Battle of Old Fort Wayne




   In mid-July, the Confederates had started concentrating their forces at Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a planned raid into Missouri. Concurrently, Douglas Cooper was to raid Kansas with his force of Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Lower Creeks. After weeks of recruiting to bolster their numbers, Cooper led his men through Indian Territory to Old Fort Wayne, an abandoned pre-war Federal military garrison on the southern edge of the sprawling Beatties Prairie. He positioned pickets four miles (6 km) to the north in Maysville, a small village directly on the Arkansas - Indian Territory boundary (23 miles (37 km) west of Bentonville). He was within supporting distance of John S. Marmaduke's small 4,000-man force of mostly Texans, which was positioned at Cross Hollows (near Lowell, Arkansas).
   The nearest Federal troops were from John Schofield's Army of the Frontier, encamped at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Word had been received that Cooper, accompanied by Stand Watie's two Cherokee Indian Regiments, was at Maysville, and scouts reported his total force to be about 7,000 men. James Blunt's First Division was relatively small (3,500 men), but was better trained and equipped than many of the recently raised Confederate units. At 7 p.m. on October 20, Blunt departed camp with the Second and Third Brigades. His command consisted of the 2nd Kansas Cavalry in the lead, followed by the 6th Kansas Cavalry, 10th Kansas Infantry and 11th Kansas Infantry, the 1st and 3rd Cherokee Regiments, the 1st Kansas and 2nd Indiana Batteries, and four mountain howitzers. After a night march southward, he arrived in Bentonville shortly after sunrise and paused until 5 p.m. to wait for his cumbersome supply wagons to arrive. He was anxious to surprise the Confederates, who were unaware of his advance. After a forced march of 25 miles (40 km) westward late on October 21, he stopped his column at 2 a.m. and allowed most of his men to rest.
   However, he pushed forward the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, which struck the Confederates at 5 a.m. at Maysville, while the balance of the division was sleeping, nearly seven miles back. After driving in the pickets at Maysville, the Union cavalry followed them three and one-half miles into the Indian Territory, where they encountered Cooper's main Confederate battleline, aligned along an east and west road, facing north, with a dense wood at their backs. Despite early Federal reports that he had as many as 7,000 men, Cooper in reality had roughly 1,500 men at his disposal, with Howell's Texas Battery of four artillery guns in the center of his three-quarter mile line. Blunt positioned howitzers in place to duel with the Confederate artillery, then deployed the 2nd Kansas, which soon pushed back Confederate skirmishers from a ridge fronting their main battleline. When the balance of Blunt's division arrived, he attacked, concentrating his men on the center of the thinly spread Confederate battleline. His howitzers silenced the lone enemy battery, and the Kansans and Cherokees opened a wide hole in Cooper's center. Within a half hour, much of Cooper's ill-trained force was in full retreat (minus their artillery), with Blunt in pursuit for nearly seven miles before halting. Blunt lost 14 men; Cooper approximately 150, including a reported 50 dead who were buried on the battlefield.
   Brigadier General James G. Blunt and his troops attacked Colonel Douglas H. Cooper and his Confederate command on Beatties Prairie near Old Fort Wayne at 7:00 am on October 22, 1862.
   The Confederates put up stiff resistance for a half hour, but overwhelming numbers forced them to retire from the field in haste, leaving artillery and equipage behind.



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