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The American Civil War

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The American Civil War tore apart many American lives. These people lost loved ones, had to endure the pains of those who lost limbs, and deal with emotional needs. However American lives were not the only ones that suffered and fought the war. American Indians served for both the North and the South during the Civil War. There reasons was to what they could gain from the side the chose, pride for the land they lived in, and to Indians did not have much going for them at the time. From generals to privets they stood there ground and fought with pride. Laurence M. Hauptman tells their story in his book Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War

Indians have fought in every war from the Battle of Oriskany in 1777 to the Gulf War. The Civil War over 20,000 Native Americans join in the fight and did so because many thought; it was the last hope the stop the genocide, which had begun so many years earlier against them. The book starts out with an overview what is happening with the Indians up to the start of the Civil War. It tells of their force removal from Kansas and how the “Bleeding Kansas” incident spilled over to the Delaware Tribe helping to foster there removal. The Delaware still join with the North and served as Scouts and Home Guards under the Second Indian Home Guard.

As the book moves forward, Hauptman explains how the Cherokee of the west were divided among themselves. Pro-Confederates led by Stand Watie disagreed with Chief John Ross leadership. Watie and his men believed an advocacy of slavery to igniting a “coup d'etat” and taking control of their tribe. Ross a slave holder like Watie felt that most of his tribe did not have slaves and owned loyalty to the North wanted to join with them. But this was not until invasion of the Cherokee capital and the captured of Ross. After a proclamation of loyalty to the Union he was paroled and lived in exile. Watie and his followers continued to fight for the South.

The focus is turned to the Pamunkey of Virginia and the Lumbee of North Carolina. These tribes did not like the white supremacist attitude and served for the benefit of the North. The Pamunkey worked as river boat pilots for General McClellan’s Army during the Peninsula campaign in 1862. The Lumbee’s were fighting the Confederate Home Guard during Sherman’s Carolina campaign. Both Pamunkey and the Lumbee thought themselves as avengers to people of color.

In Mr. Hauptman book he writes of how important the Eastern Band of Cherokee and the Catawba of South Carolina were to the Confederacy. The Cherokee had over four hundred men led by William Holland Thomas, a white man who had been adopted by the Cherokee when he was a child. With Thomas’s leadership they prevented Union attacks along Confederate communication and rail links. They also intimated Union supporters in east Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Cherokees did so well that they were allowed to keep some land in western North Carolina along the Tennessee border. The Catawba were dependent on whites and became the first to join the South as infantrymen. They also worked to capture runaway slaves trying to make their way North.

The Indians in the Northeast join the North mostly because of dependency on the white man and out of a since of loyalty they served as union sharpshooters most of these Indians were made up of Ottawa and Ojibwa. One of the goals of these tribes was to hold on to their land at least a small portion perhaps a similar deal that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians received. The Pequot and Mohegan Indians concentrated around New England joined the union for economical survival. A lot of Indians tribes had the opportunity to negotiate land treaties but yet remained cautious of dealing with the “Great Father”.

Many remained fearful as history had taught them after their service that the deals they made would be revoked. However a few Indians did quite well and raised high in the ranks. The author dedicates an entire chapter to two brothers- the Parkers. Eli Samuel Parker was a Seneca Indian who served on Grant’s staff and made the rank of brigadier general. He even wrote the surrender papers that Lee signed. After the war he served as the first Indian agent of Indian descent. His brother Isaac Newton Parker was a third sergeant and Color Barrier of D Company of the 132nd New York State Volunteer Infantry. The brothers came from a prominent Seneca family and were the sons of Chief William Parker.

The last chapter in the book gives detail as to the Indians after the war and the persecution when the new industrial military complex turned their attention to the west driving them further off their lands. This time with a much more experienced army and an army with better weapon technology. It explains the conditions they endured and the reward they garnered.

The book was written by Laurence

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