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Devil's Backbone

Sebastian County, AR  |  Sep 1, 1863

Confident that they had cleared Confederates from the Indian Territory of modern-day Oklahoma, Federal commander Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt turned his attention to the Rebel presence around nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas. Capturing the fort without incident the morning of September 1st, 1863, shortly after the Confederates evacuated it, Blunt ordered a pursuit of the fleeing Rebels. Col. William Cloud organized a 1,500-man column of two cavalry regiments and an artillery battery and headed south. Fifteen miles south of the fort, the Rebels, commanded by Brig. Gen. William Cabell, turned on Cloud and ambushed him at the base of Devil’s Backbone, an imposing east-west ridge just south of Greenwood. Cloud ordered his cavalry to dismount and placed his artillery in the road. Cabell's men, many of whom were deserters and conscripts, did not fight well and gave way when first attacked. The action degraded into a small-arms and artillery skirmish on the slopes of the ridge for three hours, neither side sought to launch a major attack. Regrouping, the Union cavalrymen finally advanced again, with the help of the artillery, and forced the Confederates to retire. Both sides claimed victory, but Cloud's men held the pass at the end of the fighting. Fort Smith remained a Union outpost on the Arkansas River for the remainder of the war.

All battles of the Operations to Control Indian Territory Campaign

Civil War  |  Battle
Cabin Creek
Mayes County, OK  |  Jul 1 - 2, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 88
Union: 23
Confederate: 65
Civil War  |  Battle
Honey Springs
Muskogee County and McIntosh County, OK  |  Jul 17, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 716
Union: 79
Confederate: 637
Civil War  |  Battle
Devil's Backbone
Sebastian County, AR  |  Sep 1, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 81
Union: 16
Confederate: 65
Civil War  |  Battle
Sand Creek
Kiowa County, CO  |  Nov 29 - 30, 1864
Result: Union Victory
Est. Casualties: 239
Union: 76
Confederate: 163

Related Battles

Greenwood, AR | September 1, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Commanders
Estimated Casualties
81
Union
16
Confed.
65

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