USAO’ Professor Appears in Documentary about Oklahoma during Civil War

Titleboard for the Battle of Honey Springs documentary featuring those words in bold yellow font
Dr. James Finck is an expert on the Battle of Honey Springs

Specializing in the American Civil War and political history, Dr. James Finck, associate professor of history at the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, recently served as an expert for a documentary on the Battle of Honey Springs. The battle was the largest engagement in what was then Indian Territory during the American Civil War.

Directed by native Oklahoman Bryan Beasley, “The Battle of Honey Springs” tells the story of Union Major General James G. Blunt’s efforts to disrupt Confederate supply lines through Indian Territory by initiating a brazen attack against an army nearly twice the size of his on July 17, 1863. Though a relatively small skirmish by Civil War standards, the battle is remembered as the climactic engagement in the territory and one that ensured Union control over the area.

“It was really a tremendous honor to be a part of this film, especially when I have such a close connection to the subject matter through my research as well as the courses I teach,” said Finck. “The Battle of Honey Springs essentially ended major hostilities in Indian Territory for the rest of the war, and participation of numerous Native American tribes on both sides serves as an important reminder that this conflict is more complex than is often imagined. It is also perhaps the most diverse battle of the war, with white, black, Native American and Hispanic troops all fighting side by side.”

With its world premiere at Oklahoma City’s DeadCenter Film Festival last June, where it earned the Oklahoma Showcase Award, “The Battle of Honey Springs” has also been screened at DocOKC, where it won best documentary short; the Bass & Belle Wild West Film Fest in Muskogee, where it won best documentary; and Enid’s Fly Film Festival. The film received its west coast debut at the Wild West Film Festival in Vacaville, Cali. It will air in syndication on PBS affiliates around the country in spring 2023.

Every summer, Finck teaches a course in historical interpretation at the Honey Springs Battlefield Park near Checotah, Okla. His students serve as docents on the grounds, leading tours and explaining the site’s relevance to Oklahoma and the nation’s history. The site is managed by the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Friends of Honey Springs Battlefield.

A member of the USAO faculty since 2011, Finck specializes in the American Civil War and political history, having completed his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas in 2008. He is the author of “Divided Loyalties: Kentucky’s Struggle with Armed Neutrality During the Civil War” and “Images of America: Chickasha,” as well as the syndicated column “Historically Speaking,” which examines current events through a historical viewpoint and appears in over 1,000 papers across 14 states.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in film and television from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Beasley moved to Los Angeles and has worked on the feature film “Unconquered,” the television series “The Golden Gods” and the theatrical productions “HurlyBurly” and “Barefoot in the Park,” among his other activities.

For more information, contact Finck at 405-574-1229 or    

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