Red River Civil War Sites
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
After reading about how the Civil War impacted the Red River Valley of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma,
take a day or two to visit the sites pertaining to the 1864 actions!
Oklahoma Civil War Sites
Honey Springs
101601 S 4232 Road, Checotah, OK 74426

Just outside of Rentiesville (McIntosh County) is the site of the Union victory at Honey Springs. The battle took place in July of 1863,
which turned out to be a pivotal month for the Union overall as both Grant and Mead obtained decisive victories at Vicksburg and
Gettysburg, respectively.

Honey Springs was a well-known rest stop on the
Texas Road. Due to its abundant water supplies, the Confederates turned the site into
a supply depot, which the
Union seized with help from the First Kansas Colored Infantry (free blacks who volunteered for service after
the federal ban on their gun ownership was lifted).

Today, the battle site, which is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places, is a state historic park with an interpretive center that
allows visitors to drive or walk to read the interpretive signs. Re-enactments of the battle occur every other year. The original Texas
road can still be discerned at the site, but travelers have to take US 69, aka the Jefferson Highway, to visit the battle field.

Rentiesville itself is a very historic town. It was founded at the turn of the 20th century by freedmen, many of whom came to Indian
Territory to find work and peace (above all, peace) from the incredible racial violence that permeated the post-war American South.
Rentiesville was one of almost 50 all-black towns that were founded in Indian Territory after the Civil War, and one of only a
handful to
survive into the 21st century.
Fort Washita, Doaksville
Map of the Honey Springs Battle Site from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Grave at the Middle Boggy Creek Cemetery on the grounds of the Atoka Museum, Atoka County. (This is not a Civil War grave - date is 1876).
Atoka Museum and Civil War Cemetery
2902 North Highway 69, Atoka, OK 74525

Just north of Atoka along the
Texas Road (aka US 69) sits the Atoka Museum, housed in a WPA era building. The museum is typical of
local institutions, as it depicts daily life for people in Atoka County from early periods until relatively recently (example: the Lane Frost
and Reba McEntire exhibits).

For those wanting to see a Civil War site, the attraction is outside, next to the tracks of the former
MKT right-of-way (now heavily
traveled by the Union Pacific): a cemetery that is the eternal home of several men killed during the engagement at Middle Boggy Creek.

The Middle Boggy Creek, renamed Muddy Boggy Creek, lies a few yards south of the cemetery. The ruts of the
Butterfield Overland
Stagecoach route (1858-1861) are also clearly visible from the cemetery. This allows the visitor to guess that the altercation at Middle
Boggy took place not too far away from where the cemetery now sits - the reason for the 'guess' is that historians are unsure of the
actual location of this fight. The majority of the Confederates at rest in the cemetery died of a measles epidemic, not from wounds
suffered in the battle.
Boggy Depot (now a park run by the Chickasaw Nation)
4684 South Park Lane, Atoka, OK 74525

While one of Indian Territory's most interesting towns can be considered a ghost town, it is nonetheless worth an extensive visit. Boggy
Depot served as the seat of the Chickasaw tribal government when the nation had not yet separated from the Choctaw lands, which
occurred in 1850. Before then, the town had become a major trading center along the Texas Road, serving as a
Butterfield station, a
supplier of Bois d'Arc wood and seeds, a ferry crossing, a cattle trading center... you name it, it happened in
Boggy Depot.

During the Civil War, encampments of home guards comprised of Chickasaw and Choctaw men, who served under a joint treaty of
secession,  and Texas volunteers placed themselves along the
Texas Road to guard Boggy Depot against Union invasion. Interestingly, a
few Choctaw and Chickasaw men left their home territories to join Union forces in Kansas.

The battle at Middle Boggy Creek may have taken place north west of the town near today's Atoka, or closer to Boggy Depot... again,
historians are not sure of the actual site. Inside the Boggy Depot cemetery, however, are a few graves of Confederates who were killed in
action. Today, Boggy Depot is a
Chickasaw Nation Park.
The prominent grave of Reverend Israel Folsom, born 1807 and died 1870, sits inside a stone fence in the large and extremely interesting
Boggy Depot Cemetery. Rev. Folsom, a Choctaw national, was a champion for the
education of Choctaw women.
Fort Washita State Historic Site
3348 OK-199, Durant, Oklahoma 74701

Established in 1842 to protect Chickasaws and Choctaws from possible Comanche attacks, Fort Washita was abandoned by Union troops
in 1861 and thereafter, served as a supply post for Confederate troops in the Red River Valley. Local metal detectors have found cannon
balls in the fields nearby, but are not sure if the munition dates from the Civil War or the Mexican American War. In 1865, most or the
buildings in the fort were burned, and in the post-war era, the Colbert family (a prominent Chickasaw family that ran the famed ferry at the
Red River below the Washita River) occupied the site.

The fort came under preservation efforts in the 1960 and operated as an attraction under the Oklahoma Historical Society, where
generations of school children from Durant and other nearby communities visit each year. In 2018, the fort will host the re-enactment of
the Battle of Middle Boggy from November 1st through November 3rd.
The cistern in the Choctaw town of Doaksville was the site of the surrender of Stand Waitie, Cherokee and Confederate Gereral.
Doaksville
Behind the cemetery of Fort Towson, one mile north of US 70

Doaksville was one of the first towns established by the Choctaws after their removal treaties of 1824 and 1830. The town sat just to the
west of
Fort Towson, an early cantonment built in 1824 to protect the arriving Choctaws from invasions by the Comanches, Osages, and
Anglo Americans.

During the Civil War, the town was surrounded by camps of Confederate soldiers as well as camps of renegades who terrorized the
locals. One of the Confederate soldier camps was led by Stand Waitie, a Cherokee planter who joined the Confederates and became a
general in their ranks. Waitie's father was Major Ridge and his brother, Elias Boudinot - they formed the political faction that signed the
Cherokee removal treaty of New Echota in 1835 against the majority of Cherokee's wishes. Due to Waitie's involvement with the removal
treaties, over half of the Cherokees refused to join the Confederacy, leaving them vulnerable to depredations. One example came from
Waitie himself, who burned down the home of famed Cherokee Chief John Ross, a man who deeply resented Waitie's role in instigating
the Trail of Tears.

On June 23, 1865, Stand Waitie surrendered to Union troops at Doaksville. The town's cistern where the meeting took place has been
reconstructed in the archaeological park of Doaksville near the town of Fort Towson.
Inside Fort Towson's cemetery is this undated tombstone of a former Kentucky soldier who volunteered for service in Company H, Third 3rd
Kentucky Cavalry. My research indicates that the unit was on the Union side and fought from 1861 to 1865 in Tennessee and North Carolina. He
may have been stationed in
Indian Territory or Texas during Reconstruction, or may have privately moved to Indian Territory after the war to
take advantage of the land allotments. Due to having no death date listed, his fate is unsure.
Arkansas Civil War Sites
The Hempstead County courthouse in Washington became the capitol of Arkansas once Little Rock was overtaken by the Union.
Historic Washington State Park
US 278 and AR 195, 103 Franklin Street, Washington, AR 71862

The town of Washington was established in the 1820s to become the first seat of Hempstead County. Known as the last major settlement
before entering Texas (or the first major settlement after leaving Texas -
Fulton doesn't count as it was, shall we say, less than civilized in
the early years of its existence), Washington saw much Southwestern history over the years- Texas revolutionaries,
Indian removals, and
Union and Confederate forces crossed here.

Luckily, the town was spared any major Civil War violence, which allowed some of its antebellum architecture to survive. The town's
proximity to the Prairie d'Ane battle site (on private land between Hope and Prescott), however, forced several of the buildings and its
citizens to convert to triage centers. Washington's cemetery has several confederate and union gravesites.

Washington lost its status as a county seat in the 1930s, when promoters convinced the citizens of Hempstead County to vote for Hope, a
railroad development, as the new county seat instead. Washington, which could have been forgotten, became a
historic park when
buildings from the outlying areas such as Blevins were moved into town to prevent their destruction due to the construction of the
Southwest Proving Grounds in the 1940s.
An earthern berm sits just to the west of the Dooley Ferry crossing. This may be an Indian mound or part of the ferry defesnses.
Dooley's Ferry
Along Dooley's Ferry road in southern Hempstead County (east of river) or along CR 379 in Miller County (west of river)

To prevent a potential Union raid by General Magruder's troops on Rondo (Rondeau), the temporary seat of the Arkansas archives during
the Camden Campaign, Confederate forces built earthern fortifications along the Dooley's Ferry road. Dooley's Ferry was the main Red
River crossing south of Fulton and the road west of the river, in Miller County,  led directly to Rondo. The fortifications were never used,
however, as Magruder's troops were defeated in battles further east of the Red River.

In 2014, state archeologists conducted a survey of Dooley's ferry and their excavations revealed quite a bit of information. The site is also
now on the National Historical Register. It is, however, on private property and public access is not allowed. Visit the
Arkansas Historic
Preservation Program to read more about Dooley's Ferry.
Rondo (also spelled Rondeau)
Northeast of Texarkana along E 19th Street, aka Old Post Road

Thought the town of Rondo was founded in Miller County in 1834 to serve the many area plantations, its growth was always quite small.
Today, the city of
Texarkana claims Rondo, but its location is still rural. During the Civil War, the Arkansas State Papers (archives) were
ferried from Washington across the Red River at Dooley's Ferry in order to prevent possible Union destruction. The papers remained
untouched, as Magruder's troops never made it this far.

The only remnant of the Civil War era is Rondo's interesting cemetery, where Confederate soldiers are buried. The cemetery is quite large
and features two sections. The back portion is the oldest section, "guarded" by an abandoned church.
Louisiana Civil War SItes
Mansfield Battle Site State Historic Park
15149 Highway 175, Mansfield, LA 71052

Now a well-managed historic site, the largest of several fields of engagement during the Red River Campaign reveals many historic details.
The interpretation center alone is worth the trip, as is a walk on the battle fields, where the deaths of Confederate leaders are
commemorated with large obelisks. One monument is dedicated to a Frenchman, Prince Camille de Polignac, who took over General
Mouton's command when he was shot and killed during the battle. The old stage coach route, re-named General Mouton's trail, is easily
discernable, too.

Down the road on Highway 175 is the site of the Battle of Pleasant Hill, which is now also a state historic park where
reenactments take
place yearly. An old dogtrot farm house, original to the site and witness to the battle, has been restored by the re-enactors.
The Confederate graves at Mansfield's city cemetery sport non-contemporary markers, most having replaced hand-made markers (or no markers
at all). I like finding the maker's etching on tombstones, like this one.
Mansfield City Cemetery - Highland Cemetery
On Franklin Street between Madison and Van Buren Streets in north Mansfield

Mansfield is an old city and the graves inside its cemetery attest to that. Towards the back of the cemetery lie several graves of
Confederate soldiers who died either during battle of Mansfield or the battle of Pleasant Grove, or shortly thereafter. A mass grave of
Union soldiers existed but their bodies were repatriated to their home counties years ago.
Mansfield Female College
101 Monroe Street, Mansfield, LA 71052

The female college, established by the Methodists in the 1850s was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi River. Planter's daughters (as
well as the daughters of prominent businessmen throughout the state) attended science, literature, philosophy, history, and mathematics
classes inside the original buildings up until the 1960s, when the building was sold to make a private residence.

During the Battle of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, the large and spacious campus buildings served as a make-shift hospital. Several
amputations were performed here, too. The remains of the amputations were buried in a mass grave just south of the building, which has
now been paved over (and preserved) by the site's parking lot.

The Mansfield Female College is a really interesting museum that explains the college's history as well as its role in the CIvil War. Weird
sounds eminate from the servant's attic, though. When I visited, a loud 'thump' surprised us all. Could it be the peg-legged Confederate
soldier that still haunts the grounds, looking for his lost limb?
The remains of Keachi College are not contemporary to the Civil War.
Keatchi College
202 LA 172, Keatchi, LA 71046

The Baptists did not want to lag behind the Methodists and established their own female college in 1856 in the city of Keatchi. The
college also served as a hospital during the Battle of Mansfield. The original building was destroyed long ago, and the current building,
which is of antebellum vintage, was moved to the location but no one is using it. The school bell may be original to the old college,
though. Behind the building are the abandoned remains of Keachi's high school. When federal courts forced Louisiana schools to
desegregate in the 1970s, cities simply closed their doors and forced consolidated school districts instead.
The Confederate cemetery at Keatchi
Confederate Memorial Cemetery
LA 172 on east side of Keatchi

The men who died from wounds suffered at the Battle of Mansfield and who ended up in Keatchi are interred inside this bucolic graveyard.
The dogtrot at the Battle of Pleasant Hill site. Photo is from "The Battle of Pleasant Hill Reenactment and Festival, April 13-15, 2018."
Battle of Pleasant Hill site
Hwy 175 north of Pleasant Hill

Down the road from the battle site park in Mansfield on Highway 175 is the site of the Battle of Pleasant Hill, where reenactments take
place yearly. The site sports a number of interesting interpretive markers. An old dogtrot farm house, original to the site and witness to
the battle, has been restored by the re-enactors.
The remains of Fort Buhlow (the tall hills to the left) lie along the Red River in a beautiful bayou.
Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site (and Bailey's Dam)
135 Riverfront Street, Pineville, LA 71360

Union admiral Porter's fleet docked at Alexandria in 1864 to launch the Red River Campaign... but that didn't work out too well. On the way
back down river from
Natchitoches, Porter's gunboats got stuck at the rapids on the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville due to low
water from a seasonal drought and Confederate General Taylor's damming the Red River to reduce water flow further upstream. It was at
this juncture that engineer Joseph Bailey hastily led the construction of three dams that filled the Red River with enough water to allow the
gunboats over the rapids.

During these dramatic altercations, the entire town of Alexandria burned to the ground - only one brick building was left in the entire
downtown area. Though recent historians argue that the conflagration may have been started by the roving gangs of violent, lawless
deserters and anarchists, Confederates, of course, blamed the Union army. Thus, after Porter's navy and Nathan Banks's army left the area,
the state of Louisiana erected two earthwork forts to prevent another attack from happening. Neither of the forts -
Buhlow or Randolph -
ever saw any active service and were abandoned within less than a decade. Today, the forts anchor a historic site along the Red River that
has a great interpretive site, well-prepared rangers, and pretty walking paths surrounding the old earthworks.

The site of Bailey's dam has been flooded by the Army Corps of Engineers in order to make the river navigable above the rapids. Today, the
site can be imagined at an overlook at the fort.
The Red River at the base of the Grand Ecore (Big Bluff) is a sight to behold.
Grand Ecore Visitor's Center
16 Tauzin Island Road, Natchitoches, LA 71457

The 800 foot bluff that constitutes the Grand Ecore is the reason for the settlement of Natchitoches - and the reason why the Confederates
were able to thwart the Union. As the Union gunboats made their way to the banks of the Red River at this high bluff, Confederate troops
rained bullets on them. Stranded away from the other units, the Porter's fleet ended up losing several men and even had to destroy
gunboats that had sustained heavy damage.

Today, the site of this shooting gallery has a natural history interpretive center and sports one of the best overlooks in the state of
Louisiana.
Capturing Fort DeRussy was the only real victory for the Union in the Red River Campaign.
Approximate site of Fort DeRussy and cemetery
Fort DeRussy Road, Marksville, LA

Though the earthworks of the Confederate fortifcation lie on private land, a visit to the fort's small cemetery north of Marksville is
advised. To learn more about Fort DeRussy, read the
National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, which gives a very detailed,
in-depth explanation of the site. Under Union occupation, Fort DeRussy became the recruiting point for African American men during the
Civil War.
Do you know of a Civil War site that I may have overlooked? Let me know! E-mail
me
robin@redriverhistorian.com