Last Saturday, I trekked to the Honey Springs Battlefield, a 1,200 acre site near Checotah maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society. If you’re ever in that area, I highly recommend a visit to this gem; there are six walking trails and many interpretive signs. The only downside is that a handful of the signs were damaged making them difficult to read.
Occurring on July 17, 1863, the battle was the largest that occurred in the Indian Territory. Not only was the battle a significant Union victory, but the units involved were unusual. The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, the first African-American unit to see combat during the war, were heavily involved and several Indian units engaged in fighting there as well. There were also units from Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and Wisconsin that saw action during the battle.
It has long been a dream of the Oklahoma Historical Society that the battlefield become a unit of the National Park Service, and this week a federal report at least opened the “possibility the state’s Honey Springs Civil War site could be designated a national battlefield park” according to an article in today’s Tulsa World. This is an exciting piece of news, and I hope that Honey Springs is designated as a national battlefield.
To see photographs of the battlefield as well as additional links go to the Civil War Album.