Cherokees had to fight Raleigh to wear gray

“In western North Carolina, some members of the Eastern Cherokee band expressed a willingness to serve with the Confederacy, but racism nearly kept them out of the ranks. William Thomas, an influential friend of the Cherokees, tried to get a state bill passed authorizing him to raise a Cherokee battalion. The legislature voted it down, citing fears [it] might confer citizenship on the Cherokees.

“In fact, the Cherokees were already citizens of North Carolina, though rarely treated as such, by virtue of previous treaty agreements. One of the bill’s leading opponents quipped that he would as soon be seen alongside free blacks in a voting booth as to associate with Cherokees.

“Undeterred, Thomas sought Jefferson Davis’s permission to enlist Cherokees. Davis readily agreed, giving Thomas a colonel’s commission…. From early 1862 through the war’s end, Thomas’s Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders ranged through the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, enforcing conscription, impressing supplies and rooting out Union sympathizers.”

— From “Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2008)

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