Yale Off The Beaten Path
On 19 November 1861, the first battle of the Civil War to be fought in the Indian Territories was fought near what is now Yale. Known as the Battle of Round Mountain, this was actually a battle between Confederate forces and Indians loyal to the Union. Col. Douglas H. Cooper, Confederate commander of the Indian Department, had not been able to reconcile differences with Chief Opothleyahola, who commanded a band of Unionist Creeks and Seminoles. Cooper had set out on November 15 with about 1,400 men to either compel submission . . . or "drive him and his party from the country." On the 19th, Col. Cooper learned from captured prisoners that part of Opothleyahola's band was at the Red Fork of the Arkansas River, where they were building a fort. Cooper's men arrived there around 4 pm and initiated a cavalry charge which discovered that Opothleyahola's band had recently abandoned the camp. The Confederates found some stragglers beyond the camp and followed them, blundering into Opothleyahola's camp. The Federalist Indian forces fired into the Rebel cavalry and, in large force, came out to attack. They chased the Confederates back to Cooper's main force. Darkness prevented Cooper from attacking until the main enemy force was within 60 yards. A short fight ensued but Chief Opothleyahola's men broke it off and retreated back to their camp. Cooper set out for Opothleyahola's camp the next morning but found it abandoned. The Confederates claimed victory because Opothleyahola had left the area. This was the first of three encounters between Chief Opothleyahola's Union bands and Confederate troops. The chief was forced to flee Oklahoma for Kansas the following month.
The exact site of this battle is unknown but there have been reenactments at the Jim Thorpe Park on East Detroit Street in Yale and there is reason to believe that Opothleyahola's band was trying to base themselves near the Red Fork of the Arkansas River.
The map of Northeastern Oklahoma accompanying this Tip shows the route of Loyal Union Creeks led by Chief Opothleyahola from their place of congregation near North Fork (near present day Eufaula, Oklahoma), northwest along the Deep Fork and then north to Round Mountain, then east to Caving Bank then northwest again through Hominy Falls into Kansas.Related to:
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