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Confederates Buried at Atoka

Here's an old article from the Dallas Morning News for anyone who's interested --

"Dallas Morning News", 2/18/97:

"Oklahoma graves of 9 Confederate soldiers to be recognized"-Associated Press.

ATOKA, Okla.-Rifle balls and cannon fire weren't responsible for all the killing in the Civil War. A measles epidemic claimed its share of the dead in southern Oklahoma.

The graves of nine Confederate soldiers who died in that apparent epidemic will be recognized this weekend during the re-enactment of the 1864 Battle of Middle Boggy near Atoka. Informal tours of the graves, within sight of the Confederate Memorial Museum, are planned.

"It kind of brings them to life-knowing they were people who died like that," said Gwen Walker, the site manager for the museum.

Ms. Walker was key to solving the mystery about the graves and the deaths. The graves were originally marked by small sandstones.

It took 10 years of research and the discovery of a letter believed to have been written by a soldier who survived the measles outbreak to answer questions about the death.

Historians say the nine men were among many Confederate soldiers who were victims of measles in 1862 in the Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory.

The nine soldiers who died of measles were members of Col. C. L. Dawson's 19th Arkansas Infantry, according to Ms Walker's research and a letter written by Hugh A. Brothers on April 25, 1862.

Mike Morris of Ridgeville, S.C., provided Ms. Walker with the letter nearly two years ago.

Hugh Brothers wrote to his wife that he had suffered from measles, "and they went very hard with me." He said that the disease killed many and that "about 300 sick men had been left on the road from Fort Smith [Arkansas] to McCulloch [Fort McCulloch, several miles to the southwest]."

"It is strange to me what makes men die in a big army so fast," he said. "They die like sheep with the rot nearly."

The victims buried in the cemetery were all from Arkansas: J. W. BATES of Waldron; Thomas T. BAKER of Fort Smith; W. C. DAVIS and C. A. FLOYD, both of Pike County; John E. FLOWERS, Francis M. JOHNSON and James A. NEUGENT, all of Antonia; and Thomas MAYBEN and J. J. RUNNELS, both of Nashville.

Ms. Walker said Hugh Brothers later was captured and died in a Union prison camp in Douglas, Ill., of smallpox.

Lon Fink, president of the Atoka County Historical Society and a colonel in a Union cavalry re-enactor group, said the discovery is important to the overall re-enactment.

"It's something we don't want to lose-we love history the way it is; we want it to be as right as possible," he said, explaining that many people assumed the dead Confederates were battle victims, despite dates that didn't match.

The deaths from measles occurred nearly two years before the 1864 battle near the Middle Boggy River, which is now called Muddy Boggy. In the battle, about 320 Union cavalry soldiers in an advance party attacked a Confederate camp of about 90 men. Reports say 47 Confederates were killed.

The re-enactment is set Saturday and Sunday on 240 acres six miles west of Atoka.

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