AUTHOR: Dr. Carroll Messer, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX
COMMAND AND MISSION
On February 1, 1864, approximately 1,500 Union soldiers under Colonel William A. Phillips set out from Fort Gibson, Indian Territory on an expedition to cut a swath through Confederate Indian Territory from the Arkansas River south to Red River. Col. Phillips little army was composed of a well-armed battalion of Kansas cavalry and two regiments of Indian Home Guard (IHG), supported by a section of howitzers from Capt. Solomon Kaufman’s Company L (artillery company) in the 3rd IHG. The 1st IHG (composed of Creek and Seminole Indians) was commanded by Col. Stephen H. Wattles, and the 3rd IHG (mostly Pin Cherokee Indians) by Major John A. Foreman.
Col. Phillips’ mission was to bring Indian Territory under Union control and offer amnesty to Creek, Seminole, and Chickasaw Indians provided in President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of the previous December. Colonel Phillips also wanted to sever Confederate treaties with the tribes and gain new recruits. With his western flank safe, in April he planned on returning and crushing the rebel Choctaw’s.
Before departing Fort Gibson for Fort Washita and perhaps North Texas, Colonel Phillips told his men, "Soldiers! I take you with me to clean out the Indian Nation south of the (Arkansas) river and drive away and destroy rebels. Let me say a few words to you that you are not to forget ... Those who are still in arms are rebels, who ought to die. Do not kill a prisoner after he has surrendered. But I do not ask you to take prisoners. I ask you to make your footsteps severe and terrible. Muscogees! (Creeks) the time has now come when you are to remember the authors of all your sufferings; those who started a needless and wicked war ... Stand by me faithfully and we will soon have peace ..."
Phillips proposed march followed much of the little used 1855 “Dragoon Trail” of US 2nd Cavalry fame, which lay west of the overused Texas Road. Col. Phillips chose this route for two reasons: (1) the Dragoon Trail headed directly (from Ft. Gibson) toward all three Indian nations he wished to control, and (2) he expected to find more forage and corn along it to feed his little army, which he did. Three companies (B, L, & M) of the 14th Kansas Cavalry led by Major Charles Willetts served as the spearhead of Phillips’ Expedition. During the month long campaign, the Federals subsisted off the land, raided Indian settlements, and fought one savage battle—The Battle of Middle Boggy.
RAIDS THRU CREEK AND SEMINOLE NATIONS
Col Phillips marched southwest along the Dragoon Trail for two days, finding few rebel Creek Indians and little corn. On February 3, he left the Dragoon Trail at Council Grounds (near Council Hill, OK) and marched his little army south raiding the Creek settlements of the Canadian. He camped around Hillabee (near Hanna) on February 4th for four days waiting for the remaining nine companies of the 14th Kansas Cavalry to arrive from Ft. Smith. Phillips reported that 7 rebels had been killed and a similar number captured during his drive to Hillabee (Camp Willetts), primarily because Creek forces under Colonel Chilly McIntosh and Lt. Col. Pink Hawkins had fled south toward the Wichita Mountains and Red River.
Col. Phillips camped around Hillabee for four days waiting for the large 14th Kansas battalion to arrive from Ft. Smith. On the 5th, he sent three cavalry columns west to clear out rebel Seminoles and Creeks living up the Canadian River tributaries, particularly Little River. Nearly 100 rebels were reportedly killed during the first four days of these cavalry raids on Creek and Seminole settlements. Waiting no longer for the extra cavalry, the main Union army marched southwest (probably along the old Beale Wagon Road) thru several smoldering southern Creek settlements to rejoin the Dragoon Trail. Phillips rejoined the Dragoon Trail near Oak Ridge Mission just prior to reaching the north bend of the South Canadian River at old Fort Holmes near Edwards Post at the mouth of Little River. The old fort was located five miles southeast of Holdenville, OK and 105 miles from Fort Gibson. Here Colonel Phillips camped for the night to consolidate his forces, while continuing to hope for the arrival from Ft. Smith of the remainder of the 14th Kansas Cavalry commanded by Colonel Thomas Moonlight. The total casualty count for this phase of Phillips’ Expedition was well over 100 rebel Creek and Seminole Indians. The Confederate commander of Indian Territory, MG S. B. Maxey later claimed that at least one woman and child were killed in their camp.
PHILLIPS CROSSES SOUTH CANADIAN
With the return of his own cavalry raiders into the Seminole Nation, on 2-12 Colonel Phillips sent the 1st IHG south across the South Canadian to begin his advance down the Dragoon Trail southwest (S20W) toward Shawnee Town and Middle Boggy River, about 19 miles away. Col. Wattles’ advance was supported by the two howitzers of Captain Kaufman’s artillery. The 3rd IHG (Phillips old command) followed Phillips’ wagon train as a rear guard. Federal scouts and infantry were now entering the extreme northwest corner of the Choctaw Nation.
Five miles south of the river (near Atwood, OK), the Dragoon Trail joined the Marcy Trail (California Trail) for about 10 miles while climbing past Shawnee Town (north of Allen) then down to a road junction (near Allen). Nearby were located Motes Springs (campgrounds) and the northern headwaters (Little Sandy Creek) of Middle Boggy. An eastern short-cut of the Marcy Trail (the newer Ft. Smith-Ft. Arbuckle supply road from Gerty/Stuart) joined the Dragoon Trail (at Allen). The old and little used (in 1864) Marcy Trail proceeded southwest along the Shawnee Hills toward Ada. OK 1 highway follows the Marcy Trail from Atwood thru Allen toward Delaware Mount (near Ada). This legacy (1849-59) western trail then passed Camp Arbuckle of 1850-51 (2 miles NW of Byars) on its way to Santa Fe, NM and California.
Proceeding S20W four miles past Allen junction along the eastern side of Little Sandy Creek, the Dragoon Trail crossed Middle Boggy (whose western headwaters are near Ada) just below both the mouth of Little Sandy and the formal Chickasaw/Choctaw Boundary of 1855. From the crossing, the Dragoon Trail headed southwest about 17 miles to a rock ford of the Clear Boggy just below the mouth of Bois d`Arc Creek (near old Stonewall, Colbert Institute and Cochran’s Store). The Ft. Arbuckle military road continued southwest past Cochran’s Store (and Trading Post) to Fort Arbuckle (near Davis). Near Cochran’s Store, the Dragoon Trail turned south between Clear Boggy and Blue River to Fort Washita. After the War, the Dragoon Trail became the “Texas Cattle Trail” to Kansas. It closely followed the Blue River along its eastern side through Johnston County until it crossed the Blue near Milburn.
CONFEDERATE WINTER DEFENSE LINE
By February 10, 1864, the Confederate high-command of Indian Territory had deployed its available troops along an east-west line to defend (North Texas) against possible Federal invasion from either Ft. Smith or Ft. Gibson. The Confederate southern defense line in Indian Territory (for the winter) ran from Ft. Washita eastward along the north side of Red River through Boggy Depot, Ft. Towson and on east to Laynesport, Arkansas. Almost all of the troops west of Laynesport were Indian units commanded by Brig. Gen. (BG) Douglas H. Cooper. BG Richard Gano’s new Texas Brigade had just made camp in extreme southeastern Indian Territory near Laynesport on Red River. Small reserve units (e.g., Quantrill’s Raiders) were camped for the winter along Red River and in North Texas. Western frontier defenses (against Plains Indian raids) were posted along a north-south line from Seminole Agency southward through Cherokee Town to Fort Arbuckle. The Seminole Battalion under LC John Jumper primarily manned this western line. Jumper’s other command, a squadron from the Chickasaw Battalion provided a northern picket line of cavalry patrols from Seminole Agency eastward through Cochran’s Store northeast along the Dragoon Trail to an outpost at the national boundary at Middle Boggy, near Little River. Patrolling the next forty miles along the old Marcy Trail east along the South Canadian to Col. Stand Watie’s picket station on the Texas Road above Perryville depended on weary Creek troopers under Col. D. N. McIntosh. Most of these troopers fled with their families at the first sign of Phillips invasion. Those few brave warriors that stayed to their posts were killed. Thru this gap in the northern picket line marched Phillips’ entire Federal Army.
Phillips line of march and time of attack caught the Confederate high-command of Indian Territory totally off guard. For example, a major Grand Council of the United Nations (of Confederate Indian Tribes) started on Monday, February 1, 1864 at Armstrong (Choctaw) Academy and lasted without disturbance until about Wednesday, February 10. CSA’s Commander of Indian Territory, MG S. B. Maxey, gave the keynote address on Friday, February 5, attended by BG Cooper. Phillips expedition was across the South Canadian River and had attacked Confederate forces at Middle Boggy on Saturday morning February 13, 1864 before CS BG Cooper, who fortunately had returned to his HQ at Boggy Depot, heard about Phillips’ attack only 45 miles away late that evening.
One commander who knew he was being attacked was (Confederate) Seminole Chief Lt. Col. (LC) John Jumper, commander of the western Frontier defense line (against Plains Indians). Jumper’s loosely organized new cavalry “regiment” (for Frontier duty) was composed of his Seminole Battalion and the Chickasaw Battalion, under the command of LC Lemuel M. Reynolds. While Jumper’s Seminole Battalion was composed mostly of Seminole Indians (and maybe still some Creeks), the Chickasaw Battalion consisted of a small number of unlettered companies (at the time) filled with Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians together with over fifty whites (mostly from north Texas and western Arkansas). One such company at the Battle of Middle Boggy was commanded by Capt. Jonathan Nail, a Choctaw, who had a station stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail on the Blue River south of Boggy Depot. This company, formed during the war by Capt. Jonathan Nail and Lt. Walker Martin, soon joined the Chickasaw Battalion where it was known during the war as “Nail’s Company.” Nail’s Company is not to be confused with Company A of the 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles that was originally commanded by Capt. Adam Nail, Jonathan’s younger brother. Adam Nail reportedly died in late 1861 of unknown causes.
Several months after the Battle of Middle Boggy, the Official Records state that the “Chickasaw regiment” was allowed to remain at Cochran’s for reorganization. This occurred in October 1864 when Capt. Jonathan Nail was promoted to Major under new a Chickasaw commander, LC Martin Shecoe. Some of the Chickasaw Battalion probably was camped around Cochran’s Store on February 10, as they routinely patrolled the northern part of their Nation (along the southern side of the South Canadian) from Seminole Agency nearly to Little River Town. HQ of the Chickasaw Battalion, under LC Reynolds, at this time was likely near Ft. Washita while guarding the northern approaches to their Capitol of Tishomingo. Practically speaking, the Chickasaws guarded the north-south road to their capitol, and the Seminoles likewise.
The small town of Cochran, located about 30 miles north of Tishomingo on the Dragoon Trail, contained both governmental buildings and schools of the Chickasaw Nation. Cochran’s (or Pontotoc to most Chickasaws) was a Chickasaw town, home to their current governor, Winchester Colbert. Gov. Colbert had a home two miles west of Cochran’s Store, near a small neighborhood school. This school may have provided winter quarters to Governor Colbert’s home guard, or “first” company of the Chickasaw Battalion. Colbert Institute, Gov. Colbert’s pride-and-joy, was a new National Academy (boarding school) located near the Dragoon Trail a mile east of Cochran’s Store across Clear Boggy River. The Pontotoc County Court House and Post Office were located at/near Cochran’s Store and Trading Post.
Cochran’s had many roads radiating out from the seat of Pontotoc County, Chickasaw Nation. The Dragoon Trail headed northeast past Colbert Institute to old Fort Holmes with connections to Fort Gibson and eastward to Fort Smith. A horse trail also went southeast direct to Boggy Depot from the school. Other roads from Cochran’s went to Cherokee Town (going west past Gov. Colbert’s to Seminole Agency and Ft. Cobb), Ft. Arbuckle, and (the Dragoon Trail south to) Ft. Washita. The most likely winter quarters for Nail’s Company of the Chickasaw Battalion were at Colbert Institute. The new (as of 1858) Chickasaw school had two large buildings (a dorm and a school house) available for sheltering Nail’s Company of Choctaws, Chickasaws and Texans.
OUTPOST AT MIDDLE BOGGY
From the Colbert Institute camp, Capt. Nail (a Choctaw) probably selected the initial outpost on the Dragoon Trail on the east side of Middle Boggy to picket. This strategically important site was just across the Choctaw/Chickasaw national boundary line (of 1856). The Line was widely recognized as being the Dragoon Trail ford of the Middle Boggy River. Gov. Colbert may have also suggested the site, as he was very familiar with the Road to Perryville, where his former home and Colbert Institute were located until Perryville became officially “not Chickasaw country” in 1856. If Union invaders were defeated on the east side of Middle Boggy River crossing, the “polluters of our soil” would have been “Kept Out of the Chickasaw Nation” so Gov. Colbert would be easily be re-elected later that year.
As the Seminole Nation was being attacked by Phillips’ raiders by February 9, Lt. Col. (LC) Jumper surely began moving some of his Seminole Battalion from its Frontier duty into his homeland to protect his people and repel the invaders. However, Union dispatches of the battle indicate that LC Jumper had moved most of his command back south across the Canadian River to support the Chickasaw Battalion blocking the Dragoon Trail above Cochran’s by the morning of February 13. It appears that some of Jumper’s Seminole Battalion had made camp fairly close to the battlefield, perhaps at an Indian settlement known as Red Springs located only a few miles west of Middle Boggy along the Dragoon Trail toward Cochran’s. Leading elements may have camped at Middle Boggy during the previous evening. While some of Jumper’s Seminoles undoubtedly rode thru Cochran from its western Frontier camps and Ft. Arbuckle as the battle approached, they did not likely camp at Pontotoc (Cochran’s) out of respect for the Chickasaws. Advanced camps along nearby Owl Creek (north of new Stonewall) and at Red Springs along the Dragoon Trail were the most likely sites.
Scant records indicate that some troopers from Jumper’s command had established a picket station at Middle Boggy by the afternoon of February 12, most likely by troopers from Nail’s Company (because of its location and Jumper’s other operations to the west and north). Scouts from Company L of the 14th Kansas Cavalry, serving as the vanguard and daily camp locator of Phillips’ Expedition, encountered these Rebel troops, then perhaps only a squad commanded by Lt. Walker Martin, blocking the Dragoon Trail at Middle Boggy late in the afternoon of February 12. Both sides reported back that evening that a small force of enemy cavalry was encountered near Middle Boggy. Probably only LC Jumper at that moment (if present at Cochran’s) would have immediately understood the danger of such a sighting of Federal scouts along the Dragoon Trail. Surely, more Confederate troops advanced from their camps around Cochran’s toward Middle Boggy during the evening. Those cavalry, advancing from around Cochran’s or closer, arrived in time for the battle.
Major Willetts, commanding the 14th Kansas Cavalry battalion, prepared to attack early the next morning with his entire battalion plus Kaufman’s artillery. The 14th Kansas prepared to get its revenge for Quantrill’s Massacre of Company A at Baxter Springs, Kansas the previous October 6.
BATTLE OF MIDDLE BOGGY
Early on Saturday morning February 13, 1864, Col. Phillips sent most of his refreshed Federal cavalry of about 350 well-armed men under Major Willetts for a well-coordinated, early morning attack on the remote outpost at Middle Boggy. The site was a few miles ahead of the main Federal line of march where Willett’s column passed Wattle’s 1st IHG infantry bivouacked several miles north of Allen about dawn. This strike force consisted mainly of the three companies (B, L, & M) of the 14th Kansas Cavalry. Confederate forces at the outpost that morning, probably under the command of Captain Jonathan Nail, may have numbered as many as 90 poorly armed Rebels who had no artillery. It appears that most of Capt. Nail’s Company of the Chickasaw Battalion and perhaps half of LC Jumper’s Seminole Battalion had arrived as the battle began, as announced by an opening salvo of Federal artillery fire. Union commander Col. Phillips’s subsequent dispatches indicate that he believed that LC Jumper, himself, was at the battle. Rebel MG S.B. Maxey, commander of Indian Territory, following a personal interview with BG Cooper (and probably Capt. Nail) at Boggy Depot, later reported to LG Kirby Smith that both Nail’s Company (of Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Texans) and Jumper’s Seminoles had suffered several fatalities. Records indicate that the only Confederate soldiers who fought in the battle were LC Jumper’s troopers from the Chickasaw Battalion and the Seminole Battalion. (The 20th Texas Cavalry-dismounted were all serving garrison duty at Boggy Depot as infantry and were unaware of Phillips’ Expedition. All other units of BG D.H. Cooper’s Indian Division (besides Jumper’s Frontier “regiment”) were serving along the southern defense line along Red River, or on related picket duty toward Ft. Smith.)
LC Jumper’s Confederates were stunned by the Federal artillery fire and Willetts’ well-armed cavalry charge. The Confederates fought desperately for about thirty minutes before retreating down the Dragoon Trail toward Cochran and the rest of LC Jumper’s Seminole Battalion. Only 20 of Jumper’s Seminoles reportedly retreated thru Cochran and rode on toward Ft. Arbuckle. During the evening, it appears that the remnants of Nail’s Company fled south to Boggy Depot, and the remainder of the Chickasaw Battalion still camped near Cochran guarded the evacuation of Gov. Colbert’s family from Pontotoc south to Tishomingo and Fort Washita. The retreating Chickasaws soon joined the rest of the Chickasaw Battalion, commanded by LC Lemuel Reynolds, near Colbert’s Mill and Rock Academy (a Chickasaw National Academy) guarding the northern approaches to Tishomingo, the Chickasaw Capitol. The Dragoon Trail passed midway between the two sites (located about 16 miles apart) on its way south to Ft. Washita. BG Cooper had gone to Ft. Washita on the 11th from the Grand Council at Armstrong Academy to deal with a prison escape. Shortly thereafter, Cooper returned to his HQ at Boggy Depot (located about 45 miles from the battle). During the night of the 13th, BG Cooper at Boggy Depot was informed by Capt. Nail of the shocking defeat at Middle Boggy and Union advance toward Cochran’s Store (near old Stonewall). Capt. Jonathan Nail must have performed bravely in the battle because he soon would be promoted to Major of the reorganized Chickasaw Battalion, under a new commander. BG Cooper gets a second dispatch on the morning of the 15th that the Federals have advanced to within 25 miles of Boggy Depot (at Cochran’s Store). Cooper immediately asked for more reinforcements from North Texas.
Major Willetts, following the directives he had been given by Col. Phillips, had taken no prisoners in the Battle of Middle Boggy. The bodies of the wounded that Capt. Nail was forced to leave unburied on the battlefield were discovered later by a Confederate burial detail to have had their throats cut. The Federals initially reported 47 Confederate killed, later increased to 49. BG Cooper reported 11 Confederates died, including 4 from Nail’s Company. Major Willetts reported no Union casualties in the Battle of Middle Boggy. No bodies from the battle or from a burial ground have ever been found
THE DAY AFTER, PHILLIPS’ MISSION CHANGES
Col. Phillips camped on the northeast side of Middle Boggy River the night following the battle, naming the site Camp Kansas. Phillips’ dispatch to Ft. Smith the next morning (2-14) showed that he believed he was in the Choctaw Nation. The Dragoon Trail south of the Middle Boggy crossing to near Ft. Washita had been the defacto (district) boundary between the Chickasaws and Choctaws from 1837-1855, (when a new treaty was approved). This segment of the Trail became the practical national boundary from 1856 until 1872 when a federally approved initial land survey of the Chickasaw Nation was completed. This new north-south (meridian) boundary line would lie only 0.3 miles west of the Trail crossing of Middle Boggy.
By the morning after the battle, Col. Phillips knew that the remaining 9 companies of the 14th Kansas cavalry were not coming. (Seven companies of the 14th (under Major John G. Brown) had been camped for several days nearly 80 miles east along the South Canadian, a few miles west of Whitefield, OK, while their scouts looked for Phillips. Two companies were held at Ft. Smith for patrol duties. Never finding Phillips, they broke camp on February 14th and headed back to Ft. Smith.) Believing that the Confederates would soon began concentrating against him along Red River, Phillips concluded that invading North Texas now was not feasible; however, attempting to communicate President Lincoln’s new amnesty proclamation to the Confederate Indians was still possible.
Col. Phillips divided his command, sending his mounted forces under Maj. Willetts south 21 miles (probably measured from Phillips’ HQ at Camp Kansas) in pursuit of the fleeing Confederates, and seeking Chickasaw Gov. Winchester Colbert, who resided near Colbert Institute and the (seldom used) Pontotoc District Court House near Cochran’s Store on Clear Boggy. Col. Phillips followed Willetts’ van and camped that evening at Camp Kagi (John Henry Kagi was a John Brown martyr at Harpers Ferry) on Clear Boggy (1.5 miles southwest of old Stonewall) near Cochran’s Store. Phillips ordered Col. Wattles to take the remainder of the straggling command (mostly Indian infantry since only the 1st IHG had reached Middle Boggy battlefield the afternoon of the battle) and return to old Ft. Holmes, which Col. Wattles did late in the evening of 2-14.
Col. Phillips sent one Rebel prisoner with two squads (about 50 men each) of cavalry south along the Dragoon Trail toward Ft. Washita and Boggy Depot. The prisoner was ordered to deliver the amnesty proclamations to Chickasaw Gov. Colbert with instructions to see that the other three letters (each individually written and addressed on 2-15-64) were delivered to the other three Indian Nations. A total of four individual letters were written in red ink by Col. Phillips from Camp Kagi (near Cochran’s Store). Perhaps only Gov. Colbert received his letter. None of the other three apparently were delivered to their intended Indian leader, as they were collected by Confederate authorities and later documented in the Official Records. Thus, Camp Kagi has a large permanent record in American History. The poor (rebel) prisoner carrying the letters from Phillips was treated as a Union spy by Confederate high-command (and probably shot).
It is believed that Phillips scouts halted their southern advance near the junction of the Dragoon Trail with the Boggy Depot/Ft. Arbuckle Road (near OK 7d @ OK 48A). They reportedly never crossed the Blue River two miles ahead (at Milburn) and 13 miles from Ft. Washita. Had the Federal scouts crossed the Blue, they would have been surrounded by Confederate troops from nearby camps at Colbert’s Mill, Tishomingo, Ft. Washita and Rock Academy in short order. Phillips claimed in his after action report of the expedition that his cavalry scouts withdrew in haste to draw the Confederates into a trap planned for them around Cochran (after a 60 mile round-trip ride).
THE FATE OF COCHRAN
The fate of Pontotoc Court House and the town of Cochran, in general, met a tragic end on February 15, 1864 at the hand of Phillips’ cavalry. Finding no success in trapping the Confederate Army nor in contacting the Indian headmen about President Lincoln’s amnesty proclamation, Col. Phillips ordered all of the Confederate (and rebel Chickasaw) buildings burned, including Colbert Institute, Gov. Colbert’s home and nearby school, and anything else of military value. There is considerable circumstantial evidence (including documented family lore) to support the notion that several local white men (militia?) were shot and killed in defense of Cochran’s Store and Post Office, including its founder, Robert L. Cochran. Mr. Cochran, a white Georgian, and his first Choctaw Indian wife Deliete (Brashears) Cochran both died suddenly and without cause (otherwise) during 1864 and are buried in Cochran’s (small family) Cemetery right behind Cochran’s old Store and home place along the Dragoon Trail. Another man reportedly killed at Cochran was William F. Harrison. Shortly after the war, a new town was built a mile east of Cochran, named “Stonewall.” Two of the four east-west streets in (old) “Stonewall” (1870-1903) were named Cochran and Harrison. Union reports are strangely silent about the fate of Cochran, but Camp Kagi is forever glorified in the Official Records.
PHILLIPS RETURNS TO FT. GIBSON
As soon as Phillips’ scouts returned from their southern ride to deliver President Lincoln’s amnesty proclamation mission, Col. Phillips decided his mission was satisfied. On the afternoon of February 15, 1864, he began a hard march back north along the Dragoon Trail toward old Ft. Holmes on the Canadian. As he was leaving Cochran, he probably set fire to Colbert Institute located a mile east of town. This inspiration seems to have caused Phillips to write his final “Surrender or Die” letter to the vanquished Creek leader Col. McIntosh. Then a strange thing happened. It began to rain, and rain it did for at least two days. Late on February 16, Phillips writes from near Little River Town across the South Canadian (aka Edwards Post across Little River from old Ft. Holmes) of his safe return in the driving rain, so hard that he expects major river crossings to soon flood.
The sudden rain seems to have saved some of Colbert Institute. Historical records suggest the Institute was only partially destroyed by fire during the war. Following some repairs, the school was beginning to be used again (as a neighborhood school) by 1868 and was fully restored (to a National boarding school) by 1870. However, its education objectives had been changed by the Chickasaw’s to emphasize practical training (less religion and arts) during national reconstruction. As former Gov. Winchester Colbert had lost his re-election bid in 1866 and retired from public service, the former name of “Colbert Institute” faded away. More fire soon destroyed the rest. The repaired dorm burned in 1874, and the school house in 1880. Finally, all of old Cochran was gone. Only the small plot of Cochran’s Cemetery remains, guarded by a well-built pipe fence.
Col. Phillips continued cavalry raiding the Seminole and Creek Nations as he returned with his infantry along the Dragoon Trail directly to Ft. Gibson, bringing with him a large captured ox train. The 14th Kansas raided north and northwest along Indian migration trails (toward Tulsa). All of Phillips command arrived safely back in Ft. Gibson, Phillips by 2-24, where they were mustered and inspected on February 29, 1864. Phillips’ final claim for his Expedition was that they had marched about 400 miles and killed a total of 250 (rebel) men and captured a large ox train. Federal casualties were reported as only 4 men wounded and 3 missing.
Phillips’ Expedition only increased Confederate morale and determination to continue the war, especially among the senior commanders in Indian Territory: MG S.B. Maxey, BG D.H. Cooper, BG S. Watie, BG R.M. Gano and Col. T. Walker. A month later, most of Maxey’s troops marched into Arkansas and joined the main Confederate Army in repelling the Federal invasion at Prairie d’Anne and Poison Spring. Returning home, Watie and Gano increased their raiding of supply trains intended for supporting Phillips at Ft. Gibson. Successful cavalry raids included the capture of the steamboat J.R. Williams in June and a large wagon train at Cabin Creek in September. Even Ft. Smith was threatened by Cooper and Maxey around August 1st.
LOCATION OF THE BATTLE OF MIDDLE BOGGY
Circumstantial evidence suggests that the battlefield was located along the Dragoon Trail (or Texas Cattle Trail) near its crossing of Middle Boggy River between the Ft. Smith-Ft. Arbuckle junction just south of Allen, OK and the small community of Steedman about 2 miles southwest of the Middle Boggy River crossing. The most likely site for the battlefield is on the B&L Road four miles south-southwest of Allen, in extreme northeastern Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. The Confederate outpost is believed to have been located near where the Texas Cattle Trail (Dragoon Trail, heading S20W) crossed the local B&L Road. This site lies about 500 yards east along the curvy B & L Road from the bridge crossing of Little Sandy Creek. The new B&L bridge, named the Richard V. Wallace Memorial Bridge, is about 300 yards east of the Chickasaw / Choctaw National Boundary Line. The battle likely moved south along the Dragoon Trail from the outpost through a small saddleback feature all the way to the River, 900 yards to the south-southwest down the natural open valley of (original channel) Little Sandy Creek into Middle Boggy. (A flood control channel change was made several decades ago to Little Sandy and now it crosses the old Dragoon Trail near Middle Boggy.) Prospective campsites near spring water lay on both sides of the Trail. One such attractive site, having a great view of the likely battlefield, has been termed “Battle Hill.” However, given that many of the Confederates who fought in the battle probably had just ridden several miles to the outpost during one cold February night, camping locations may not have been critical. Keeping the Federals out of the Chickasaw Nation was.
Col. Phillips headquarters for the night of 2-13 (Camp Kansas) were most likely located just south of Allen and the trail junction (on high prairie land near Motes Springs) and not across Middle Boggy River, otherwise Phillips would have been in the Chickasaw Nation-- a well-known fact in 1864 which Col. Phillips surely knew. At this site (a tall radio tower is now mounted nearby along Camper Road) for Camp Kansas, Phillips would have a nearby cross road junction to Ft. Smith (which he may have used for his dispatch of 2-14 to Brig. Gen. Thayer, commanding at Ft. Smith), well-known clear headwaters springs, an elevated open space for good defensive purposes, and most of his little army. While the 1st IHG arrived at the battlefield that afternoon, neither the 3rd IHG nor the wagon train did. Thus, the battlefield itself was most likely located a few miles ahead of Camp Kansas, very near the Middle Boggy crossing. The remaining question is “On which side of Middle Boggy, the east or west?”
Several bits of evidence suggest the northeast side (nearer to Allen). Col. Phillips initially reports from the Choctaw Nation on 2-14 that the Indian enemy was Choctaw (an east-sider) and not Chickasaw (a west-sider). Gen. Cooper notes the enemy is 45 miles from Boggy Depot. The east side (nearer to Allen junction and Phillips’ HQ that night) fits this distance better. The distance Col. Phillips later states Camp Kansas is from Camp Kagi is 21 miles, which fits nicely with his HQ being near Allen, and not at the river crossing 2 miles ahead with the bloody battlefield likely being on the west side. The Confederates were overwhelmed and slaughtered. Confederates defending an east side (or suicide) outpost directly exposed to an enemy cavalry charge with rebel backs to the river, logically fits the results better. Willetts had good flanking attack paths from Allen junction with two pincer routes well hidden by terrain and linked to an east-side outpost. A path for a western flank attack along the old Marcy Trail (say OK 1) from Allen lay just to the west along Little Sandy Creek, and an eastern flank attack could easily follow the path of OK 48 highway from Allen as it would lie just east of the Dragoon Trail behind some hills. Both flanking routes would arrive just behind an east-side outpost without fording Middle Boggy. The tired, poorly-armed Confederates would have been sitting ducks to such a large well-hidden mobile three-column attacking force. Capt. Kaufman’s two howitzers could have signaled the start of the attack on the outpost from several elevated positions near the Dragoon Trail east of the river crossing. A Confederate casualty rate exceeding 50% suggests this is what happened, given the reported zero Federal casualties.
Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, War Department, Washington, D. C. in the following:
Volume 34 (1891): Part I – Reports, pp. 106-12; Part II - Correspondence: pp. 190-92, 208, 249, 272, 281, 301-02, 329-30, 467-68, 856-62, 874-77, 958-61, 969-70, 994-97.
Volume 41 (1893): Part III - Correspondence: pp. 983-84.
Many postings on Phillips Expedition and related topics at History-Sites.com on Board of Indian Territory.
Kansas Military History accessed thru Kansas Memory of 14th Kansas Cavalry.
A special thanks is due Mr. Ken Martin, Administrator of History-Sites.com, for his continual guidance and support during the production of this document. Mr. Martin provided several detailed articles on historical events related to Phillips’ Expedition, whose sources were unknown or not available to the author. The website’s postings by Mr. Danny Knight, whose Gs-grandfathers were Chickasaw Gov. Winchester Colbert and Robert L. Cochran, were most informative and inspirational. Many, many other’s postings provided important bits and pieces of the Expedition’s historical puzzle. Mr. Bruce Schulze of civilwaralbum.com provided the initial photographic venue for presentation of the author’s initial ideas on Phillips’ Expedition.