Monday, August 26, 2013

Perryville In The Indian Territory

The Battle of Perryville, fought August 26th 1863 in the Indian Territory, was an attempt to make a final defeat of the Confederates in the area.

Following the Union victory at Battle of Honey Springs in July 1863 Union Major General James Blunt of the Army of the Frontier marched out of Fort Gibson looking for Confederate Brigadier General William Steele’s force.  They found each other as Steele’s men were crossing the Canadian River.  The Confederates did not want to stand and fight, their defeat at Honey Springs had dispirited the men, there was a lack of supplies and they deserting en masse.

Steele made the decision to split his troops up.  He sent Confederate Brigadier General William Cabell’s Arkansas men to Fort Smith to hold a defensive position where he could be reinforced, Brigadier General Douglas Cooper’s Indian soldiers moved south to Perryville where they could be resupplied, and Colonel Chilly McIntosh was sent to the west to cover Cooper’s flanks.  Steele hoped that Blunt would pursue Cabell to Fort Smith, where he could be caught out in the open, but Blunt pursued Cooper’s men instead.

Perryville was a major Confederate supply depot located on the Texas Road.  Blunt hoped to attack and destroy Cooper’s 5,000 men and take their supply depot, and then he would turn on Cabell and Fort Smith.  Cooper posted a strong picket line that included two howitzers blocking the road into town.  The Union troops arrived near town and engaged the Confederates on the night of August 26th 1863.  Cooper had his men behind some barricades with artillery aimed on the road.  Blunt had his men deployed on either side of the road and brought up his own artillery.  The firing went on for a short time in the dark.  The Union hit so fast that there was no time to call in reinforcements, Cooper thought he might be surrounded and so retreated leaving the supplies behind for the Union troops.

Blunt took what supplies he could use and then had rest of things, along with the town burned.  The loss of the supply depot crippled the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory.

No comments: