Battle of Old Fort Wayne, 22 October 1862

American Civil War battle just inside what was then the Indian Territories, now Oklahoma. In September 1862 a Native American force under Col. Douglas H. Cooper had joined a Confederate force at Newtonia, Missouri, the advance guard for an invasion of that state from Arkansas that did not in the end ever happen. On 30 September they had played a part in repelling a Union attack at Newtonia, but on 4 October the Confederate force had retreated in the face of a much larger Union army.

Cooper had retired to his camp at Old Fort Wayne, just inside the Indian Territory. There he was attempting to build up an army ready to launch an invasion of Kansas. A federal force under Brigadier-General James Blunt had been despatch to catch him.

Early on 22 October, Blunt discovered the Confederate camp. He estimated Cooper’s force to be between 5,000 and 7,000 strong, but despite this still decided to attack with the three companies of infantry that had accompanied him on an advance reconnaissance. Only the rapid arrival of Federal reinforcements from his main column saved Blunt from disaster. Those reinforcements rapidly turned the tide of battle. Cooper’s Native American’s fled the field, while his four artillery pieces were captured.

Cooper’s own account of the battle was rather different. Most of his troops had not yet concentrated at Old Fort Wayne. Only two regiments and Howell’s Texan artillery were actually present, giving him a total of 1,500 men. Faced with a Federal force he estimated as being 5,000 strong, Cooper considered himself to have been lucky to escape at all. His small force stayed together on its retreat back to Scullyville, in the Indian Territory.

Blunt’s victory at Old Fort Wayne helped the Union gain control of north west Arkansas. On 7 December he repelled a determined Confederate counterattack at Prairie Grove, after which Federal control of that part of the state remained relatively secure.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 August 2007), Battle of Old Fort Wayne, 22 October 1862, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_old_fort_wayne.html

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