I was privileged to attend the re-enactment of the Battle of Round Mountain in Yale, Oklahoma. Here’s some pictures from the reenactment, and the history of the battle.
The battle was fought by Native Americans
The actual battle was November 19, 1861. It was not a particularly major battle, but interesting because the combatants on both sides were primarily Native Americans, both Union and Confederate. The exact location of the battle is a matter of dispute, with some historians favoring a location near Keystone, but the evidence is slightly in favor of a location called Twin Mounds, near Yale, Oklahoma.
Douglas Hancock Cooper was the Confederate commander, in charge of the 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. Cooper had fought in the Mexican War, directly under Jefferson Davis. He was made Federal agent to the Choctaw tribe, and supervised their removal from their homeland to Indian Territory. He also became agent to the Chickasaw tribe, who adopted him as a full member in respect of his defense of Indian rights.
Opothleyahola (about 1798 – March 22, 1863) was the Union commander. He was of mixed European and Creek Indian ancestry, born Tuckabatchee, the Creek capital of the Upper Creek Towns, located in present-day Elmore County, Alabama. He fought in the Creek War in 1813 against Andrew Jackson. When the Creeks were defeated, he swore allegiance to the United States government. The young man developed as an influential and eloquent speaker who used his skills for his people first and foremost. He was selected as a Speaker for the chiefs, which was a distinct political role on the National Council, and he later became a “diplomatic chief.” He became a wealthy trader and owned a 2,000-acre (8 km²) plantation near North Fork Town. As did other Creek and members of the Five Civilized Tribes, he purchased African-American slaves as workers for his plantation. Opothleyahola joined the Freemasons and accepted Christianity, becoming a Baptist. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Opothleyahola and the Muscogee-speaking Creek remained loyal to the federal government. While it had passed legislation for Indian removal, they believed that the pressure for this came from Georgia and the southern populations, so did not support the Confederacy.Creek with African ancestry resented the restrictions of proposed “black codes,” increasing their sense of loyalty to the Union.
On Sept. 10, 1861, Opothleyahola received a letter from Abraham Lincoln, promising aid if he could get his forces north to Fort Row in Wilson County, Kansas. This trip, or retreat, became known as the Trail of Blood on Ice.
On November 19, Cooper moved north with 1400 troops to intercept the Union Creek forces, and found their abandoned camp near the Red Fork of the Arkansas River, about 4 pm. Cooper moved to look for stragglers, and encountered some, beginning a skirmish. The 4th Texas blundered into the main Union force of warriors, and was repulsed, moving back to Cooper’s main force. Darkness was falling, and Opothleyahola’s objective was to make the fort in the north, not engage in a pitched battle. The Union forces advanced to within 60 yards of the Confederates, started a prairie grass fire as cover, and then retreated.
The next morning, Cooper pressed the attack, but again found that the Union forces had retreated. The Confederates captured abandoned supplies, such as Opothleyahola’s carriage, a dozen wagons, food, cattle and ponies. The Confederate loss in the engagement was 1 captain and 5 men killed, 3 severely and 1 slightly wounded, and 1 missing. Opothleyahola lost about 110 killed and wounded.