Marston’s Skirmish

Late in July and for the first few weeks in August, 1864, there was a general campaign of Confederate forces against the Federals stationed at Fort Smith. Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper, commanding the Confederate forces, held his troops at Buck Creek Camp, twenty miles southwest of Fort Smith. Captain B.W. Marston, Acting Adjutant-General, with Captain Samuel H. Gunter of Stand Watie’s Cherokee troops, and four other men traveled north and swam the Arkansas River, making a reconnaissance against the Federals on the north side of the river. In an encounter the Federal arms, horses, rigging, and greenbacks were captured and prisoners taken. Captain Marston and Captain Gunter with their men recrossed to the south side by swimming the river in sight of the enemy’s forces, and returned to Cooper’s camp. General Cooper’s statement on this deed is giving in his report: “This feat is unsurpassed in the annals of war.” The reconnaissance and Marston’s Skirmish occurred early in August, 1864.

From Civil War Sites in Oklahoma by Muriel H. Wright and LeRoy H. Fischer