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BATTLE OF FORT WAYNE

The Civil War engagement at Fort Wayne, in the Cherokee Nation, took place in late 1862. Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman, who had earlier succeeded Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn as commander of the Confederate Trans- Mississippi Department, directed troops to secure southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Missouri bushwhackers, Texas, and Arkansas troops along with Col. Douglas H. Cooper's Indians concentrated near Newtonia, Missouri, in hopes of returning to Springfield, Missouri. Maj. Gen. James Blunt, division commander of the Union Army of the Frontier, organized his troops to stop the Confederate advance. Cooper was strongly posted at Newtonia. The opposing forces had intense skirmishes from September 30 to October 3. Hindman needed Cooper to hold Newtonia, while he maneuvered his remaining troops into position to attack Springfield. On October 4 Blunt moved to surround Newtonia on three sides, which precipitated Cooper's Confederates' hasty retreat back to Indian Territory and spoiled Hindman's plan.

To end the Confederate threat to southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas and to build on the victory at Newtonia, Blunt moved towards Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Upon arriving, the Federals learned that Cooper had separated from the main body and moved to Fort Wayne, in Indian Territory, while the main Confederate forces were at Huntsville, Arkansas. Cooper's orders were to invade southern Kansas as soon as possible, in order to forestall any Federal expedition into Arkansas.

Gen. John M. Schofield, commander of the Union's Department of the West, directed Gen. James Toten to engage Hindman at Huntsville and ordered Blunt to assault Cooper. Early on October 22, after a long night march, Blunt's troops attacked the Confederate camp. The Union troops hit with such stealth and surprise they literally chased Cooper's pickets right into their camp. The Confederates offered feeble resistance. The charge of the Second Kansas Cavalry, along with the shelling from Rabb's Second Indiana and Allen's First Kansas Battery, routed Cooper's troops. The Confederates did not stop retreating until they reached the Arkansas River's south bank. The Federal forces captured the entire battery of cannon, supply train, and about fifty prisoners. The night after the battle a half-inch of snow fell, and the Confederates suffered tremendously without their baggage train, lost in the battle.

SEE ALSO: CIVIL WAR ERA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Wiley Britton, The Civil War on the Border, Vol. I (3rd ed., rev.; Ottowa: Kansas Heritage Press, 1994). Steve Cottrell, Civil War in the Indian Territory (Gretna, La: Pelican Publishing Company, 1995). Whit Edwards, "The Prairie was on Fire": Eyewitness Accounts of the Civil War in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2001). Kenny A. Franks, Stand Watie and the Agony of the Cherokee Nation (Memphis, Tenn.: Memphis State University Press, 1979).

Whit Edwards

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