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Battle of Round Mountain

November 22, 2000

Historian's Notes

The Battle of Round Mountain was one of the largest engagements of the Civil War to occur in Indian Territory. As with any battle, the devastation and destruction was considerable. As an historian, the Battle of Round Mountain holds more interest for me because of the controversy surrounding it. Depending on who you believe, the battle site could lie within Payne County just east of Stillwater or it could be close to the Lake Keystone Dam. The "battle site controversy" has been going on now for close to a century and numerous friendships and associations have been severed because of it. Can't we all just get along?

Resources

Fischer, L. H. (1974). The Civil War era in Indian Territory. Los Angeles: L. L. Morrison.

Baird, W. D., & Goble, D. (1994). The story of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

In addition, the OSU Special Collections & University Archives has several pamphlets about the Battle of Round Mountain focusing more on the controversy than the battle itself.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

This week marks the anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War fought in Indian Territory. The Battle of Round Mountain took place on November 19, 1861 involving a Union faction of Creeks and a Confederate force of Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Texans. The Union Creeks, a wagon train of families basically, were on their way to join with pro northern Cherokees when they were intercepted by the Confederate troops. Near a place known to locals as "Round Mountains," the two forces engaged in a battle which lasted most of the day and into the night. By nightfall both sides withdrew, and in the morning of the 20th it was discovered that the wagon train of Creeks had vanished into the night. The Union Creeks continued on their way eventually meeting up with the Cherokees and moving to Kansas, while the Confederate contingent moved south into more friendly territory. Both sides claimed the battle a victory.

Perhaps more interesting than the actual battle itself is the controversy that has arisen over the exact location of the conflict. The official report of the battle was published twenty-two years after the event and provided no exact location. From that time until the 1940s the general consensus among Oklahoma historians was that the battle occurred near the town of Keystone, now under the waters of Lake Keystone. Further investigation, however, produced evidence that the battle took place approximately three mile east of Stillwater in Payne County. As more evidence surfaced, supporting the Stillwater location, a rift of sorts occurred between the two camps. Basically, the Oklahoma Historical Society favored the Keystone site while the Payne County Historical Society supported the Payne County arguments. Both sides utilized eye-witness accounts, old maps, geographical markers and recovered Civil War relics to support their cases. The feud between the two camps grew intense at times, and at least a dozen articles argue one case or the other. As time goes by, however, it seems that more people have come to the conclusion that while definitely confusing, most evidence points to the twin mounds east of Stillwater as the battle site. A stone marker placed near the site by the Payne Country Historical Society commemorates the first Civil War battle fought in Oklahoma, occurring in this week in 1861.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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