The Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission begins its observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a special re-enactment of the Battle of Honey Springs April 29-May 1. The battlefield is located north of Checotah near the county line between McIntosh and Muskogee counties. Thousands of re-enactors and spectators are expected to attend the event.
Several other events are scheduled to take place within the next five years to commemorate the anniversary of the War Between the States.
According to a press release from the Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission in Oklahoma City, several events and projects are planned. Preservation efforts are the focus at five historic sites associated with the Civil War owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society. They include: Honey Springs Battlefield, Fort Gibson Historic Site, Fort Towson Historic Site, Fort Washita Historic Site and the George Murrell Home.
Additionally, the commission is developing projects to preserve artifacts and archives, photos, letters, documents and other objects.
Events and programs associated with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Oklahoma may be followed at www.okcivilwar.org, or “OK Civil War 150” on Twitter or Facebook.
Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes were located far enough away from the scenes of major conflicts to escape ravages of the war. However, many of them had married southern people before leaving their homes in Mississippi and were Southern sympathizers.
In “History of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma,” published by Pontotoc County Historical and Genealogical Society, Chickasaws settled in the area of Pontotoc County prior to the Civil War as western tribes were moving toward the fertile land along the Boggy and Blue Rivers.
The only major engagement in Pontotoc County during the war was in February 1864. From Little River, the Federal force, with 400 men and one artillery piece, left to go southwest under the command of Colonel Phillips, without a cavalry reinforcement. He later reported an engagement Feb. 13 which left 47 killed. However, that wasn’t the end of suffering for those living in Pontotoc County.
Homes were destroyed and food and possessions stolen. Many Indians who lived in the northern part of the county left for the North or were driven into Kansas and Texas.
About June 1864, a band of about 350 Comanches from the west crossed Pontotoc County into the Chickasaw settlements south of Stonewall near Jesse. The raiding band continued to plunder the area until a group of men was organized by the Chickasaws to recover their livestock.
Colbert Institute was established by Methodists in 1854 several miles south of McAlester at Perryville. It was moved to the headwaters of Boggy in 1856, 18 miles north of Wapanucka on the military road constructed between Fort Smith and Fort Arbuckle. During the Civil War the school was burned.
In September 1912, more than 200 Confederate Veterans of Oklahoma gathered in Ada for a reunion. In an editorial welcoming those attending, published by the Ada Evening News, the author wrote the following:
“The veterans in gray are in possession of the city today. Their ranks are thinner when they last met, their forms are more bent and their heads are whiter, but the spirit which took them to the front in 1861 and sustained them through four years of bloody conflict is as young as it was the day they took their departure for the front to join Lee and Jackson in the endeavor to repel the flowing tide of blue, and establish the rights of their states as guaranteed by the constitution.”