Choctaw in the American Civil War

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Interpreter/Private
Jack Amos (Eahantatubbee)
Jackamos.jpg
Jack Amos' Indian name was Eahantatubbee or "He Who Goes Out And Kills."
Birth name Unknown
Born c. 1828
Lost Horse Creek found in near present-day Lauderdale County, Mississippi
Died 1906
Newton County, Mississippi
Buried Unknown
Allegiance  United States of America
 Confederate States
 Mississippi
Service/branch  Confederate Army
Years of service 1861–1865 (CSA)
Rank Private
Unit 1st Choctaw Battalion and Spann's Independent Scouts

The Choctaw in the American Civil War participated in two major arenas— the Trans-Mississippi and Western Theaters. The Trans-Mississippi had the Choctaw Nation, the Western had the Mississippi Choctaw. The Choctaw Nation had removed West prior to the War. But, the Mississippi Choctaw had elected to remain in the East. Both the Choctaw Nation and the Mississippi Choctaw would ultimately side with the Confederacy.

After thirty years of development, the Choctaw Nation had begun to flourish in their new western environment, their economic system was identical as the American South. Their upper class was engaged in the cotton trade with networks reaching as far as New Orleans. Confederate envoy Albert Pike successfully persuaded much of Indian country to side with the newly formed Confederate states, he conducted treaty terms and later commanded a combined force of Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole troops.

The Mississippi Choctaw led a tougher existence. Through treaty provisions, they elected to stay while the majority removed West. By the time of the Civil War, the Mississippi Choctaw were destitute and lived a sharecropper's existence, the most lucky of them had a patron who were sympathetic to their needs. Mississippi Choctaws were continually petitioning their grievances to U.S. authorities. John W. Pierce and Samuel G. Spann organized the Mississippi Choctaw, they were both wealthy white planters and had experience with the Indians from Mississippi.

Background[edit]

The Choctaw Nation had removed west of the Mississippi River after the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit in 1830, after three decades, the nation had become successful in establishing itself in its new country. By 1860, the Choctaw Nation lived in a relatively calm and remote society. Many Indian citizen members had become successful farmers, planters, and business men. Angie Debo, author of the Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, wrote: "Taken as a whole the generation from 1833 to 1861 presents a record of orderly development almost unprecedented in the history of any people."[1]

Tribal members had become successful cotton planters—owning many slaves, the most famous Choctaw planter was Robert M. Jones. He was part Choctaw and had become influential in politics. Jones eventually supported the Confederacy and became a non-voting member in the Confederacy's House of Representatives. Jones was key for steering the Choctaw Nation in an alliance with the Confederacy.

Lincoln and Indian Affairs[edit]

Abraham Lincoln considered Indian affairs a low priority when compared to the secession crisis.[2] Lincoln's administration focused their efforts on American military confrontations of early 1861, they had little time to consider the Indian's role in the coming conflict.[3] However, certain general attitudes protrude and explains the administrations' ambivalence toward the Indian.

Lincoln and his polity considered the Indian a "dying race."[4] A U.S. senator once remarked, "It is dying through natural causes growing out of its contact with a superior race inhabiting the same country."[4]

As soon as the Civil War began, Lincoln's government abandoned Indian Country. By May 18th of 1861, U.S. military posts were abandoned.

Reasons Why the Choctaw Sided with the Confederacy[edit]

In early February 1861, the Choctaw Nation's General Council instructed their delegates in Washington City to deposit their invested funds in southern banks, if necessary.[5] A few days later, the council elected 12 delegates to meet with the Chickasaw at Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation on March 11;[5] in April, Choctaw officials at Washington City assured Unionist that the Choctaw Nation was to remain neutral. However, by June of 1861 the Choctaw Nation had declared itself free and independent and appointed commissioners to make an alliance with the Confederacy.

Choctaw Nation[edit]

Several reasons explain why the Indians sided with the Confederacy: (1) They believed the United States was on the verge of collapse,[6] (2) They were neglected by the United States,[6] (3) William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State, advocated the seizing of Indian lands,[6][7] (4) Their main agent was an advocate for the South,[6] and (5) Their laws supported slavery.[6]

Mississippi Choctaw[edit]

The Indians in Mississippi had different reasons when siding with the Confederacy. (1) One of their main reasons included neglect. For decades Mississippi Choctaws petitioned the United States for grievances concerning the allocation of land grants provided in Article 14 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. A large number of cases was brought before U.S. courts but most went unheard. Some Choctaw may have been enticed to side with the Confederacy as a possible solution to their land grant problems. (2) Another reason included conscription. Although a few Indians volunteered, a majority of Mississippi Choctaw soldiers were conscripted into service. (3) Financial incentives may have been another reason. Fifty dollars bounty was offered to Mississippi Choctaws who enrolled with the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. (4) Some Indians may have wanted prestige within their tribe. Many Indian societies encouraged their warriors to succeed in battle to advance in their social hierarchy which was a requirement if they wanted position of leadership.

Trans-Mississippi Theater[edit]

Jackson McCurtain was Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Choctaw Battalion from the Choctaw Nation.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, Albert Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native Americans; in this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one such treaty was the Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws conducted in July 1861. The treaty covered sixty-four terms covering many subjects like Choctaw and Chickasaw nation sovereignty, Confederate States of America citizenship possibilities, and an entitled delegate in the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America .

Confederate battalions were soon formed in Indian Territory and later in Mississippi in support of the southern cause. The Choctaws, who were expecting support from the Confederates, got little. Webb Garrison, a Civil War historian, describes their response: when Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike authorized the raising of regiments during the fall of 1860, Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokees responded with considerable enthusiasm, their zeal for the Confederate cause, however, began to evaporate when they found that neither arms nor pay had been arranged for them. A disgusted officer later acknowledged that "with the exception of a partial supply for the Choctaw regiment, no tents, clothing, or camp and garrison equippage was furnished to any of them."[8]

The Choctaw and Chickasaw's First Regiment of Mounted Rifles was raised in August of 1861, they were under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper. Cooper would eventually become a Brigadier General.

First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles[edit]

On August 1st of 1861, President Jefferson Davis was notified that Douglas H. Cooper's First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles was prepared for battle.[9]

The First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles were "tardy" and missed the opportunity to engage at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Historian Annie H. Abel wrote that the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks, "were both fortunate and unfortunate in thus tardily arriving upon the scene, they had missed the fight but they had also missed the temptation to revert to the savagery that was soon to bring fearful ignominy upon their neighbors."

First Choctaw Battalion[edit]

In 1862, Jackson McCurtain became the Lieutenant Colonel of McCurtain's First Choctaw Battalion from the Choctaw Nation (Indian Territory), the First Choctaw Battalion eventually reorganized as the Third Choctaw Regiment. McCurtian's First Choctaw Battalion should not be confused with the 1st Choctaw Battalion that was organized in Mississippi under the leadership of John W. Pierce.

First Choctaw Mounted Rifles[edit]

Sampson Folsom's First Choctaw Mounted Rifles was organized in early 1862, the unit participated in many skirmishes. A total of 31 officers and 686 soldiers served until June of 1865.

First Choctaw War Regiment[edit]

Franceway Battice (Francois Baptiste) led this unit as the First Choctaw Cavalry Battalion which may have had 216 men. Battice resigned in early 1862, after Battice's resignation, the battalion likely received a new designation as the First Choctaw War Regiment.

Second Choctaw Regiment[edit]

In late 1864, the Second Choctaw Regiment was led by Colonel Simpson N. Folsom, this unit later joined Colonel Tandy Walker's Second Indian Cavalry Brigade during a reorganization.[10]

Third Choctaw Regiment[edit]

In June of 1861, Jackson McCurtain enlisted in the First Regiment of Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, he was commissioned Captain of Company G under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper of the Confederate Army; in 1862, he became a Lieutenant Colonel of McCurtain's First Choctaw Battalion from the Choctaw Nation (Indian Territory), not to be confused with John W. Pierce's 1st Choctaw Battalion in Mississippi.[11] McCurtain's 1st Choctaw Battalion eventually became the Third Choctaw Regiment.

Choctaw Warriors Regiment[edit]

George E. Deneale was the commanding officer of the Choctaw Warriors Regiment (or Deneale's Regiment). Deneale was from Virginia and, in early 1862, he recruited in the Choctaw Nation. About 400 Choctaws were enrolled. Deneale envisioned his regiment in the Eastern Theater, it is unlikely the regiment served in the Eastern Theater.

Choctaw Company[edit]

Edmund "Ok-chan-tubby" Pickens was the captain of this company of Choctaws who were likely mounted. Pickens was part Chickasaw.

Choctaw Infantry Company[edit]

John Wilkins was captain of the Choctaw Infantry Company.

Organization[edit]

Faunceway Baptiste was a Lieutenant Colonel during the Civil War.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were organized into several companies, battalions, and regiments, the Choctaws had three units labeled 1st Choctaw Battalion. Jackson McCurtian's 1st Choctaw Battalion was raised in the Choctaw Nation. McCurtain's organization was later re-organized as the Third Choctaw Regiment. Franceway Battice (Francois Baptiste) also raised a unit called the 1st Choctaw Battalion (Cavalry) from the Choctaw Nation. Battice's battalion was later re-organized as the First Choctaw War Regiment. John W. Pierce's 1st Choctaw Battalion was raised in Mississippi and never saw action in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. Pierce's Mississippi Choctaws operated in Mississippi and Louisiana.

  • First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles
    • Field & Staff: Colonel Douglas H. Cooper, Lieutenant Colonel James Riley, Lieutenant Colonel Tandy Walker, Major Willis J. Jones, Major Mitchell LeFlore, Major Stephen Loering, T. M. Colley (Surgeon), F. W. Miner (A.Q.M.), Douglas H. Cooper, Jr. (Adjutant), and William Cass (Chaplain).
    • Companies: Company A (Captain Adam Nail), Company B (Captain Thomas H. Benton), Company C (Captain Willis Jones), Company D (Captain Peter Matubbee), Company E (Captain John Levi), Company F (Lieutenant Mitchell McCurtain), Company G (Captain Jackson McCurtain), Company H (Captain Joseph R. Hall), Company I (Captain E. Dewnt), and Company K (Captain Ish kate ne homma)
  • First Choctaw Battalion
    • Lieutenant Colonel Jackson McCurtain.
  • First Choctaw Mounted Rifles
    • Field & Staff: Colonel Sampson Folsom, Lieutenant Colonel David F. Harkins, and Major Sylvester Durant
    • Companies: Company A (Captain Fla tubbee), Company B (Captain John Gibson), Company C (Captain Alfred Wade), Company D (Captain Martin Folsom), Company E (Captain Reson Jones), Company F (Captain Ok la bi), Company G (Captain Coleman E. Nelson), Company H (Captain Joseph Moor), Company I (Captain Sinta Nowa (Walking Snake)), and Company K (Captain Edmond Gardner)
  • First Choctaw War Regiment (formerly 1st Choctaw Cavalry Battalion)
    • Lieutenant Colonel Franceway Battice (Francois Baptiste or Faunceway Baptiste)
  • Second Choctaw Regiment (organizational life: 1862-June 1865)
    • Colonel Simpson N. Folsom
  • Third Choctaw Regiment (formerly 1st Choctaw Battalion from the Choctaw Nation)
    • Colonel Jackson McCurtain
  • Choctaw Warriors Regiment (Deneale's Regiment)
    • Field & Staff: Colonel George E. Deneale
    • Companies: Company A (Captain Washington Hudson), Company B (Captain J. E. Hamilton), Company C (Captain Jack Shoat), Company D (Captain Ho Tubbee), and Company E (Lieutenant George Speaker).
  • Choctaw Company
    • Captain Edmund "Ok-chan-tubby" Pickens
  • Wilkins' Company (Choctaw Infantry)
    • Captain John Wilkins

Battles and Skirmishes[edit]

Western Theater[edit]

Samuel G. Spann, Major of Spann's Independent Scouts.

In 1861, a Mississippi citizen attempted to raise a volunteer Choctaw company for the Confederacy; in the summer of 1862, eighty-two Mississippians filed a petition to Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus, the petitioners urged the conscription of the Indians. In that petition, John Harrisson, a white planter, was noted to have enrolled about two companies of the Indians. Harrisson's Indian companies likely merged with John W. Pierce's unit. John W. Pierce and Samuel G. Spann, both of whom were white planters, organized the Mississippi Choctaw as Confederates starting in 1862.

Pierce and Spann created two distinct & separate units that had common members. The Indian troop's first mission was to track down deserters—most found in Jones County;[12] however, S. G. Spann was aware of their potential for scouting and using guerrilla warfare. Pierce's troops were conscripted for tracking deserters in Jones County and surrounding areas, but Pierce's Indian troops were soon found in battles in Louisiana along the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad.

1st Choctaw Battalion[edit]

President Jefferson Davis endorsed John W. Pierce's 1st Choctaw Battalion in February of 1863, they were under the command of Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton and placed in Brigadier General John Adam's 4th District, the battalion was headquartered at Newton Station, Mississippi. Only two companies were mustered--companies A and B. A total of 101 men were mustered in March, 1863, the battalion formed in February and disbanded in May of 1863. Members would later transfer to Spann's command in late August of 1863.

After a train wreck in February 1863, referred to as the Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863, near Chunky, Mississippi, the Choctaw soldiers, who were recruited days/weeks earlier, led rescue and recovery efforts. Spann wrote many years later that "the passengers were rescued due to their heroic acts."[13][14]

As the war progressed, Indian troops were sent to Louisiana as reinforcements to Colonel Horace H. Miller's command at Ponchatoula in March 1863,[15] the newspapers of the time gave the "Indian troops" credit for pushing back the Yankees during the Battle of Ponchatoula.[15] After the battle, a large number of the Indians deserted due to non-payment for their services, during or after Grierson's Raid in April/May 1863, more of the Indian members of the 1st Choctaw Battalion likely fled.

During a massive Union offensive, soldiers, both white and Indian, of the 1st Choctaw Battalion were captured near Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and the Indian prisoners were soon shipped via steamship to Castle Williams near New York City, the Indian prisoners were displayed for the entertainment of New Yorkers at Madison Park. At least two Indian prisoners died while they were incarcerated at the Union prison on Governors Island.[14] Spann describes the incident, "New Orleans at that time was in the hands of the Federal Gen. B. F. Butler. Without notice a reconnoitering party of the enemy raided the camp, and captured around two dozen Indians and one commissioned white officer and carried them to New Orleans, some of the officers and several of the Indians escaped and returned to the Newton County camp; but all the balance of the captured Indians were carried to New York, and were daily paraded in the public parks as curiosities for the sport of sight-seers."[16]

The 1st Choctaw Battalion was ordered to disband on May 9, 1863, after a number of Choctaw Indians were captured near Ponchatoula in May 1863, the troops petitioned government officials at Richmond to transfer to Spann's Battalion of Independent Scouts.

Spann's Independent Scouts[edit]

Samuel G. Spann was a Dallas County, Alabama planter when the War began;[17] in the first year of the war, he was a private in William Boyles' Dragoons.[17] After a year, he provided a substitute and joined General William J. Hardee's command as an aid.[17] Spann was likely commissioned as a captain at the time.

In 1862, Spann contacted several Mississippi Choctaw Indian settlements to recruit for his new command,[18] he likely met with tribal headmen: Incoshubba, Oneshehatta, Tonubba, Meashomba, Tomashuba, and Luockhoma.[19] While Spann was waiting for the Indians to recover from the measles, Spann joined Hardee for the campaign into Kentucky in the fall of 1862. Spann participated in the Battle of Perryville.

Spann's headquarters were at Mobile, Alabama. Spann also had a recruiting camp in Newton County, Mississippi, as scouts in Spann's battalion, the Mississippi Choctaws served in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area in fall 1863. Their likely role was to track conscripts for General Gideon J. Pillow, although Spann's Battalion of Independent Scouts was disbanded on November 6 of 1863, Spann continued service with his battalion of Choctaw Indians.

Organization[edit]

Mississippi Choctaws were enrolled in two separate and distinct battalions that had common members, the 1st Choctaw Battalion was based at Newton Station, Mississippi. Spann's Independent Scouts were at Mobile, Alabama, they later moved their headquarters to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Spann's Independent Scouts were re-organized as Alabama's 18th Confederate Cavalry with only two companies remaining. All commissioned officers were white, the Indians had some non-commissioned officers, but most were privates.

  • 1st Choctaw Battalion (organizational life: February 1863-May 1863)
    • Field & Staff: Major John W. Pierce, Captain Nathan W. Slay (Adjutant), Captain Edward B. Scanlan (A.Q.M.), Sergeant William H. Dunlap (Q.M.), and Dr. Albert H. Puckett (Surgeon).
    • Companies: Company A (Captain Nathan W. Slay, Captain Simon F. M. Williams) and Company B (Captain Benjamin F. Duckworth).
    • Total: 101 men.
  • Spann's Independent Scouts (organizational life: April 1863-November 1863)
    • Field & Staff: Major Samuel G. Spann, Lieutenant Edward M. Keith (Drill Master), Captain John C. Ransom (A.Q.M.), Captain William H. Jemison (A.Q.M.), and Sergeant William H. Dunlap (Q.M.).
    • Companies: Company A (Captain John C. Moore), Company B (Captain James M. Tindel), Company C (Captain Malcolm M. Burke), and Company D (Captain John G. Harrisson).
  • Alabama's 18th Confederate Cavalry (organizational life: November 1863-June 1865)
    • Field & Staff: Major Samuel G. Spann.
    • Companies: Company (Captain John C. Moore) and Company (Captain John G. Harrisson).

Battles, Skirmishes, and Other Actions[edit]

Aftermath[edit]

Trans-Mississippi Theater[edit]

Reconstruction was a particularly harsh for the Indian nations found west of the Mississippi.

Western Theater[edit]

In Meridian, Mississippi and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Indian Confederates surrendered after several years of service to the Confederate States of America, some individuals may have served as early as 1861. Jack Amos, in his Mississippi pension, stated that he first enrolled in April of 1861, the 1st Choctaw Battalion was activated in February of 1863. This battalion served in General John C. Pemberton's command, after the battalion was disbanded in May of 1863, they petitioned and were transferred to Spann's Independent Scouts in August of 1863. In Spann's command, the Indian Confederates served until May of 1865.

Decades after the War, many Confederate veterans established U.C.V camps. Spann was elected commander of U.C.V. Camp Dabney H. Maury in Newton, Mississippi, they attended many national reunions. In 1903, Spann and some Indian veterans attended the New Orleans reunion, the last known Indian Confederate veteran died in 1939.[20]

Monuments[edit]

U.C.V. Camp Dabney H. Maury was planning to erect a monument for the Mississippi Choctaws participation during the Civil War.[21] However, this didn't happen for unknown reasons. But, state markers were placed in many of these historic areas decades after Camp Maury attempted to place a monument.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Debo, Angie (1934). "Life in the New Land". The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 78. 
  2. ^ Nichols, David A. (1978). "Lincoln and the Southern Tribes 'Our Great Father at Washington Has Turned Against Us'". Lincoln and the Indians. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 28. 
  3. ^ Nichols, David A. (1978). "Lincoln and the Southern Tribes 'Our Great Father at Washington Has Turned Against Us'". Lincoln and the Indians. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 25. 
  4. ^ a b Nichols, David A. (1978). "Lincoln and the Southern Tribes 'Our Great Father at Washington Has Turned Against Us'". Lincoln and the Indians. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 195-196. 
  5. ^ a b Debo, Angie (1934). "Life in the New Land". The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 80-81. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Debo, Angie (1934). "The Civil War and Reconstruction". The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 80. 
  7. ^ Goodheart, Adam (February 9, 2011). "The Choctaw Confederates". Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  8. ^ Garrison, Webb (1995). "Padday Some Day". More Civil War Curiosities. Rutledge Hill Press. 
  9. ^ Nichols, David A. (1978). "Lincoln and the Southern Tribes 'Our Great Father at Washington Has Turned Against Us'". Lincoln and the Indians. Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 29. 
  10. ^ Franzmann, Tom (1985). "Second Indian Cavalry Brigade". Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  11. ^ "Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: 1880 - Jackson F. McCurtain". 1880. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  12. ^ McIntire, Carl (July 20, 1980). "Choctaw Rebels tracked down deserters during Civil War". Clarion-Ledger Jackson Daily. 
  13. ^ Boggan, Greg (2005-02-06). "The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863". Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  14. ^ a b Kidwell, Clara (1995). "The Choctaws in Mississippi after 1830". Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918. University of Oklahoma. p. 170. ISBN 0-8061-2691-4. 
  15. ^ a b "The Affair at Ponchatoula". Mobile Advertiser And Register. March 29, 1863. 
  16. ^ Spann, S. G. (December 1905). "Choctaw Indians As Confederate Soldiers". Confederate Veteran Magazine. XIII (12): 560 and 561. 
  17. ^ a b c Spann, S.G. (March 7, 1900). "Confederate Choctaws". Anderson Intelligencer. 
  18. ^ "A Timely Move and a Good One". The Eastern Clarion. August 8, 1862. 
  19. ^ "Famous Indian Scout". The Times-Democrat. May 22, 1903. 
  20. ^ Duke, Etholene (March 9, 1939). "Aged County Man Dies At Home Monday". The Madill Record. 
  21. ^ "Famous Indian Scout in New Orleans". The Newton Record. May 28, 1903.