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

Choctaw in the American Civil War participated in two major arenas- Trans-Mississippi and Western Theaters. The Trans-Mississippi had the Choctaw Nation. The Western Theater had the Mississippi Choctaw. The Choctaw Nation had removed west prior to the War. After thirty years of development, the nation had began to flourish in their new western environment. Their economic system was identical as the American South. The Choctaw Nation upper class was engaged in the cotton trade with networks reaching as far as New Orleans. However, the Mississippi Choctaw had a tougher existence. Thru treaty provisions, the Mississippi Choctaw 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. Both the Choctaw Nation and the Mississippi Choctaw would ultimately side with the Confederacy.

Early 1861, the Confederacy appointed Albert Pike as an envoy to Indian Country. 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. John W. Pierce and Samuel G. Spann organized the Mississippi Choctaw. They were both wealthly white planters and had experience with the Indians from Mississippi.

Background[edit]

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 .

Soon Confederate battalions were 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."[1]

Trans-Mississippi West[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. Many 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.

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, Lieutenant Colonel Tandy Walker.

In Choctaw Nation, Jackson McCurtain, who would later become a district chief, was elected as representative from Sugar Loaf County to the National Council in October 1859. On June 22, 1861, he 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 1st Choctaw Battalion from the Choctaw Nation (Indian Territory), not to be confused with John W. Pierce's 1st Choctaw Battalion in Mississippi.[2]

Organization[edit]

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

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were to organize ten companies.

  • 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
    • 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
    • Company K
      • Captain Ish kate ne homma
  • Second Regiment of Choctaw Cavalry (organizational life: 1862-June 1865)
    • Colonel Simpson N. Folsom
  • Third Regiment of Choctaw Cavalry
    • Colonel Jackson McCurtain
  • First Choctaw Mounted Rifles
    • Field & Staff
      • Lieutenant Colonel D. F. Harkins
    • 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)
    • Company K
      • Captain Edmond Gardner
  • Regiment of Choctaw Warriors (Deneale's Regiment)
    • Field & Staff
      • Colonel George E. Deneale
    • Company A
      • Captain Washington Hudson
    • Company B
      • Captain J. E. Hamilton
    • Company C
      • Captain Jack Shoat
    • Company D
      • Captain Ho Tubbee
    • Company E
      • Lieutenant George Speaker
  • Company of Choctaw Infantry
    • Captain Edmund Pickens

Western Theater[edit]

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;[3] 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 headquartered at Newton Station, Mississippi. Only two companies were mustered--companies A and B. A totally 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."[4][5]

As the war progressed, Indian troops were sent to Louisiana as reinforcements to Colonel Horace H. Miller's command at Ponchatoula in March 1863.[6] The newspapers of the time gave the "Indian troops" credit for pushing back the Yankees during the Battle of Ponchatoula.[6] 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.[5] 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."[7]

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.[8] In the first year of the war, he was a private in William Boyles' Dragoons.[8] After a year, he provided a substitute and joined General William J. Hardee's command as an aid.[8] 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.[9] He likely met with tribal headmen: Incoshubba, Oneshehatta, Tonubba, Meashomba, Tomashuba, and Luockhoma.[10] 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)
    • Company A
      • Captain Nathan W. Slay
    • Company B
      • Captain Benjamin F. Duckworth
  • Spann's Independent Scouts (organizational life: April 1863-November 1863)
    • Company A
      • Captain John C. Moore
    • Company B
      • Captain James M. Tindel
    • Company C
      • Captain Malcolm M. Burke
    • Company D
      • Captain John G. Harrisson

Aftermath[edit]

Trans-Mississippi Theater[edit]

Reconstruction was a particular 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.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Garrison, Webb (1995). "Padday Some Day". More Civil War Curiosities. Rutledge Hill Press. 
  2. ^ "Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: 1880 - Jackson F. McCurtain". 1880. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  3. ^ McIntire, Carl (July 20, 1980). "Choctaw Rebels tracked down deserters during Civil War". Clarion-Ledger Jackson Daily. 
  4. ^ Boggan, Greg (2005-02-06). "The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863". Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b "The Affair at Ponchatoula". Mobile Advertiser And Register. March 29, 1863. 
  7. ^ Spann, S. G. (December 1905). "Choctaw Indians As Confederate Soldiers". Confederate Veteran Magazine. XIII (12): 560 and 561. 
  8. ^ a b c Spann, S.G. (March 7, 1900). "Confederate Choctaws". Anderson Intelligencer. 
  9. ^ "A Timely Move and a Good One". The Eastern Clarion. August 8, 1862. 
  10. ^ "Famous Indian Scout". The Times-Democrat. May 22, 1903. 
  11. ^ Duke, Etholene (March 9, 1939). "Aged County Man Dies At Home Monday". The Madill Record.