Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site
Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site now has a full-time staff and is open for visitors every day except Mondays and state holidays. Sundays the site and interpretive center is open at 1:00 p.m. and closes at 5:00 p.m. Other days the battlefield access road opens at 8:00 a.m. and the visitors center opens at 9:00 a.m.
Reenactments were held near by in 1996 and 1999, then moved back to the battlefield in 2003. The next reenactment is scheduled for 24-25 September 2005 (with a free "school day" on Friday the 23rd open to public-, private-, and home-school classes with appointments).
The battlefield has six interpretive trails with National Park Service-quality wayside exhibit signs. These trails are located where (1) the Union army rested after marching 25 miles in 9 hours; (2) the Union lined up to bombard the Confederates with 1-1/2 hours of artillery fire; (3) the Confederates were waiting in the trees [main battle line]; (4) the battle for the bridge was fought; (5) the final battle was fought; and, (6) the Confederate headquarters was located.
Ralph Jones, Superintendent
Honey Springs Battlefield
Oklahoma Historical Society
1863 Honey Springs Bfld. Rd.
Checotah, OK 74426
Honey Springs Battlefield
On July 17, 1863, smoke billowed, cannons roared, and the weapons of 9,000 troops flashed when the largest battle in Indian Territory fought during the war between the states was waged just 3 1/2 miles northeast of Checotah.
Honey Springs Battlefield Memorial Park, located off Rentiesville Road, continues to gain national prestige.
In 1990 the site was listed by the Secretary of the Interior as one of the 25 most significant spots for preservation in the United States and one of the top three west of the Mississippi.
The exceptionally successful reenactments of 1988, 1990, 1993, and 1996 which drew a combined total of 90,000 visitors, the formation of Friends of Honey Springs and planning teams from the Oklahoma Historical Society and the National park Service have strengthened the long-range vision through the Federal Battlefield protection study.
A commemoration is held on site each July, and now on a 3 year rotating basis a full-scale enactment is scheduled.
The 1993 Living History weekend was chosen by Oklahoma's Tourism and Recreation Division as the State's Event of the Year.
It is truly a spectacular happening! This authentic project was planned by the Oklahoma Historical Society in partnership with the City of Checotah and co-hosted by the Friends of Honey Springs, the Checotah Landmark Preservation Society and the Checotah Chamber of Commerce. It is the state's largest such event, interpreted by 1,500 participants in 1996.
This gathering was, for the first time, held on a 160 Acre wedge of land owned by the City of Checotah between US 69 and Business 69. Archaeologically significant, the battle site, only 1 1/2 miles northeast as the crow flies, has been the location of digs and is being preserved for continuing interpretation as study for the development continues.
Linked by history and staffing to Ft. Gibson, the Springs have been a centuries-old watering stop for Indians, stagecoaches, pioneers, and military personnel which followed the Old Texas Road.
At one time the encampment consisted of a from commissary building, a long offiecer-quarters building, a log hospital, many tents and arbors. And the several springs supplied ample water for passerby and livestock. The road was the main pre-Civil War route connecting Indian Territory with Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. And early in the war years, it was an important supply depot for the Confederates who planned to drive all Federal forces from Indian Territory.
Those dreams were dashed in July 1963, when the Union victory at the Battle of Honey Springs gave control of the Arkansas River valley from Ft. Gibson to Little Rock to US forces.
Further, the battle was historically significant because of the personnel who fought: Indians against Indians, white against whites, Hispanics who came with Texas forces; and for the first time, black troops were part of the combat forces and gave an heroic account as the kansas Infantry Regiment.
Thus the participants made it the most diversely representative battle in America.
And it all happened right here!
Text from the Checotah Courier *VOL. 2, NO. 1*
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