DOUGLAS HANCOCK COOPER: CONFEDERATE GENERAL OF INDIAN TERRITORY Part 2 by Addison Hart
(First I wish to thank KS-Moderator. Without her very valuable help, I do wonder if this essay could have been written at all.)
Colonel Douglas Hancock Cooper, Confederate States of America, had, by February of 1862, been a Mexican War veteran and a successful U.S. Indian Agent, and finally a battlefield hero for the infant Confederacy. After defeating the aggressive Pro-Northern "Pin" Indians under Chief Opothleyahola, Colonel Cooper's force of Pro-Southern Indians had been called to Arkansas to assist Major General Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West in defeating the small army of Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis.
The call had come to Brigadier General Albert J. Pike, District commander of the Oklahoma (Indian) Territory. Pike organized all the units in the Indian Territory into a single cavalry brigade, consisting of the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Colonel John Drew, the 2nd Cherokee under Colonel Stand Watie, Cooper's own 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw, the 1st Creek Mounted Rifles under Colonel Daniel N. McIntosh, and a small squadron of mounted Texans under the command of Captain Otis G. Welch.
Albert Pike, in himself, was one of the most fascinating figures in the history of the conflict known as the Civil War, if not one of the most fascinating of American history. David Lavender wrote "he moved and spoke with Olympian loftiness. He was more than six feet tall and bearded like Zeus; his curly locks cascaded to his shoulders." Before Pike became a Confederate General, he was a Harvard Student, a Grammar School Principal, a trapper, a poet, a politician, a lawyer, a writer, an editor, an Indian Agent (like Cooper), and a champion for Freemasonry.
Van Dorn's army (which was composed of the combined forces of General Benjamin McCulloch's Arkansas Division and Major General Sterling Price's Missouri State Guard) had been forced out of Springfield, Missouri, and into the most southern part of Missouri and most northern part of Arkansas-- the Pea Ridge area of the Boston Mountains. Curtis's army was encamped near Pea Ridge and Bentonville at Elkhorn Tavern on the Little Sugar Creek. As it happened, Curtis had forced Price out of Missouri with his overwhelming numbers, but now that McCulloch, Pike, and Cooper had come to his assistance, Curtis was the one who was heavily outnumbered. What was worse was that Curtis's men were spread about the whole Pea Ridge region. On March 6th, 1862, cavalrymen under Brigadier General James McIntosh (who'd fought with Cooper at Chustenahlah) found the 1st and 2nd Divisions of Curtis's army under the incredibly poor fighter known as Brigadier General Franz Sigel.
McIntosh attacked Sigel, sending some of his men running. Sigel fell back towards Elkhorn Tavern, believing that Van Dorn's whole army had hit him. He frantically called for help. Van Dorn then formed a plan of attack upon Curtis. McCulloch would attack the center of Curtis's line, at Leetown, and Price would march around Pea Ridge and attack Curtis's rear. With the pressure of the two pronged assault applied upon them, Van Dorn believed that Curtis's men would break and eventually be forced to surrender. The plan seemed flawless, but one thing Van Dorn didn't count on was his own poor leadership and planning. There was no way that, after Price's long march, he would be in any condition to defeat Curtis.
The plan fell apart immediately. That morning, March 7th, the fall of wet snow hampered the advance, and so when Price's attack was supposed to start, McCulloch's line (McIntosh's and Pike's Cavalry and Colonel Louis Hebert's Infantry) made their assault, but they learned too late that Price was slowed down, and would be able to attack a short time after McCulloch's assault. When Price did arrive, his first two assaults were repulsed with great loss by the enemy division under Eugene Asa Carr, although the third attack by the Missourians swept Carr away and took the Tavern.
McCulloch's attack was hampered. Half of Pike's brigade, those regiments under Cooper and Chief Daniel McIntosh, were not even on the field until late that day (this was due to the fact that they were posted as the rearguard to Van Dorn's wagons). McCulloch's first attacks broke Sigel's line, and Colonel Watie's men captured a Federal battery, but when they stopped their advance to rejoice, they were routed by a Federal cavalry attack. Hebert's strong brigade was at first successful, but when Hebert was slightly wounded and then captured, his brigade was demoralized. McCulloch himself was shot dead in a field as he observed the assault, and when General McIntosh, his replacement, led his assault into the division under Jefferson Columbus Davis, he fell with a bullet through the heart. McCulloch's final replacement was Colonel Elkhanah Greer who, although a good regimental commander, and a fair brigade leader, was obviously not suited for division command.
Van Dorn's badly flawed plan was the ultimate cause for his ruin the following day, March 8th. Curtis correctly decided that the Confederates were running low on ammunition, and that a well co-ordinated assault would scatter them. And so, Curtis ordered his men to make an all-out assault on the Confederate line. Van Dorn was defeated there; many of his men ran from the field. Without even being engaged, Cooper was ordered to retreat with the rest of Pike's men. Cooper always disliked Pike after that, believing that Pike thought that his men were incompetent and unfit for battle.
"The enemy is again far away in the Boston Mountains. The scene is silent and sad," wrote General Curtis to his brother, "the vulture and the wolf now have the dominion and the dead friends and foes sleep in the same lonely graves." The Federals had lost around 1,400 men and Van Dorn had lost around 900. The Cherokees were rumored to have scalped and mutilated the Federal dead, as was their custom in battle with any enemy, and the Union press made quite a uproar about the affair (though there is no evidence to support that these scalpings ever occurred), and Cooper's men, although they never came near to the battle, were also blamed for the alleged mutilation.
Earl Van Dorn was disgusted with Pike, whose Cherokees had been routed from the field, and left Pike out of his Official Report. This was the start of the animosity towards Albert Pike and the Confederate high command. On April 14th, Van Dorn was removed from command and replaced with Major General Thomas C. Hindman, who immediately questioned Pike's ability, and then questioned his handling of money and material. However, Hindman was so disliked by his superiors and subordinates that he was relieved, and old Lieutenant General Theophilis H. Holmes replaced him. Hindman was soon given command of the 1st Corps in the Trans-Mississippi Army. Pike was given command of the district of Indian Territory. However, he was soon to be replaced. Hindman was first to order his arrest, and gave orders to Cooper, Pike's second-in-command to also order Pike's arrest. "He is partly deranged and a dangerous person to be at liberty among the Indians."
It must be noted that at the time, Colonel Cooper had started struggling with alcohol. In fact, on occasion he was even seen to be in a drunken state. It was not something that he at first knew how to deal with, and in fact he would not win his battle with alcohol for another year. Had it not been for this, Cooper would have become the district commander of Indian Territory that fall. However, he was passed over for Brigadier General William Steele, a New Yorkian Indian fighter who'd previously been fighting with Henry Sibley in New Mexico.
On August 24th, 1862, when Hindman again assumed command of the Confederates in northwestern Arkansas, his army "consisted of between 9,000 and 10,000 men" (wrote Colonel Thomas L. Snead) "of whom 3,000 were Indians, under command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper." The force was re-named the Army of the Frontier. Hindman's men were up against the Union Army of the Frontier. This force was essentially the same army that had beaten Van Dorn at Pea Ridge, and was still under command of Samuel Curtis. When Curtis fell ill, he was replaced by Brigadier General James Gillpatrick Blunt.
Blunt was the perfect name for the man. Tall, stocky, with square shoulders and a square head, Blunt was born in Maine and was at first a Medical Doctor. When the 'Bloody Kansas' Wars began he was known as a prominent 'Yankee', assisting John Brown to send freedmen to Canada. When the war broke out, Blunt was given a regiment in Colonel James H. Lane's Jayhawker Brigade, fighting through the battle of Dry Wood Creek. When the brigade joined the Union Army, Blunt was made a Brigadier General, and given command of the District of Kansas.
Blunt's campaign started in June, 1862. The people of Chief Opothleyahola, whom Cooper had beaten at Chustenahlah, were becoming increasingly bitter against the Federal Government for their mistreatment in Kansas. Blunt was ordered to drive the Confederates out of Indian Territory and escort Opothleyahola's people back into it when the campaign was won. Much of Blunt's force was composed of Creek Regiments, the War Department, due to shortage of able bodied white men in the area had reversed it's original (characteristically bigoted) claim "the nature of our present troubles forbids the use of savages" and recruitment had begun.
On June 28th, on Blunt's orders, Colonel William Weer led a brigade of 6,000 infantry, cavalry, and artillery from Baxter Springs, Kansas, into Indian Territory. After causing much havoc, defeating a battalion of cavalry under Col. J.J. Clarkson at Locust Grove and capturing the Cherokee Chief John Ross (whose sentiments had become increasingly Union), Weer's men bedded down for 10 days on the Grand River. There, due to the idleness and intense heat, Federal morale (as well as food stock) plummeted. Weer himself became "hopelessly intoxicated." Suddenly, appearing in their front was Cooper's brigade, and Missouri cavalry advanced on their rear. In panic many of Weer's men deserted. Weer's hasty withdraw cost him nearly half his brigade as well as his overall command.
Cooper was ordered to oppose Blunt at Newtonia, Missouri, and rode to join that city's defenders. Originally Newtonia was an outpost of 200 men under Colonel Tresevant C. Hawpe, the area important to Hindman's army due to the large mill there, from which a large part of Hindman's breadstuffs were made. There were rumors that Blunt was advancing his army, and its sights were set on Newtonia. Colonel Joseph Orville Shelby's legendary two-regiment brigade was sent to the town, with Shelby at its head, but he requested more help. Cooper would be sent.
Cooper arrived with his brigade, the 1st Cherokee Battalion under Major J. M. Bryan, Cooper's old regiment now under Colonel Tandy Walker, and the 1st Choctaw Regiment under Colonel Sampson Folsom. His white regiments included Lt. Col. Michael W. Buster's Battalion of the 1st Missouri Cavalry, the 1st Texas Partisan Cavalry Regiment under Colonel James Stevens, the 31st Texas Cavalry Regiment under Colonel Hawpe, and the 34th Texas Cavalry Regiment under Colonel Almarine M. Alexander. Besides his brigade (Shelby's own regiment, the 1st Missouri Cavalry, now under Col. B. Frank Gordon, and the 2nd Missouri Cavalry under Col. Beal Jeans), Shelby had with him the 2nd Missouri Field Artillery Battery under Capt. Joseph Bledsoe and the 11th Texas Field Artillery Battery under Colonel Sylvanus Howell. About 5,000 men in all.
In actuality, Blunt's full force had not arrived (a large part was still at his HQ in Fort Scott). All that had come to Newtonia was 4,000 men in Brigadier General Friederich Salomon's 1st Division. Salomon had three brigades, including Brig. Gen. Egbert Brown's Enrolled Missouri Militia Brigade. Salomon also had four batteries, including the famed Mountain Howitzers. On September 19th, 1862, the old Prussian Officer Salomon ordered Colonel Edward Lynde to take his 190 man Detachment of the 9th Kansas Cavalry and 2 sections of the Mountain Howitzers on a scouting mission to Newtonia to ascertain the size of Cooper's force there. However, one of Cooper's staff officers saw the blue coated cavalrymen approach the town, and Cooper ordered his own artillery forces to barrage Lynde's men. After a shell cut down a mounted sergeant in full view of his troopers, Lynde's men scattered.
Salomon's force was composed of his own brigade, consisting of detachments of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and the 9th Kansas Cavalry, the 9th Wisconsin Infantry under Lt. Col. Arthur Jacobi, and the 2nd Indian (Muscogean) Home Guard under Colonel John Ritchie. Attached to Salomon's brigade was Lt. Henry Opdycke's Mountain Howitzers, the 2nd KS Volunteer Battery, and the 3rd Volunteer Battery, under Captain Job Stockton and Lt. John F. Addudell, respectively. The 2nd Brigade was commanded by Colonel Weer, and was composed of the 6th KS Cavalry Regiment under Colonel William Judson, the 10th KS Infantry Regiment under Major Henry H. Williams, Colonel William A. Phillip's 3rd Indian Home Guard, and two batteries: the 1st KS Volunteer Battery under Capt. Norman Allen, and two sections of the Mountain Howitzers under Lt. Brainard Benedict. Egbert Brown's EMM Brigade was still advancing from Fort Scott.
The same day, more of Blunt's troops had encountered Confederates at Granby, a mining town not far from Newtonia. Despite the fact that it seemed that Salomon was outnumbered without Brown's Missourians, he decided he would attack. He also believed, and rightly so, that many of Cooper's men were green. When Lynde's men routed, he decided to send reinforcements. Salomon's HQ was 15 miles away at Sarcoxie, and so he had no idea how severely he would be beaten. To Lynde's assistance, he sent all of the rest of the Howitzers and two more companies of cavalry before night fell.
Many of Cooper's staff and subordinate officers urged Cooper to retreat. They believed that Blunt's entire army was at Sarcoxie and fast approaching. Cooper decided that he would stay, none the less, and defeat Blunt's forces as they came, believing that Federal organization would be lost due to the way the Federals were being sent to Newtonia, one company at a time. The next morning, September 30th, at 7:00 a.m., Colonel Judson's 6th Kansas Cavalry and Colonel Phillip's 3rd Indian (Muscogean) Home Guards (which had mounted) arrived on the field. Salomon was at the head of his two brigades and were also approaching. Phillips and Judson struck northeast of the town at a large cornfield owned by a German farmer. They quickly drove Confederate pickets out of the field, suffering few casualties.
Salomon then ordered his cannon to fire upon the town, thus starting an artillery duel with Cooper's batteries, which ended half an hour later when both batteries ran too low on ammunition. Hawpe's men were then attacked in the field, and, after two hours of severe fighting, much hand to hand, they fell back into the town, as Cooper's whole force arrived on the scene. Newtonia was safe once more. The Confederates threw back the combined attacks of Judson, Phillips, and Lynde, and they retreated some three miles. Lt. Col. Jacobi's 9th Wisconsin was then sent for an attack on Cooper's flank, but Joseph Shelby's men arrived to check his advance.
Salomon's men fell back to a more defensible wooded ridge just a mile from the town, as Cooper took the offensive. As Cooper massed his men, Salomon constructed some very hastily made defenses. On the Federal's right, Shelby's men mounted and charged headlong into the fray. They struck Judson's 6th Kansas, routing. Likewise, Cooper's 1st Chickasaw and Choctaw and the 1st Cherokee Battalion suddenly struck Phillip's Indian Home Guards. Cooper decided to lead this charge himself, and mounted his horse, taking out his saber and thrusting it into the direction of General Salomon's lines. Cooper then ordered his Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Cherokees to give their battle cry. Phillip's Muscogeans routed instantly as Cooper's men struck them head-on.
Salomon was expecting Brown's EMM Brigade to arrive at any minute, but when Cooper's charge broke his left and Shelby's charge broke his right, Salomon realized that he was fighting a losing battle. By 5:30 Salomon was in full retreat back to his HQ in Sarcoxie. The Mountain Howitzers were placed on the roadsides to Sarcoxie to stop Cooper's pursuit. It was then that Brigadier General Egbert Brown's Enrolled Missouri Militia arrived. However, even Brown's men could not hold long under Cooper's relentless attacks. When Confederate gunners fired a few shells into the Mountain Howitzers, panic fell among Salomon's lines, and as Cooper predicted, all organization was lost. The Federal retreat was a rout. They ran back all the way to Sarcoxie, some running far beyond that.
Cooper reported that he had lost 12 dead, 3 missing (probably dead), and 63 wounded. However, Cooper's losses were probably about 150 in all. Salomon had lost 350 to 400 men, perhaps even 450. For the first time since the battle of Wilson's Creek, Confederates had won a large victory against Federal troops on Missouri soil. Furthermore, the battle of Newtonia was the start to the campaign that Cooper would be fighting until October 1863.
After Blunt's forces were defeated, Major General John McAllister Schofield, commanding the District of Southwest Missouri, ordered an offensive against Cooper, to drive him into Indian Territory, and then out so that Indian Territory might be occupied by the Union forces under his command. Schofield's army moved south and combined with Blunt's "Army of the Frontier", which was then assigned as the 1st Division of Schofield's army. Skirmishing was brought on for several days around Granby and Newtonia, but Cooper could not be pinned down or brought to battle. Cooper fell back into Indian Territory on October 4th, and his men rode to Old Fort Wayne on the Arkansas border, less than twenty miles south of Cowskin Prairie as Shelby withdrew into the Boston Mountains, encamping near Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Shortly after Cooper fell back, Schofield and his forces left Blunt to take on Cooper, whom he not only outnumbered, but had a much larger and more reliable stock of ammunition that his opponent. And so, Cooper had little chance of stopping Blunt's advance, but if Blunt was going to take the Oklahoma Territory, Cooper was determined to make him pay for it. However, it was Blunt who made the first move. At 7:00 a.m., Blunt's Kansas Brigade and Phillip's Indian Brigade attacked Cooper's camp at Beatties Prairie, just outside of Fort Wayne. Cooper's Indian Brigade was not on the scene when the battle started; it was Colonel Thomas C. Bass and his small Texas brigade that bore the brunt of the fighting. His four regiments, including the 20th Texas Cavalry, held out valiantly against repeated Federal attacks for over half an hour. When Cooper's Brigade arrived, the old Mississippian knew that the position could not be held. His forces fell back in haste, having to leave a section of artillery behind.
With Fort Wayne conquered, the route to Fort Gibson was open. At the little outpost of Honey Springs, just twenty miles southwest of Fort Gibson, Cooper's men set up Winter Camp. That winter was a very tedious one for Cooper and Indian Territory. Despite Cooper's constant hopes for re-occupation of northeastern Indian Territory he could never move to do it. Although Blunt had withdrawn to northern Arkansas, Cooper could not advance because Blunt had left Colonel William Phillip's Indian Home Guard Brigade in newly occupied Fort Gibson. However, there was action against Blunt just north of Cooper's territories.
At Clark's Mill, or Vera Cruz, Missouri, one of Schofield's best reconnaissance parties, 113 men from the 10th Illinois Cavalry, under Capt. Hiram Barstow, suddenly vanished. They'd been cut off from Schofield's HQ, and there was nothing to be heard of them. This was because on November 7th, 1862, Cols. John Burbridge and Colton Greene attacked them, killing 13 of them and forcing the surrender of the rest. Then, less than twenty full miles south west of Fayetteville, Arkansas, at a place called Cane Hill, General Blunt's Army attacked and forced the withdraw of Brig. Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke's Confederate Cavalry.
General Hindman had planned Schofield's defeat at a place less than ten miles southwest of Fayetteville, Prairie Grove. Schofield himself was ill, and Blunt had taken his place. Blunt was heavily outnumbered by Hindman's large, but tired army. On December 7th, 1862, the battle began. Blunt had called for reinforcements, and Brigadier General Francis Herron's Division had come from Springfield, Missouri, after marching night and day to get to the area. Immediately, Hindman's men struck, Herron was thrown back with heavy losses. However, Blunt was able to strike at Hindman's rear. In the end, Prairie Grove was a bloody draw. Hindman fell back on the 8th, before the Federals could attempt to pursue.
After Prairie Grove, much of Arkansas fell. On January 11th, 1862, Arkansas Post was forced to surrender. Helena fell shortly after that. However, nothing of much consequence happened afterwards until late June 1862. At Cabin Creek, Indian Territory, July 1st, 1863, Colonel Stand Watie was defeated in a minor battle for the Fort Gibson supply train. Very little was accomplished by either side at that battle, except that Watie learned some news, which he passed on to Cooper. Blunt had returned to take all of the Oklahoma Territory.
On May 2nd, 1863, Colonel Douglas Hancock Cooper had received the greatest award yet given to him since he was made an honorary member of the Chickasaw Tribe, he'd been promoted to Brigadier General. From Honey Springs, he planned an attack on Fort Gibson.
On July 15th, 1863, Brig. Gen. Douglas Hancock Cooper received word that the Arkansas River had become fordable, and so General Blunt had the perfect opportunity to march across and attack Cooper's position along Elk Creek at Honey Springs and Shaw's Tavern. This was exactly what Blunt intended to do. Blunt had with him two brigades, the 1st, under Colonel Judson, was composed of the 1st KS Volunteer Infantry, under Col. James Williams, the 2nd Indian Home Guards under Lt. Col. Frederick Schuarte (Company G of which was led by influential Indian Politician Bud Gritts), Lt. Col. Thomas Dodd's Battalion of the 2nd Colorado Volunteers, Capt. Edward Stevens' 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry Btn, and Smith's 2nd Kansas Battery.
Colonel William Phillips led the 2nd Brigade. Lt. Col. Louis Downing now led his old 3rd Indian Home Guards. Then there were the 1st Indian Home Guards under Colonel Stephen H. Wattles, a battalion of the 6th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry under Lt. William T. Campbell, and finally the 3rd Kansas Battery under Capt. Henry Hopkins. The majority of Blunt's men were either Indians or Blacks.
Cooper had with him Watie's 1st Cherokee Rifles, the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Col. William P. Adair, the 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, now under Col. Tandy Walker, the 1st Creek Mounted Rifles under Colonel Daniel N. McIntosh, the old Creek chief, the 2nd Creek Mounted Rifles under his brother Col. Chilly McIntosh, Col. L. M. Martin's Texas Partisans, Colonel Thomas Bass's 20th Texas Cavalry, the 29th Texas Cavalry under Col. Charles De Morse, two more squadrons of Texan Cavalrymen, and finally Capt. Roswell W. Lee's Texas Light Artillery Battery.
Brigadier General William Cabell's Confederate Brigade was marching to join Cooper and Blunt decided he must act as quickly as possible to prevent this. At midnight, July 16th, Blunt's 3,000 men crossed the swollen Arkansas River to confront Cooper's 5,500. Blunt knew that Cooper, despite his larger numbers, had a great disadvantage. The little gunpowder that Cooper's men had was soaked in the rainfall that night, rendering much of it useless. In this way, Cooper's men would be forced into battle with very limited ammunition. The wet ammunition would also cause many misfires and explosions during the battle. Many muskets blew up in the faces of their owners when fired. So, in this since, Cooper stood little chance of winning the battle. Further disadvantages were that Cooper had four cannon while Blunt had twelve, and all of Blunt's infantry were armed with splendid new Springfield Rifles.
Very early on the morning of the 17th, Blunt's men ran into Cooper's scouts at Chimney Mountain. The fight was short and almost bloodless. Cooper's men were barely able to fire a single shot in the drizzling rain. Cooper's scouting party slowly fell back to Cooper's main lines in front of Elk Creek. At daybreak, Blunt's Indian Home Guards came across advance units from Cooper's force about five miles north of the Creek. The skirmish was just as brief as that at Chimney Mountain, but more bloody. After a few volleys were exchanged, the Confederates withdrew towards Cooper's camp. Blunt ordered an advance down Texas Road towards Honey Springs.
Colonel James William's 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of which each Private was Black, flew the Black Flag. They resolved to take no prisoners, there would be no quarter. Instead, any Confederates who surrendered to them would be massacred. Cooper's men were entrenched in a long line (about one and a half miles) in the treeline along the Elk Creek. One-quarter mile from his front line, Blunt's men were ordered into skirmish position on a ridge overlooking the field and fired down on Cooper's lines. Phillip's men were on one side of the Federal line and Judson's men were on the other. The battle began at 10 a.m. in an artillery duel started by Capt. Lee's Confederate Artillery. Cooper rode along the batteries assisting in the aiming of the guns. The first shot disabled one of Blunt's Napoleon guns, killing a Sergeant and a Private soldier. Then two of Blunt's Napoleons concentrated their fire on a single howitzer, killing all of its crew and horses, as well as blow! in! g it apart. In the exchange, a shell that nearly struck Blunt himself decapitated one of Blunt's aides.
At 10:30, Blunt ordered his men forward. Cooper believed that his men had beaten back one Federal attack when a severe rainstorm soaked the field. During this heavy rainfall, Lee's battery lost much of its powder. The barrels in which they were kept flooded and burst, rendering almost all of his ammunition completely useless. Taking advantage of this, William's Black Infantry (which had declared no quarter) fixed bayonets and charged Lee's battery, overrunning it completely. When the attack came, Col. De Morse's Confederates came to the battery's rescue. De Morse fell with a severe wound early in the fight. As Col. Williams rode up at the head of his Black troops, he was shot off his horse and horribly wounded, but he survived the wound. As the battle between the Texans and the Black soldiers became more fierce, the 2nd Indian Home Guards under Lt. Col. Schuarte managed to ride in between the two lines, and soon took casualties from both sides.
In the midst of all this confusion, Lt. Col. John Bowles, replacing the fallen Williams, ordered his men to fall back to Blunt's main line. De Morse's men overheard the command and mistook its meaning. They now believed that Blunt's whole army was in retreat. De Morse's replacement ordered to charge to retreating 1st Kansas. It was a very bad decision. Three times the color bearers of the 29th Texas were shot down. The 29th was so badly decimated that much of their line broke and ran behind the main Confederate lines. There was now a gap in Cooper's line. Cooper ordered his men to retreat across the Creek via a small stone bridge. When the left flank of Cooper's retreating force was threatened, Cooper's retreat across the bridge became more uncoordinated.
Once across the creek (the cannon had gone across first, the Texans guarding the position as long as possible), Cooper's men entrenched once again, and stood firm before another Federal assault, although they had little to fight with besides their muskets and bayonets. Indeed, many of the Federal bodies found in the area had been run through with bayonets several times. Others had been clubbed to death. The battle became a fighting retreat to Honey Springs depot and towards the Perryville area. Cooper was constantly sending scouts out to report on General Cabell's progress. He knew that with Cabell's reinforcements he could defeat Blunt and possibly force his surrender and then march on to re-take Fort Gibson.
With the Federal advance upon Cooper's retreating forces more of a threat, Cooper ordered his reserves to make a last ditch attack to halt Blunt's line. The reserve unit was Cooper's old regiment, the 1st Chickasaw and Choctaw Regiment, under Colonel Tandy Walker. "Give 'em the war whoop," called Cooper to the men of his old regiment as they began the counter-attack. This is what they did. Brandishing their hatchets and their knives (the only weapons they could use in the rain), they rode down straight into Blunt's line, screaming their "war whoop". Despite heavy losses, the Choctaws and Chickasaws did what they set out to do. The shaken Federals promptly halted their advance as the screaming Indians assailed them.
Cooper's men arrived at Honey Springs depot four hours after the start of the battle. They had fallen back to a mile and a half south of the position where the first shots were fired from Lee's Howitzers, all but one of which had survived the battle, despite their temporary capture by the 1st Kansas Volunteers. General Blunt chose, and wisely so, not to pursue Cooper's men. Blunt himself had caught a fever during the battle, and it became severe. He was taken by ambulance back to Fort Gibson the following day, to which his whole army retreated. Cooper had lost 134 men killed and wounded, as well as 47 troops taken prisoner. Blunt reported 17 dead, 60 wounded, and around 30 men were missing. Cabell arrived after the battle, before moving on without Cooper's beaten force. Cooper was disgusted with Cabell for his slowness in arriving. Had Cabell moved his men at a decent pace, Cooper believed, the battle of Honey Springs would have been a great victory for the South.
Cooper spent the rest of the year rebuilding his broken force. Despite small skirmishes at Prairie Spring on July 22nd and Perryville on August 23rd, Cooper saw no action for the rest of 1863. At Devil's Backbone on September 1st, Cabell's brigade was routed, and on October 6th, 1863, General Blunt's supply train and the garrison he had at Baxter Springs were attacked and slaughtered in a very bloody fight. Blunt's attacker was Col. William Quantrill, at the head of his infamous Guerillas. Thus, both of the Generals whom Cooper opposed, in one way or another, had their reputations tattered by two very different, let very bloody battles. Never again would Cooper encounter Blunt's forces on the field of battle. Another general who Cooper would see the last of that winter was Indian Territory commander William Steele, who was removed in March, 1864 to command fortifications at Galveston, Texas. His replacement, Samuel B. Maxey, hardly got on well with Cooper.
In early 1864, the war for Indian Territory became bloodier than it had ever been before. Col. William Phillips, a man whom Cooper had fought in battle at Newtonia and Honey Springs, led 1,500 men from Ft. Gibson deep into Oklahoma Territory. Phillips ordered that his men take no prisoners and fly the infamous black flag. To each of the 5 Civilized Tribes he sent this message: "You understand that I am in earnest. Do you want peace? If so, let me know before we come to destroy." Phillips was as good as his word. The country that his men passed by was totally laid waste. His forces were responsible for the deaths of 250 Confederates and Native Americans that winter. He lost not a single man. Even in his only actual "battle" at Middle Boggy, he did not take a single casualty, while killing 47 Confederate Indians under Col. Johnny Jumper. Many of these were wounded, and when the troopers found them they cut their throats. Phillips only stiffened Confederate! resistance to Federal! forces in Indian Territory by his raid, and made no converts to the Union.
"The Indian Swamp Fox", Stand Watie, was dispatched by Cooper to avenge those 250 men killed by Phillip's forces. Watie's first move was to destroy the home of Cherokee Chief John Ross (who had betrayed the Confederacy). He then followed this up by capturing a Union Steamboat named the J.R. WILLIAMS, and with it $120,000 worth of munitions for the Federal army at Fort Gibson. The worst blow to the Federal forces was the attack on Cabin Creek and the supply train to Fort Gibson. After killing the Federal troops guarding it, they captured most of the wagons and burned the rest, destroying valuable supplies that were intended for Fort Gibson.
Cooper was planning to conduct more operations against Fort Gibson when he was called to the Oklahoma Territory Border. There he was ordered to demonstrate against Federal held Fort Smith on the Arkansas Border, in order to pull away Federal forces from assisting the invading Corps of Major General Frederick Steele. In other words, he was ordered to make a diversion. Besides his own forces, Cooper had under his command Brig. Gen. Richard Gano's Texas Brigade. However, the fighting here would be small and inconsequential.
On July 27th, 1864, just a little south of Fort Smith at a place known as Mazzard's Prairie, Cooper's men attacked some of the advanced units garrisoning Fort Smith. These three regiments that faced him were the 11th U.S. Colored Troops, a 200-man detachment of the 6th Kansas Cavalry, and the 2nd Independent Indiana Battery of Light Artillery. The battle was very short and bloody. Within one hour, Cooper lost 12 men dead and 20 men wounded. The Federals lost 12 men dead and 17 men wounded. However, the detachment of the 6th Kansas Cavalry was surrounded by one of Cooper's flank movements, and surrendered. Skirmishing around Fort Smith continued until August 1st. On August 24th, 1864, Cooper fought his last battle. It was a small-scale attack on Fort Smith, garrisoned by the 11th U.S. Colored Infantry and the Independent Battery. The attack was not meant to penetrate the Federal lines at all, but rather to draw attention toward Fort Smith and so that Federal reinforcements meant for Steele's help would be sent to the Fort. In the short fight, one Union soldier was killed and 13 more were wounded. Cooper's tactics worked, and he withdrew as Union high command frantically sent troops to Fort Smith to assist the beleaguered garrison. They missed Cooper altogether. He was recalled into action only one more time in the war, during Sterling Price's 1864 Invasion of Missouri, but his men saw very little, if any action.
Indian Territory was, for once, very quiet. Very little fighting happened after the skirmishing at Fort Smith. On February 21st, 1865, the disliked General Maxey was relieved of command. Thus Brigadier General Douglas Hancock Cooper became district commander of the whole of Indian Territory, but he knew that the war was already over. In April of 1865, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations surrendered to the United States Government. Cooper then surrendered all of his forces in the region. The war was finally over for him. His old regiment, the 1st, was surrendered by General Edmund Kirby Smith on May 26th, 1865.
After the war, Cooper and his family remained at Fort Washita. Little is known of Cooper's life after the war except that he would always be beloved by the Chickasaws and Choctaws and that he would always be a poor man. He sued the Federal Government on behalf of the tribes. The claims were that the U.S. Government had not acted upon their original promises that were made as early as 1820 in the removals to Oklahoma, all of these claims were true. On April 29th, 1879, the old warrior passed away at his home in Fort Washita and was buried, as requested, in an unmarked grave. To this day no-one knows where he is actually buried, although the location, the Old Fort's cemetery, has now been marked by a large monument bearing a carving of his face and several words of praise about him, few of which he would ever receive. "Kind and sympathetic by nature, generous to a fault, he was an honest man of noble impulses, and born a gentleman."