Oklahoma, still Indian Territory, never officially joined the Confederacy. But its sympathy for the Confederate cause was strong and its citizens, including Native Americans, fought alongside Confederate troops in the Civil War. Several skirmishes and battles took place on what is now Oklahoma soil.
Events are planned across the nation to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and the Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission wants to make sure Oklahoma’s role in this chapter of our nation’s history isn’t forgotten. From now until 2015, the Commission will host and sponsor events commemorating Indian Territory’s participation in the Civil War.
Oklahoma’s Civil War sesquicentennial kicks off on April 29 with a re-enactment of the Battle of Honey Springs in Rentiesville.
“The issues surrounding Oklahoma’s involvement in the Civil War were different here than they were anywhere else in the nation,” says Cody Joliff, coordinator for the Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
Oklahoma’s Civil War sesquicentennial kicks off on April 29 with a re-enactment of the Battle of Honey Springs in Rentiesville. Cannons, muskets and sabers will commemorate the pivotal battle where the Confederacy lost control of Indian Territory, opening the western front to Union invasions.
The Oklahoma History Center will host Call To Arms, a living history exhibit. An annual event, this year’s presentation will feature a strong emphasis on the Civil War. The event, scheduled for May 21, will feature 20 stations with actors bringing Oklahoma’s past alive.
The Oklahoma Communities Council will sponsor a unique opportunity for 20 teachers to learn about Oklahoma’s part in the Civil War up close and personal. The Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Teachers’ Institute will focus on helping these teachers bring the Civil War to their students with classroom materials, field trips and other tools.
“Here in Oklahoma, a lot of people had ancestors that fought in the Civil War. We keep those ancestors alive by remembering them. And, also, there’s the saying, ‘If we don’t remember the past, we’re doomed to repeat it.’ That’s true of the history of states’ rights, the Civil Rights movement and the state’s involvement in the Civil War,” says Matt Reed, curator of American Indian and Military History Collections at the Oklahoma Historical Society.