October 29, 2015
Honey Springs Battle Reenactment Scheduled for November 6–8
Rentiesville, Okla. — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and the Friends of Honey Springs Battlefield have announced plans to host a living history event November 6–8, including a reenactment of the battle on Saturday, November 7 at 1 p.m. All activities will take place at Honey Springs Battlefield National Historic Landmark in Rentiesville, Okla., located west of Checotah off Highway 69.
The battle reenactment has been presented regularly since 1988, said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the OHS. Over the years, the reenactment has featured reenactors portraying Union Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt and Union troops including the First Kansas Volunteers, as well as Confederate Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper and Confederate troops. It also has included artillery fire and reenactors playing the roles of civilian men and women who supported the troops.
John Davis, OHS regional director heading up the event said, "The event kicks off on Friday, November 6, at 9 a.m. with an education day. The education day is designed with school groups in mind, but the general public is invited to participate," continued Davis. "This free event is organized around education stations each designed to teach some aspect of military and civilian life in Indian Territory during the Civil War. "
The site opens at 9 a.m. on each day and closes at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Activities are scheduled throughout the day. "The main battle reenactment begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Activities include self-guided tours through the Union, Confederate, and civilian camps. Visitors will witness various military drills, cooking demonstrations and other living history programs. 'Sutlers Row' will feature a number of vendors selling 19th-century reproduction military equipment, clothes, books and souvenirs. Food vendors will be available on site," said Davis. On Saturday from 9:30–11:30 a.m. a variety of programs will be presented in the speakers' tent every half hour. Programs will include Dr. James W. Fink, history professor at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma discussing Civil War era politics; Sarah Dumas, director of education at the History Center on Civil War laundresses; Lindsay Robertson, faculty director at the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy at the University of Oklahoma covering Johnson V. McIntosh Native American treaties; William Corbett, president of the OHS board of directors discussing the Texas Road and the Civil War; and Richard Davies, executive director of Arkansas Department of Parks and Recreation covering the importance of historic sites preservation and protection.
The event continues on Sunday, beginning with a mounted shooting demonstration at 9 a.m., followed by a Civil War period church service at 9:30. At 10:30 a.m. a special program will be held honoring veterans of all wars. Keith Rohlman, curator of education at the Oklahoma History Center, will present a program on Civil War surgeons at 11:30 a.m. followed by a presentation on the First Kansas Volunteers by Omar Reed, historical interpreter at Fort Gibson Historic Site. At 1 p.m. a battle will be conducted.
The event is sponsored by the Friends of Honey Springs Battlefield and no state funds are available for the event, said Blackburn. To help cover costs, there is a $5 admission charge on Saturday and Sunday. Children 12 and under are free.
The Engagement at Honey Springs (called the Affair at Elk Creek by the Confederates) was the largest of more than 107 documented hostile encounters that took place in Indian Territory during the Civil War. The engagement took place on a rainy Friday, July 17, 1863, between the First Division, Army of the Frontier, commanded by Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, and the Confederate Indian Brigade, led by Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper. The Union force of 3,000 troops defeated nearly 6,000 Confederates, opening the way for the Union capture of Fort Smith and much of Arkansas. The First Kansas (Colored) Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first black regiment in the Union Army, fought near the center of the Union line and captured the four-gun Confederate artillery battery that supported the 20th and 29th Texas Cavalry Regiments.
Honey Springs Battlefield is a 1,300-acre sites that includes six walking trails with 55 interpretive panels. The trails are located at the Union bivouac area, the Union line of battle, the Texas regiments' line of battle, the battle of the bridge over Elk Creek, the final actions and the Confederate depot at Honey Springs.
Construction of a long anticipated visitors center at Honey Springs Battlefield is underway. "It has been a complicated project involving a partnership between four federal agencies, a state agency, McIntosh County, several local businesses and a nonprofit organization. Federal involvement includes the National Park Service, as well as all three agencies of USDA Rural Development—Rural Business Service, Rural Utilities Service and Rural Housing Service," said Blackburn.
For more information on the Honey Springs Battlefield, the November 6–8 events and directions to the site checkout the link on the Oklahoma Historical Society website http://www.okhistory.org/sites/honeysprings.php
The Honey Springs Battlefield is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.