The Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma - Union Report
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Union Report of the Battle of Honey Springs
This is the official report filed by Gen. J.G. Blunt following the Battle of Honey Springs or Elk Creek, Oklahoma. It is
taken from the Official Records set, Series I, Volume 22, Part One, pp. 437-449.
The Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma
In the Field, Fort Blunt, C.N., July 26, 1863 - I have the honor to report that , on my arrival here on the 11th instant, I
found the Arkansas River swollen, and at once commenced the construction of boats to cross my troops.
The rebels, under General Cooper (6,000), were posted at Elk Creek, 25 miles south of the Arkansas, on the Texas
road, with strong outposts guarding every crossing of the river from behind rifle-pits. General Cabell, with 3,000 men,
was expected to join him on the 17th, when they proposed attacking this place. I could not muster 3,000 effective men
for a fight, but determined, if I could effect a crossing, to give them battle on the other side of the river.
At midnight on the 15th, I took 250 cavalry and four pieces of light artillery, and marched up the Arkansas about 13
miles, drove their pickets from the opposite bank, and forded the river, taking the ammunition chests over in a
flat-boat. I then passed down the south side, expecting to get in the rear of their pickets at the mouth of the Grand
River, opposite this post, and capture them, but they had learned of my approach and had fled. I immediately
commenced crossing my forces at the mouth of Grand River in boats, and, by 10 p.m. of the 16th, commenced
moving south, with less than 3,000 men, mostly Indians and negroes, and twelve pieces of artillery. At daylight I came
upon the enemy's advance about 5 miles from Elk Creek, and with my cavalry drove them in rapidly upon their main
force, which was formed on the south side of the timber of Elk Creek, their line extending 11/2 miles, the main road
running through the center.
WHile the column was closing up, I went forward with a small party to examine the enemy's position, and discovered
that they were concealed under cover of the brush awaiting my attack. I could not discover the location of their artillery,
as it was masked in the brush. While engaged in this reconnaissance, one of my escort was shot.
As my men came up wearied and exhausted, I directed them halted behind a little ridge, about one-half mile from the
enemy's line, to rest and eat a lunch from their haversacks. After two hours' rest, and at about 10 a.m., I formed them
in two columns, one on the right of the road, under Colonel [William R.] Judson, the other on the left, under Colonel
[William A.] Phillips. The infantry was in column by companies, the cavalry by platoons and artillery by sections, and all
closed in mass so as to deceive the enemy in regard to the strength of my force. In this order I moved up rapidly to
within one-fourth of a mile of their line, when both columns were suddenly deployed to the right and left, and in less
than five minutes my whole force was in line of battle, covering the enemy's entire front. Without halting, I moved them
forward in line of battle, throwing out skirmishers in advance and soon drew their fire, which revealed the location of
their artillery. The cavalry, which was on the two flanks, was dismounted, and fought on foot with their carbines. In a
few moments the entire force was engaged. My men steadily advanced into the edge of the timber, and the fighting
was unremitting and terrific for two hours, when the center of the rebel lines, where they had massed their heaviest
force, became broken, and they commenced a retreat. In their rout I pushed them vigorously, they making several
determined stands, especially at the bridge over Elk Creek, but each time were repulsed. In their retreat they set fire to
their commissary buildings, which were 2 miles south of where the battle commenced, destroying all their supplies. I
pursued them about 3 miles to the prairie south of Elk Creek, where my artillery horses could draw the guns no
farther, and the cavalry horses and infantry were completely exhausted from fatigue. The enemy's cavalry still hovered
in my front, and about 4 p.m. General Cabell came in sight with 3,000 re-enforcements. My ammunition was nearly
exhausted, yet I determined to bivouac on the field, and risk a battle in the morning if they desired it, but the morning
revealed that during the night they had retreated south of the Canadian River.
The enemy's loss was as follows: Killed upon the field and buried by my men, 150; wounded, 400; and 77 prisoners
taken, 1 piece of artillery, 1 stand of colors, 200 stand of arms, and 15 wagons, which I burned. My loss is 17 killed, 60
wounded, most of them slightly.*
My forces engaged were the First, Second, and Third Indian, First Kansas (colored), detachments of the Second
Colorado, Sixth Kansas, and Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Hopkins' battery of four guns, two sections of the Second
Kansas Battery, under Capt. E.A. Smith, and four howitzers attached to the cavalry.
Much credit is due to all of them for their gallantry. The First Kansas (colored) particularly distinguished itself; they
fought like veterans, and preserved their line unbroken throughout the engagement. Their coolness and bravery I have
never seen surpassed; they were in the hottest of the fight, and opposed to Texas troops twice their number, whom
they completely routed. One Texas regiment (the Twentieth Cavalry) that fought against them went into the fight with
300 men and came out with only 60. It would be invidious to make particular mention of any one where all did their
duty so well....
P.S. - I have designated this engagement as the "Battle of Honey Springs," that being the headquarters of General
Cooper, on Elk Creek, in the immediate vicinity of the battlefield.
Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt to Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, Commanding Department of Missouri.
*Note: A revised report of Union losses in the Battle of Honey Springs listed 14 killed and 61 wounded for an
aggregate loss of 75 men.
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Last Updated: July 14, 2013