Battle of Caving Banks

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Map of Chusto-Talasah Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program.
High Voltage Transmission Lines now traverse over the core battlefield land at Chusto-Talasah. Photo taken in July 2011 by Jeffrey S. Williams

The Battle of Chusto-Talasah, also known as Bird Creek, Caving Banks, and High Shoal, was fought December 9, 1861, in what is now Tulsa County, Oklahoma (then Indian Territory) during the American Civil War. It was the second of three battles in the Trail of Blood on Ice campaign for the control of Indian Territory during the American Civil War.

A series of battles were fought in December in bad weather between the Confederate Cherokee and Choctaw Indians and the Union Creek and Seminole Indians (led by the Muscogee Creek chief Opothleyahola) who supported the Federal government. Following Opothleyahola and his Union force’s defeat at Round Mountain, he retreated northeastward in search of safety. On December 9, 1861, the force was at Chusto-Talasah (Caving Banks) on the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek when Col. Douglas H. Cooper’s 1,300 Confederates attacked about 2:00 p.m. Chief Opothleyahola knew Cooper was coming and had placed his troops in a strong position in heavy timber at Horseshoe Bend.

For almost four hours, Cooper attacked and attempted to outflank the Federals, finally driving them across Bird Creek just before dark. Cooper camped there overnight but did not pursue the Federals because he was short of ammunition. The Confederates claimed victory, although some sources credit Opothleyahola's forces with driving off the attackers.[3] In any event, Chief Opothleyahola and his band moved on in search of security elsewhere. Their loss was estimated by Cooper as 500 (some accounts suggest 412). Confederate casualties were 15 killed and 37 wounded.[1][2]

Regardless of whether the Confederates had gained a minor tactical victory here, they would win a resounding one later in the month at Chustenahlah.

The Chusto-Talasah battle site is on privately owned land near 86th Street North and Delaware Avenue, 5 miles northwest of modern Tulsa.[4] A granite marker on the east side of Sperry, Oklahoma places the battlesite 9 miles N.E.S.E. of that point.[3]

Order of battle

Cooper's Brigade - Col. Douglas H. Cooper

  • 6 companies, 1st Choctaw-Chickasaw Mounted Rifles - Maj. Mitchell Laflore
  • Detachment, Choctaw Battalion - Capt. Alfred Wade
  • Detachment, 1st Creek Regiment - Col. Daniel N. McIntosh
  • Detachment, Creek Indians - Capt. James M. C. Smith
  • 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifle Regiment - Col. John Drew
  • 4th Texas Cavalry Regiment - Col. William B. Sims
  • Detachment, 9th Texas Cavalry - Lt. Col. William Quayle
  • Whitfield’s Battalion - Capt. John W. Whitfield

Creek and Seminole Indians - Chief Opothleyahola

See also


  1. ^ a b Jason T. Harris (2008). Combat, Supply, and the Influence of Logistics During the Civil War in Indian Territory. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-549-51337-7. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Lela Jean McBride Brockway Tindle (2000). Opothleyaholo and the Loyal Muskogee: Their Flight to Kansas in the Civil War. McFarland. pp. 168–169. ISBN 978-0-7864-0638-8. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b Oklahoma Historical Society granite marker on the east side of Sperry says: "Battle of Chusto-Talasah This battle site is 9 miles N.E.S.E., at the “Caving Banks” bend on Bird Creek. Here-Dec. 9, 1861- Opothleyahola’s Union Indians forced the retreat of Col. D.H. Cooper’s Confederate troops. Marker sponsored by the Tulsa County Historical Society. Oklahoma Historical Society.”
  4. ^ THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES IN INDIAN TERRITORY. "Battle of Chusto-Talasah December 9, 1861." Accessed August 23, 2012. [1]
  • National Park Service Battle Summary
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes in 4 series. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1880-1901. Series 1, Volume 8, Part 1, pages 8–10.
  • White, Christine Schultz and White, Benton R., Now The Wolf Has Come: The Creek Nation in the Civil War, Texas A & M University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-89096-689-3.

External links

36°16′56″N 95°57′01″W / 36.2823°N 95.9502°W / 36.2823; -95.9502

  • [2] Battle of Chusto-Talasah December 9, 1861