Book Review: American Indian in Civil War

by Lawrence M. Hauptman

This thoroughly researched book reveals the full extent of Native American participation in the Civil War. Indians were involved on a tribal level as well as on an individual level.
Lawrence Hauptman details Indian involvement for both North and South and explores motivations for joining both sides of the war. Readers will discover cases of real patriotism, political reasons (either Union or Confederate) and of course, financial reasons as well as following warrior tradition. It is understood that the warrior's spirit lives on eternally. Warriors do not fear death, but rather regard it as the ultimate sacrifice for their own and their people's continued survival.

During the years, 1861 to 1865, Native Americans throughout the USA, were struggling for independence,  for their own  culture, and life-style. Some tribes, like the Cherokees, were directly involved in the war. Other Native Americans living in the war-torn areas of the East made individual decisions as to whether they wished to have anything to do with the situation. Still others, living in the mountains, prairies, and deserts of the rest of the country, suddenly realized they had a chance to take back some of their own land, as they saw fewer and fewer U.S. Army soldiers assigned to forts in their tribal areas.

Among the more interesting parts in the book, are the story of  the Eastern Band of the Cherokees and the ways in which they earned their land through service to the CSA, the biography of Colonel Ely Parker, the Indian who drafted Lee's surrender for his friend U.S. Grant and the Battle of the Crater. This Battle in the Petersburg siege had 3 different groups of Indians fighting (one on the side of the CSA, two on the USA) along with Blacks and Whites. Among the Federal forces fighting at Wyse Fork were the Iroquois soldiers in the 132nd New York State Volunteer Infantry. During the war they were commended twice in the official records for meritorious service and were among the approximately 20,000 American Indians who fought for the United States and the Confederacy.


This book is  heavily referenced and is the most accurate on this time of Native American history. There are 53 pages of end notes and 42 pages of bibliography in this 192 page book. If you need a reliable source of information, or just wish to learn more about Native Americans and the Civil war, this book is highly recommended.






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