Also known as the engagement of “Caving Banks” or “Little High Shoals,” the Civil War Battle of Chusto-Talasa took place on Bird Creek near present Sperry in Tulsa County. In November 1861 Col. Douglas H. Cooper, Confederate commander of the Indian Territory, set out with Choctaw-Chickasaw, Creek, and Texas units to subdue Creek Chief Opothleyahola and his Creek and Seminole followers, who refused to accept their nations’ alliance with the Confederate States of America. The Confederates also hoped to confiscate the dissidents’ slaves and enslave all Indian freedmen. Cooper’s first attack on the alerted and fleeing “Union” Indians at the Battle of Round Mountain on November 19 was unsuccessful. The escapees retreated north and took position within the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek.
Opothleyahola had perhaps two thousand to twenty-five hundred individuals with him, the majority being women, children, and poorly armed men. The Confederates fielded thirteen hundred soldiers with the addition of two Cherokee regiments. Cooper attacked mid-afternoon on December 9. About dusk a Texas cavalry squadron outflanked the bend, while the First Regiment Choctaw-Chickasaw Mounted Rifles penetrated its center. But Cooper did not have enough ammunition to eradicate the defeated refugees as they fled toward Kansas. Cooper suffered fifty-two casualties plus some desertions from Col. John Drew’s First Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Opothleyahola lost an estimated 150 to three hundred dead and wounded, plus many noncombatants captured.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carter Blue Clark, “Opothleyohola and the Creeks During the Civil War,” in Indian Leaders: Oklahoma’s First Statesmen, ed. H. Glenn Jordan and Thomas M. Holm (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1979). LeRoy H. Fischer and Kenny A. Franks, “Confederate Victory at Chusto-Talasah,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 49 (Winter 1971-72). W. Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew’s Regiment of Mounted Rifles (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989).
Michael A. Hughes, “Chusto-Talasa, Battle of,” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture
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