. Co. B allotted about $500 being more than any other Co. in regt.

Jan 7                Mr. Scheffer left for Kentucky. Capt. Downie goes to Washington with him. Batt. drill a.m. & Co. drill p.m. Dress parade. 3 prisoners returned from Leesburg. They had been wounded at Ball’s Bluff & 2 belonged to 15th Mass & 1 to California Regt.

Jan 8                Potomac frozen over. Last night a steam tug and 3 row boats – capacity 150 men each – arrived at Edwards Ferry from Washington in the canal. Long co. drill a.m. Brigade drill countermanded & Co. drill instead p.m. Dress parade.

Jan 9                Rain last night. Muddy. Police duty a.m.

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On this date in the Civil War: December 26, 1861 – The Battle of Chustenahlah (150th Anniversary)

Commentary by Whit Edwards from “The Prairie was on Fire” pp. 9-14:

The area was a good defensive position on a rocky, tree-covered ridge overlooking the creek bottom with nothing but prairie to the front. Once again Opoethleyohola prepared to give battle.

Opothleyahola, leader of the loyal Indians in the Trail of Blood on Ice campaign in 1861

Fearing Opoethleyohola’s successful resistance would inspire more desertions and perhaps more reinforcements for old Gouge, Cooper called on Gen. Ben McCulloch for reinforcements. McCulloch was away in Richmond, but Col. James McQueen McIntosh (not related to the Creek McIntosh brothers) and the Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, Eleventh Texas Cavalry, Sixth Texas Cavalry, Third Texas Cavalry, Whitfield’s Texas Cavalry, and Bennett’s Independent Company of Texas Cavalry, to Park’s Store on Shoal Creek where they made plans to rid the Indian Territory of Opoethleyohola once and for all. They moved out in two columns. Cooper, reinforced by Whitefield’s Texans, moved northwest along the Arkansas River, while McIntosh traveled north along the Verdigris River. Cooper hoped to get to the rear of the enemy, and McIntosh planned a frontal assault. By Christmas Day they had located Gouge’s camp and spent the miserably cold day preparing their weapons for battle. The next morning McIntosh’s column crossed the icy creek only to be met by a hail of gunfire and arrows.

At the battle at Chustenahlah, Col. James M. McIntosh swept over the resistance each time Opoethleyohola’s band tried to make a stand and pursued and killed the scattering men. The Confederates captured 160 women and children, twenty slaves and freedmen (but no warriors), livestock, horses, wagons, and thousands of dogs, along with a large portion of foodstuffs. Colonel Cooper had not been able to rendezvous with McIntosh, but Col. Stand Watie and his Cherokee Cavalry appeared on the scene just as the battle ended, having moved out of Fort Wayne. He would be the lead element in the follow-up action.

Opoethleyohola had to abandon his camp in a hurry, and many of his warriors scattered to the wind. His band then had to march north to Kansas without its necessary supplies. Opoethleyohola left a rear guard to slow the pursuing Confederates, but pushed forward, often cutting loose wagons from his teams. The rear guard lost more men when it skirmished some with Watie’s Cherokees, but Watie’s men captured an additional seventy women and children and a few pack horses and left an additional eleven warriors dead on the field of battle, while not losing one man. Cooper and Watie then pursued the stragglers to the Kansas border, capturing an additional 150 women and children and killing another six men in a fierce storm of snow and sleet. Cooper then followed Colonel McIntosh to Fort Gibson where McIntosh re-supplied before heading back to Arkansas. Opothleyohola and his starving, half-naked stragglers pushed on to Fort Scott, Kansas, where they sought refuge. The Indian Territory was effectively under Confederate control. The sympathizers, friends, and family members of Opoethleyohola who had remained in Indian Territory would face persecution in the months to come.

[Note: Edwards was incorrect when he asserted that they were heading to Fort Scott.  Their true destination was Fort Row, near present-day Coyville, Kansas.]

See also: Round Mountain

See also: Chusto-Talasah

See also: Creek Indians in the Civil War

Chustenahlah   

Other Names: None

Location: Osage County

Campaign: Operations in the Indian Territory (1861)

Date(s): December 26, 1861

Principal Commanders: Chief Opothleyahola [I]; Col. James McQueen McIntosh [CS]

Forces Engaged: Creek and Seminole [I]; McIntosh’s and Douglas Cooper’s brigades [CS]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Description: Confederate troops had undertaken a campaign to subdue the Native American Union sympathizers in Indian Territory and consolidate control. They had attacked Chief Opothleyahola’s band of Creeks and Seminoles earlier at Round Mountain and Chusto-Talasah. Now, they wanted to finish them off by assaulting them in their camp at Chustenahlah in a well-protected cove on Battle Creek. Col. James McQueen McIntosh and Col. Douglas H. Cooper, commanding the Indian Department, planned a combined attack with each of their columns moving on the camp from different directions. McIntosh left Fort Gibson on December 22, with 1,380 men. On the 25th, he was informed that Cooper’s force could not join for a while, but he decided to attack the next day, despite being outnumbered. McIntosh attacked the camp at noon on the 26th. The Union defenders were secluded in the underbrush along the slope of a rugged hill, but as the Confederate attack came forward, the Native Americans began to fall back, taking cover for a while and then moving back. The retreat became a rout as the Federals reached their camp. They attempted to make a stand there but were forced away again. The survivors fled;  many went all the way to Kansas where they found loyal Unionists. Chief Opothleyahola’s band of Creeks and Seminoles mounted no resistance again.

Result(s): Confederate victory

CWSAC Reference #: OK003

Preservation Priority: II.2 (Class B)

The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission's Map of the Chustenahlah Battlefield

Satellite Map of the Chustenahlah area - note how rugged the terrain is

The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

Series I Vol. 8

Excerpt from Col. Douglas H. Cooper’s January 20, 1862 report from Fort Gibson, I.T.

Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, CSA (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

My supply of ammunition being nearly exhausted, and having on my arrival at Van’s, the night of December 10, learned that a body of Cherokees from fort Gibson, about 100, who passed up the previous evening, had put on the shuck badge (Hopoeithleyohola’s) and gone direct to his camp at Shoal  Creek, I was impressed with the necessity of placing the force under my command as soon as possible in position to counteract any movement among the people in aid of Hopoeithleyohola and his Northern allies. Colonel Drew, with his train, and Colonel Sims, with the Fourth Texas Cavalry, were ordered on the 11th direct to Fort Gibson, and with the creek and Choctaw regiment I moved by way of Tulsey Town down the Arkansas. An express was at the same time sent to col. James McIntosh, at Van Buren, with an account of the battle at Chusto-Talasah, with a request that he would send some white troops into the Cherokee country, in order that the moral effect of their presence might repress any outbreak. We arrived at Choska, in the Creek Nation, 20 miles above Fort Gibson, on the 13th. Leaving the main body of the command there, I hastened with Welch’s squadron (Companies I and K, of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment) and encamped on Grand River, opposite Fort Gibson. Colonel Sims had already arrived, and was encamped at Fort Gibson.

The arrival of Colonel Drew with the account of our victory over Hopoeithleyohola, the presence of Colonel Sims’ regiment, and the knowledge of the proximity of the forces at Choska had already suppressed outward show of sympathy with the enemy. The next day I received a letter from Col. James McIntosh, dated Van Buren, December 14, 1861, in which he advised that he had just ordered Colonel Young’s regiment, Whitfield’s battalion, and five companies of Greer’s regiment to report to me at Fort Gibson or wherever I might be found; that he had ordered Capt. Con. Rea, ordnance officer at Fort smith, to honor my requisition for ammunition, and Major Clark to furnish supplies immediately, and that he hoped with this additional force I would be able to march against Hopoeithleyohola with certainty of success & c. an express was immediately started back to Fort Smith with a requisition for ammunition. I remained still at Fort Gibson to see the Principle Chief of the Cherokees, Hon. John Ross, and confer with him on the state of affairs among the Cherokees.

On the 19th a letter was received from Lieutenant-Colonel Diamond, commanding Colonel Young’s regiment, reporting that he would reach Fort Gibson on the 20th. On the evening of that day I crossed over to Fort Gibson, for the purpose of addressing the Cherokees, and in conjunction with the chief, on the existing state of affairs among them, and greatly to my surprise found Col. James McIntosh, who announced his intention of taking the field with some 2,000 troops against Hopoeithleyohola. Major Whitfield, with his battalion, crossed Grand river early next morning and reported to me. Neither Colonel Young’s regiment nor any companies from Colonel Greer’s regiment ever did so (I presume the order previously given was received), but formed part of the separate column Colonel McIntosh had determined to put in motion. No objection was made by me to the change in Colonel McIntosh’s intentions. On the contrary, I afforded all the information in my possession as to the situation of Hopoeithleyohola’s camp and the surrounding country, and it was understood we were to co-operate, moving the one up the Arkansas and the other up the Verdigris. Colonel McIntosh also promised me a supply of ammunition from what he had brought along. On the 20th, with major Whitfield’s battalion and Captain Welch’s squadron, I returned to Choska, after entering into a satisfactory arrangement with Colonel Drew and the chief in regard to the reorganization of Colonel Drew’s regiment.

Colonel John Drew, Cherokee Mounted Rifles

Colonel Drew’s regiment, when reorganized, was ordered to join me at Choska, and also the available force of Colonel Sims’ regiment. December 21, I wrote to Col. James McIntosh, to know when he would be ready and for ammunition; in answer to which, on the same day, he fixed upon the next at 12 o’clock for the commencement of his march with the largest part of his forces, and the next morning, the 23d, for the departure of the rest; their destination Mrs. McNair’s on the Verdigris, distance from Hopoeithleyohola’s camp about 25 miles¸ stating that he would reach Mrs. McNair’s on the morning of the 24th, expressing the opinion that it would not be well to remain at Mrs. McNair’s more than one day, and that he would like to see and concert measures with me on the evening of the 24th, and proposing to meet me at any point I might designate; that it was his design to co-operate with me in any measure for the welfare of the country, & c. This I was then satisfied his precipitancy would render impracticable; nevertheless, having on the night of the 23d received at Choska the promised ammunition, I marched the next day for Tulsey Town, and informed Colonel McIntosh by letter that it would be impossible to reach that place before the 26th; that Col. Stand Watie was ordered to be at Mrs. McNair’s, on the Verdigris, December 25; that his (Colonel McIntosh’s) well-appointed command was too fast for mine, but if Col. Stand Watie joined him I supposed he would have force enough.

On my arrival at Tulsey Town on the evening of the 26th a letter reached me by express from Col. Stand Watie, dated December 25, at Mingo Creek (which is some 12 miles west of Mrs. McNair’s in the direction of Hopoeithleyohola’s camp), informing me that Colonel McIntosh had gone on, but as he was only 6 miles in advance he hoped to overtake him. Colonel McIntosh pushed on without waiting even for Col. Stand Watie, and attacked Hopoeithleyohola. Col. Stand Watie, however, followed the enemy the next day, overtook him, some 300 strong, had a running fight, and killed 15 of the enemy, without a loss of a man. Hopoeithleyohola, it is said, had gone on with about 200 warriors and made his escape. I also heard on the morning of the 27th that Colonel McIntosh had attacked and dispersed the Indians. It was therefore useless for me to attempt to reach the rear of the enemy by way of the Cherokee settlement in the Big Bend of the Arkansas. The only chance to effect any good was to pursue the enemy by the nearest route. Accordingly I marched for Parks’, Shoal Creek, and there, on the 28th, met Colonel McIntosh returning to winter quarters. On the 29th I moved up Bird Creek and camped on the Osage trail to the Big Bend, having discovered during the day foot-prints and other evidences that the enemy had gone up Bird Creek.

The next morning early we struck a plain trail, and followed it a little west of north for two days. On the second day (the 31st) a party of Cherokees, consisting of 3 men and 2 women, were intercepted on the road from Key’s settlement, on Caney, to the Big Bend, 1 of whom was killed in single combat by Capt. W. R. McIntosh, of the Creek regiment; 2 made their escape; the women were taken prisoners.

Again following the trail, we overtook several Seminole women and children, from whom we learned that Hopoeithleyohola had gone on two days in advance. Having followed the trail nearly if not quite to the Kansas line, we turned across towards the Arkansas, and intercepted several parties of Creeks, Osages, and Cherokees on their way to Walnut Creek, Kansas. After an exciting chase by the advance guard, under Maj. N.W. Townes, of the Fourth [Ninth] Texas Cavalry, and Major Whitfield’s battalion, several of the enemy were killed and a large number of prisoners taken, mostly women and children. A few cattle were also captured by the Creeks.

The weather was exceedingly cold; sleet fell in considerable quantities during the day, and there being every appearance of a snow-storm, we pushed for the timber. Several new trails were discovered during the evening, all leading in the direction of Walnut Creek. The next morning, finding the earth covered with sleet, I resolved to return to my train, and marched the main body of my command down the Arkansas. Sending Colonel Drew with his regiment to examine a wagon-trail we had discovered the evening previous, he found a small camp of Cherokees, which he broke up, wounded 1 man and taking several prisoners. Late in the evening of the same day the advance guard discovered an encampment of Creeks directly under a rocky, precipitous bluff which overhung the Arkansas River, and by rapidly pushing down the bluff and into the river we were enabled to charge the camp and break it up, killing 1 man and taking 21 prisoners, women and children. Several men made their escape across the river. Turning to the top of the bluff we encamped for the night, without food for ourselves or horses. The next day we reached Skia Tooka’s settlement, in the Big Bend, where an abundance of meat and some corn was obtained. Next day reached Tulsey town, by a forced march, where we found our train.

This fatigue scout of seven days, embracing the entire country lately occupied by Hopoeithleyohola’s forces, accomplished over an exceedingly rough and bleak country, half the time without provisions, the weather very cold (during which 1 man was frozen to death), was endured with great fortitude by the officers and men under my command. Its results were 6 of the enemy killed and 150 prisoners taken, mostly women and children, the total dispersing in the direction of Walnut Creek, Kansas, of Hopoeithleyohola’s forces and people, thus securing the repose of the frontier for the winter. It also demonstrated that the capture of the whole of those who remained on Shoal Creek up to the 26th of December, including Hopoeithleyohola himself, could have been easily effected had Col. James McIntosh waited until the forces under my command reached a position in the rear of the enemy, or even if Col. Stand Watie had been sent up Delaware Creek or up Bird Creek and thence to the rear of Hopoeithleyohola’s position, the same result would have been attained and the machinations of the arch old traitor forever ended.

The trails on Bird Creeks and on the Arkansas also showed that large numbers of Indians had descended to Hopoeithleyohola’s camp before the battle on Bird Creek of December 9, and that still larger numbers had returned up those two streams before the battle on Shoal Creek of December 26. It was also apparent that not more than 1,000 had gone off immediately after that fight. Prisoners of intelligence put the number at 500 warriors.

This report has been long delayed, but the apparent neglect will, it is hoped, be justified when it is considered by the Department that we have been constantly in the field on active service since the events reported until within the past two weeks, during which the placing of the troops in winter quarters has engaged my time and attention.

I have the honor, sir, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                        DOUGLAS H. COOPER,

                                                Colonel, C.S. Army, Commanding Indian Department.

Hon. J.P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.

Report of Col. James McIntosh, Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, commanding division, of engagement at Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation, with letters found in Hopoeithleyohola’s camp.

HEADQUARTERS DIVISION,

Van  Buren, Ark., January 1, 1862

            GENERAL:  I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of Chustenahlah, which took place in the Cherokee Nation on the 26th of December, 1861:

Colonel James McQueen McIntosh

Before entering upon the details of the battle it is necessary for me to state that I entered the Cherokee Nation with a portion of my division upon the representation of Colonel Cooper, commanding the Indian Department, calling upon me for additional force. This call was based upon the hostile stand taken by the Creek chief Hopoeithleyohola and the disaffection which has sprung up in one of the Cherokee regiments. I hastened to Fort Gibson, with 1,600 men, and had an interview with Colonel Cooper, and entered into arrangements for mutual co-operation. The plan proposed was that Colonel Cooper, with his force strengthened by major Whitfield’s battalion, should move up the Arkansas River and endeavor to get in the rear of Hopoeithleyohola’s position on one of the tributaries of the Verdigris River, near the Big Bend of the Arkansas, while my force should march up the Verdigris River opposite the position held by the enemy, and then move directly upon him. On account of the scarcity of forage it was mutually determined that either force should attack the enemy on sight.

I left Fort Gibson at 12 m. on the 22d ultimo with the following force: five companies of the South Kansas-Texas Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lane; the available strength of the Sixth Regiment of Texas Cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith; seven companies of the Third [Eleventh] Regiment of Texas Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Young; four companies of my own regiment, Second Arkansas Mounted Riflemen, under Captain Gipson; and Captain Bennett’s company of Texans attached to the headquarters of the division. This force amounted to 1,380 men.

On the evening of the 25th ultimo a part of the enemy’s force appeared in sight immediately after our arrival in camp. A regiment was sent to observe them. I soon became satisfied that this party was endeavoring to lead us on a fruitless chase. I therefore restrained my impatient men and ordered them back to camp. During the evening an express reached me from Colonel Cooper, with the intelligence that it would probably be two or three days before he could make the preconcerted movement, on account of the desertion of his teamsters, and generously stated that if I found it necessary to advance he would give me all the assistance in his power. From this point, knowing it was impossible to move my train farther, I ordered it to remain in charge of Captain Elstner, acting brigade quartermaster, with a guard of 100 men.

With four days’ cooked rations I left camp early on the morning of the 26th, and moved cautiously toward the stronghold of the enemy among the mountains running back into the Big Bend of the Arkansas. Lieutenant-Colonel Lane, with his regiment, moved in advance. A company of his regiment, under Captain Short, was thrown forward as an advance guard, with orders to throw out flankers well to the right and left. Toward 12 m. we approached Shoal Creek, a tributary of the Verdigris.

As soon as Captain Short had crossed the stream a heavy and continuous firing was opened upon him. The company gallantly maintained its position. I immediately ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith, with his regiment, to move upon the right, and Colonel Young on the left. The center, composed of Lieutenant-Colonel Lane’s regiment, Captain Bennett’s company, and the detachment of the Second Regiment of Arkansas Mounted Riflemen, then moved forward and crossed the stream in the face of the enemy in large numbers posted to the right on a high and rugged hill, with its side covered with oak trees. The enemy continued their fire upon us. Colonel Young promptly crossed the stream and formed upon the left of the center, which was already in line of battle. Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith, with his regiment, was ordered to march up the stream, which flowed at the base of the hill on which the enemy was posted, and, after coming opposite their left flank to dismount, cross the stream, and attack him in the flank. All these orders were promptly and efficiently executed, and the whole force ready for action. The enemy was in a very strong position, and from it observed our actions, in happy innocence of the gallant resolve which animated the hearts of those in the valley below them. The Seminoles, under the celebrated chief Halek Tustenuggee, were in front on foot, posted behind the trees and rocks, while others were in line near the summit of the hill.

Part of the Chustenahlah battlefield as it is today. Note the slope of the hill in the distance.

Hopoeithleyohola’s Creeks were beyond, on horseback. A few representatives of other tribes were also in the battle. The whole force was estimated at 1,700. Between the rough and rugged side of the hill a space of 200 or 300 yards intervened of open ground. Each tree on the hill-side screened a stalwart warrior. It seemed a desperate undertaking to charge a position which appeared almost inaccessible, but the order to charge to the top of the hill met a responsive feeling from each gallant heart in the line, and at 12 m. the charge was sounded, one wild yell from a thousand throats burst upon the air, and the living mass hurled itself upon the foe. The sharp report of the rifle came from every tree and rock, but on our brave men rushed, nor stopped until the summit of the hill was gained and we were mingled with the enemy. The South Kansas-Texas regiment, led by those gallant officers Colonel Lane and Major Chilton, breasted itself for the highest point of the hill, and rushed over its rugged side with the irresistible force of a tornado, and swept everything before it. The brave Major Chilton, while approaching the summit of the hill, received a severe wound in the head, but with unabated vigor continued in the fight. Captain Bennett, with his company and the detachment of the Second Regiment Arkansas Mounted Riflemen, under Captain Gipson, gallantly charged side by side. Captain Gipson was ordered to dismount his command and move into a thicket into which he had driven a portion of the enemy, which he did promptly and with great execution.

After charging some distance on the extreme left, the gallant Colonel Young, observing that the enemy were moving to the more rugged part of the field of battle on the right, with ready foresight rapidly moved his regiment to that portion of the field, and succeeded in cutting off many of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Griffith, having obeyed the first order given him, observing the enemy flying from the hill, rapidly mounted his command, and moved forward up the stream, crossed it some distance above, and gallantly encountered the enemy, who had made a stand near their principal encampment. The enemy by this time were much scattered and had retreated to the rocky gorges amid the deep recesses of the mountains, where they were pursued by our victorious troops and routed in every instance with great loss. They endeavored to make a stand at their encampment, but their efforts were ineffectual, and we were soon in the midst of it. Property of every description was scattered around. The battle lasted until 4 o’clock, when the firing gradually ceased, and we remained victors in the center of Hopoeithleyohola’s camp.

The loss sustained by the enemy was very severe. Their killed amounted to upwards of 250. Our loss was 8 killed and 32 wounded. The brave and gallant Lieutenant Fitzhue was shot in the head, and fell while gallantly leading his company. Capt. J.D. Young, of Young’s regiment, and Lieutenant Durham, of the South Kansas-Texas Regiment, were both wounded while in the thick of the battle. We captured 160 women and children, 20 negroes, 30 wagons, 70 yoke of oxen, about 500 Indian horses, several hundred head of cattle, 100 sheep, and a great quantity of property of much value to the enemy. The stronghold of Hopoeithleyohola was completely broken up, and his force scattered in every direction, destitute of the simplest elements of subsistence.

At 4 o’clock the rally was sounded, and the different commands went into camp on the battle-field. The dead and wounded were collected and cared for. The officers of the medical department of the different regiments deserve much credit for their promptness in attending to the wounded.

A party of Stand Watie’s regiment of Cherokees, numbering 300, under the command of the colonel, although under my orders, came up just as the battle terminated. This regiment had been ordered to join me from its station on Grand River. It was no fault of its commander that it did not reach us sooner. Every effort on his part was made in order to reach us in time.

At early dawn on the day after the battle I again left camp in pursuit of the flying enemy. After a hot pursuit of 25 miles we overtook 2 wagons, which were captured and burned. At this moment sharp firing was heard upon the left, and a messenger came from Col. Stand Watie with the report that he was engaged with the enemy. I immediately moved in the direction, and upon our arrival I ascertained that Colonel Watie had overtaken a number of the enemy and had gallantly charged them. Major Boudinot, commanding the left flank of the regiment, had rushed into a deep ravine and driven the enemy from it. In the skirmish 15 men of the enemy were killed and a number of women and children taken.

Throughout our rapid march – sometimes on ground covered with snow and at others facing the chilly blasts from the north – the greatest enthusiasm prevailed in anticipation of the coming struggle, and at all times during the march and on the battle field every officer and soldier of the brigade nobly did his duty, and it is with heartfelt pride that I bring them to the notice of the Department. The charge at the commencement of the battle was splendid; none more gallant was ever made. Individual acts of daring and hand-to-hand encounters were of frequent occurrence during the day, but it would be impossible to enumerate them. I therefore refer the Department to the reports of regimental and detachment commanders, herewith transmitted.

To Captain Elstner, of the Second Regiment Arkansas Mounted Riflemen, who acted as brigade quartermaster and commissary, m y thanks are due for the efficient and able manner in which he conducted the affairs of his department. To my personal staff I am indebted for much valuable service. Both Mr. Frank C. Armstrong and Mr. James S. Vann, my volunteer aides-de-camp, went gallantly into the fight, and bore themselves with great coolness and courage. Lieut. G.A. Thornton, the acting assistant adjutant-general, was also active and efficient in carrying various orders, and deserves great credit for his coolness during the battle.

Casualties – Killed 9; wounded, 40.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES McINTOSH

Colonel, Commanding Division.

Letter of Col. James McIntosh, transmitting reports of subordinate commanders of the

Battle of Chustenahlah, December 26, 1861.

HEADQUARTERS DIVISION

Fort Smith, Ark., January 4, 1862

            GENERAL:  I have the honor to transmit the inclosed reports of regimental and detachment commanders of the battle of Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation, fought on the 26th ultimo also copies of letters from Kansas to the Indians. These letters were found in Hopoeithleyohola’s camp.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

JAMES McINTOSH

                                                                                                Colonel, Commanding.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant-General, C.S. Army, Richmond, Va. 

Copies of letters taken in Hopoeithleyohola’s camp.

BARNSVILLE, September 10, 1861.

HOPOEITHLEYOHOLA, Hok-tar-hah-sas-Harjo:

BROTHER: Your letter by Micco Hutka is received. You will send a delegation of your best men to meet the commissioner of the United States Government in Kansas. I am authorized to inform you that the President will not forget you. Our Army will soon go South, and those of your people who are true and loyal to the Government will be treated as friends. Your rights to property will be respected. The commissioners from the Confederate States have deceived you. They have two tongues. They wanted to get the Indians to fight, and they would rob and plunder you if they can get you into trouble. But the President is still alive. His soldiers will soon drive these men who have violated your homes from the land they have treacherously entered. When your delegates return to you they will be able to inform you when and where your moneys will be paid. Those who stole your orphan funds will be punished, and you will learn that the people who are true to the Government which so long protected you are your friends.

Your friend and brother,

                                                                                    E.H. CARRUTH

                                                                        Commissioner of U.S. Government

BARNSVILLE, KANS., September 11, 1861.

THE CHICKASAWS AND CHOCTAWS

Who are loyal to the U.S. Government:

FRIENDS AND BROTHERS: The commissioners of the United States would like to meet delegations from your nations at the headquarters of the Kansas brigade, where they will confer with you. The Indians who are true to the Government will always and everywhere be treated as friends by her armies. Your rights will be held sacred; you will be protected in person and property. It is only over the enemies of government and law that an avenging hand will be raised.

Very respectfully, yours, & c.,

                                                                                                E. H. CARRUTH,

                                                                                    Commissioner of U.S. Government.

HEADQUARTERS, KANSAS BRIGADE,

Barnsville, September 11, 1861.

TUSAQUACH, Chief of the Wichitas:

FRIEND AND BROTHER:  It is the wish of the commissioner of the United States  Government that you either come to Kansas with your friends the Seminoles or send two or three of your best braves. We also want the Keechies, Ionies, Cadoes, and the Comanches to send some of their men to meet and have a talk with the commissioners of your Great Father at Washington. His soldiers are as swift as the antelope and brave as the mountain bear, and they are your friends and brothers. They will give you powder and lead. They will fight by your sides. Your friend Black Beaver will meet you here, and we will drive away the bad men who entered your company last spring. The Texans have killed the Wichitas; we will punish the Texans.

Come with your friends the Seminoles.

                        Your brother,

E. H. CARRUTH

Commissioner for the U.S. Government.

Report of Col. W. C. Young, Eleventh Texas Cavalry, of engagement at

Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation

Chustenahlah as it is today. This was photo was taken in the Summer of 2011. The battle was fought the day after Christmas in 1861 in the bitter cold.

SIR:  I have the honor to report the action of my regiment in the engagement of the 26th of December. I took up my position on the left, according to your instructions, at the commencement of the action. I remained there until the woods were on fire, and being satisfied that the enemy did not intend an attack on our left, I moved my regiment in the direction of the mountains, on the right. On moving up the first mountain I passed Major Chilton, of Colonel Greer’s regiment, who was wounded in the head, and learning from him the direction the enemy had taken, I moved my regiment in an oblique direction through the mountains, where, after going some 2 miles, we came up with the enemy strongly posted among the rocks and timber. We immediately charged them, carrying everything before us. After this the enemy, being completely routed, ran in different directions. My regiment then pursued them in detachment of companies, keeping up a running fight until 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The regiment was then rallied, and we proceeded to gather up the killed and wounded, which we succeeded in doing, and reached camp a little after dark.

My regiment killed 211, viz: By the staff, 3; a detachment of 36 men from the companies of Captains Twitty, Reeves, and Young, commanded by Capt. J.D. Young, killed 34; Captain Harman’s company killed 16; Captain Burk’s company killed 30; Captain Nicholson’s company killed 16; Captain Bound’s company killed 26; Captain Featherston’s company killed 10; Captain Hill’s company killed 26; Captain Wallace’s company, 50. Total killed, 211.

Our loss killed on the field was 1 private, William Franklin, Capt. Harman’s company; mortally wounded, Sergt. W. H. H. Addington, of Captain Young’s detachment, and W. S. Proctor, of Captain Wallis’ company; and J. N. Robinson, of Captain Wallis’ company, severely wounded, left arm broken; slightly wounded, Capt. J. D. Young, in the thigh, and Benjamin Clark, private in Captain Featherston’s company, wounded in the leg. Total killed and wounded, 6. In Captain Nicholson’s company 3 horses shot, and in Captain Harman’s company 3 horses shot. Captain Featherston’s company lost —; Captain Hill’s, 1 killed. In Captain Wallis’ company 1 horse killed and 1 disabled. In Captain Burk’s company 1 horse lost.

We took a great many women, children, and negroes prisoners; also a number of horses and cattle, which were turned over, by your order, to Captain Gipson, of the Arkansas regiment.

In conclusion, I am proud to say that both officers and men of my regiment behaved throughout the engagement as became soldiers and Texans.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                                    W. C. YOUNG

                                                            Colonel, Commanding Texas Cavalry.

Report of Lieut. Col. John S. Griffith, Sixth Regiment Texas Cavalry, of engagement at Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation.

HEADQUARTERS, SIXTH TEXAS REGIMENT,

Camp Hominy Creek, Cherokee Nation, December 27, 1861.

COLONEL: On the 26th instant, at 12 m., I was ordered by you to move my command up on the right of and parallel with Colonel Lane’s command. This executed brought me to Hominy Creek, when I was further ordered to dismount my men and form a line. When Colonel Lane made his gallant charge on the enemy I ordered my men to their horses, formed, and rapidly advanced in a  flanking movement you intended for me to make up the valley for half a mile, crossed over to the west, or battle side of the creek, proceeded a short distance up, and discovered the enemy upon the opposite bank. I charged across the creek, put the enemy to rout, continued up the valley something like a half mile farther, cutting off all the straggling and then flying Indians in that direction. I then turned to the left in a northwestward direction over the rocky hills and gorges that made into the larger gorge that was then in between Colonel Lane’s command and mine. Continuing this course, I crossed over five or six rocky hills, on three of which, behind the rocks, the enemy were in position in considerable numbers. My men gallantly charged in succession, putting them completely to rout It was during these charges that the brave and gallant Lieutenant Fitzhue and Thomas Arnold fell among the foremost in the fight.

After going about 3 miles in this direction I came to the Cross Hollows. There the enemy were collected in large numbers. Dismounting my men, we poured a galling fire on them at about 125 yards distance, which finally dislodged them. From thence I proceeded in a westward direction, cutting off occasionally straggling Indians, until 3.30 o’clock p.m. The loss of the enemy by my command, as near as can be estimated by myself and others, is 70 killed; that of my own men, 15 killed and wounded, as follows, to wit: Company C, Lieutenant Smith commanding, E. V. Howell, mortally wounded in the head; John R. West, wounded in the wrist. Company D, Lieutenant Kelly commanding, Bugler J. B. Harris, killed; G. w. Coffman, wounded in breast. Company E, Captain Wharton commanding, William Spencer, wounded in breast; W. P. Wright, wounded in breast and arm. Company F, Sergeant Young commanding, James Green, mortally wounded, shoulder and wrist; Henry Ellis, wounded in leg; George w. Wilson, wounded in chest and arm; Leonard Sheffield, wounded in breast. Company G, Captain Ross commanding, Thomas T. Arnold, killed; J. H. Whittington, wounded in groin. Company H, Lieutenant Whittington commanding, First Sergt. R. H. Baker, wounded slightly in shoulder; A. M. Keller, wounded slightly in hand. Company K, Captain Throckmorton commanding, First Lieut.  G. S. Fitzhue, killed.

At 3.30 o’clock I started back to where the battled commenced, where I arrived at dark, bringing in 75 women and children as prisoners and 3 negroes and 80 horses, which are herewith turned over to you. To the brave and gallant Captains Ross, Hardin, Wharton, and Throckmorton, and Lieutentants Scott, Cummings, Kelley, Smith, and Whittington, and Sergeant Young I am much indebted for the success we had by their fearless charges in the front of their respective commands, which so signally routed the enemy from every point. I am indebted to Adjutant Gurley and Sergeant-Major Porter for their efficiency in transmitting orders, as well as for good fighting. Lieutenants Truitt, Vance, and Cannon, and every non-commissioned officer and private, for so nobly sustaining their officers, not only deserve my thanks, but the applause of their countrymen. Assistant Surgeon Bradford did good duty as a soldier in the ranks until his presence was required with the wounded, whom he has since constantly and skillfully attended.

Before closing I must return my sincere thanks to Captains Ross, Wharton, and Throckmorton, and Adjutant Gurley for timely assistance when I was in imminent personal peril, and my gratitude to Providence for crowning our arms with victory.

With respect, I am, your obedient servant,

                                                                                    JOHN S. GRIFFITH

                                                            Lieut. Col., Comdg. Sixth Regiment Texas Cavalry.

COL. JAMES MCINTOSH, Commanding.

Report of Lieut. Col. Walter P. Lane, Third Texas (South Kansas-Texas) Cavalry, of engagement at Chustenahlah, Cherokee, Nation.

REGIMENTAL ENCAMPMENT,

South Kansas-Texas Cavalry, December 26, 1861

SIR:  I have the honor to submit the following report of my command in the battle of Chustenahlah, on the 26th instant:

I had with me the greater portion of five companies, to wit, Companies A, B, E, F, and G. To these were attached a few from other companies in the regiment, in all about 350 men. Company A was commanded by Sergt. R. B. Gause, Company B by Lieut. M. D. Ector, Company E by Capt. D. M. Short, Company F by Capt. Isham Chisum, and Company G by Lieut. O. A. Durrum. Our advance guard, in command of Captain Short, being fired upon by the enemy, stood firm until our force came up. It was at once evident that the enemy were in force and had taken a very strong position, protected and sheltered to a great extent by trees and rocks, with an open prairie in front of them. I was ordered to charge the strongest point of the enemy. When the regiments had taken the different positions assigned them the bugle sounded the charge. As we approached the foot of the hill the enemy opened a heavy fire upon us. No confusion was created by it in our advancing columns. Many of the enemy made for their stronghold on the top of the hill, where there was a natural breastwork of rocks, and fired over the rocks at us. Many of my men, without making any halt, gained the heights by the few narrow entrances on the side where it was alone accessible, while others dismounted and scaled the rock, and here for a short time a desperate struggle ensued. Many shots were fired when the contending parties were only in a few steps of each other, and in some instances they were engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle. Soon the point was cleared by us, and the enemy retreated in great confusion, some of them making a stand for a short time in the deep gorges and rocky defiles of the mountains. When we had completely scattered and routed those who had made a stand against us, hearing a heavy firing northeast, I oblique with my command in that direction, and joined Colonel Stone’s regiment, with which I co-operated during the remainder of the battle, going where, from the firing, we would be most likely to come up with the largest bodies of the enemy. We continued in the pursuit until one hour by sun in the evening.

It is due to all those in command of companies to say that they deserve great credit for the manner they led their companies into the charge and for their conduct throughout the battle. The truth is, every officer and private in my command acted gallantly and to my entire satisfaction during the engagement. I am proud indeed that at such a time it was my fortune to command such men. When I consider the position occupied by the enemy, I deem it nothing but due to you to state that the battle was admirably planned, and was executed by the different commands in a manner calculated to reflect great credit on our arms.

Yours, very respectfully,

                                                                        W. P. LANE

                                                Lieut. Col., Comdg. South Kansas-Texas Cavalry

JAMES MCINTOSH,

Colonel, Commanding, and Acting Brigadier-General

Report of Capt. William Gipson, Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, of engagement at Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation.

DECEMBER 28, 1861

SIR:  I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the battle of Chustenahlah by the battalion of your regiment under my command, composed of the following companies: My own, commanded by Lieutenant Scott; Captain Parker’s, commanded by Lieutenant Caldwell; Captain King’s, commanded in person; and Captain Flannagan’s, commanded by Lieutenant Callaway. In consequence of the companies being reduced by sickness and leave of absence, the whole number under my command amounted to only 130 men.

On the morning of the 26th December, after marching 10 miles, we came in sight of the encampment of the enemy, between whom and our advance guard an animated fire soon ensued. In obedience to your order I took position in the center, Colonels Greer and Stone’s regiment on my right and Colonel Young’s regiment and Captain Bennett’s company on my left. At the command we charged the enemy, who were positioned at a distance of 200 yards in the timber, and firing upon us from the points of the hills and valleys between. After our first fire they fell back among cliffs of rocks. We then dismounted, again attacked them, and again routed them. Finding that we could not overtake them on foot, we returned to our horses and followed up the retreat for 2 miles. Coming in sight of them, we again charged and routed them. We followed up the retreat for 3 miles, shooting and cutting the enemy down all along the route. I estimate that we killed from 80 to 100. I had none killed.

The following is a list of the wounded, viz:

My own company: Private J.G. Humphrey, dangerously; Private W. C. Eppler, dangerously; Private M. G. Blaylock, wounded in the arm; Private Riley Nicholson, slightly.

Captain Parker’s company: William McCarthey, wounded in the head.

Captain King’s company: Joseph H. Bradford, wounded slightly; Robert D. Bolton, wounded slightly.

Officers and men under my command fought bravely and did their whole duty.

                                                                                                WM. GIPSON

                                              Senior Capt., Comdg. Bat. Second Ark. Mounted Riflemen.

Colonel MCINTOSH, Commanding.

 Report of Capt. H.S. Bennett, Lamar Cavalry Company, of engagement

at Chustenahlah, Cherokee Nation.

            I beg to leave to state that on the day of the battle I had in my command 40 men, and that we formed in line for battle about 12 noon, and in a very short time made a charge on the enemy, then stationed about 300 yards distant, who instantly upon the charge being made fell back upon the opposite side of a ravine, covered with bush and vine, and on our approach to that point we received orders to dismount; but finding the enemy at such a distance, retreating and firing, I immediately ordered m company to remount and charge; but before reaching the base of the mountain the enemy had ascended its top and made a stand, and as we charged to the top of a steep and rocky mountain we encountered a very heavy fire from the enemy, about 100 strong. We ascended the mountain in good order, and made a desperate charge and at once put the enemy to flight. The enemy retreated in disorder. Occasionally from ambush or the cover of trees and rocks we received their deadly shots, and in this manner the conflict continued until we had completely routed them from the mountain, and then the first struggle ended, the company killing some 20 of the enemy and wounding some 9 or 10. The number killed in my company was 2 – Privates F. Lane and H. E. Wilson. One slightly wounded.

A portion of my command, under Lieut. I. H. Wright – whose gallantry on the occasion deserves praise – continued the pursuit some 7 or 8 miles, killing and wounding several more. It gives me pleasure to state that my small command did battle with a courage and heroism scarcely equaled.

The engagement on the 26th continued some three or four hours For such a signal and glorious victory the highest praise is due our gallant commander.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

                                                                                    H. S. BENNETT,

                                                                                    Captain, Lamar Cavalry.

Colonel MCINTOSH, Commanding Forces. 

Report of Col. James McIntosh, Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, commanding division,

of skirmish with Creeks and Seminoles.

HEADQUARTERS DIVISION,

Fort Smith, Ark., January 10, 1862

GENERAL:  In my report to you in regard to the captured property taken at Chustenahlah I should have stated that 190 sheep were turned over to the commissary, Captain Lanigan, at Fort Gibson.

Since writing that communication I have received a report from Colonel Watie, commanding Cherokee regiment (who I left behind to collect the stock taken from the Indians), stating that he brought back with him between 800 and 900 head of cattle and 250 Indian ponies. Colonel Cooper, who marched with his command of Indians over the ground two or three days after the battle, also found a number of cattle, which were secured. All this property is in addition to what I have hitherto reported.

Colonel Watie also reports that on his return to Grand River from the battle-field, he having ascertained that a company of Cherokees numbering 50 or 60 were near his camp, making their way northward, with arms in their hands, sent two companies to arrest them. In endeavoring to accomplish this 1 Cherokee was killed and 7 made prisoners. Their wagons and some of their arms fell into the hands of Colonel Watie. From an officer just in from Colonel Cooper’s command I ascertain that Hopoeitheyohola has gone to Kansas, and has not more than 400 or 500 Creeks with him. Many of the Indians who espoused his cause have left him since the battle, and are now anxious to come in and make a treaty. As we have made them entirely destitute, I think all but Hopoeithleyohola’s immediate followers will come in.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

                                                                                    JAMES MCINTOSH,

                                                                        Colonel, Commanding.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant-General C. S. Forces, Richmond, Va.

Report of Col. Stand Watie, Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles,

of skirmish with Creeks and Seminoles.

 HEADQUARTERS,

On Shoal Creek, December 28, 1861.

Colonel (later Brigadier General) Stand Watie, Cherokee Mounted Rifles

COLONEL:  In the march upon the enemy yesterday the force under my command had proceeded some 20 or 25 miles when my scouts, under Captain Coody, reported the enemy in considerable force on the hills to my left. I immediately left the route you were pursuing and took my command to the place where the enemy had been seen. They had discovered my approach and retreated to strong positions among the hills and mountain gorges. I placed about half of the command under Major Boudinot, directing him to go to the left, while I took command of the rest to the right. The enemy was scattered over a large scope of country, much of it inaccessible to horses, but my men attacked the enemy wherever found, never failing to route them from their strongholds. The fight continued with intervals for two hours or more. What is quite remarkable, none of my men were either killed or wounded. According to the best estimates I can make of the loss of the enemy, it could not be less than 9 or 10 killed. I cannot tell the number of wounded, but I have reason to think it quite small. This estimate does not include the killed of the enemy by the force under Major Boudinot, whose report of the doings of his command is herewith respectfully submitted. Captain Jumen and Capt. Joe Thompson commanded the part of the force which I took charge of. The officers and men of their companies behaved with signal gallantry.

I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,

                                                                                    STAND WATIE,

                                                                        Commanding Cherokee Regiment.

Colonel MCINTOSH, Commanding.

Flag of the Cherokee Mounted Rifles

Report of Maj. E. C. Boudinot, Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles,

of skirmish with Creeks and Seminoles.

HEADQUARTERS,

Shoal Creek, December 28, 1861.

Elias Boudinot, Cherokee Mounted Rifles

COLONEL:  In obedience to your order I took charge of the left division of the force under your command in the attack made upon the enemy yesterday. The enemy were seen upon every hill and in every valley, and according to the best estimate we could make of their strength they must have numbered from 500 to 600 warriors. They made no determined stand, but were driven by our soldiers from point to point. Every man seemed anxious to be foremost, and the charges made upon the enemy over rocks, mountains, and valleys – the roughest country I ever saw – were made with the utmost enthusiasm, and with irresistible impetuosity. Although the firing was brisk and rapid for an hour and a half, with intervals of following the enemy from one position to another, none of the men in my division were killed or wounded.

The killed of the enemy it is impossible to estimate accurately, as the skirmishing was over so much ground, so I give only the number which I am sure were counted, which is 11 killed; the wounded unknown.

The companies in the left division were commanded by Captains Bell, Mayes, Parks, and Coody, who all distinguished themselves by their daring and gallantry, as did also every officer and soldier in the command. You yourself had charge of the remainder of the force. We took some 75 prisoners, together with 25 or 30 pack horses, which afterwards were released by your order. It is due Colonel Taylor to state that when you gave me the command of the left division he was thought to be in your division, and after I discovered him in mine I yielded to his superior rank, and gave no orders but what were concurred in or first given by him.

                                                                                                E. C. BOUDINOT,

                                                                                    Major, Cherokee Regiment.

Col. STAND WATIE, Cherokee Regiment.

Miscellaneous reports of Chustenahlah from participants

Capt. H. L. Taylor

Third Texas Cavalry, CSA

We camped on the night of the 24th sixteen miles from Bird’s creek in a strip of woods surrounded by prairie. The Indians made their appearance of about 400 strong, on the open prairie north of us late in the evening. About 11 o’clock on Christmas day we came in contact with the outpost just south of Bird creek. They were quickly dispersed-in fact, leaving their post before we got in shooting distance. Crossing Bird creek, they joined their main fighting force, then occupied the mountain peak and cedar brakes. They were formed along the ledges of rocks and cedar breaks with their war paint and costumes on. Making all sorts of noises, such as crowing, cackling and yells of all sorts, they began firing on us as we were moving in line north of the creek.

Col. Walter Lane, one of the oldest and best Indian fighters on earth, without waiting orders to advance, had his gallant little bugler, Charlie Watts, to sound charge; and as on[e] man Col. Lane led our boys to the assault. The Indians were scattered in full retreat. We followed them in a running fight and would have killed most of them had it not been for the splendid tactics practiced by them.

These mountain spurs, covered with huge rocks and cedar breaks, were interspersed with narrow gorges covered with broom sedge almost as high as a man on horseback. The Indians would retreat across the gorges and prepare to fire the sedge at a given signal. All along our front flames would sweep rapidly over the gorges, and we were in the midst of it. We would have to retreat, and there we would have to wait for the fire to cool down before we could advance. We had about 50 killed and wounded. Among the wounded was Maj. George Clinton a very gallant officer. We had captured 300 women and children and one wounded warrior. It is estimated that they left from 275 to 300 dead on the field.

[Source: Taylor, H. L., “The Indian Battle of Chaustinolla,” Confederate Veteran 24 (March 1916) pg. 122]

Pvt. D. J. Cater

Company B, Third Texas Cavalry CSA

Their pickets were out in front of their main army, but after firing a few shots retreated to the main army on the heights, a splendid position, fortified by standing trees and elevated perpendicular rocks, with an occasional opening. They were not expecting a charge on their strong position, but McIntosh formed us in line, ordered to dismount, leaving every 5th man to hold horses, charge double quick and take those heights. The Indians were slow in leaving and continued to give us a battle as they retreated. This continued for several miles, until we arrived at their camp. They fled leaving their wagons, oxen, sheep, ponies, provisions, their women and children and 21 Negroes in our possession. We only captured one warrior and he was wounded. We killed 200 Indians but lost 50 men. We turned everything we captured over to Gen. Cooper except the Negroes, which we took with us.

[Source: Cater, D. J., “The Battle of Chustenahlah.” Confederate Veteran 38 (June 1930). pg. 233]

Pvt. Sam Love

Company A, Sixth Texas Cavalry CSA

Part of the Chustenahlah battlefield as it exists today. Note the mountain in the distance.

There has been more than 40 of this regiment died of disease while there hasn’t been but 5 killed and 12 or 15 wounded in our late battle on the head waters of the Vertigres [Vertigris] River, called the battle of Chewstinella [Chustenahlah]. After cooking 4 days rations on the night of the 25th we set out on the morning of the 26th, while one of the coldest northers I ever felt came full in our faces. After traveling 12 miles we crossed a large creek and directly after we saw a large smoke. We hadn’t gone more than 20 yards before we heard a gun fire towards the van of the army and then 3 or 4 and then 15 or 20 and directly 300 or 400 along a line of something near ¾ of a mile. Col. Griffith was ordered to the right, to dismount and charge the hill on foot while Col’s Lane and McEnthosh’es [McIntosh] Regt’s charged gallantly on horseback while we charged through the creek about 1 ½ inch water and ice and the same in mud, but we got to the top of the bank on the opposite side form where we started. Our Col. saw that we would not get into the fight on foot so he took the responsibility of ordering us back to our horses. So we charged through the creek again and got back to our horses. The other Regts had got the start of us and were likely to gain the laurels of the day. By moving to the right and charging another hill we got the lead and killed about as many as Col. Greer’s & Youngs and than the Arkansawyers did. One thing I forgot to mention, that while we were forming the Indians were barking like a dog howling like a wolf & yelling and gobbling like a turkey.

[Source: Sam Love Letter, December 30, 1861. Sixth Texas Collection, Harold B. Simpson Research Center, Hillsboro, Texas.]

Pvt. James H. Kerly

Company C, Sixth Texas Cavalry CSA

As we went up the mountain after them, they slapped their sides and gobbled like turkeys. We killed some of them and routed the others and captured about 300 fine beeves and camp equipment, besides their women and children. We turned the women and children over to Col. Cooper.

[Yeary, Mamie. Reminiscence of the Blue and Grey 1861-1865. Morningside Press: Dayton, Ohio. 1986. pp. 395-396.]

Phoebe Banks

Creek-owned slave

Old Gouge, all our family join up with him and there was lots of Creek Indians and slaves in the outfit. The runaways riding ponies stolen from their master. When we get to the hilly country they make amp on a big creek and the Rebel Indian soldiers catch up but they was fought back. Then long before morning lighten the sky get on the move farther. About the time they ready to ford another creek the Indian soldiers catch up and the fighting begin all over again. We try to fight off them soldiers like they done before, but they get scattered around and separated so’s they lose they burn Prairie.

[Source: Interview of Phoebe Banks, n. d., typescript, Grant Foreman Collection, Box 11. Thomas Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma.]

Casualties

Pvt. E. V. Powell and Bugler J. B. Hams, Company D; Pvt. James Gwen, Company F Lt. Thomas Arnold, Company G; Lt. G. S. Fitzhugh, Company K, Sixth Texas Cavalry CSA¸were killed in action. Pvt. G. H. Coffman, Company D; Pvt. W. P. Wright, Company E; Pvts. Henry Ellis, George Wilson, and Leonard Sheffield, Company F; Pvt. I. H. Whittington, Company G; 1st Sgt. R. H. Baker and Pvt. A. M. Keller, Company H, Sixth Texas Cavalry CSA, were wounded in action. From Greer’s Texas troops, Lt. Eckin was killed in action, and Maj. George Clinton was wounded.

[Source: Confederate Muster Rolls, Special microfilm Colletions, Roll IAD-5, passim, OHS/AD]

On this date in Civil War history: November 19, 1861 – Battle of Round Mountain (150th Anniversary)

Commentary by Whit Edwards from “The Prairie was on Fire” pp. 3-7:

Confederates at 2006 Round Mountain reenactment

In mid-November 1861 Opoethleyohola, a chief of the Creek tribe, along with about 5,000 men, women and children, departed their homes and moved northwest to isolate themselves from the growing conflict. His band consisted largely of Creek and Cherokee families, along with a few Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs and Alligator. Although the group opposed secession, it did not actively support abolition and other unionist policies. In fact, some of the families in Opoethleyhohola’s following were slave owners and brought their slaves with them, but there also were some freedmen among the refugees. Disagreements within the tribes were not so much connected with the national issues as they were with old quarrels related to the removal treaties. As politics became factionalized, the old vendettas reared their ugly head. Opoethleyohola had long been at odds with Daniel and Chilly McIntosh, two other Creek chiefs, who believed Opoethleyohola was responsible for the murder of their father in one of the many assassinations surrounding the removal treaty signing. The McIntosh brothers were responsible for doling out the federal annuities and had been accused of shorting Opoethleyohola for many years. Deep-seated resentments such as those made negotiation of politics concerning the national issues almost impossible.

Douglas H. Cooper, a former United States Indian agent and veteran of the Mexican War, was second in command of the Confederate Indian regiments and had tried to negotiate with Opoethleyohola. Pro-Confederate Indian leaders convinced Cooper that Opoethleyohola was a threat and must be chased from the Indian Territory. Opoethleyohola had been in contact with the United States Indian agent E. H. Carruth who had promised federal support from Kansas, but there is no evidence of support for the refugees. So with about 2,000 troops from his Indian regiment, Cooper began pursuit. Some left Buck Creek in the Choctaw Nation while others departed from Fort Gibson and Boggy Depot. Cooper proceeded north across the Canadian and North Canadian Rivers. Scouts and spies kept a close eye on Opoethleyohola’s band and informed Cooper of their location. Concerned with the reported large numbers of Opoethleyohola’s followers, Cooper rendezvoused with the Ninth Texas Cavalry which was heading north into Missouri.

The Texas troops were well drilled and anxious to try their military skills. When they arrived, the enthusiastic Indian troops greeted them with traditional songs and dances. However, their painted and undisciplined appearance gave the Texans little faith in their military expertise. One Texan remarked, “If there is an enemy near at hand our Indian brethren will certainly be cut up – have so little order. Two hundred well armed men can rout the whole rabble.” With the alliance set and anxieties high, they proceeded toward Opoethleyohola’s camp near the Creek Council at Thlobthlocco.

Opoethleyohola, who also was known as Gouge, learned of the Confederate pursuit and his followers began to fire the prairies as they moved north to Big Pond near the headwaters of the Deep Fork of the Canadian River. By burning the prairies and crops as they went, the deprived the pursuing Confederates of necessary forage and effectively slowed their pursuit. On the late afternoon of 19 November the forward elements of Cooper’s column made contact with Opoetheyohola’s lookouts or pickets a few miles north of Red Fork near a place called Round Mountain.

The Texas troops gave chase. The Indian pickets fired the prairie as they went and led the Confederates into a timber-lined, horseshoe-shaped prairie where they received a welcome of hot lead and flying arrows. Surprise, smoke, and darkness added to the confusion of battle.

The Battle of Round Mountain, the first engagement of the Civil War in the Indian Territory, must have completely surprised the Confederates. To be led into an ambush by a bunch of refugees must have been a blow to their confidence. Forced to retreat from their first real fight, the Confederates were determined to re-engage the enemy at first light. Pursuing the trail, Cooper’s troops came into Opoethleyohola’s hastily abandoned camp to find wagons, oxen, a few head of beef, some jaded ponies, and some of their own men, who were dead. Reassessing his position and the condition of his men and horses, Cooper decided to move east, first to Concharta then south to Tullahassee Mission, to recuperate. There also had been some saber rattling by Federal troops in Missouri which caused Gen. Ben McCulloch to alert Colonel Cooper that his troops might be needed to help defend northern Arkansas.

Also see: Battle of Chusto-Talasah (December 9, 1861); Battle of Chustenahlah (December 26, 1861)

The location of the Round Mountain battle is still unknown. There are two theories that abound – one denoting the location near Yale, Oklahoma and the other near Keystone, Oklahoma. Both are plausible but no proper archeological survey has been conducted as of this date. For a good paper on the state of the debate, consult the Chronicles of Oklahoma article here.

Round Mountain   

Other Names: Round Mountains

Location: Unknown

Campaign: Operations in the Indian Territory (1861)

Date(s): November 19, 1861

Principal Commanders: Chief Opothleyahola [I]; Col. Douglas H. Cooper [CS]

Forces Engaged: Creek and Seminole [I]; Indian Department [CS]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Opothleyahola, leader of the loyal Indians in the Trail of Blood on Ice campaign in 1861

Description: Col. Douglas H. Cooper, Confederate commander of the Indian Department, had not been able to reconcile differences with Chief Opothleyahola, who commanded a band of Unionist Creeks and Seminoles. Cooper set out on November 15, 1861, with about 1,400 men to  either compel submission . . . or “drive him and his party from the country.”  His force rode up the Deep Fork of the Canadian River towards Chief Opothleyahola’s camp which they found deserted. On the 19th, Cooper learned from captured prisoners that part of Chief Opothleyahola’s band was at the Red Fork of the Arkansas River, where they were erecting a fort. Cooper’s men arrived there around 4:00 pm and ordered a cavalry charge which discovered that Chief Opothleyahola’s band had recently abandoned the camp. The Confederates did find some stragglers beyond the camp and followed them, blundering into Chief Opothleyahola’s camp. The Federals fired into the Rebel cavalry and, in large force, came out to attack them. They chased the Confederates back to Cooper’s main force. Darkness prevented Cooper from attacking until the main enemy force was within 60 yards. A short fight ensued but Chief Opothleyahola’s men broke it off and retreated back to their camp. Cooper set out for Chief Opothleyahola’s camp the next morning but found it gone. The Confederates claimed victory because Chief Opothleyahola had left the area. This was the first of three encounters between Chief Opothleyahola’s Union bands and Confederate troops. The chief was forced to flee Oklahoma for Kansas at the end of the year.

Result(s): Confederate victory

CWSAC Reference #: OK001

Preservation Priority: N/D  (Class D)

Official Record of the War of the Rebellion

Series I Vol. 8

Excerpt from Col. Douglas H. Cooper’s January 20, 1862 report from Fort Gibson, I.T.

Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, CSA (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

Having exhausted every means in my power to procure an interview with Hopoeithleyohola, for the purpose of effecting a peaceful settlement of the difficulties existing between his party and the constituted authorities of the Creek nation, finding that my written overtures, made through several of the leading captains, were treated with silence, if not contempt, by him, and having received positive evidence that he had been for a considerable length of time in correspondence, if not alliance, with the Federal authorizes in Kansas, I resolved to advance upon him with the forces under my command, and either compel submission to the authorizes of the nation or drive him and his party from the country.

Accordingly, on the 15th day of November last, the troops, consisting of six companies of the First Regiment Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles; a detachment from the Fourth [Ninth] Regiment Texas Cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle; the Creek regiment, under Col. D.N. McIntosh, and the Creek and Seminole battalion, under Lieut. Col. Chilly McIntosh (the Creek war chief), and Maj. John Jumper (Chief of Seminoles), in all about 1,400 men were moved up to the Deep Fork of the Canadian towards the supposed camp of Hopoeithleyohola’s forces. The camp, which had been abandoned, was found, and the trail from it followed, with varied prospects of success, until the 19th of the month named, on which day some of the disaffected party were seen and a few prisoners taken. From those prisoners information was obtained that a portion of Hopoeithleyohola’s party were near the Red Fork of the Arkansas River, on their route towards Walnut Creek, where a fort was being erected, and which had for some time been their intended destination in the event of not receiving promised aid from Kansas before being menaced or attacked.

After crossing the Red Fork it became evident that the party was near and the command was pushed rapidly forward. About 4 o’clock p.m. some camp smokes were discovered in front a short distance and the enemy’s scouts seen at various points. A charge was ordered to be made by the detachment of Texas cavalry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, upon the camp, which, however, was found to have been recently deserted. Other scouts, being discovered beyond the camp, were pursued by the Texas troops about 4 miles, when they disappeared in the timber skirting a creek, upon which it was afterwards ascertained the forces of Hopoeithleyohola were then encamped. While searching for the fugitives the troops were fired upon by the concealed enemy, and 1 man was killed. The enemy immediately appeared in large force, and our troops, rallying and forming, succeeded in making a stand for a short time, when the efforts of the vastly superior force of the enemy to outflank and inclose them caused them to retire.

During the retreat towards the main body of our forces a constant fire was kept up on both sides. Many of the enemy were killed, and on our part 1 officer and 4 men and 1 man wounded. So soon as the firing was heard at the position of the main body the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment was formed and advanced towards the enemy.

The exceeding darkness of the night rendered the relative position of our friends and foes uncertain and restrained the firing on our part until the enemy was within 60 yards of our line. Even then the order to fire was withheld until Col. James Bourland, of Texas (my volunteer aid on the occasion), and myself rode to the front, and the former called to those approaching, asking if any Texans were there, which was answered by the crack of the enemy’s rifles. A brisk fire was then opened by companies I and K, under Captains Welch and Young, and by companies D, E, and G, under Captains Hall, Reynolds, and McCurtain, as they successively took position After a short but sharp conflict the firing of the enemy ceased, and under cover of the darkness he made good his retreat. About 50 Choctaws and Texans were then sent out, under Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen. R.W. Lee, to examine the ravine in front and on the flanks, when it was found that the enemy had left the field and retreated in the direction of their camps.

During the action the line was re-enforced by portions of Captains Brinson’s, T.G. Berry’s, J.E. McCool’s, and Stewart’s companies, of the Texas regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, and by a few Creeks, under Lieut. Col. Chilly McIntosh, Captain Severs, and Lieutenant Berryhill. In the last encounter we had 2 men severely wounded and 1 slightly. Many horses were shot. Our men escaped mainly in consequence of being dismounted and by firing either kneeling or lying down. Our entire loss in the engagement was 1 captain and 5 men killed, 3 severely and 1 slightly wounded, and 1 missing. Prisoners taken since the battle concur in stating the loss of the enemy to have been about 110 killed and wounded.

Soon after daylight on the 20th the main camp of the enemy was entered, and it was found that they had precipitately abandoned it, leaving behind the chief’s buggy, 12 wagons, flour, sugar, coffee, salt, & c., besides many cattle and ponies. Hopoeithleyohola’s force in this engagement has been variously estimated at from 800 to 1,200 Creeks and Seminoles and 200 to 300 negroes.

The conduct of both officers and men within the scope of my observation was marked by great coolness and courage. I would particularize as worthy of high commendation the conduct of Col. James Bourland (who kindly volunteered his valuable services on this occasion and at other times); Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen. R.W. Lee; Maj. Mitchell Laflore; Lieut. Joseph A. Carroll, acting adjutant Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles; Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle and Captains Brinson and McCool, of the Texas regiment; Captain Severs, of the Creek regiment; Lieut. Col. Chilly McIntosh, Creek battalion; Lieut. Samuel Berryhill, of the Creek regiment, and Maj. J. Jumper, Seminole battalion.

The promptness with which the Choctaws and Chickasaws came into line and the steadiness with which they maintained their position during the entire action merit unqualified praise, especially when it is considered that the night was extremely dark, the number and position of the enemy uncertain, and that they stood for the first time under an enemy’s fire.

The following is a list of the killed and wounded: W. J. Lyttle, Captain Welch’s squadron Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, severely wounded; Daniel Cox, Captain Welch’s squadron Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, slightly wounded; Capt. C. S. Stewart, Texas regiment, killed; John H. Crow, Texas regiment, killed; ______Reed, Texas regiment, killed; _______ Jackson, Texas regiment, killed; John Friend, Texas regiment, severely wounded; ______ Smith, Creek regiment, killed; ________ Smith, Creek regiment, severely wounded; one killed, name not reported.

In consequence of notice received from General McCulloch that Fremont was at Springfield with a very large force; that his advance guard had marched, and that probably his main body would move South the next day; that he (General McCulloch) would obstruct the roads and fight from the line down, but might be obliged to fall back to Boston Mountains, and he having directed me to take position near the Arkansas line, so as to co-operate with him, in connection with the fact that the forage of the country had been destroyed by the enemy and the horses of my command worn down by rapid marches, it was considered improper to pursue the enemy farther, and I returned with the troops to my train at Concharta, which was reached on the 24th of November, 1861.

Information being received at this time that the anticipated attack upon General McCulloch had been averted by Fremont’s retreat, and that Hopoeithleyohola, with his forces, had taken refuge in the Creek country by invitation of the a leading disaffected Cherokee, it was considered unnecessary to take post near the Arkansas line (as directed by General McCulloch), but proper to prosecute the operations against Hopoeithleyohola without delay and with the utmost energy, which I accordingly proceeded to do.

After a few days’ rest and preparation the forces under my command at Spring Hill¸ near Concharta, consisting of 430 rank and file of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment Mounted Rifles¸ under Maj. Mitchell Laflore; 50 men, under Capt. Alfred Wade, Choctaw battalion; 285 men of the First Creek Regiment, commanded by Col. D.N. McIntosh, and 15 Creeks, under Capt. James M.C. Smith – in all 780 men – were put in motion on the 29th of November in the direction of Tulsey Town, and Colonel Sims, who had gone with the sick of his regiment to Tallahassa, Mo., with all the available force of the Fourth Texas Cavalry, was ordered to move up Verdigris River in the direction of Coody’s settlement, where Col. John Drew, with a detachment of his regiment about 500 strong, was then posted.

At Tulsey Town information was received from a prisoner escaped from Hopoeithleyhola’s camp that an immediate attack was intended by the enemy, 2,000 strong. Colonel Drew was ordered to march from Coody’s and form a junction with my command somewhere on the road to James McDaniels’. Colonel Sims, then at Mrs. McNair’s, on Verdigris, was ordered to join me at David Van’s. From some misunderstanding Colonel Drew marched direct to Melton’s, 6 miles northeast from Hopoeithleyohola. While following the direction contained in his reply I marched north from Van’s to Musgrove’s, on Caney. Thus he arrived in the immediate vicinity of the enemy twenty-four hours or more in advance of the main body.

Report of Capt. M. J. Brinson, Ninth Texas Cavalry, of engagement at Round Mountain

CAMP WILSON,

Creek Nation, November 25, 1861

SIR: I hereby transmit to you an account of the battle fought on the 19th instant:

The attack was brought on by the second squadron about sunset, composed of about 70 men. I was promptly aided on my right by Captain Berry and on my left by Captain McCool, who formed in my own, or second squadron. After firing from three to five rounds I perceived the enemy in strong position and force, numbering some 1,500 Indians, and flanking my small force upon the right and left, I had necessarily to fall back to the main command, some 2 ½ miles, under a heavy retreating fire. The whole command – in which I fought my own squadron, Captain Berry’s company, a part of McCool’s, and a part of Captain Williams’ company – I am confident did not amount to exceeding 150 men.

In my own company I regret to have to report the loss of John H. Crow, a private, killed. None wounded. One horse, 1 gun, and 5 powder-flasks losts.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. J. BRINSON,

Commanding.

Lieut. Col. WILLIAM QUAYLE

Reports of Capt. R. A. Young, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, of engagement at Round Mountain.

SPRINGFIELD CAMP,

Cherokee Nation, November 30, 1861

            COLONEL: On the 19th instant, a little after night-fall, we were ordered to saddle up and mount our horses, and the order was given to march. After marching 200 or 300 yards we were ordered to halt and form, which we did, and then advanced [to with] in about 150 yards of the enemy and dismounted. While dismounting we were fired on and 2 of our horses shot. My men dismounted in good order, and I ordered them to advance and fire. We advanced 8 or 10 paces from our horses and fired, the enemy keeping up a constant fire on us. We loaded and fired the third time and silenced the enemy’s guns.

The prairie was on fire on my right, and as we advanced to the attack I could see very distinctly the enemy passing the fire, and I supposes a large body of men (200 or 300), but they were about 300 yards from me and the prairie was burning very rapidly, and I may have taken the motion of the grass for men.

I lost 6 horses in the fight; those that were not mortally wounded stampeded, and we could not find them next morning. I suppose the engagement lasted fifteen minutes.

I am, colonel, respectfully yours,

R. A. YOUNG

Capt., Comdg. Co. K, 1st Regt. C. and C. Mounted Rifles.

Col. D. H. COOPER,

Commanding Indian Department.

Miscellaneous reports of Round Mountain from participants

Lt. Col. William Andrew Quayle

Commanding, Ninth Texas Cavalry, CSA

We found the enemy in considerable numbers, supposed to be 1500 strongly posted. We were fired upon by them, and formed as quick as the circumstances of the attack would admit, and returned their fire until it was evident that they were attempting to surround us, which their numbers and position enabled them to do. I thought it best to retreat, and were followed by the enemy nearly 2 miles, returning their fire as we went, until we were reinforced by [Col.] Cooper.

[Source: William A. Quayle, Report, January, 1862, Special Microfilm Collections, Roll IAD-5, OHS/AD]

Lt. James Bates

Company H, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

We had scarcely formed when we heard firing ahead but it was now so dark we could not distinguish an Indian from a white man at three paces. It was therefore deemed most advisable for us to remain as we were for a time at least and await events. The Choctaws had been formed on our left and rather in advance of us. By the light of the prairie burning some half mile in front of us we could see their passing. Our men ran into an ambush where they were fired on in front and on both flanks. The Creeks fled and left the Texans to take care of themselves. Our loss was 6 killed and 4 wounded. Ordered to sleep on our arms. By daylight all men mounted and ready for march. Determined to pursue the enemy in Potheohola’s [Opothleyohola] camp found two of our men taken prisoner by them and beaten to death. Burned 15 to 20 wagons with their contents left by old Gouge.

[Source: James C. Bates, A Texas Cavalry Officer’s Civil War: The Diary and Letters of James C. Bates, ed. Richard Lowe(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999), 22.]

Sgt. George Griscom

Company D, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

The advance finds & drove in their pickets, the command divides, charge about five miles, find the position evacuated & keep a furious rate 3 miles to Round Mountain Creek where they were posted in a horseshoe of timber…when within 100 yards the enemy tried to stampede us by sending dogs through our ranks. When a general engagement ensued…it was now dark & we were fighting by the flash of the enemy’s guns fighting us on 3 sides & had set the prairie on fire in half a dozen places affording the men light to fight by. [We] were obliged to fall back… the enemy tried to turn our left flank in heavy force but Col. Cooper with his Choctaws met them & a bloody fight of 15 minutes turned them back. We fell back about 2 mile and camped having suffered the loss of Capt. [Charles] Stuart & J. Crow, a lad of 16, Jas. Jackson, E. Reed killed.

[Source: George L. Griscom, Fighting With Ross’ Texas Cavalry Brigade: The Diary of George L. Griscom, Adjutant, Ninth Texas Cavalry Regiment, ed. Home L. Kerr (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1976) 5-6.]

Pvt. A. W. Sparks

Company I, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

We rode out on a high prairie, at a distance of 400 or 600 yards there were some small creeks with lower lands on which there was some timber, where the prairie appeared to be shut in by the streams coming together, forming a landscape view that would be represented by a sharp letter V. The company was ordered front into line and from this position could see the smoke as it rose from the camp of the enemy. Capt. Stuart then ordered an advance. Away we went. By some means as if by magic a lone rider managed to fire the prairie several times while on the run – and we close after him. When within 40 yards we received a volley of balls and arrows that were discharged by a hidden enemy, but for our proximity we saw them when they raised up to fire on us. Capt. Stuart gave the command, “left onto line” and as the company dashed into line each man discharged his piece into the half hidden ranks of the enemy. The company was rapidly and nicely forming with good effect when on the extreme left Lt. [James] English called to those on the left to aim left as the Indians were now enfilading our line with severe fire. While Capt. Stuart was firing he was struck in the forehead by a large ball that passed out a little to the left and center of the back of his head. One of our Lieutenants seeing the rapid movements of the enemy, ordered us to retreat and load as retreating. As soon as our guns were loaded, were immediately discharged upon our pursuing enemy who were pepering us with a deadly aim.

[Source: A.W. Sparks, The War Between the States as I Saw It: Reminiscent, Historical and Personal (Tyler, Texas: Lee and Burnett, 1901), 31-35.]

Pvt. Benjamin Rush Vines

Company I, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

Old Hathluhola [Opothleyohola] a Creek Indian Chief was supposed he had about 2000 warriors of the Creek Nation and about 1000 women and children and about 500 Jayhawkers, our force was about 2500. We overtaken the enemy just at dusk. Capt. [Charles Stuart’s] company and [M. J. Brinson]’s was marched together which made one squadron. When our squadron came in site of the enemy our Captain formed us in a line for battle. They comminced firing on us they run us in a place where he had no chance to dodge. We was surrounded with creeks except one little space. It was in the shape of a horse shoe nyer than any comparison I can make. The enemy was discharging their guns from every side except where we marched in at. We was compelled to retreat back. We comminced retreating back firing on the enemy until we went about one half mile. Charles [Stuart] called a halt. There he fell to the gound the last words we heard him say was “form on me.” There was two buckshot went in the left side of his head. I fired my gun 3 time before we give back then I continued to discharge my weapon as fast as I could load until I had shot eight times I think. Our loss was 6 men. The losses of the enemy was from 60 to 100.

[Source: Benjamin R. Vines, Letter, November 30, 1861, Benjamin R. vines Letters, Private Collection, Virginia Gammons, Van Zandt, Texas.]

Pvt. William Coffman

Company B, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

Sick with the measles here am with the train & more of our men taken sick. Col [William B.] Sims with the remainder went on to Col. Cooper who is camped in 25 miles of Porthleholar [Opothleyohola] he has got a large force of Creeks & jayhawkers from Kansas. I was with our boys on a scout & we struck sign of Portheleholar we followed him, we come on him in the evening a part of our men attacked him, apart had halted. I with them. Noise come from the heroes we started to assist them it being dark and our men greatly out numbered our men retreated back missing us leaving us to the right some 300 yards. Major [N.B.] Towns would not let us go saying we would not know who we was firing on. At this moment was fired on by our men we was greatly confused. Giving them our password, Texas, they ran off in the dark. I felt very much like shooting after I was shot at. Next morning we went to their camp finding 15 or 17 wagons, 8 yoke of oxen and many ponies all abandoned, the wagons were all burned. We found stricnine in beef & corn & 2 men who had been taken prisoner tied and beat to death.

[Source: William Coffman Letter, November 25, 1861, ninth Texas Collection, SRC.]

Casualties

Capt. Charles Stuart and Pvts. John Crow, John Reed, John Jackson, Texas Cavalry Battalion CSA, and Pvt. Smith and one unnamed man, Creek Regiment CSA, were reported killed in action. Pvts. W. J. Little, John Freid, Texas Regiment CSA, and Pvts. Daniel Cox and Smith, Creek Regiment CSA, were reported wounded.

[Source: Confederate Muster Rolls, Special microfilm Colletions, Roll IAD-5, passim, OHS/AD]

On this date in Civil War history: December 9, 1861 – The Battle of Chusto-Talasah (150th Anniversary)

Chusto-Talasah Battlefield as it exists today. Photo taken in July 2011 by Jeffrey S. Williams

Also known as the engagement of “Caving Banks” or “Little High Shoals,” the Civil War Battle of Chusto-Talasa took place on Bird Creek near present Sperry in Tulsa County. In November 1861 Col. Douglas H. Cooper, Confederate commander of the Indian Territory, set out with Choctaw-Chickasaw, Creek, and Texas units to subdue Creek Chief Opothleyahola and his Creek and Seminole followers, who refused to accept their nations’ alliance with the Confederate States of America. The Confederates also hoped to confiscate the dissidents’ slaves and enslave all Indian freedmen. Cooper’s first attack on the alerted and fleeing “Union” Indians at the Battle of Round Mountain on November 19 was unsuccessful. The escapees retreated north and took position within the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek.

Opothleyahola had perhaps two thousand to twenty-five hundred individuals with him, the majority being women, children, and poorly armed men. The Confederates fielded thirteen hundred soldiers with the addition of two Cherokee regiments. Cooper attacked mid-afternoon on December 9. About dusk a Texas cavalry squadron outflanked the bend, while the First Regiment Choctaw-Chickasaw Mounted Rifles penetrated its center. But Cooper did not have enough ammunition to eradicate the defeated refugees as they fled toward Kansas. Cooper suffered fifty-two casualties plus some desertions from Col. John Drew’s First Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Opothleyahola lost an estimated 150 to three hundred dead and wounded, plus many noncombatants captured.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carter Blue Clark, “Opothleyohola and the Creeks During the Civil War,” in Indian Leaders: Oklahoma’s First Statesmen, ed. H. Glenn Jordan and Thomas M. Holm (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1979). LeRoy H. Fischer and Kenny A. Franks, “Confederate Victory at Chusto-Talasah,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 49 (Winter 1971-72). W. Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew’s Regiment of Mounted Rifles (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989).

Commentary by Whit Edwards in “The Prairie was on Fire” pp. 7-9:

Opoethleyohola did not want to join the unionists in Kansas, but he hoped to stay clear of the Confederates. He therefore moved his band north and east and settled into camp north of Tulsey Town on Bird Creek. There they, as well as the Confederates in their camps, suffered an outbreak of the measles, which debilitated both groups Spurred by concerns from the leadership in the Creek and Cherokee tribes that Opoethleyohola would stir up trouble, Cooper took action. On 30 November Cooper was again on Opoethleyohola’s trail The weather had turned fearfully cold and the troops were none too happy to be back in the saddle. On 7 December Cooper pinpointed the enemy camp and received word they might be willing to negotiate. Cooper sent emissaries from Col. John Drew’s Cherokee Regiment into Opoethleyohola’s camp. Later that evening Drew’s regiment suffered 400 desertions from a contingent of 480 men. Some fled back to Fort Gibson, while the majority went over to the enemy and joined Opoethleyohola’s camp. Alarmed that his flank was exposed and the enemy reinforced, Cooper formed a line of battle and waited for an attack. Because his men had slept “on their arms” all night, Cooper feared his force would be too weak to attack, and perhaps too weak to defend, so he proceeded down Bird Creek to Tulsey Town.

As the Confederates crossed the creek, Opoethleyohola ambushed the rear of the retreating column. Colonel Cooper reacted quickly by bringing his troops to bear and sending his wagon train east out of harm’s way. Opoethleyohola used the attack on Cooper’s rear as a ruse to get Cooper to chase the attackers to a battlefield of Opoethleyohola’s own choosing. Old Gouge had his men well posted in a bend of Bird Creek called Chusto-Talasah or Little High Shoals, a natural ambuscade that was easily defended.

The Battle of Chusto-Talasah lasted about four hours as both sides charged and attempted flanking maneuvers. Neither side could get the upper hand. As the day came to an end, the gunfire fizzled, and both sides slipped away under the cover of darkness. Once again Colonel Cooper had not been able to capture or subdue his wily enemy. The fight had exhausted Cooper’s ammunition supply, and he was forced to fall back to Fort Gibson to resupply. Old Gouge’s supplies also were depleted, and he headed northwest toward Shoal Creek to a place called Chustenahlah.

National Park Service/American Battlefield Protection Program Summary 

Chusto-Talasah  

Other Names: Caving Banks

Location: Tulsa County

Campaign: Operations in the Indian Territory (1861)

Date(s): December 9, 1861

Principal Commanders: Chief Opothleyahola [I]; Col. Douglas H. Cooper [CS]

Forces Engaged: Creek and Seminole [I]; Indian Department [CS]

Estimated Casualties: Unknown

Description: Following Chief Opothleyahola and his Union force’s defeat at Round Mountain, he retreated northeastward, in search of safety. On December 9, 1861, the force was at Chusto-Talasah, or Caving Banks, on the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek when Col. Douglas H. Cooper’s 1,300 Confederates attacked Chief Opothleyahola around 2:00 pm. Chief Opothleyahola knew Cooper was coming and had placed his troops in a strong position at Horseshoe Bend. For almost four hours, Cooper attacked and attempted to outflank the Federals, finally driving them east across Bird Creek just before dark. Cooper camped there overnight but did not pursue the Federals because he was short of ammunition.  The Confederates claimed victory. Chief Opothleyahola and his band moved off in search of security elsewhere. Although the Confederates had gained a victory, they would win a resounding one later in the month at Chustenahlah.

Result(s): Confederate victory

CWSAC Reference #: OK002

Preservation Priority: IV.2 (Class D)

See also: The Battle of Round Mountain – November 19, 1861; The Battle of Chustenahlah – December 26, 1861.

Map of the Chusto-Talasah Battlefield from the May 2010 Civil War Sites Advisory Committee's Oklahoma Update

 

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

Chusto-Talasah – December 9, 1861

Series I, Volume 8

Excerpt from Colonel Douglas H. Cooper’s report from Fort Gibson, January 20, 1862

Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, CSA (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

On the 8th of December, about 12 o’clock, I found him encamped on Bird’s Creek. After a brief interview, in which he informed me that Hopoeithleyohola had sent a message expressing a desire to make peace, I authorized him to send in return to Hopoeithleyohola the assurance that we did not desire the shedding of blood among the Indians, and proposed a conference next day. Major Pegg, of the Cherokee regiment, was sent, and I proceeded to encamp about 2 miles below Colonel Drew, on the same creek. Much to my surprise, about 7 o’clock at night several members of Colonel Drew’s regiment came to my camp with the information that Major Pegg had returned without being able to reach Hopoeithleyohola, who was surrounded by his warriors, several thousand in number, all painted for the fight, and that an attack would be made upon me that night; that the Cherokee regiment, panic-stricken, had dispersed, leaving their tents standing, and in many instances even their horses and guns. Soon afterwards the wagon-master of the Cherokee regiment and his teamsters, true to their duty, brought down a portion of their trains and provisions. Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, with a squadron of the Fourth [Ninth] Texas Cavalry, was then sent to Colonel Drew’s relief and to report the condition of his camp. Colonel Drew and 28 members of his regiment soon afterwards came into my camp and fully confirmed the statements made by the first party and declared their intention to assist in its defense.

My whole command had been, on the first alarm, formed and so disposed as to protect and defend our camp on all sides and remained under arms all night, quietly awaiting the enemy.

No attack was made, however, and soon after daylight Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen. R.W. Lee, with a small party, went up to Colonel Drew’s deserted camp and found all standing and apparently untouched. Colonel Drew, with the Cherokees, a portion of the Texas cavalry, and some Choctaws, went up and brought away the camp equipage, and other property found there. About 11 o’clock I recrossed the creek and proceeded down on the east side, with a view of taking a position which would enable me to keep open communication with the depot at Coweta mission and with re-enforcements of Creeks, Seminoles, and Choctaws who were expected at Tulsey Town.

Captain Foster, of the Creek regiment, was sent with two companies of that regiment again across towards Parks’ Store, on Shoal Creek, to ascertain whether the enemy had come down from the mounts, and also to look after Captain Parks and his men, who had gone on a scout the night before to the rear of Hopoeithleyohola’s camp.

After proceeding down Bird Creek about 5 miles, two runners from Captain Foster reached me at the head of the column, stating he had found the enemy in large force below. Parks had exchanged a few shots with them, taken 6 prisoners¸ and was retreating, hotly pursued. Scarcely had this intelligence reached me before shots were heard in the rear. Hastily directing the Cherokee train to be parked on the prairie and a sufficient guard placed over it, the forces were formed in three columns, the Choctaws and Chickasaws on the right, the Texans and Cherokees in the center¸ and the Creeks on the left, and the whole advanced at quick gallop upon the enemy, who had by this time shown himself in large force above us, along the timber skirting the main creek for over 2 miles, as well as a ravine extending far out into the prairie. A party of about 200 having attacked our rear guard, Captain Young, in command of a squadron of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, being in rear of the main column, perceiving the encounter, wheeled his squadron and advanced rapidly towards the enemy. Upon his approach the party retreated towards the timber on Bird Creek.

The leading companies of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, commanded by Captains Jones and McCurtain, were directed to the right, so as to form a junction with the squadron under Captain Young. Col. D.N. McIntosh, with his Creek regiment, was ordered to turn the right of the enemy on the creek. That portion of the enemy on the ravine in the prairie were driven by the Choctaws and Texans across the open ground intervening between it and timber on the creek. The position then taken up by the enemy at Chusto-Talasah, or the Caving Banks (the Creeks call the place Fonta-hulwache, Little High Shoals), presented almost insurmountable obstacles to our troops.

The creek made up to the prairie on the side of our approach in an abrupt, precipitous bank, some 30 feet in height, at places cut into steps, reaching near the top and forming a complete parapet, while the creek, being deep, was fordable but at certain points known only to the enemy. The opposite side, which was occupied by the hostile forces, was densely covered with heavy timber, matted undergrowth, and thickets, and fortified additionally by prostrate logs. Near the center of the enemy’s line was a dwelling house, a small corn-crib, and rail fence, situated in a recess of the prairie at the gorge of a bend of the creek, of horseshoe form, about 400 or 500 yards in length. This bend was thickly wooded, and covered in front, near the house, with large interwoven weeds and grass, extending to a bench, behind which the enemy could lie and pour upon the advancing line his deadly fire in comparative safety, while the creek banks on either side covered the house by flank and reverse.

The Creeks, commanded by Col. D.N. McIntosh, on the left came soon into action, and, charging the enemy with great impetuosity, met them in hand-to-hand encounter, drove them from the timber, and dispersed them in every direction. On the right the Choctaws and Chickasaws boldly charged on horse to the bank of a ravine near the creek under a heavy fire, and, dismounting, drove back the enemy, who disputed every step of their advance with the greatest obstinacy and bravery. Major Laflore, Captains Jones, McCurtain, and Reynolds were particularly conspicuous in this part of the engagement; also Colonel Drew and his men, who acted with the Choctaws and Texans. Almost simultaneously with these movements on the right and left a detachment of the Texas cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, made a charge to the left of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment and routed the enemy in that quarter; then, changing position to the right of the line, warmly engaged the Indians concealed about the creek and ravines. Another detachment of the Texas cavalry, under Colonel Sims, after making a demonstration to the right of the Creek regiment, moved up the creek about 1 mile, joined Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, and assisted him in completing the rout of the enemy in that direction. In the mean time the enemy appeared in large force about the house at the bend, and Captain Young, of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, was ordered with his squadron, about 100 strong, to attack them. The charge of the squadron was made in gallant style to the timber below the house, and, there dismounting, moved up under cover of the fence.

The enemy were driven from their stronghold and pursued far into the bend, where, receiving on the flank and unexpected fire, the squadron took position at the house. Being then re-enforced by some men from Captains Reynolds’, McCurtain’s, and Hall’s companies, of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, the conflict with the persistent foe was renewed with increased vigor, and after a fierce struggle the enemy was forced, with heavy loss, through the bend and across the creek.

Our troops, changing position at this juncture to meet a flank fire again on the right, the enemy in front rallied, and by their direct firing from the creek and on the right and rear compelled a retreat again to the house. At this time the force of the enemy at this point was not less than 500, and at no time during the conflict here did our force equal one-half that number. The combat now was at close quarters, and raged with great fury on both sides for some half hour, the enemy alternately yielding and advancing and pouring upon our troops a galling fire. While thus engaged the horses of our men were menaced in rear, and, the alarm being given, caused a movement in that direction. The horses being secured, the troops formed again in line at some distance in front of the house.

I would particularly notice here the conspicuous conduct of Asst-Adjt. Gen. R.W. Lee, who fought on foot with the men, cheering and encouraging them during the conflict at this point, and who here received a contusion, his life probably being saved by his pistol-belt turning the ball.

A few minutes afterwards a detachment of Creeks, under Col. D.N. McIntosh, opportunely came up to the relief of the exhausted men of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, and, throwing themselves upon the enemy, closed the battle.

The firing now entirely silenced, the enemy disappeared from our entire front, and the sun having set, the troops were withdrawn and marched to camp. The battle lasted over four hours.

On the next morning the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, the Creek regiment, Colonel Drew and his Cherokees, and a portion of the Texas regiment returned to the battle ground. The enemy had retreated to the mountains.

After burying our dead we followed the train, which had been sent with the wounded, under Colonel Sims, to Van’s, and encamped again for the night within a few miles from the battle-field.

The force of the enemy in the engagement at Chusto-Talasah was certainly over 2,500. Several Cherokee prisoners stated it at 4,000. This was also major Pegg’s estimate after his visits to Hopoeithleyohola’s camp. Their loss, as admitted by prisoners taken in our last scout, was 412. It probably was 500 in killed and wounded.

The force on our side actually engaged did not exceed 1,100, a strong guard being necessary at the Cherokee train. Our loss was 15 killed and 37 wounded.

The officers and men under my command behaved throughout the engagement at Chusto-Talasah on the 9th of December in such manner as to meet unqualified approbation, and coming under my personal observation I would mention as worthy of especial notice and commendation the conduct of the following:

Col. D.N. McIntosh, Creek regiment; Lieut. Col. William Quayle, Texas regiment; Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen. R.W. Lee; Maj. Mitchell Laflore, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Actg. Adjt. Joseph A. Carroll, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Capts. R.A. young, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Lem. M. Reynolds, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Joseph R. Hall, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Willis Jones, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Jackson McCurtain, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; W.B. Pitchlynn, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; Lieuts. J.W. Wells, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles; James F. Baker, Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment Mounted Rifles.

First Serg. Samuel P.C. Patten particularly distinguished; Capt. Alfred Wade, Choctaw battalion, and my young bugler, Nathaniel J. O. Quine.

The actual loss of the enemy in this engagement far exceeded our first estimate, and, although calculated to dishearten them, was of less importance than the moral effect produced. They had learned that their superior numbers could not compensate for the determined valor of our troops and that they could not successfully meet them in combat; that whenever we could find them we could defeat them, and that without material aid from abroad Hopoeithleyohola’s party must be entirely destroyed. Impressed with this conviction, the main body of Hopoeithleyohola’s army retired hastily towards Kansas, where an asylum had been offered them. This statement is made by intelligent prisoners, confirmed by the appearance of the trails leading towards Kansas seen on our scout two weeks afterwards.

Report of Col. D.N. McIntosh, First Creek Regiment, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah

CAMP PLEASANT,

Cherokee Nation, December 16, 1861

Colonel Daniel Newnan McIntosh, 1st Creek Mounted Rifles, CSA

SIR: According to your request I will hereby give you a brief account of the battle at High Shoal, Cherokee Nation, on the 9th instant:

The engagement took place about 2 p.m., and continued for [the] space of three and a half or four hours. Without any doubt our enemies had the following advantages over us:

1st. From all appearances it was a premeditated affair by them. They had placed their forces in a large creek, knowing by marching across the prairie that we would be likely to pass in reach of the place.

2d. The ground they had selected were extremely difficult to pass, and in fact most of the banks on the creek were bluff and deep waters, so that no forces could pass across only at some particular points, which were only known to them.

3d. This place was fortified also with large timber on the side they occupied, and on our side [the] prairie extended to the creek, where the enemies were bedded, lying in wait for our approach.

Having completed the above plan, they sent out to us a small portion of their forces to make the attack, in order to draw us down to their desired and selected place, which was done on our rear guard, and immediately we marched on to our enemies, taking the left division, while your command on the right and Texas regiment occupied he middle division. Thus the engagement was generally commenced. Our men, without any exception, fought bravely, and finally the Creek regiment, under my command, charged upon the enemy and chased them out from their strong fortified place and took the creek from them, after which I ordered my regiment to march out upon the prairie, and about that time a rumor came to me that you were still engaged in fighting on [the] right, and I ordered my regiment to your relief.

Our loss in the battle was 2, and from best information I have heard [the] Choctaw regiment lost 3 on the battle-field and 2 died since from wounds; and [the] Texas regiment 2 and 1 from [the] Cherokee regiment, making our total loss [in killed] 10 and about 21 wounded.

The enemy’s loss, from the best information I can gather, was 27 killed and seen on the battle-field, and from the signs a greaqt many dead were concealed or carried off during the night, and [the] wounded could not have been less than 200 or 300.

                                                                            [D.N. McINTOSH,                                                                                                               Colonel, &c.]

Col. D. H. COOPER, Commanding Indian Brigade

Report of Col. John Drew, First Cherokee Mounted Rifles, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah

FORT GIBSON,

Cherokee Nation; December 18, 1861

Opothleyahola, leader of the loyal Indians in the Trail of Blood on Ice campaign in 1861

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that the First Regiment Cherokee Mounted Riflemen, under my command, reached Bird Creek in the forenoon of Saturday, the 7th instant. It consisted the evening of that day of about 480 men, rank and file. The hostile Creeks were encamped from 6 to 8 miles distant.

The day following, under your instructions and with the concurrence of Colonel McIntosh, commanding the Creek regiment, I authorized Major Pegg to assure Hopoeithleyohola and party of your desire for a peaceable settlement of the difficulty with the Creeks, and that you had no wish to prosecute a war against them. Major Pegg was accompanied to the Creek camps by Capts. George W. Scraper and J.P. Davis and Rev. Lewis Downing. Before they returned and late that evening I found that there were only about 60 men in camp, and that a report was circulating that we were to be attacked by an overwhelming force then at hand. I ordered my horse to be saddled, and while in the act of [throwing] a blanket on my saddle Captain Benge came up and said we had better be off, as the enemy were upon us. After proceeding a part of the way to your camp the party returned to secure the ammunition. Major Pegg was then in camp, and reported that he had seen a large number of warriors painted for battle, who would be down upon us that night, and that he had been allowed to return only on the plea of removing some women and children from danger. This renewed the excitement, and as it [was] now quite dark, the party dispersed in squads. Information had been conveyed to you of the dispersion of the regiment, and while myself, Captain Fields, and a few others were making our way to your camp the squadron of Texas cavalry, which had been instructed to secure the public property in our camp, was fallen in with. This prompt movement saved my train, tents, & c.

Major Pegg, Adjt. James S. Vann, Capts. Davis and J.D. Hicks, Lieuts. S.H. Smith, Jesse Henry, Anderson Benge, Trotting Wolf, and several privates pursued their way to Fort Gibson.

Captains Vann, Pike, and Scraper, and Lieutenants White-Catcher, Eli Smith, Foster, Bearmeat, and N. Fish, with parts of their companies, were missing, and doubtless were in the camp of Hopoeithleyohola or made their way there.

Capt. James McDaniel and Lieuts. Wat Stop, N.D. Bear, and Skieyaltooka were absent, but were almost certainly at the same place.

The unarmed portion of the regiment – which consisted in the aggregate of about 1,200 in number – were left at his place in camp, with the following officers: Lieut. Col. William P. Ross, commanding; Capt. N.B. Saunders and Lieutenants Sanders, Hawkins, Ahmer-cher-ner, Crab-grass Smith, Fogg, Little Bird, Young, Webber, Downing, Drew, Ulteesky, and Deer-in-Water, and a surgeon – Corden.

The following-named officers and privates were with me in your camp and present at the battle of Bird Creek on the 9th instant: Company F: Capt. Richard Fields, whose horse was shot; Lieut. Broom Baldridge, killed; Sergt. Dempsey Handle, and Privates Creek McCoy, Situwakee, and Tracker. Company D: Capt. J.N. Hildebrand and Lieuts. George Springston and Ezekiel Russell, Private Nelson Hogshooter. Company H: Capt. E.R. Hicks, Lieut. George W. Ross, Sergts. William Hewbanks, Alan Ross, and Peter; Privates Henry Meigs, Richard Robinson, Carter Oo-yor-lor-cha-he, and Coming Deer. Company K: Capt. Pickens M. Benge, Lieut. George Benge, Privates Oliver Ross, Thomas Ross, Broad Christy, Thomas Yah-hoo-lar, and Adam (a Creek); Surg. James P. Evans, and Expressman William S. Coodey.

The deportment of these few officers and men, under the peculiar circumstances of their situation, was highly honorable to them. The teamsters present also deported themselves in a creditable manner throughout.

The causes which led to the dispersion of the regiment arose from a misconception of the character of the conflict between the Creeks, from an indisposition on their part to engage in strife with their immediate neighbors, and from the panic gotten up by the threatened attack upon us. The regiment will be promptly filled and ready for service.

For the very kind manner in which you were pleased to speak of myself and those who adhered to their obligations in your note calling for this report I beg you to accept my grateful acknowledgments.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                                    JOHN DREW,                                                            Col., Comdg. First Regiment Cherokee Mounted Riflemen.

Col. D.H. COOPER, Commanding Indian Department

Report of Col. William B. Sims, Ninth Texas Cavalry, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah

REGIMENTAL HEADQUARTERS,

Fort Gibson, Ind. T., December 15, 1861.

Bird Creek at Horseshoe Bend in July 2011. The Battle of Chusto-Talasah was fought in this vicinity. (Photo by Jeffrey S. Williams)

SIR: At the commencement of the engagement on the 9th instant with Hopoeithleyohola’s forces on Bird Creek, Cherokee Nation, in obedience to your commands I proceeded to divide the detachment of my regiment, amounting to about 260 men, into two divisions, sending Lieutenant-Colonel Quayle, with about 50 of Captain Berry’s company, commanded by himself, and small detachments from the following companies: Captain McCool’s, under Lieutenant Brown; Captain Hart’s, under Lieutenant Black; Captain Williams’, under Lieutenant Bowen; and Captain Brinson’s, under Lieutenant Utley; amounting in all to about 100 men. He advanced with his command on to the creek, to the left of the Choctaw regiment. Not finding the enemy there, he returned and charged a ravine on the right of the Choctaws, which he succeeded in taking, under a heavy fire from the enemy. Driving them from their position, he marched on and charged another ravine still farther on the right, but when he got into the ravine the Indians, who had possession of its mouth, opened a raking fire upon his men. He ordered them to charge down the ravine, which they did, and put the enemy to rout. A party of Indians still kept up a heavy fire upon them from the right, who were at first supposed to be Choctaws, as they were wearing our badges, but they were deserted Cherokees and Creeks. In the last charge with Colonel Quayle there were about 20 Choctaws, who acted with the greatest bravery.

With the men under my command, to wit, parts of four companies, under command of Captains Duncan, English, wright, and Smith, after having dismounted I charged to the right of Colonel McIntosh’s command and put the Indians to flight without firing a gun. I then ordered my men to mount their horses and moved down, with the Creeks still remaining on their right, about half a mile, where we dismounted, charged into the creek bottom, and put the Indians to flight.

We then mounted our horses; it was then reported that the enemy was again advancing. We again dismounted and charged down the creek, putting the Indians completely to rout. We then mounted our horses and advanced up the creek about 1 mile, dismounted, and joined the remainder of my command on the right, who were then fighting on foot in a ravine. We there withstood a heavy fire from the enemy for some time, which finally abated. The Creeks then withdrew, followed by the Choctaws. I ordered my men to fall back [and] mount their horses, after which we made a charge, and succeeded in getting our wounded men off the field. I then formed a line to your left on the prairie.

The following is a list of the killed and wounded of my command.*

The forces of the enemy, I think, would have amounted to about 2,500 or 3,000 men. From the best information I can get I would suppose their loss to be about 150 men. The number wounded on their side not ascertained, as they were borne from the field.

All the officers and soldiers under my command conducted themselves during the engagement with great decision and bravery.

W.B. SIMS,

Col., Comdg. Fourth Regiment Texas Cavalry, C.S. Army,

Col. D.H. COOPER, Commanding Indian Department

*Nominal list omitted shows killed, 2; wounded 9.

Report of Capt. Joseph R. Hall, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah.

It being requested of me to make a report of the incidents of December 9, 1861, on which [day] we were attacked by the Hopeithleyohola band, on Bird Creek, Cherokee Nation, I do respectfully submit the following, as it came to my observation during the engagement:

My attention was first directed to the advance of the enemy by some Creeks, who, upon the discovery of the enemy, wheeled their horses and with a whoop charged in direction of the enemy. This attracted the attention of all and gave us a view of a good body of men advancing on our rear. Each commander immediately engaged himself, forming his company into a line facing the enemy, no sooner than which was done we were ordered to march on the enemy, when they began to fall back into a creek bottom and waited our approach. The great hurry in which they marched made it impossible to keep the companies together, on account of the great difference in their horses and ponies; some were not able to keep u and those on the best horses would not halt. The distance being near 2 miles from where they started to the place of engagement, my company being in rear of Captain Reynolds’, I dismounted with him on the prairie a half mile above the house in the bend. At this time I do not think I had over 25 men. We marched in the brush on the creek as far as the creek banks. Not finding anything there we fell back to our horses and hurried down to the house, where there was at that time very heavy firing. On moving down I noticed more of my men who had dismounted above the house and were watching their chance for a shot. I dismounted my men a little below the house, about a field, and there I found it impossible to hold some back, for others had not yet secured their horses.

They had not been there a great while before the firing ceased for a while form the enemy’s side, when it was again renewed, but not so heavy. I remained about the house about an hour, when I walked out to where I could see my horse. I met Colonel Cooper, who ordered me to get my men together and cross the creek below the house. Some of my men were then with Lieutenants Thompson and Krebs, on the creek above the house, mingled with men of different companies, while others were scattered around and below the house in the same manner with Lieutenant Tobly. Having secured me a good rifle and six-shooter from one of Captain Welch’s wounded men, I mounted my horse and got a few of my men together, which enabled me in getting together more of my men. Some of them were without caps and bullets. It being then quite late, I ordered the balance with me to save what ammunition they had until it was necessary for them to use it.

By this time I had 3 men wounded. The companies were then all forming on the prairie, and the enemy commenced showing themselves about the house and field below it, when the Creeks gave them a round.

Orders being given to march, we left behind 2 ponies which had fallen into the hands of the enemy.

I had about 45 men under my command, 40 of whom were engaged in the first; the rest were with the train.

Respectfully yours,

JOS. R. HALL,

Commanding Company D.

Col. D. H. COOPER

Report of Capt. Jackson McCurtain, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah.

FORT DERDANE,

Cherokee Nation, January 18, 1862.

            Being your guest, I will try to give you a full report of High Shoal battle, on December 9, A.D. 1861:

On our marching, the alarm apprehended [being given] from the rear guard that they [were] attacked by the enemy, [the] regiment was immediately ordered to turn to the right and form into line instantly. Then the enemy was falling back to the creek. Then order was given again to march by twos. Thence we were on rapid march in following the enemy for a mile and a half; crossed a prairie. Then I halted my men about 100 paces from bank of creek on the left of Captain Jones, dismounted from our horses, then ran down to the bank of creek and commenced firing on the enemy. I did [not] occupy the position but [a] short time, and was about crossing the creek, when I was ordered to go down farther, left of my first position. I then took my men and went down near where a house was. When we came to near a house the front of the house was crowded by the enemy. Then we commenced firing on them. We took possession of the house soon after we commenced. Then my men were fighting all along on the creek. I have no idea of what length of time we were engaged in fighting at that place. I was ordered to take my men out of that place; I did so. Then I was ordered again to go down to assist Captain Jones’ company. I went where Captain Jones’ company was in the ravine. While I was down there assisting Captain Jones [the] sun set, and [an] order was given to fall back to the regiment. My men and everybody else heard an order and left the place; but Lieutenant Riley and I, not hearing an order, remained until Lieutenant Riley told me we were left alone and was to be surrounded by the enemy. We were the very last men [to come] out [of] the ravine.

Lieutenant James Riley was [the] only lieutenant that [came] along with men, and in fighting he encouraged our men along and he stood and fought manfully with them through [the] whole fight.

I venture to say that all my men have bravely fought through during [the] whole battle; also I am confident the battle lasted fully hour hours from the commencement to the end.*

It was late in the evening when we left the battle-field.

Yours, respectfully,

                                                                                                JACKSON McCURTAIN,                                                                                                                                    Captain.

Colonel COOPER.

*Nominal list of casualties omitted shows 5 men wounded, 10 horses and equipments and 3 guns lost.

Report of Capt. William B. Pitchlynn, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, of engagement at Chusto-Talasah.

FORT DERDANE,

Cherokee Nation, January 18, 1862.

           SIR: I have the honor to submit a brief report of the engagement in which the company [of which] I am honored to be captain fought so successfully on Bird Creek, Cherokee Nation, December 9, 1861:

When orders were given to make a charge our point of attack was made a distance near half a mile above the old cabin, at the mouth of a certain ravine, and there we remained and fought desperately nearly an hour, when the firing of the enemy partially ceased. At this time we had orders to move and attack in the direction of the old cabin, where we remained the balance of the day.

The mode of warfare adopted by the enemy compelled us, as you are aware, to abandon strict military discipline and make use of somewhat similar movements in order to be successful.

At the close of the battle we took our proper place in the regiment, according to orders, and found one of my company fatally wounded, who expired on the second night after the battle. Two horses and equipments were lost in the engagement.

I will merely state that my men fought bravely and gallantly.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

WM. B. PITCHLYNN,

Capt. Co. A, Choctaw and Chickasaw Regt. Mounted Rifles.

Col. D.H. COOPER, Commanding.

Map of Indian Territory around 1861

 _____ __, 1861*

            COLONEL: On the morning of December 19 I was ordered to bring up the rear with my squadron, and about 6 miles from camp the rear guard sent me a message that they were attacked by the enemy. I immediately wheeled the squadron and went back to their assistance and got about half a mile, [when] I discovered the enemy retreating towards the creek. I formed, and Colonel Cooper rode up and ordered me to charge. After pursuing about 2 miles we came to the creek and I dismounted my men and advanced into the swamp, but not finding the enemy, I ordered the men to return to their horses and mount. My squadron was on the right of our command, and after I had mounted the squadron I received orders from Colonel Cooper to form on the left of the Texas regiment, and in order to get to the left of the Texas regiment I had to pass down the creek, and discovered the enemy to my right in a bend of the creek, formed around a house. I formed and charged. We routed them from this position and followed them into the swamp 200 yards. They flanked us, and I fell back to the house in order to prevent them from surrounding us. We advanced on them a second time, and were compelled to fall back to the house in consequence of their flanking around. We had only 80 men in the squadron, while the enemy had 400 or 500, fighting us with all the advantages of the creek on us and a complete natural ambuscade to protect them.

I have to report the death of Private F. T. Rhodes and 9 others wounded in the squadron.

I am, colonel, respectfully, yours

R. A. YOUNG

Captain, Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, C.S. Army

Col. D. H. COOPER

Commanding Indian Department.

*Not sure if he wrote the date incorrectly or if it was a transcription error. The correct date was December 9, 1861 when the battle occurred.

Miscellaneous reports of Chusto-Talasah from participants

Capt. Robert A. Young

Company K, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment Mounted Rifles, CSA

High Voltage Transmission Lines cut through the heart of the core battlefield land, as shown in this July 2011 photo. (Photo by Jeffrey S. Williams)

On the morning of the 19th [9th] I was ordered to bring up the rear with my squadron – about 6 miles from camp were attacked by the enemy. After pursuing about 2 miles we came to a creek – and received orders to form on the left of the Texas Reg. I discovered the enemy in a bend in the creek formed around a house. We routed them from this position and followed them into the swamp 200 yards distant. They flanked us and I fell back to the house. We advanced a second time and were compelled to fall back to the house – we had 80 men to their 400 or 500, fighting us with all the advantage of the creek on us and a complete natural ambuscade to protect them.

[Source: Robert A. Young, Report, 1861, Official Records, Series 1, Volume 8: 15]

Pvt. Edward Folsom

Company E, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment Mounted Rifles CSA

We was in about 20 miles of the enemy old Ho-Poth-le-oh-Holo [Opothleyahola]. We lay in line of battle all night expecting them to attack us. The next morning our Creeks met them and the fight commenced. [Col.] Cooper ordered us to fall back they was too strong for us. We put the train in front and commence retreat, fighting for our train. We fell back several miles on the prairie, it was certain they would overtake us so the Gen. prepare to give battle. We formed the Choctaws on the north, and Col. [William B.] Sims Company of Texas cowboys in the center and waited and here they came. The Creeks was on the extreme left. The Pin Cherokees charged straight at us and attacked our rear guard. Just then the bugle sounded charge. I got on my horse and went for my man I had shot I got his horse and gun, everything he had in his coate pocket I found a 50c pocket knife. The northern Creeks ran to a large creek called Bird Creek and commenced fighting. We were in the prairie while they fought form the timber. Col. Sims dismounted his men and away they went I never did see such charge until they reach the brush the firing was heavy. They could not see anybody. It was not long before they all came running out Col. Sims trying to check them, but could not. I was with Capt. [Leto. M.] Renolds’ company we was to take the woods so Renolds went and another company so we took it in fine shape. There was some log house I saw the Capt. kill a man at the corner of the house. I shot a man I don’t know whether I killed but I got the scalp. Then we followed them to the creek I scalped another. It was getting dark the bugle sounded calling us back onto the prairie. There was 2 men killed on our side.

[Source: Reminiscences of E.A. Folsom, n.d., E.E. Dale Collection, Box 218, F17, OU/WHC]

Cpl. Thorton B. Heiston

Company I, First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment Mounted Rifles, CSA

We leave this place tomorrow for the purpose of making a “finish” of Opothleyoholo’s army. The act of secession served him as a basis upon which he has striven to consumate his long cherished hopes, seeking to become chieftain, and by misrepresentations he has induced the most ignorant of his tribe as well as a few of the Cherokee to form an alliance with the Lincoln Government. He has about 4 or 5 thousand warriors; but since suffereing two defeats his forces are now reported rapidly diminishing. The first battle was fought at Round Mountain, about 5 miles north of the Red Fork of the Arkansas. We lost only 7 men and the enemy about 50. The battle of Bird Creek the last and more important one was fought about 125 miles west of Fort Smith. The enemy numbered 4 or 5 thousand, our force was only 1400 strong. We fought 5 ½ hours; killing and wounding between 3 and 4 hundred of the enemy, and suffering the almost incredible loss of only 9 men killed and 18 wounded. Our men fought as patriots only can fight; the Choctaw regiment particularly distinguished itself and recieved the applause of the Col.

[Source: Thorton B. Heiston, Letter, May 26, 1862, Grant Foreman Collection, Box 43, Folder 97, TGM]

Sgt. George Griscom

Company D, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

As the rear guard was passing near Bird Creek timber they were fired upon by the enemy, our forces turned and engaged them most gallantly for 3 hours in one place then another. Our men fought on foot – about [?] pm our forces withdrew in good order. The Indians showed marked bravery, one half breed Perryman killed a foe from behind a tree took the captured gun and killed and scalped a second. The enemy were in force near 4000 strong, while we were not more than 1300. Our entire loss was 10 killed and about 20 wounded. The enemy loss ascertained to be near 200 killed and over 150 wounded.

[Source: Griscom. Fighting with Ross’ Texas Cavalry Brigade, 8-9]

Pvt. A.W. Sparks

Company I, Ninth Texas Cavalry CSA

At the break of day we marched out and started down the river on retreat, but in sequel found our retreat was to call him from his stronghold in the mountains so we could better get at him. We had marched only a few miles when we heard the rattle of guns and the chatter of the Indians, which told us of the approach of the enemy. Col. Sims formed and dismounted the regiment out on a high prairie, and gained the timber in time to meet their advance. The fighting was hot and we drove them some 2 miles up the creek, to a point where the hills come up sharp to the creek in a rough and broken way that furnished the retreating foe needed shelter. Col. Sims called the regiment to horse for the purpose of giving chase, but for the lateness of the house we did not follow. On the night after the battle, there fell about 3 inches of snow, and it was my lot to be on guard over the prisoners taken by our command, about 40.

[Source: Sparks. War Between the States, 43.] 

Casualties

Privates Edward Graves and Frank Rhodes, company K; Joseph Jeffery, nok sho pa, and Pa lash tubbee, Company E and Mishoutabbee, Company C, Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment of Mounted Rifles were killed in action. Lieutenant Ellis Folsom, Company D; Sergeant Allen McCurtain, Corporal Pa cubbee, and Private Charles Henderson, Company G; Sergeant Waletubbee, Corporal George Grahm, and Privates me she mahtubbee and Davis Wakiah, Company H; Privates John Hodges, William W. Lovejoy, Nathaniel O’Quinn, and Jesse Thornton, Company I; Private Ter shunacha, Company E; Bugler Thomas Reed, Privates Tandy Neal and William Wells, Company K, Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment of Mounted Rifles, along with Private Ashomco tubbee, Company C, First Choctaw Mounted Rifles CSA, were wounded.

[Source: Confederate Muster Rolls, Special microfilm Colletions, Roll IAD-5, passim, OHS/AD]

Additional reading:

Edwards, Whit. The Prairie was on Fire: Eyewitness Accounts of the Civil War in the Indian Territory. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, OK. 2001.]

Creek Indians in the American Civil War

Map of Indian Territory around 1861

Inhabiting the area between the Arkansas and Canadian rivers in eastern Indian Territory, the people of the Creek Nation viewed the onset of the American Civil War with mixed emotions. Factions existed within the Creek Nation, but these divisions has endured since the mid-eighteenth century when English and Scottish fur traders established ties with the Lower Creeks in Georgia and Alabama. Intermarriage led to an increase of mixed-bloods among the Lower Creeks and the appearance of Creek leaders with the names such as McGillivray and McIntosh. The Lower Creeks voluntarily complied with the United States’ removal policy of the 1830s endorsed by their mixed-blood leaders, while the Upper Creeks had to be forcibly removed from their traditional homelands. These two Creek factions remained separated in Indian Territory, but they were able to put their animosity aside long enough to establish a seat of government, devise a phonetic written language, draft a slave code, and build schools (with the aid of missionaries) in the 1840s and 1850s.

On 10 July 1861, Principal Chief Motey Kinnard and Daniel N. and Chilly McIntosh (sons of William McIntosh – former principal chief of the Lower Creeks) met with Special Commissioner Albert Pike of the Confederate Bureau of Indian Affairs and together signed a treaty of alliance with the Confederacy. The McIntoshes also promised to raise a regiment of Creeks, provided they would only have to fight within the borders of Indian Territory. However, in the fall of 1861 thousands of loyal and neutral Upper Creeks refused to recognize the treaty of alliance with the Confederacy signed by the Lower Creeks, and prepared to march with their leader, Opotheyahola, to Kansas and safety. A force of Lower Creeks under the McIntosh brothers opposed them. In November, sporadic violence between the two factions began and quickly intensified. Pike ordered Colonel Douglas H. Cooper to take charge of the situation and restore tranquility among the Creeks while the special commissioner departed for the Confederate capital. Cooper called on other Indian home guard units to aid in his efforts to end the hostilities and prevent the Upper Creeks from leaving Indian Territory. In doing so, Cooper began what amounted to a civil war within the borders of the territory.

When Cooper arrived near the Canadian River, he discovered almost 4,000 Upper Creek men, women and children as well as Indians from assorted other nations crowded into encampments along with their livestock, wagons, and worldly possessions. About one-third of these Indians were armed. After failing to dissuade the Upper Creeks from their mission, Cooper chose to use force. Considering these Indians to be a threat to Confederate authority in Indian territory, Cooper assembled a body of 1,400 mounted soldiers composed of six companies of his Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, Daniel McIntosh’s Lower Creek regiment, Chilly McIntosh and John Jumper’s battalion of Creeks and Seminoles, and 500 whites of the 9th Texas Cavalry. On 5 November 1861, the ever-growing group of loyal Creeks and refugees left their encampments and moved north toward Kansas. Two weeks later, Cooper attacked the slow-moving caravan at Round Mountain, near the junction of the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers. The loyal Creeks fought back, managing to escape at dusk after setting a prairie fire to impede Cooper’s progress.

Opothleyahola, leader of the loyal Indians in the Trail of Blood on Ice campaign in 1861

Slowed but undaunted, Cooper resumed the chase, now reinforced by John Drew’s Cherokee regiment, which was ordered by Cooper to aid in the operation. On 9 December, Cooper found Opothleyahola and the loyal Creeks waiting for him at Chusto-Talasah, or Caving Banks, on Bird Creek near present-day Tulsa. Cooper engaged the Upper Creeks for four hours before Opothleyahola finally withdrew his band. All told, Cooper lost fifteen men killed and thirty-seven wounded, and failed once again to cut off the fleeing loyalists.

Although claiming a victory, Cooper nevertheless withdrew to Fort Gibson near Tahlequah and waited for reinforcements from Texas and Arkansas. With the arrival of 1,380 Confederate troopers under Colonel James McIntosh, Cooper had the luxury to plan a combined attack against Opothleyahola’s band utilizing the converging columns of his own and McIntosh’s troops. The Confederates once again took to the field, but unfortunately were unable to synchronize their convergence on the Creek camp at Chustenahlah. Rather than wait for Cooper’s badly delayed troops, McIntosh chose to engage Opothleyahola’s numerically superior forces on 26 December. Weakened by exhaustion, cold weather, and lack of adequate food, the loyal Creeks could not withstand the Confederate onslaught. Warriors mixed with men, women, and children fled the field in panic pursued by white Confederate cavalrymen and the recently arrived mixed-blood Cherokee regiment under Stand Watie. Watie’s 300 men killed or captured many of the stragglers who were too weak to flee. Those who did escape finally made their way to Kansas and safety. There they fared little better, owing to a lack of adequate food, clothing, and shelter for the winter. U.S. Indian agents in Kansas were unable to aid the refugees, whose numbers eventually swelled to over 10,000. Eventually hunger and disease took their toll.

The destination for the loyal Indians was Fort Row in Kansas

In the spring of 1862, Brigadier General James G. Blunt, commander of the Union Department of Kansas, decided to return the loyal Indian refugees to their home in Indian Territory. The resulting operation resulted in frequent skirmishes with Confederate forces as the refugee column and its Federal escort entered Cherokee country north of the Arkansas River. The return of this contingent of loyal Creeks to Indian Territory fanned the flames of factionalism within the Creek Nation. While Creek soldiers participated in conventional military operations such as those that led to the Battle of Honey Springs on 17 July 1863, the real fateful combat for the two factions of the Creek Nation came in the form of guerilla raids upon each other that sowed the seeds for continued strife well after the war’s end.

–          Alan C. Downs in the  Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History by David S. and Jeanne Heidler. pp. 518-519]

Historian: Civil War regiment endured much

By CHRIS SHOLLY, Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News

At the start of the Civil War, hundreds of Lebanon County men enlisted in the military, but many of them didn’t return, and many that did had the scars of battle to bear.

Local historian Greg Keller, dressed in a Union uniform, presented a history of some of these men during a program at the Lebanon County Historical Society on Sunday. Keller explained how the 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers were formed and what role they played in the war.

Local historian Greg Keller, right, talks with Ronald and Patricia Kaullen of Harrisburg about the Civil War following a program at the Lebanon County Historical Society on Sunday. Keller, dressed in the uniform of a Union soldier, presented the history of the 93rd Regiment, formed in the county in 1861. Patricia Kaullen is a descendent of Dr. William Henry Stoy, a Revolutionary-era physician in Lebanon County and in whose home the historical society is located. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHRIS SHOLLY)

“They suffered quite a bit. They suffered numerous engagements, and we see many, many men wounded and killed. Some of these men suffered from their wounds the rest of their lives,” Keller said during his talk.

The 93rd Regiment was formed by the Rev. James M. McCarter, a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church who was stationed at Lebanon. He had been chaplain of the Fourteenth Regiment for three months prior to being discharged. Keller said McCarter and Capt. Eli Daugherty wanted to continue their service to country, and in the fall of 1861, McCarter sought approval from the secretary of war to raise a regiment of infantry.

They held meetings around the county, and within the first week enlisted 500 men, Keller said. By the end of the second week, McCarter had 700 men to form a regiment.

One of the recruits was a 12-year-old boy, who wanted to be a drummer. Keller said they enlisted him but later discovered the boy was really a girl. She was discharged from the service.

Once the regiment formed, it camped at what was then the fairgrounds. The encampment was located in what is today Monument Park on South Eighth Street in Lebanon. The men drilled daily, and often citizens would come out to watch them or bring them food and other items they might need.

Keller said the camp was “quite festive” at times. Most people then believed the war wouldn’t last very long.

“They thought they would go out, fire a few shots, and it would be over,” he said.

On Nov. 20, 1861, the regiment of 1,020 soldiers headed to Washington, D.C., by train. When they arrived at the nation’s capital, the soldiers were put to work setting up fortifications.

Throughout the war, the regiment would see action in key battles, including Gettysburg, Yorktown, Antietam and Appomattox. In fact, there are two monuments at Gettysburg marking the participation of the regiment in battles at Little Roundtop between July 2 and July 4, 1863.

Keller related several stories about the soldiers who served in the regiment. One of the more famous tales is that of Capt. Eli Daugherty. In late May 1862, the 93rd regiment fought at Fair Oaks, Va. Daugherty narrowly escaped death when a bullet pierced his vest pocket, hitting a gold pocket watch and passing through 600 pages of the Bible he was carrying. The bullet wounded him, but the watch and the Bible had taken the brunt of the bullet’s force, saving his life.

The 93rd Regiment served until June 27, 1865. In total, the regiment lost 274 men, and hundreds more were wounded.

The Historical Society at 924 Cumberland St. has a number of items from the Civil War and the 93rd Regiment, including two of the original flags given by G. Dawson Coleman, the key sponsor of the regiment. Among other items are the Bible and pocket watch that saved Daugherty’s life.

The society’s next program will feature a talk on toys, trains and holiday trees at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20. The free program is open to the public.

chrissholly@ldnews.com; 272-5611, ext. 151

 

In Memory: Senator Edward Dickinson Baker (1811-1861)

Edward Baker was born in London, England. his family moved to the United States in 1815, and Baker spent the next ten years of his life in Philadelphia before his family moved to Indiana and then Illinois. While still a teenager, Baker studied law and was admitted to the Illinois bar at the age of nineteen. At twenty-four, Baker moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he became over the next seventeen years a prominent attorney and political figure. During his time in Springfield, Baker became close friends with another rising young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham and Mary Lincoln named their second son after their close friend Baker.

Senator Edward D. Baker

In his early political life, Baker was a Whig, although he did not always follow the party line. At the age of twenty-six, Baker entered the Illinois legislature and served two terms in the lower house before moving to the state senate in 1840. In 1844 he defeated his good friend Lincoln for the district’s Whig nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives and won the election. While in the House beginning in 1845, Baker broke party ranks by supporting the expansionist policies of President James K. Polk.

At the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, Baker traveled from Washington to Illinois to raise a regiment. he became colonel of the regiment and took it to serve under Zachary Taylor in northern Mexico. Baker returned briefly to Congress at the end of 1846 and, wearing his uniform, urged the Congress to vote more funds for the maintenance of soldiers at the front.

Shortly after the beginning of 1847, Baker resigned his congressional seat and joined Winfield Scott’s Mexico City campaign. From April through September 1847, Baker fought in all the major battles of the war and commanded a brigade at one point.

After the Mexican-American War, Baker returned to Illinois, where he moved to another congressional district and was elected to Congress. In 1851 Baker left Congress and the following year moved to California. Baker’s Whig and then Republican affiliations meant that he would have little political future in heavily Democratic California. He became, however, a popular local attorney in San Francisco and, in spite of his politics, was much in demand as a public speaker.

His political future bleak in California, Baker accepted the invitation of Oregon Republicans to move to that state and run for the U.S. Senate in 1860. Baker did so and won the election. As senator-elect from Oregon and the only Republican senator from the West Coast, Baker made it a personal crusade to encourage those states, particularly California, to stay in the Union. Some people later credited him with saving the heavily Democratic state for the United States.

On his way to Washington after his visit to California, Baker stopped in Springfield to meet with President-elect Lincoln. Over the next several months, Baker made several stirring speeches urging support for the Union. He refused the offer of a brigadier general’s commission because any commission at the general rank would require him to resign his Senate seat. Therefore, when offered the colonelcy of the 71st Pennsylvania (sometimes referred to as the 1st California because of Baker’s ties to the West Coast), he accepted. Throughout the summer of 1861, Baker divided his time between training his regiment and serving in the U.S. Senate.

In August 1861, Baker commanded a brigade along the Potomac, though he remained at the rank of colonel. On 28 September 1861, Baker commanded his brigade at a skirmish near Munson’s Hill, Virginia. A week earlier he had been offered a major general’s commission but was apparently still considering it and had made no reply.

Colonel Edward D. Baker monument at Balls Bluff

On 21 October, Baker’s commander Brigadier General Charles P. Stone ordered Baker to demonstrate against Confederates across the Potomac near Poolesville. At Balls’ Bluff, without careful reconnaissance, baker moved across the river into a trap. He was killed, and most of his command were killed or captured. he had never replied to the offer of a major general’s commission.

The president deeply mourned the loss of his friend, but the most lasting impact of the debacle was the persecution of Charles Stone. Many blamed stone for the popular Baker’s death. That Stone was a Democrat did not help his cause. He was called before the Committee on the Conduct of the War and eventually arrested without charge. He was imprisoned for 189 days and never held an important command for the remainder of the war.

– David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler [Source: Heidler and Heidler, Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A political, social and military history. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 161-162.]

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