The War Had to Wait for Watie : The History Reader

Posted on June 6, 2022

by Tom Clavin

Nearly all historical past textbooks and most different sources inform us that the primary week of June is the actual anniversary of the tip of the Civil Warfare. When Basic Robert E. Lee surrendered to Basic Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, that was considered the official finish of the struggle, however many sources level to nearly two months later, on June 2, 1865, as a result of that was the day that Basic Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Accomplice forces west of the Mississippi River, surrendered his military at Galveston, Texas. However as soon as once more, the textbooks miss the Native American. The very, final Accomplice subject common to give up and thus actually finish the Civil Warfare was Stand Watie, a Cherokee.

Standhope Uwatie was born on December 12, 1806, in what’s now Calhoun, Georgia, however was then a part of the Cherokee Nation. His father was a full-blood Cherokee and his mom was the daughter of a white father and a Cherokee mom. As a younger man, he tweaked his title to Stand Watie after changing to Christianity. He began out as a journalist, working for an older brother, Elias Boudinot, who was editor of The Cherokee Phoenix, the primary Native American newspaper, which revealed articles in each English and Cherokee.

Then there was bother. Watie turned concerned within the dispute over Georgia’s repressive anti-Indian legal guidelines. After gold was found on Cherokee lands in northern Georgia, 1000’s of white settlers arrived. There was persevering with battle, and Congress handed the 1830 Indian Elimination Act. It required that every one Indians from the Southeast relocate to lands west of the Mississippi River. Two years later, Georgia confiscated many of the Cherokee land, regardless of federal legal guidelines to guard Native Individuals from state actions. A defiant Georgia despatched militia to destroy the places of work and press of The Cherokee Phoenix, which had revealed articles in opposition to Indian Elimination. Persuaded that removing was inevitable, Watie and Boudinot have been among the many males who signed the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. However the majority of the Cherokee nonetheless opposed removing and the Tribal Council and Chief John Ross refused to ratify the treaty.

Getting a head begin, Watie, who by now had a household, headed to present-day Oklahoma, which was then designated Indian Territory. These Cherokee who remained on tribal lands within the east have been rounded up and forcibly eliminated by the U.S. authorities in 1838. Their journey turned referred to as the “Path of Tears,” which value the lives of 4,000 Cherokee. Having arrived within the territory earlier, Watie had grow to be a land (and slave) proprietor and farmer.

Flash-forward to 1861: Ross signed an alliance with the Accomplice States to keep away from disunity in Indian Territory. In lower than a yr, Ross and a part of the Nationwide Council concluded that the settlement had proved disastrous. In the summertime of 1862, Ross eliminated the tribal information to Union-held Kansas after which proceeded to Washington, D.C., to satisfy with President Lincoln. After Ross didn’t return, the function of the principal chief was given to Tom Pegg. Following the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, Pegg referred to as a particular session of the Cherokee Nationwide Council. On February 18, 1863, it handed a decision to emancipate all slaves inside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

In the meantime, the Accomplice-supporting faction of the tribe named Stand Watie as its principal chief. He additionally turned the one Native American to rise to a brigadier-general’s rank throughout the struggle. Afraid of the Federal Authorities and the risk to create a state out of most of what was then the semi-sovereign Indian Territory, a majority of the Cherokee Nation initially voted to assist the Confederacy within the Civil Warfare, although lower than a tenth of the Cherokee owned slaves. Watie organized a regiment of infantry which turned the first Cherokee Mounted Rifles.

Though he fought Union troops, Watie additionally led his males in preventing between factions of the Cherokee and in assaults on Cherokee civilians and farms in addition to in opposition to the Creek, Seminole, and others in Indian Territory who selected to assist the Union. He’s famous for his function within the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas when, underneath the general command of Basic Benjamin McCullough, Watie’s troops captured Union artillery positions and lined the retreat of Accomplice forces from the battlefield after the Bluebellies took management.

Over time, nonetheless, assist for the Confederacy among the many Cherokee troopers declined. Watie continued to guide the remnant of loyal troops. He commanded the First Indian Brigade of the Military of the Trans-Mississippi, which included three battalions of Cherokee, Seminole, and Osage infantry. These troops have been primarily based south of the Canadian River and periodically crossed the river to conduct raids in Union territory. They fought in a variety of battles and skirmishes within the Indian Territory, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas. Watie’s pressure reportedly fought in additional battles west of the Mississippi River than some other unit. He took half in what is taken into account to be probably the most well-known Accomplice victory in Indian Territory, the Second Battle of Cabin Creek on September 19, 1864. Generals Watie and Richard Gano led a raid that captured a Union wagon practice and netted roughly $1 million value of wagons, mules, commissary provides, and different wanted gadgets. Union stories stated that Watie’s Indian cavalry “killed all of the Negroes they might discover,” together with wounded males.

The Accomplice Military put Watie accountable for the Indian Division of Indian Territory in February 1865. By then, nonetheless, the Confederates have been now not capable of combat within the territory successfully. On June 23, at Doaksville within the Choctaw Nation (additionally now Oklahoma), three weeks after Gen. Smith surrendered, Gen. Watie signed a cease-fire settlement with Union representatives for his command. Thus, he was the final Accomplice common nonetheless within the subject to give up, and that, technically if not formally, was the tip of the Civil Warfare.

After the struggle, Watie was a member of the Cherokee delegation to the Southern Treaty Fee, which renegotiated treaties with the US. From then on, he tried to remain out of politics and rebuild his fortunes. He returned to his farm on Honey Creek, the place he died on September 9, 1871. Watie was buried within the previous Ridge Cemetery, later referred to as Polson’s Cemetery, as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

I can’t resist a few footnote-like details: (1) Within the Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josie Wales, set after the Civil Warfare, the character of “Lone Watie” was performed by Chief Dan George, who was principally recognized for the movie Little Massive Man. (2) On June 13, 2020, following the George Floyd protests, a 1921 monument to Stand Watie and a 1913 monument to Accomplice troopers have been faraway from the Cherokee Capitol grounds in Tahlequah. The monuments stay in storage.

Photograph Credit score: Gordon M. Grant

Tom Clavin is a #1 New York Instances bestselling writer and has labored as a newspaper editor, journal author, TV and radio commentator, and a reporter for The New York Instances. He has obtained awards from the Society of Skilled Journalists, Marine Corps Heritage Basis, and Nationwide Newspaper Affiliation. His books embrace the bestselling Frontier Lawmen trilogy—Wild Invoice, Dodge Metropolis, and Tombstone—and Blood and Treasure with Bob Drury. He lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

Tags: Civil Warfare, Native American Historical past, Stand Watie, The Overlook, Tom Clavin