As the Civil War wore on in the Indian Territory, the Union army’s Red River campaign targeted Shreveport, Louisiana, in spring 1864. In advance of that offensive, on February 1, 1864, Col. William A. Phillips led a raid into southern Indian Territory. The goal of his force of some fifteen hundred mounted troops was to penetrate into Texas, leaving nothing but scorched earth in their wake, and disrupt the Confederacy’s ability to defend Shreveport. Prior to departing Fort Gibson Phillips ordered his men to take no prisoners.
Arriving near Boggy Depot in the Choctaw Nation (in present Atoka County) on February 9, Phillips deployed a detachment to destroy a Confederate outpost at Middle Boggy. Under Maj. Charles Willets, the Union force totaled 350 cavalrymen, including a section of Capt. Solomon Kaufman’s artillery. Confederate forces totaled ninety men from Company A, First Regiment Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, under Capt. Adam Nail and included a detachment from the Twentieth Texas Cavalry. Willets shelled the Confederate camp and ordered an attack. At the beginning of the thirty-minute firefight Nail sent messengers to Col. John Jumper’s First Regiment Seminole Mounted Volunteers, who were camped nearby, for help. After losing half his men, Nail and the survivors retreated to the approaching Seminole column a few miles away. Willets returned to Phillips’s main camp instead of engaging Jumper’s Seminoles.
When Jumper and Nail arrived at the battlefield, they found the Union troops gone. Nail also discovered that Willets had obeyed Phillips’s orders and executed the Confederate wounded. Willets reported no causalities from the battle, while the Southern dead totaled forty-seven. Phillips’s raid ended on February 17, 1864, twenty-five miles from the Red River. His forces had marched a total of four hundred miles into enemy-held territory. Rather than dealing a blow to Southern resistance, Phillips’s treatment of civilians and the wounded merely strengthened Confederate resolve.
The Middle Boggy battle site has not been precisely located. A reenactment of the battle is sponsored every three years by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mark Lea Cantrell and Mac R. Harris, ed., Kepis and Turkey Calls: An Anthology of the War Between the States in Indian Territory (Oklahoma City: Western Heritage Books, 1982). Muriel H. Wright and LeRoy H. Fischer, “Civil War Sites in Oklahoma,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 44 (Summer 1966).
Steven L. Warren, “Middle Boggy, Battle of,” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture
© Oklahoma Historical Society