Battle of Cabin Creek

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First Battle of Cabin Creek
Part of the American Civil War
Date July 1, 1863 (1863-07-01)–July 2, 1863 (1863-07-02)
Location Mayes County, Oklahoma
Result Union victory
United States United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders and leaders
James M. Williams Stand Watie
Detachments from nine units 1,600 - 1,800
Casualties and losses
3-23 killed, 30 wounded 65 killed

First Battle of Cabin Creek[edit]

The First Battle of Cabin Creek took place on July 1 through July 2, 1863, in Mayes County, Oklahoma during the American Civil War. The Confederate forces under Colonel Stand Watie attempted to ambush a Union supply convoy led by Colonel James M. Williams. Williams was alerted to the attack and, despite the waters of the creek being swelled by rain, made a successful attack upon the entrenched Confederate position and forced them to flee. The battle was the first in which African American troops fought side-by-side with their white comrades.


Colonel James M. Williams had charge of the escort of a Union supply train from Fort Scott, Kansas to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma (which was then in Indian Territory). His force marched along the Texas Road and consisted of detachments of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, 6th and 9th Kansas Cavalry, 3rd Indian Home Guard, 1st Kansas Colored Infantry and the 2nd Kansas Artillery.[1][2]

Confederate Colonel Stand Watie had intended to ambush Williams' convoy and had 1,600 to 1,800 men lying in wait at the Cabin Creek crossing. Watie had counted on 1,500 additional men, led by Brigadier General William L. Cabell to strengthen his force prior to the attack but Cabell's troops were delayed by high waters on the Grand River.[3]


Williams arrived at the crossing on 1 July and learned of the intentions of Watie's force from captured confederate soldiers.[1][2] Watie's battle line extended around one mile either side of the crossing in trenches dug into the brush lining the creek.[1][2] Owing to the unusually high water level in the creek, which reached above shoulder height, Williams chose to delay his attack on the confederates until the following day and corralled his wagons defensively on a nearby prairie.[1][4][2]

Williams ordered a half-hour artillery bombardment before launching an assault with the Third Indian Home Guard. They failed to make it across the now waist-deep creek, pushed back by heavy confederate fire, and so the Ninth Kansas Cavalry were ordered to charge under the covering fire of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.[2][5] With the cavalry having gained a bridgehead across the creek, Williams led the men of his own regiment, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, in a headlong charge across the stream and into the brush.[6] This forced the confederates back and Williams pursued them for a quarter of a mile as they attempted to rally in a clearing.[6] Williams then led his convoy to successfully resupply Fort Gibson.[1][3] Confederate casualties amounted to 65 men killed with the Union Army suffering between 3 and 23 dead with 30 wounded.[3][6]


The action made possible the continuation of a Union force in the Indian territory, allowing the later victories at Honey Springs and Fort Smith.[3] Soon after the battle the Union established defensive outposts along the Texas Road, including one at the Cabin Creek crossing.[1] The battle has the distinction of being the first in which African American soldiers (the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry) fought alongside white troops.[1] A monument to the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry was erected on the battlefield on 7 July 2007.[7]

Second Battle of Cabin Creek[edit]

The Second Battle of Cabin Creek occurred September 19, 1864.[8] The Confederate force, led by Watie, and General Richard Montgomery Gano, captured a Federal wagon train about $1 million worth of wagons, mules, commissary supplies, and other needed items.[9] This battle had no significant impact on the outcome of the Civil War in Indian Territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Cabin Creek, Battles of". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Steele, Phillip W.; Cottrell, Steve (2009). Civil War in the Ozarks. Pelican. p. 91. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Cabin Creek". CWSAC battle summaries. Heritage Preservation Services. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Parrker, Kathy (3 October 2007). "The first Battle of Cabin Creek". The Times of Pryor Creek. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Spencer, John (2006). The American Civil War in Indian Territory. Osprey. p. 7. 
  6. ^ a b c Steele, Phillip W.; Cottrell, Steve (2009). Civil War in the Ozarks. Pelican. p. 91. 
  7. ^ Warren, Stephen L. (2012). The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. The History Press. 
  8. ^ Franks, Kenny A. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Watie's Rifles." Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  9. ^ Knight, Wilfred (1988). Red Fox: Stand Watie's Civil War Years, pp. 245-253. Arthur H. Clark Co., Glendale. ISBN 0-87062-179-3.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°29′20″N 95°07′18″W / 36.488990°N 95.121603°W / 36.488990; -95.121603