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Report of Brigadier General Douglas Cooper (CSA)
In Response To: Action Near Old Fort Wayne, Cherokee Nation ()

For those wanting more information on the happenings leading up to and including the “Action Near Old Fort Wayne” below is the report of Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, (CSA) taken from the “The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies” printed in 1885:

Numbers 4. Reports of Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, including operations since September 30.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,

Cantonment Davis, Cherokee Nation, October 25, 1862.

COLONEL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 20th instant, informing me of General Hindman's arrival at Fayetteville and at your camp near Huntsville, with a synopsis of the plan of operations to be pursued against the enemy in Missouri and Kansas. My operations will unfortunately be delayed some time on account of the loss of my artillery and subsequent retreat from my camp at Old Fort Wayne. It occurred on the morning of the 22nd instant shortly after sunrise, the enemy making the attack in overwhelming numbers. I will briefly state the causes that led to the disaster: While at Elm Springs General Rains deprived me of my four Texas regiments, ordering them to report to him. It was with difficulty that I could prevail upon him to allow me to keep Colonel Buster's battalion. I was then ordered by him to invade Kansas, and I at once moved off for that purpose. My Indian forces had, in anticipation of this movement, been ordered to Old Fort Wayne, with instructions to hold themselves in readiness for this very expedition, which I had proposed to General Rains before he took from me my white forces. The Indians, however, neglecting my orders, failed to assemble at [Old] Fort Wayne, and when I reached there found only part of one regiment (Watie's) at that place. I was therefore compelled to stop there until I could collect my scattered Indian forces - always difficult, but now rendered almost impossible from the fact that they were about to leave their own country, and although loyal to the South and anxious for the invasion of Kansas, still the approaching cold weather and the destitution of many of them in the way of clothing, added to the inefficiency of their ponies, made them adverse to leaving the Indian country. I was aware of the exposed position of my little command, but still thought that the troops would concentrate in sufficient force to enable me to proceed into Kansas or to hold my position; but notwithstanding that I sent them order after order to come together they were neglected until too late, and my little command was overwhelmed by the enemy. I was at the time of the attack, for some days previous and am now, extremely ill, and can hardly dictate a line, which I offer as an excuse for the meagerness of this report. In regard to my taking a move up into Kansas this season I think it doubtful. The Indians are in a destitute condition - bare footed and nearly naked. They feel that they have been abandoned by their white brethren, and some regiments are almost demoralized, but Colonel Watie, who has command during my illness, thinks that he may be able to take a small force up there. I will try and send as many as possible, but can give no positive assurance that any will go, so you need not depend on them. If they do go it will be that much made.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

DOUGLAS H. COOPER,
Colonel, Commanding.
Colonel R. C. NEWTON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army in the Field.

P. S.- Owing to my illness on the day of the battle Lieutenant-Colonel Buster was in command, and used every exertion to bring off the artillery, but without success. It was not given up, however, until after a desperate struggle on the part of the artillerists and some of the other troops.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,
Scullyville, Ind. T., December 15, 1862.

GENERAL: Having defeated a superior force of the enemy at Newtonia on September 30 and driven his shattered forces back to Sarcoxie, Colonel Shelby was ordered to encamp with his brigade between Newtonia and Sarcoxie, and select an eligible position for the division on Shoal Creek or in the vicinity of Granby. The enemy rallied at Sarcoxie and was soon known to be receiving re-enforcements from Mount Vernon. Reports reached me from reliable sources of heavy re-enforcements being en route from Springfield, of which General Rains was informed and urgently appealed to for aid.

October 3 the advance of the enemy on the Jollification road was reported, and an order received from General Rains that night to fall back. Colonel Shelby was ordered on the night of the 3rd to attack the advance of the enemy on the Jollification road. Lieutenant-Colonel Buster, with his battalion and Major Bryan's (First) Cherokee Battalion, was directed to take position at Granby, and resist any movement from Sarcoxie by that road. During the night, as was anticipated, the enemy advanced in three columns. A detachment from Colonel Shelby's command attacked and captured the Federal pickets at Jollification, but the rapid advance of the Federals compelled them to retreat, leaving the prisoners in a blacksmith-shop. Colonel Buster's command had a brisk skirmish with the advance guard near Shoal Creek, on the Sarcoxie and Granby road. These night attacks delayed the advance of the enemy's right and left wings and disconcerted the whole, and at the same time placed my command on the alert. Being satisfied that a greatly superior force was rapidly advancing, and that my position could not be maintained, Colonel Shelby (then commanding in front of Newtonia) was early on the morning of the 4th directed to send back the train. The main body of the Federal Army made its appearance before Newtonia soon after sunrise and commenced a furious bombardment of the little village. Leaving Colonel S. Folsom with his Choctaw regiment at Camp Coffee (Big Spring) to cover the removal of the train from that point and to observe the movements of the enemy on the Jollification and Cassville roads, I marched for Newtonia with the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment and Stevens' Texas regiment to reopen the communication which had been reported cut off by the enemy. This proved untrue, but I found the advance guard of the enemy on the Pineville road between Newtonia and the timber south of it, and could plainly see large masses of infantry descending the high ridge north of the town. Colonel Shelby had affected that withdrawal of the troops and trains in good order, losing nothing except an ambulance containing a rocket battery, which was left behind and fell into the hands of the enemy through the stupidity of the river. Filing to the left from Dr. Harman's, we succeeded in reaching the Pineville road, by which Colonel Shelby had retired. [Lieutenant] Colonel Simpson N. Folsom, accompanied by Assistant Adjutant-General Wells, of my staff, with a portion of the Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment, charged upon the Federal advance, killed several and drove the party back, while the remainder of my command was withdrawn into the timber on the Pineville road and placed in ambush between the prairie and the forks of the Pineville road and the road leading from Camp Coffee down the creek, where we remained, expecting the enemy to advance, until the last ox-wagon from Camp Coffee had passed and Captain Sampson Loering, of the First Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment - whom I had sent with his company up to our old camp to bring off stragglers and see what had become of Colonel Sampson Folsom and his Choctaw regiment - returned. Captain Loering brought off the lagging wagons, stragglers, and women, but could give no account of Colonel Sampson Folsom and his command, who, it seems, had quit his post, and, passing around the south side of Oliver's Prairie, reached the Pineville road in advance of the train. The enemy, after the attack upon his advance guard, arrayed his whole force on the prairie between Newtonia and the timber and continued for hours to shell to brush, evidently afraid of an ambuscade. Our march was continued without interruption to Dog Hollow, 4 miles north of Pineville, where we encamped for the night.

October 5 continued the march to White Rock Prairie, Colonel Shelby remaining at Pineville to observe the movements of the enemy. Relieved Colonel Shelby next day, sending Colonel Buster with his battalion and parts of Colonel Alexander's and Steven's regiments back for that purpose.

October 7, in the night the enemy drove in our pickets near Pineville, and orders were received from General Rains to send the train down immediately to Mud Town via Bentonville and to follow leisurely with the command. Started the train at 12 p. m. and followed next day after the arrival of the troops from Pineville. The march was made in a heavy storm of rain to Mud Town, which place we reached on the night of October 8, overtaking our train, and there found General Rains, his command being at Cross Hollows, en route for Huntsville. Next day, after consultation, it was determined to leave Colonel Shelby with his cavalry brigade at Cross Hollows and place of the enemy, while General Rains moved on to Holcomb's, on the wire road.

On the 14th received notice from General Rains to repair to his quarters to attend a council. Found General Marmaduke and Colonel Carroll. Council broke up, General Rains reserving his decision until next day. Returned to camp at Elm Springs same night.

Next day (15th) received an order to march with the Indian troops and Howell's battery upon Fort Scott. The four Texas regiments (Colonels Alexander, Stevens, Hawpe, and Bass) and Buster's battalion detached. Upon remonstrance, Lieutenant-Colonel Buster's battalion (infantry) was allowed to remain under my command. Finally, on the 15th I marched with my little force upon the expedition. The First Choctaw Regiment, under Colonel Sampson Folsom, had been previously ordered to join Colonel Stand Watie near Maysville, and Lieutenant Colonel S. N. Folsom had moved out to the site where the Osage Mills formerly stood. Upon my arrival at Old Fort Wayne, near Maysville, October 17, much to my surprise I found Colonel Sampson Folsom, instead of reporting to Colonel Watie, had moved off to Cincinnati, 30 miles south, and that many of Colonel Watie's men and officers were also gone on an expedition to the neighborhood of Evansville. The First Creek Regiment and Creek Battalion were encamped somewhere at Old Fort Wayne. A portion of colonel Watie's regiment soon arrived and encamped near me. Lieutenant Colonel Chilly McIntosh, with his Creek Battalion, reported promptly and came into camp. Colonel D. N. McIntosh, from some cause, did not receive orders in proper time. Every exertion of which I was capable (being confined to bed with a painful and dangerous disease) was made to get the troops together and ready to move on Fort Scott. Provisions were ordered to be cooked and the absent troops urged to report speedily. I was aware of the danger of delay. The tardiness of some of the troops and disobedience of orders by others proved fatal to the command and defeated the expedition upon which we had started. The Federals were informed (as has since been ascertained) by persons who were daily about our camps of my position, force, and intended movements.

Ont he evening of the 21st I learned that a Federal force was moving toward the line from Bentonville,m but supposed it to be a scout. Having been ordered to go north, I was reluctant to retreat and still hoped the Choctaw and Creek regiments would join me in time. Having set the 22nd for all the available troops to march on fort Scott, under command of Colonel Stand Watie, and determined to fall back to Tahlequah or Fort Gibson with the train and disable men - being too ill to accompany the expedition - I was unwilling to withdraw and abandon the expedition unless compelled to do so by a superior force. I had been placed, by the order detaching the fort Texas regiments at the same time that I was sent on a very hazardous expedition even with their aid, in the dilemma of being censured for disobedience of orders If I retreated; or, on the other hand, running the risk of defeat, and perhaps capture of the small force under my command if I awaited the attack of the Federals. The result is known.

We were attacked on the morning of October 22 by an overwhelming force before the arrival of the Choctaws or the First Creek Regiment, and barely escaped the entire destruction of the whole command, including a valuable train, in which was some 10,000 or 12,000 pounds of powder.
Our loss was small, so far as I have been able to ascertain - 6 killed and about 30 wounded - while the Federal loss in killed and wounded was from 75 to 100. Considering the great disparity of numbers the Indians did well, the Federal strength being at least 5,000, while mine was only about 1,500.

The First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment and Howell's battery stood manfully to their guns, the former never giving way until the battery had been captured.

Colonel Buster, who was in command of the camp at [Old] Fort Wayne, I am satisfied did all that could be done under the circumstances to save the command, and Lieutenant Colonel S. N. Folsom and Major Jones, of the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment; Captain Wills, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Thornton B. Heiston, aide-de-camp, and Captain Coarser, military instructor, are reported to me as having acted with great gallantry.

Colonel Stand Watie, with the First Cherokee Regiment, rendered important service by preventing the enemy on the left from occupying the Tahlequah road, and was, as he always is, conspicuous for his bravery.

Lieutenant Colonel Chilly McIntosh behaved with great coolness and courage.

Colonel D. N. McIntosh, with the First Creek Regiment, arrived in time to learn the capture of our only battery and to participate in the retreat, but, in conjunction with Major Bryan's, rendered important service by checking the advance of the Federal cavalry at Spavina Creek, thus enabling the train to escape.

The retreat was effected by way of Long Prairie (where we overtook Colonel Sampson Folsom and his regiment) to the Moravian Mission; thence to Tahlequah, and thence, next day, to Fort Gibson. From Fort Gibson and Cantonment Davis we were compelled, by want of subsistence, to move down to this place, having first ascertained that the enemy did not pursue, but returned to Maysville from Spavina Creek. This unfortunate affair resulted from a combination of untoward circumstances: First, the deprivation of the four Texas regiments by order of General Rains, thus forcing me to wait for the Indians to assemble; second, their tardiness and the disobedience of orders by Colonel Sampson Folsom, and third, my own illness. The indians, unaccustomed to obey any other white man, did not, I am convinced, make the resistance they would have made had I been able to be with them. The artillery, or the greater portion of it, might, I think, have been saved. I be no means intend to censure the officers in command. They and the men stood by their guns till nearly all the horses were killed, as well as several men and many wounded. I have been informed that scarcely a man of the artillery company escaped without a wound or bullet-holes through his clothing.

But for the loss of the battery we should have had decidedly the advantage of the Federals in the skirmish; as it was, they have nothing to pride themselves upon. Their loss was three or four times ours in killed and wounded, while their force was at least three times ours. The superiority of our troops was demonstrated at Newtonia, where, in open-field fight, Missourians, Texans, Arkansians, and Indians, most of whom had never before been in battle, defeated and thoroughly routed a well-drilled and well-armed Federal force greatly their superior in numbers, and having three times the number of cannon that they had. The Indians, too, on that field vindicated their claim to equality with the best Confederate troops under a cannonade lasting with but little interruption from early in the morning until sunset. I feel proud to record the fact that the white troops themselves who were in the battle of Newtonia, and who behaved as well as troops ever did, awarded to the Choctaw's the meed of praise for rendering the most effective service on that day.

The foregoing report, supplemental to that which I had the honor to forward several weeks ago, of the details of the battle of Newtonia, and necessary to a full understanding of our operations in Missouri and the causes and incidents of the retreat, has been delayed by my continued state of ill-health and the pressure of official duties. I will thank you to forward it also to detachment headquarters for the information of the commanding general.

I am, general, respectfully,
DOUGLAS H. COOPER,