Honey Springs Battlefield was close enough for a visit when I was staying at Lake Eufaula State Park. For us history buffs, especially related to the Civil War, it made a very nice day trip. Also known as the “Affair at Elk Creek” the confrontation took place on July 17, 1863 between Federal and Confederate soldiers. It was the largest of more than 100 conflicts in the Indian Territory during the War Between the States. Hundreds of lives lost later, the Feds won an important battle that left them with the nearby strategic Fort Gibson.
The trails are very well marked and maintained and give a good overview of events that transpired that day. Civil War historian Ed Bearss called the battle “America’s first ‘Rainbow Coalition!'” Troops on both sides included Native Americans, African Americans, and Anglo Americans. I stopped at the interpretive center and lucked out by meeting Ralph Jones, whose stories of both sides of the battle helped bring it more to life.
It was too warm and sunny a day to explore all of the six interpretive trails. But Ralph highly recommended Trail #3 – a short .3 mile loop that was the Confederate Battle Line where the heavy hand-to-hand fighting began. In this unplowed area is more than 1/8-mile of the original Texas Road. Besides that, it was a good choice because it was the only shaded trail.
It was a lovely, peaceful walk, but I could easily imagine the traumatic sights and sounds of that day, helped by the informative signs along the way. On either side of this bridge is the Texas Road.
This road was an important artery of trade and travel, and Honey Springs served for some years as a stage stop, provision point, and watering place on the Texas Road.
Hand to hand combat took place along the creek beds. Today the Honey Springs battle site of nearly 3,000 acres is still wooded and rural, much as it was at the time of the engagement between the North and the South.
1863 Honey Springs Battlefield Rd. – Checotah, OK
Malia’s 2 cents: I enjoyed this self-guided tour very much. There are also special events throughout the year with programs depicting what life was like for civilians and soldiers of the times, memorial services and candlelight tours. Battle Reenactment info from OKHistory and TravelOK