The Keetoowah Society and the Avocation of Religious Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation, 1855-1867
 Chapter Three
Between Two Fires

Heading blindly north across a hundred miles of bleak plains, their only thought was to reach the mythical “Kansas.” By day, little parties of them cowered along the brushy creeks sheltered from the biting wind. After dark they ventured across the open plains, guided by the stars and hoping to reach the next timber before dawn when Stand Watie's keen-eyed horsemen were sure to spy them. The fugitives killed and ate their horses, used the hides for shelter and cut them into rude moccasins for frosted feet. Women crept from hiding places in gullies, after the pursuant horsemen had passed, and picked kernels of corn from the horses droppings to chew for food. Mothers, terrified and discouraged, threw babies into freezing mudholes and trampled the life out of them...

The rout was complete, with seven hundred Indians perishing in the fight. Confederate newspapers crowed exultantly, reported Stand Watie sweeping victoriously north across the “Boston abolition strongholds, leaving Fort Scott, Topeka, and Lawrence in ashes...”

In Fort Leavenworth, Agent George A. Cutler wired Washington: “Heopothleyohola...needs help badly...Hurry up Lane.”

Jay Monaghan,
Civil War on the Western Border 1854-1865

Chaplain Reverend Lewis Downing of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles awoke at the dawn of a new day, December 9, 1861. He stood amidst officers of the Creek and Cherokee Nations in what was to become the Kansas Indian Regiments of the Army of the United States of America. Among the warriors lie free Africans, maroons, and fugitive slaves from the deep South hoping to move "on to Kansas" and freedom on the border. There were many battles yet to come, but for this morning, Chaplain Downing felt safe.

Across the corn field lie what was left of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles of the Army of the Confederate States of America under the leadership of Colonel John Drew. Behind Colonel Drew's men lie the secessionist troops of Albert Pike's "Indian Brigades," including the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Regiment, the Choctaw Battalion, the First Creek Regiment and the Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Colonel Stand Watie. On the other side of the Confederate Army lie Chaplain Downing's home, his family, and the rest of the Cherokee Nation.

It was the issue of slavery that ripped the Cherokee Nation asunder leading up to the Civil War, but it was also something older and much deeper. Deep within the “Kituwah Spirit” was an ideal of a free and independent Cherokee Nation founded upon the “old ways” of liberty, equality, and community. These old ideas were being challenged by a modernist movement among the elites which supported a nation based upon the institution of slavery, racial inequality, and radical individualism. As he looked about him, Chaplain Downing could see the effects of this crisis among the people that were his flock, but he also saw within it the face of that new Nation founded upon the ancient principles of Keetoowah.

The rich tapestry of colors found amongst those who surrounded him reminded Chaplain Downing of the gospel message of equality brought to the Cherokee by the missionaries Christian Pryber, John Marrant, Uncle Reuben, and John B. Jones. Chaplain Downing, an ordained Baptist minister, had found confirmation in the gospels for that which had been a critical element in the “Kituwah spirit” of the Cherokee Nation: all humanity has a common origin, and ultimately, a collective responsibility. In the bonds of the “beloved community” lie the faith which would lead these fugitives to form a new Cherokee Nation.

“ A Position of Neutrality ”

On the eve of the Civil War, a chasm located specifically along racial, economic, and political lines split the Cherokee Nation. On the one side lay the “progressives” of the “Southern Rights” party who sought to align themselves with the South and the enveloping culture of slavery; on the other lay the “conservatives” who believed that Cherokee national identity lie with the interests of “the people” and the preservation of the “old ways.” Going into the elections of 1860, the Cherokee Nation was as split politically as the larger United States; the results of the election would prove have even more disastrous consequences for the Cherokee Nation than it did for the United States.

The election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860 sets in motion a series of cataclysmic events. In December, the State of South Carolina adopted an Ordinance of Secession and withdrew from the United States of America. On January 29, Kansas entered the Union as a free state but by the end of May 1861, ten more states had seceded from the Union. On February 4, 1861 six secessionist states met in Montgomery, Alabama and formed a provisional government, the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was appointed provisional President of the C.S.A. on February 8, 1861 and federal funds and property were seized throughout the South. In early Spring of 1861, newly inaugurated President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln issued the call for 40,000 volunteers to serve for three years in defense of the United States of America.

In January 1861, following activism by the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Chickasaw Nation authorized the Governor of that Nation to appoint commissioners to meet with representatives from other Indian Nations for the purpose of “entering into some compact, not inconsistent with the Laws and Treaties of the United States, for the future security and protection of the rights and Citizens of said nation, in the event of a change in the United States.” [1] On March 11, 1861, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations met at Boggy Depot and decided to send designates to meet with the Confederacy. [2] John Ross, upon hearing of the decision, wrote to Cyrus Harris of the Chickasaw Nation in early February:

I was much surprised to receive a proposition for taking action so formal on a matter so important, without having any previous notice or understanding about the business, which might have afforded opportunity to confer with our respective Councils and People.

Although I regret most deeply, the excitement which has arisen among our White brethren: yet by us it can only be regarded as a family misunderstanding among themselves. And it behooves us to be careful, in any movement of ours, to refrain from adopting any measures liable to be misconstrued or misrepresented: - and in which (at present at least) we have no direct and proper concern. [3]

Ross, seeking to maintain neutrality in the coming conflict, asked Harris to send a body of representatives to a Five Nations Council to discuss the current state of affairs and ways to promote the peace and welfare of the Nations in the impending struggle. A Five Nations Council was called for February 17, 1861. [4]

On January 25, 1861 the Arkansas Gazette wrote an editorial which warned, “In the event that Arkansas secedes from the Union, a war on her Western frontier is inevitable. That Abolition enemies of the South will hiss the Indians upon her...for the indulgence of their hellish passions [is obvious].” [5] Less than a week later, Chief Ross received a letter from the Governor of Arkansas which stressed, “Your people, in their institutions, productions, and natural sympathies are allied to the common brotherhood of the slaveholding states. Our people and yours are natural allies in war...” and that he hoped the Cherokee were “willing to cooperate with the South in defense of her institutions.” [6]

Ross, in his response to the editorial, stated that the Cherokee's “first wish is for peace and the protection by the Central Government... But if ambition, passion, and prejudice blindly and wickedly destroy it -- with a fair guarantee of their rights, they will go where their institutions and geographical position place them, -- with Arkansas and Missouri.” [7] However, with respect to the issue of “devastation by savages,” he replied, “We are not dogs to be hissed on by abolitionists.” [8] Responding to Governor Rector, Ross stated, “The Cherokees have placed themselves under the protection of the United States and no other Sovereign whatsoever...” but that “Their institutions, locality and natural sympathies are unequivocably with the slave holding States.” [9] Ross, through his nephew and Freemason William P. Ross to the Council, gave them these instructions:

On your deliberations, it will be proper for you to advise discretion, and to guard against any premature movement on our part, which might produce excitement or be liable to misrepresentation. Our duty is very plain. We have only to adhere firmly to our respective treaties. By them we have place ourselves under the protection of the United States, and of no other sovereign whatsoever. We are bound to hold no treaty with any other foreign Power, or with any individual State or combination of States nor with Citizens of any State. Nor even with one another without the interposition and participation of the United States. [10]
Between Two Fires
The halfbreeds belong to the Knights of the Golden Circle, a society whose sole object is to increase and defend slavery, and the fullbloods have -- not to be outdone -- got up a secret organization called `the Pins' which meets among the mountains, connecting business with Ball-playing, and this is to be understood to be in favor of the [Lincoln] Gov't. [11]
The pressure upon Ross was intense, the heat being felt in the churches was equally intense. The Cherokee Nation was splitting apart just as was the larger United States; moreover, not just the Cherokee Nation but all of the Five Nations were facing internal conflicts the likes of which reflected the impending catastrophe within the Cherokee Nation. Ross, with the support of his fullblood allies within the Keetoowah Society were working within the political system to maintain the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation, abide by Federal and Indian Treaties, establish a position of neutrality between North and South, and promote nationalism within the Cherokee Nation. The churches were working within the congregations and through camp meetings to develop the “beloved community,” to preserve the religious traditions, to promote the general welfare, and to provide for the relief of the disadvantaged. Behind the larger efforts of the Cherokee Nation in 1861 lay the “Kituwah Spirit” and a sense of purpose which transcended the political, economic, and military affairs which would come to dominate the Nation in the coming years.

The Knights of the Golden Circle continued to mobilize and sought to destabilize the religious community which they perceived to be dominated by “Abolition enemies of the South.” Willard Upham, minister of the Bushyheadville Church at the Cherokee Mission, [12] reported that the slaveholding members of the community had withdrawn their support for the mission:

This is a great reduction from former attendance and this is to be accounted for by the intense hostility to our mission on the part of the large pro-slavery party in the Cherokee Nation who have for more than a year past, by means of the press in the contiguous states, and every possible means, stigmatized our Mission as a “Nest of Abolitionists whose only business was to overthrow slavery in this country and make a Second Kansas thereof.” [13]
Upham, a Baptist minister and teacher in the public schools of the Cherokee Nation who had remained following Evan Jones's flight to Kansas, was opposed by the Knights of the Golden Circle. They sought to have him removed from his teaching position. Smith Christie, a leader of the Keetoowahs, reported to John Jones a “desperate effort made to pass a bill in the Cherokee Council” for the removal of Evan Jones and Willard Upham from the Nation.

However, a systematic effort had been made by the Keetoowahs to organize politically and to elect representatives to the Cherokee Council. The Keetoowahs were successful and gained a large number of representatives to the Lower House of the Cherokee Council. However, their success was soon met with strong opposition, “In every political election, whenever a Baptist happens to be a candidate for office, he is opposed as an abolitionist and sometimes successfully opposed on the ground only.” [14]

The Upper House, dominated by the Knights of the Golden Circle, continually presented bills to remove the missionaries from the Cherokee Nation and to close down Willard Upham's school. Each time, the concerted efforts of the Keetoowah in the lower house prevented these bills from being passed. [15] Some bills even made it through both houses only to be vetoed at the hands of John Ross. The factional dispute over slavery, which had at its roots the deeper struggle in the Cherokee Nation, had come to fruition in the political process. The struggles in the Council were representative of a more violent struggle carried out in other places in the Cherokee Nation.

In November 1860, a four day camp meeting revival at the Peavine Church was attacked by “emissaries of the Prince of Darkness” who attempted to break up the meeting:

They came to the meeting in the evening and made a formidable demonstration. The Cherokees immediately gathered a strong force and arrested the whole gang and kept them under guard the whole night. This put an end to their enterprise of abolition hunting; but a man belonging to their party, named Alberty, threw a paper of gunpowder into the fire at one of the camps...Fortunately, no one was hurt.” [16]
In early February, a plot to assassinate Evan Jones was launched within the Cherokee Nation. The murder of Evan Jones was part of a larger “plot to kill off several of the principle men of the Nation. All this was, of course, in behalf of the `peculiar institution.'” [17] Once this was accomplished, “the buildings on the mission premises were to have been burned.” [18] Jones, taking the plot seriously, fled to the home of John Ross where he stayed until he felt free to return. In late February, Willard Upham resigned from his position as missionary to the Cherokee and in mid-April, fearing for his safety, left the Cherokee Nation. [19]

In late February, a group of representatives from the State of Texas made a diplomatic mission to Indian Territory in order to explore the sentiments of the various governments regarding relations with the Confederate States of America. After meeting with Chief John Ross, they concluded:

He was very diplomatic and courteous. His position is exactly the same as that held by Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural; declares the Union not dissolved; ignores the Southern Government. The intelligence of the nation is not with him... His position in this is that of Sam Houston [20] in Texas and in all probability will share the same fate, if not a worse one...The fact is not to be denied or disguised that among the common Indians of the Cherokee there exists a considerable abolition influence, created and sustained by one Jones, a Northern missionary of education and ability, who has been among them for many years, and who is said to exert no small influence with John Ross himself. [21]
In spite of their doubts about him and the “common Indians, ” Chief Ross assured the delegates that “if Virginia and the other Border States seceded from the Government of the United States, his people would declare for the Southern Government that might be formed.” [22]

On the fourth of March 1861, Robert Toombs, the Secretary of State of the Confederate States of America sent forth a resolution requesting a “special agent to the Indian Tribes west of the State of Arkansas.” [23] The next day, the Confederate States of America appointed Albert Pike, a Mason who initiated Toombs and friend of John Ross, as Confederate Commissioner to the Indian Nations. [24] On March 15, 1861 the Confederate Congress created the Bureau of Indian Affairs, under the auspices of the War Department, and appropriated $100,000 for the activities of the Department. [25] Pike, in addition to have been legal counsel for the Choctaws, was also founder of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. [26] In Spring of 1860, Albert Pike had raised Peter Pitchlyn (Chief of the Choctaw), Cherokee Elias C. Boudinot, and Holmes Colbert (National Secretary of the Chickasaw Nation) to the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rites. [27]

In March 1861, a secession convention was held in Arkansas. In a diplomatic maneuver to win favor of the Cherokee elite, Elias C. Boudinot, a Cherokee resident of Little Rock, was appointed secretary of the Convention. On May 6, the convention passed the Arkansas Ordinance of Secession. [28] Shortly afterwards, a party of Cherokee led by Stand Watie, leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle, met with Pike and General Benjamin McCullough “in order to ascertain whether the Confederate States would protect them against Mr. Ross and the Pin Indians, if they should organize and take up arms for the South.” [29] Pike urged Watie to assume responsibility for the destiny of the Cherokee Nation. A group of secessionists from Arkansas had already met with Watie and informed him that twenty-five hundred good guns were being shipped to western Arkansas and a goodly number of these could be made available to protect the interests of the Confederate States of America. [30]

Albert Pike, arriving at the cottage of John Ross in late May, hoped to win the Cherokee Chief and his Nation over to the side of the Confederacy, or if not, he would inform them that there would be serious consequences for the Cherokee. Fully aware of the ancient nature of the struggle within the Cherokee Nation, he proclaimed, “If he refuses he will learn that his country will be occupied; and I shall then negotiate with the leaders of the half-breeds who are now raising troops.” [31] With Federal forces having abandoned all outposts in the Indian Territory, Ross was in dire straits. Yet, he courageously maintained the neutrality of the Cherokee Nation and the importance of Cherokee Treaties with United States.

Ross told a Federal officer, “We do not wish our soil to become the battle ground between the States and our homes to be rendered desolate and miserable by the horrors of civil war.” [32] However, the Nation was divided, and, according to Albert Pike, the Cherokee people, “could not remain neutral.” [33] Elizabeth Watts, a former slave from the Cherokee Nation, described the Nation in 1861:

Years passed, and the bad feeling between the two factions seemed to get worse over the question of slavery. Ross opposed it. Stand Watie, relative of Boudinot, was for it.

Missionaries came along the “Trail of Tears” and opposed it. Some Indian Agents were for it.

The Indians did not want to fight...

Not many full bloods owned slaves and they had a secret society called “Kee-too-wah.” They wore two common pins crossed on their coats for an emblem. Most all full-bloods belonged and wanted to stay with Tribal laws and customs. Most of them were the Ross faction and opposed Slavery.

Those who endorsed slavery had a society and it was made up of half-breeds and they owned most of the slaves. [34]

In early June, John Ross called for a council of the Great Nations to settle the issue and determine the course of the Native American people in the impending struggle of the Civil War. The counsel, to be held at Antelope Hills in Indian Territory, was composed of traditional leaders or “Northern and other Indians,” as it was described later by Albert Pike. Pike also described the purpose of the meeting as being, “to remain neutral” and “to take advantage of the war between the States, to form a great independent Indian Confederation.” [35] Though Albert Pike was to crow about the “Southern Indians” and their solid support for the Confederacy, a different vision of nationhood was beginning to spread beyond the Cherokee Nation.

The Keetoowah Mission to the other Nations

There were deep bonds between the fullblood members of the Cherokee Nation and the fullblood members of the Muscogean Nations which lived just across the East Shawnee Trail in the Creek Nation and the Seminole Nation. The cultural bonds which linked the Creek and Cherokee Nations even transcended the historical bonds of animosity between the two Nations; each coming from the temple mound culture, they shared very many traditional beliefs. In addition, the Natchez people, which settled among the Creek and Cherokee following the decimation of their Nation at the hands of the French, provided yet another link of commonality among the peoples. The Natchez were known for their knowledge of the old ways and served as a conservative influence among fullbloods of both the Iroquoian and Muscogean lineage of the Southeastern United States. [36]

Not only were there traditional ties between the Native Americans of the Southeastern Nations, there were denominational ones as well. From their very inception, the Baptist Missions in the Cherokee Nation had established an outreach to the Creek Nation to their immediate west . In the early days of the Creek Nation in the west, it was forbidden by law for an Indian or Negro to lead Christian worship services, but according to Angie Debo, it was done anyway: “Small earnest groups met secretly, sang negro spirituals and portions of the Creek Hymns they could remember, and listened to the instructions of ignorant slaves.” [37] When the hostility towards missionaries ended in the early forties, several missionaries from the Cherokee Station visited the Creek Baptist mission:

The church among the Creeks has been visited by the Cherokee missionaries and found to be in a prosperous condition, under the care of colored preachers. Several have been added to the church. No white missionary labors with the Creeks at present, but Mr. Jones of the Cherokee Mission has been requested to ascertain the practicability of stationing a mission family among them. [38]
The Baptist Mission in the Creek Nation was situated in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, founded in 1832 by black slaves and then led by Native preacher John Davis, the first Baptist preacher licensed and ordained in Indian Territory. [39] When Davis died in 1839, he left the church in very able hands:
Mr. Jones reports the state of the people to be highly encouraging. The members of the church appear well, and the religious meetings are thronged, many of the congregation attending from a distance of twenty or more miles... “Religious meetings are conducted by two black men, both slaves. The oldest, Jacob, is ordained; the other called Jack, a blacksmith, acts as interpreter. They are allowed one day in the week to support themselves and their families in food and clothing; and these days they devote to the service of the church, hiring the working of their little corn and potato patches.” [40]
By 1845, Baptist and Methodist ministers were openly working in the Creek territory, and by the end of the following year, the ban against Indian and African preaching had been lifted. In the area where the Arkansas River and Verdigris River met between Fort Gibson and the Creek Agency, a number of churches had sprung up led by Native preachers. [41]

On April 12, 1845, the Cherokee Baptist Mission Society was founded by minister Evan Jones, but because of the poverty of the fullbloods and slaves which supported the Baptist mission, the society was dissolved after a few years. [42] However, in late 1848, a great camp meeting was held in the Creek Nation led by Baptist missionaries from the Cherokee Nation under the auspices of Evan Jones. Fourteen Creek, including Chilly McIntosh and several other prominent chiefs, united with the Baptist Church: [43]

The Congregation was made up chiefly of Creeks and blacks, with a few whites and Cherokees. I became acquainted with two very interesting and intelligent young men, one the son of the late principal chief of the Creek nation, and the other of the present chief ... They both appear well, and promise great usefulness to their people, as the speak the English and Creek languages fluently. [44]
A Baptist missionary (probably Jones), was even invited to address the council. At the time, the Creek Baptists had eight preachers -- one white, four Native Americans, and three African-Americans. They had seven churches with more than 550 members. [45]

In 1850, Evan Jones reconstituted the Cherokee Baptist Mission Society and “the preachers and others entered very cordially into the spirit of the missionary enterprise, and are determined to urge the subject on the attention of the people.” [46] In a following paragraph, Jones mentions that the missionaries “are decidedly and steadfastly opposed to slavery; and the direct tendency of their influence is to extend their own sentiments and views. [Their] sincere desire and earnest prayer is, that it may be speedily brought to an end.” [47] As one of the leading missionaries to the Creek Nation, Brother Lewis Downing made no distinctions among his parishioners:

After the services of the morning, the congregation repaired to the water, a stream about a mile distant, and in the presence of a large company, br. Downing with deep solemnity baptized, on the profession of their faith in a dying savior, two Cherokees and three black men. [48]
In the years between 1850 and 1860, Lewis Downing led numerous missions to the Creek Nation, “where they had very large congregations and solemn attention.” [49] Downing traveled as far Missouri where he attended a great camp meeting of the Cumberland Presbyterians and met with a colporteur from the American Tract Society. When several of Downing's native assistants in the missionary movement died, John B. Jones, the son of Evan Jones, filled their positions and worked their circuits.

A year later, in 1853, Smith Christie, “a Cherokee of decided piety and promise” was licensed for the ministry and was ordained the following year. In the years following 1858, missionaries Lewis Downing, John B. Jones, and Smith Christie traveled exclusively throughout the Cherokee and Creek Nations conducting camp-meetings, organizing, and structuring the Baptist missions. By 1860, the Cherokee Baptist Missionary Society had grown into a self supporting institution which held annual meetings and gave yearly contributions to the American Baptist Missionary Union. [50]

In addition to conducting a missionary effort among the Creek with Cherokee missionaries, the “Jones Baptists” took it one step further. On one visit to the Creek Nation in 1857, Evan Jones and pastor Lewis Downing of the Peavine Baptist Church ordained a free black by the name of “Old Billy.” In 1860, Cherokee Henry Davise was ordained to the Baptist ministry at Peavine Baptist Church to help “Old Billy” spread the message of the gospel among the Creek Nation. [51] Though it is never explicitly stated, it is assumed that Davise was a member of the Keetoowah Society and that he was sent forth into the Creek Nation to pursue the interests of the Keetoowah Society. [52]

Little is known about the spread of the Keetoowah Society among the Creek Nation except much later in a footnote on the history of the Creek Nation. Angie Debo, in her The Road to Disappearance describes “a secret society of full bloods known as the Pins... The origins of this society is unknown, but it exerted a strong hidden influence throughout the Nation.” [53] The Pins of the Creek Nation are associated with Samuel Checote, a full blood Methodist minister from Alabama and one-time chief of the Creek Nation. Checote was a graduate of the Asbury Mission and pastor of Eufaula Methodist Church in the Creek Nation. [54] He was also a member of Muscogee Lodge #93. [55]

There is no evidence of “Pin” activity among the Seminole Nation. However, it is likely that the Baptist message spread among the Seminole along the same routes as it did among the full blood Creek and Cherokee. James S. Murrow, Baptist missionary and future “father of Oklahoma Freemasonry,” settled among the Seminole at the North Folk Town near Eufala in the Creek Nation. [56] Murrow immediately began his missionary work:

He secured a Negro interpreter, and promptly began his life's work. December 25, [1857] Brother Murrow baptized an Indian girl. Since that time he has baptized more than a thousand Indians and almost as many whites and Blacks. [57]
The North Fork Baptist Church had became “a sort of `Jerusalem' ” [58] in the Indian Territory; the church was founded in 1854 by Black Baptist Monday Durant and was ministered by Black Baptist evangelist “Old Billy”. [59] Old Billy had been ordained to the ministry in Indian Territory by 1845. The North Fork Baptist Church as also the center of the Keetoowah Society within the Creek Nation. It was to the North Fork Baptist Church that Henry Davise, ordained at Peavine Church within the Cherokee Nation, was sent as a missionary from the Cherokee Baptist Missionary Association. The church was later to become the center of a strong evangelical revival under the leadership of Black Baptist Harry Islands. [60]

James Factor, an interpreter and “beloved man” among the Seminole, made the North Fork Church a center of a controversy when he became the first Seminole to convert to Christianity. Factor, a descendent of Black Factor and member of one of the oldest families of “black muscolges, ” [61] was friends with Chief John Jumper of the Seminole Nation. Chief Jumper belonged to the “Moon Order,” a secret society among the Seminoles that dated to the pre-removal period, [62] but converted to the Baptist faith in September of 1860. Rev. Murrow, upon hearing of Chief Jumper's conversion established a Baptist mission at Ash Creek Baptist Church with Jumper as its first member. He was, within a few years, to become pastor of the church. [63] Chief Jumper was also a Freemason. [64]

Freemasonic lodges had also spread from the Cherokee Nation into the Creek Nation and probably into the Seminole Nation through Seminole residents of the Creek Nation. From the very first lodge formed among the Cherokee in Tahlequah, the brotherhood had spread among missionaries, merchants, and Native Americans throughout Indian Territory. Reverend John Bertholf, member of Cherokee Lodge #21, relocated to the Creek Nation and was appointed Superintendent of the Asbury Mission in Eufaula in 1859. George Butler, government agent and junior warden of Cherokee Lodge #21, became one of the charter members of the military base lodge at Fort Gibson Lodge #35. Doaksville Lodge #52 was organized in the Choctaw Nation and led by Chief Peter Pitchlynn, Sam Garvin, Basil Laflore, plantation owner Robert Jones, and also American Board missionary Cyrus Kingsbury. Walter Scott Adair, Worshipful Master of Cherokee Lodge #21, left Lodge #21 to organize Flint Lodge #74 near the Baptist Mission deep in Keetoowah country in the southeastern corner of the Cherokee Nation.

Joseph Coodey, nephew of John Ross and Junior Warden of Cherokee Lodge #21, resettled in the Creek Nation at North Fork Town near Eufala. [65] In the Creek Nation, Benjamin Marshall, George Stidham, and Samuel Checote, all affiliates of the Asbury Mission, formed Muscogee Lodge #93 at the Creek Agency near the border of the Cherokee Nation. One of the early members of Muscogee Lodge #93 was a prominent traditional leader and relative of Asi Yahola (Osceola) [66] by the name of Opothle Yahola. [67]

The Keetoowah message of community, patriotism, and religious sovereignty spread throughout the Nations through the several organizations which most clearly reflected these ideals. The Baptist church with its sense of the “beloved community,” its affiliation with political idealism, its conservative religious traditionalism, and the very nature of its ecclesiastical structure resonated with the highest tenets of the “Kituwah Spirit.” In nearly every way, the structure and function of Freemasonry in the Indian Territory paralleled both the Baptist churches and the “old ways” of the Cherokee Nation. The Nations would split, the churches would split, and the lodges would split, but the “Kituwah Spirit” would persevere in the hearts of the people.

Into the Fire

On May 17, 1861 Chief John Ross declared the Cherokee Nation's neutrality concerning the Civil War by emphasizing that the Cherokee wished to “take no part in the present deplorable state of affairs” and hoped that “they should not be called upon to participate in the threatened fratricidal war...” [68] The following day, Stand Watie was approached by Southern agents and encouraged to “join in our efforts for mutual defense” by forming Confederate Cherokee battalions and was assured that they would be armed within weeks. With this idea in mind, Stand Watie contacted the Knights of the Golden Circle and began to organize his troops to prepare them induction into the Army of the Confederate States of America. [69]

In early June, John Ross called for a council of the Great Nations to settle the issue and determine the course of the Native American people in the impending struggle of the Civil War. The counsel, to be held at Antelope Hills in Indian Territory, was composed of traditional leaders or “Northern and other Indians” as it was described later by Albert Pike. Pike also described the purpose of the meeting as being, “to remain neutral” and “to take advantage of the war between the States, to form a great independent Indian Confederation.” [70] Present at this conference were Chief John Ross of the Cherokee Nation, Chief John Jumper of the Seminole Nation, Chief Peter Pitchlyn of the Choctaw Nation, and Chief Opothle Yahola of the Creek Nation; each of these men were Freemasons. [71] The idea of a “great independent Indian Confederation” reflected not only traditional values, but it also was reminiscent of the “State of Muskogee,” described by William Augustus Bowles in the seventeenth century, existing among the “black indians” of Florida. [72]

As these “Beloved Men” of the Five Nations were away at a great council, Albert Pike (and probably J.S. Murrow) hastily organized an alternative council at North Fork Village near the Asbury Mission in the Eufaula District of the Creek Nation. Present at that meeting were Freemasons Samuel Checote, George Stidham, and Robert Jones, as well a number of other wealthy and educated mixed-bloods and Southern sympathizers. [73] In early July, Pike announced a treaty with the “United Nations of the Indian Territory” signed by numerous mixed bloods which granted the “Grand Council” the right to arm troops in order to repel the “invading forces of Abolition hordes under Abraham Lincoln.” [74] North Fork Village, the former “Jerusalem” of the Indian Territory, became the seat of this “Grand Council” and the center of Confederate operations for the first two years of the war. [75] On July 12, 1861, Stand Watie was commissioned as a Colonel in the Confederate States of America Army and his battalion was stationed near the Arkansas border. [76]

During this critical period in Cherokee history, the embers which had been smoldering among both sides were quickened by the winds of history and the flames erupted throughout the Cherokee Nation. Reverend Henry F. Buckner, pastor of the Muskogee Baptist Church at the Ebenezer Mission in the Creek Nation, described an incident within the Cherokee Nation. In vivid and symbolic detail, he described much more than the incident alone:

I think Jones and party have learned that it would be dear blood for them to shed mine. My brother, help me to praise God for the preservation of my life... The Native Minister [recently killed in the Cherokee Nation], an inoffensive and pious man, was murdered -- callled out of his house at night and shot; he ran -- they followed him and cut his throat. The cause is hard to ascertain. Three rumors here: 1st, Because he would not leave the Southern Baptist Church... 2nd, Because he had withdrawn from a secret organization known here by the term `Pins,' he refusing to be united [with them] again; 3rd, Because of his money, of which everybody that knew him knew that he did not have one red cent. The first seems to be the most plausible, for another Cherokee minister similarly situated (except he is not a pin) has been waylayed but escaped, others have been threatened that if they preached in certain quarters that they would be killed; this is the game they (the Jones party) have been playing for the last three years. If we are not mistaken, every man in Jones churches is more or less tinctured with abolition sentiments, and some of them, yea a later majority, are deep black in the warp and sable African in the filling, for I heard one of his preachers say [that] if Abraham, David, and all the ancient worthies of the Old testament, being slave holders, were here on earth, he could not fellowship with them. Now would you not think such a man as this was an abolitionist of the deepest die. [77]
Evan Jones, stating that he feared for his life because the activities “of the ultra-proslavery Secessionists seemed to confirm the truth of the reports that violence was intended against myself, ” left the Cherokee Nation in late June for Fort Scott, Kansas. [78]

In early July, a company of Stand Watie's Southern troops attempted to raise the Confederate flag over the Cherokee Nation; they were met with some opposition by the loyal members of the Keetoowah Society: [79]

The half breeds belong to the K.G.C. a society whose sole object is to increase and defend slavery and the full bloods have -- not to be outdone -- got up a secret organization called the “pins” which meets among mountains, connecting business with Ball-playing, and this is understood to be in favor of [the] Gov't., at least when a half breed at Webber's Falls raised a secession flag, the “pins” turned out to haul it down & were only stopped by a superior force, they retired swearing “that it shall yet be done & its raiser killed.” [80]
It was Senator William Doublehead and 150 fullbloods that confronted the larger force of Confederate Cherokees; Doublehead was a traditional leader associated with those who had assassinated “treaty party” members in 1839. Bloodshed was only narrowly averted by the intervention of John Drew, a member of the Ross family and yet a slave owner, who was respected by both parties. [81] Ross wrote to John Drew and Joseph Vann (Cherokee Lodge #21):
We regret very much indeed to hear that difficulties of a serious nature exist in your neighbor hood between some of the half and full blood Cherokees, which we have been informed may be in part the result of a mutual misunderstanding... There is no reason why we should split up and become involved in internal strife and violence on account of the political condition of the States. We should really have nothing to do with them, but remain quiet and observe those relations of peace and friendship towards all of the people of the States imposed by our treaties. [82]
On August 1, 1861, the Cherokee Executive Council met and resolved that a “meeting of the Cherokee people should be held for the purpose of harmonizing their views in support of the common good and to remove the false allegations as to the opinions of the `fullblood' Cherokee on the subject of slavery and of their sentiments towards the white and `Half-breed' citizens.” [83] In another part of the Indian Territory, the Loyal Creek met in council on August fifth and declared the treaty arranged by Pike to be illegal, declared the office of chief vacant, and appointed Sands Harjo as principal chief. [84] As soon as Sands Harjo was appointed chief by the Loyal Creek, a bounty of a thousand dollars was placed on his head by the Confederate Cherokee. [85] In mid August, Sands Harjo and Opothle Yahola wrote to Abraham Lincoln:
Now I write to the President our Great Father who removed us to our present homes, & made treaty, and you said that in our new homes we should be defended from all interference from any person and that no white people in the whole world should ever molest us... and should we be injured by any body you would come with your soldiers and punish them. but now the wolf has come. men who are strangers tread our soil. our children are frightened & mothers cannot sleep for fear. This is our situation now. When we made our treaty at Washington you assured us that our children should laugh around our houses without fear & we believed you.... Once we were at peace. Our great father was always near & stood between us and danger.

We his children want to be so again, and we want you to send us word what to do. We do not hear from you & we send a letter, & we pray you to answer it. Your children want to hear your word, & feel that you do not forget them.

I was at Washington when you treated with us, and now white people are trying to take our people away to fight against us and you. I am alive. I well remember the treaty. My eyes are open & my memory is good. [86]

On August 10, 1861, the first military engagement in Indian Territory occurred at Wilson's Creek in Southwestern Missouri; Stand Watie's Confederate Cherokee regiment fought with great vigor and the Union forces took a terrible beating. Watie's troops became an esteemed force in the Confederate Army. [87] The situation of those loyal to the Government seemed hopeless:
I sometimes hear rejoicing on the part of the Northern people, that these tribes are seceding, because they say that such violation of their treaties will lose them their lands, whose beauty & fertility have long been admired by western farmers. I have been twelve years among these tribes & I know the full bloods to be loyal to the Gov't. That Gov't. is bound by treaties to protect these nations, to keep up Forts for that purpose. The Agents are either resigned or, working under “confederate” commissions. The Indians are told that the old Gov't. is bankrupt, that it must die, that England and France will help the south, that they are southern Indians & own slaves, & have interests only with & in the south, That the war is waged by the North for the sole purpose of killing slavery, & stealing the Indians land etc. etc. What have the Indians with which to disprove this? The “Confederate” Gov't is represented there by an army and Commissioners, but the United States have not been heard from for six months. Every battle is believed to be against the old Gov't. & those who control the news know what shape it should go to have influence... The agents who hold Commissions from Mr. Lincoln & go to Montgomery to have Jeff. Davis endorse them, show a faith in the issue, that is not lost upon the Indians. [88]
The Confederate Cherokee

On August 20, 1861, Chief John Ross was asked by friends whether an alliance with the Confederacy was impending and whether it would be permanent. He replied, “We are in a situation of a man standing alone upon a low naked spot of ground, with the water rising all around him... the tide carries by him, in its mad corse, a drifting log... By refusing it he is a doomed man. By seizing hold of it he has a chance for life. He can but perish in the effort, and he may be able to keep his head above water until he is rescued or drift to where he can help himself.” [89] Among those gathered on the occasion was Evan Jones, who had returned from Kansas to help Ross through this difficult period; however, there is no evidence that, at this point, Jones tried to dissuade Ross from an alliance with the South. [90]

The following morning, John Ross addressed a meeting of some four thousand Cherokee men and discussed the Nation's stand in the coming Civil War. [91] Present were a wide diversity of interests from the Cherokee Nation, including nearly a hundred of Watie's troops to assure that the outcome of the meeting would be satisfactory to their interests. Ross encouraged the Cherokee to remember that which had always been dear to the Cherokee people:

The great object with me has been to have the Cherokee people's harmonious and united in the free exercise and enjoyment of all their rights of person and property. Union is strength; dissension is weakness, misery, ruin. In time of peace together! In time of war, if war must come, fight together. As Brothers live; as brothers die! While ready and willing to defend our firesides from the robber and the murderer, let us not make war wantonly against the authority of the United or Confederate States, but avoid a conflict with either, and remain strictly on our own soil. We have home endeared to us by every consideration; laws adapted to our condition and of our own choice, and rights and privileges of the highest character. Here they must be enjoyed or nowhere else. When your nationality ceases here, it will live nowhere else. When these homes are lost, you will find no others like them. Then, my countrymen, as you regard your own rights -- as you regard your own posterity, be prudent how you act. [92]
In an appeal to the “Kituwah Spirit,” Ross had hoped to spare his people from a terrible tragedy, but the tide of history was too strong. When the discussion was over, Ross acquiesced, “the time has now arrived when you should signify your consent for the authorization of the Nation to adopt preliminary steps for an alliance with the Confederate States upon terms honorable and advantageous to the Cherokee Nation.” [93] In so doing, the Cherokee Nation sought to abandon its neutrality in order to maintain unity. In the final outcome, it would lose so very much more.

Upon hearing of the Ross decision to side with the Confederacy, William Penn Adair of the Knights of the Golden Circle wrote to his fellow Knights and Freemasons J.L. Thompson and Stand Watie:

You have doubtless heard all about Ross's convention, which in reality tied up our hands and shut our mouths and put the destiny of everything connected with the Nation and our lives in the hands of the Executive... Pike is disposed to favor us and to disregard the course our executive has taken. The Pins already have more power in their hands than we can bear and if in addition to this they acquire more power by being the treaty making power, you know our destiny will be inalterably sealed. It seems we should guard against this. Now is the time for us to strike or we will be completely frustrated... Under these circumstances out Party [the Southern Rights party] want you and Dr. J.L. Thompson (Cherokee Lodge #21) to go in person and have an interview with Mr. Pike to the end that we may have justice done us, have the Pin party broken up, and have our rights provided for and place us if possible at least on an honorable equity with this old Dominant party that for years has had its foot upon our necks. [94]
Equally disturbed on learning of Ross's change of policy were the Creek leaders Opthle Yahola and Sands Harjo; in a letter thanking God for granting him the power “to unite the hearts and sentiments of the Cherokee people as one man,” Ross informed the Creek Chiefs that the Cherokee had formed an “alliance with the Confederate States and shall thereby preserve and maintain the Brotherhood of the Indian Nations in a common destiny.” [95] Believing Ross's letter to be a hoax, Opthle Yahola and Sands Harjo wrote back to Ross:
We have received a liter from you the same letter that you have sent the head men of the Creek Nation in your letter we unterstand that you & all the Cherokee people have in favor with Capt. Pike. We don't know wether this is truth or no the reason we send the same letter back for you. [96]
Even when reassured of the validity of the letter and when requested to support “our common rights and interests by forming an alliance of peace and friendship with the Confederate States of America,” Opothle Yahola refused to discuss a treaty scheduled for early October in the Cherokee Nation. [97]

On August 24, the Cherokee Executive Committee wrote not only to Cherokee Brigadier General Ben McCulloch of Arkansas of their decision to join the Confederacy, but also to express their desire for something more:

To be prepared for any such emergency, we have deemed it prudent to proceed to organize a regiment of mounted men and tender them for service. They will be raised forthwith by Col. John Drew, and if received by you will require to be armed. Having abandoned our neutrality and espoused the cause of the Confederate States, we re ready and willing to do all in our power to advance and sustain it. [98]
Two Confederate regiments had now been raised within the Cherokee Nation. Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch of the Confederate States of America described the two regiments:
“Colonel Drew's Regiment will be mostly full-bloods, whilst those with Col. Stand Watie will be half-breeds, and good soldiers anywhere, in or out of the Nation.” [99]
Membership in the two units fell directly upon party lines and relationship to the corresponding secret societies. The largest part of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles were members of the Keetoowah Society and supporters of John Ross; it is also reported that “Colonel Drew's regiment [was] made up mostly of full blood Indians and Negroes.” [100] The Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles were members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, “mixed bloods and adopted whites,” [101] and followers of Colonel Stand Watie. [102] The leadership of both parties was composed of former Freemasons from Cherokee Lodge #21, Fort Gibson Lodge #35, and Flint Lodge #74. [103]

By the end of September, the situation in the Cherokee Nation had become exceedingly tense and the two armed factions, though both Confederate Cherokees, operated with impunity and often with duplicitous means:

Our town is filling up with Strangers. Bell's Company arrived here late last night, quartered at Wilson's Store and at John Freemans. C. Boudinot with them; and Stan Watie with his Companies Expected to night. The issueing the inflammatory sheet denying a unity of feeling -- Copies of Carruth [U.S. Indian Agent] letters to you -- (an unheard of breach of trust -- among honorable men) in circulation. Does Ben MuCullah tolerate the above in Soldiers of his Army acting under his Commission -- That by endangering a bloody Civil Conflict among men devoted to the same Cause?...It was remarked in my hearing by one of the Party, that at the time there was no Treaty with any power in Existence...

Anderson Downing was killed late last night in the houses above us. [104]

Even though Ross had committed himself and the Cherokee to the Southern cause, there were rumors that another party was spreading a different message among the Creek and Cherokee:
It has been represented to them that you with a few followers design going with the South, while a large majority of your people is against you -- and with him (Opothle Yahola) in Sentiment....If some timely remedy is not used for its arrest it will and must end in civil war. We have thought the best remedy would be to send a few of your old men well known to the party to give them a true statement of the condition of your people and brotherly talk in the right direction, which is to be done without delay. [105]
The Cherokee Nation became the last great Nation to side with the Confederate States of America when it signed a treaty on October 7, 1861. [106]The next day, Chief Ross sent Joseph Vann (Cherokee Lodge #21) to meet with Opothle Yahola and to “shake the hands of Brotherly friendship with your Cherokee Brethren;” [107] Opothle Yahola, hearing of Ross's signing a treaty with the Confederate States of America, refused the right hand of fellowship.

At the ceremony welcoming the Cherokee into the Confederacy, Albert Pike, Stand Watie and Chief John Ross stood upon the platform in Tahlequah with Colonel Drew's regiment on one side and with Colonel Watie's on the other. Chief Ross presented a Cherokee flag to Commissioner Albert Pike; Commissioner Pike presented the Confederate colors to Colonel Drew and his troops. When the two old enemies, and yet brothers, crossed the stage to shake hands and to once again assure peace and unity, Watie exclaimed that the two parties should have acted like this long ago but that even today there would be no peace between the parties as long as the “pins” remained a political organization. Chief Ross politely replied that he didn't know what Colonel Watie was talking about. [108]

The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory

Reverend Lewis Downing, ordained Baptist minister, was 38 years old when he was appointed Chaplain of the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles. [109] In addition to being minister at Peavine Baptist Church, Lewis Downing was also chair of the Cherokee Baptist Missionary Society and, as such, engaged in frequent missions to the Creek Nation. Smith Christie and Too-Stoo Swimmer were also members of Colonel Drew's regiment. Smith Christie was the Secretary of the Cherokee Baptist Missionary Society. Too-stoo Swimmer was the Treasurer of the Society, minister at Delaware Church, and a sponsor of Henry Davise's mission to help Black Baptist “Old Billy” spread the message of the gospel among the Creek Nation. [110]

As missionaries to the Creek Nation, Pastor Downing and his assistants often preached to congregations and camp-meetings of Muscogean and African peoples. The Baptist Church in Oklahoma had been founded within the Creek Nation as an Afro-Indian congregation, and it helped reinforce the “beloved community” which had been the center of resistance within the Southeastern Nations for well over a century. It was to these people that Downing and his Native Baptist cohorts spread the Baptist gospel of liberation, as well as the message of unity, organization, and activism which was at the heart of the Keetoowah Society. At this particular point in history, the message was sorely needed:

The latest reliable intelligence from the Nation was encouraging so far as our native preachers are concerned... They had not ceased to preach Christ to their people. They were having large congregations and profitable meetings... Their services at this time a re particularly needed... They are now the only persons who preach the Gospel unmixed with [pro-slavery] errors which put darkness for light and light for darkness, excepting the Moravians.... Troublous times, we know, have often been seasons chosen of God to do great things for his people, -- to magnify the riches of his grace and to display his mighty power... [111]
The center of the Cherokee Baptist mission was in the Canadian District near the North Fork mission. Among those Baptist congregations of the Creek Nation were those members who had participated in the “Red Stick” rebellion as well as those who, with African American support, had fought a tremendous war against removal. There were large numbers of “free negroes” among the Creek and Seminole Nations within Indian Territory, as well as large numbers of Black Indians:
Among the Creeks and Seminoles, the status of the free negro was exceptionally high, partly due, with respect to the latter, to conditions growing out of the Second Seminole War. As already intimated, the Creeks had no aversion to race mixture and intermarriage between negroes and Indians was rather common. The half-breeds resulting from such unions were accepted as bona fide members of the tribe by the Indians in their distribution of annuities, but not by the United States courts -- another source of difficulty and a very instructive one as well, particularly from the standpoint of reconstructionist exactions. [112]
The largest portion of these “free negroes” lived just west of the North Fork Baptist Church near the intersection of the Little River and the Canadian River; this was also the center of the Upper Creek stronghold. [113]

Some of these traditional people among the Upper Creek adopted the Keetoowah message and became Pin Indians. [114] One of the Upper Creek traditionalists who developed an affinity for the Keetoowah message was Opothle Yahola, one of the largest “slaveowners” within the Creek Nation. However, among the traditionalists such as Opothle Yahola who had brought with them their fires from the East, “slavery” was quite a different institution:

My mammy and pappy belong to two different masters, but dey live together on that place. Dat de way de Creek slaves do lots of times. Dey work patches and give dey masters most all dey make, but dey have some for demselves. Dey didn't have to stay on the master's place and work like I hear de slaves of de white people and de Cherokee and Choctaw people say dey had to do. [115]
Chief Opothle Yahola's plantation was located due north of the Asbury Mission in North Fork Township and due south of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Even after hearing of Ross's siding with the Confederacy, Chief Opothle Yahola continued to believe that the Muscogean people should remain neutral in the Civil War. He and his followers, accounting for at least one third of the Muscogean people, criticized the Creek Nation for siding with the Confederacy and set about a policy of resistance. [116] When the Creek Nation passed a law giving free Negroes within the Creek Nation ten days to “choose a master” or face the trading block, many chose Chief Opothleyahola. [117] Free Africans, runaway slaves, as well as large numbers of Chickasaw and Seminole began to flee to Chief Opothleyahola's two thousand acres in the Creek Nation. [118] The prospect of armed resistance by Africans and Native Americans (as had been experienced in the Second Seminole War - the costliest war in American history prior to the Civil War) was a grave fear for the Confederacy. [119]

When members of his followers faced forced conscription, Chief Opothleyahola saw no recourse but to take his assembled band of dissidents and refugees and attempt to cross the border into Kansas. He also believed that if the assembled Union sympathizers would make thier stand, the Federal Army would come to their assistance; in his pocket he carried a letter from E. H. Carruth assuring such. [120] Running short of provisions and fearing the isolation of their position in North Fork, Opthle Yahola and a large number of Loyal Creeks resettled near the Little River in the heart of “black muscolge” territory near the Seminole Nation. In this stronghold of resistance, they hoped to wait out the war. [121]

A council was scheduled at Opothle Yahola's new camp for those Indians loyal to the United States. Half of the Seminole Nation, a number of Choctaws, some Kickapoos, Shawnees, Yuchis, Delawares, and Comanches, as well as a “considerable body of Negroes” fled to the site of the council further strengthening Opothle Yahola's forces. David McIntosh, a Creek leader, wrote to Cherokee John Drew of Chief Opothle Yahola and his 4,000 warriors and followers:

It is now certain that he has combined with his party all the surrounding wild tribes and has openly declared himself the enemy of the South. Negroes are fleeing to him from all quarters -- not less than 150 have left within the last three days. [This rebellion] should be put down immediately... I hope you will come in all haste and join in an undertaking for the interest of all... this state of things cannot long exist here without seriously effecting your country. [122]
In addition to charging the renegade party with rebellion, the pro-Southern Creeks believed that troops from General James H. Lane's “Jayhawkers” from Kansas had joined in with the new army. [123]

From the council, the old Chief Opothle Yahola sent forth a number of delegates to Kansas to secure safe passage and assistance from the Federal authorities should they encounter armed Confederate resistance to their migration. When they arrived in Kansas, the first person the delegates met with was former Creek agent, Major George A. Cutler. They reassured Cutler of their loyalty to their treaties with the United States and asked Cutler for troops to liberate their surrounded brethren. They also asked for ammunition, clothing, and tents to outfit the “Union Red people.” [124] In addition, they assured the federal officers that John Ross of the Cherokee was for the Union but dared not to express his position publicly. [125]

Upon hearing of Opothle Yahola's contacts with the North, the Southern Creeks wrote to John Ross of their fears, as well as their intentions:

For if they get aid from the North which they are making every effort to do, they will be our most formidable enemy. For while the knowledge of the country would give us a decided advantage over the whiteman with our own people to lead them we would have none. Again, they are causing our negros to run to them daily greatly to the injury of many of our best citizens. These and other considerations make it necessary for them to be put down at any cost. Therefore so soon as we are reinforced which we daily expect we shall proceed without further delay and put an end to the affair. [126]
Chief John Ross was aghast at the possibilities of Native Americans making war upon each other in such a manner. He wrote back to the Confederate Creeks:
Brothers, we are shocked with amazement at the fearful import of your words! Are we to understand that you have determined to make a Military demonstration, by force of Arms, upon Opothleyahola & his followers, at the cost of civil war among your own People, and thereby involve your red Brethren, who are in alliance with the Confederate States? Such a conflict would bring on a warfare inaugurated by you, that will not fail, to sever the bonds of peace and friendship between us and the other Tribes of Indians, who are not in alliance with the Southern Confederacy at a cost [whatever] blood & Treasure would be lamentable. We have no good reasons to consider the delegation of the Asst. Chief [Joseph Vann] & his associates to Opothleyahola as a hopeless failure. [127]
On October 24, 1861, the Cherokee Nation issued its “Declaration of Independence” in a letter written by Commissioner Albert Pike; the following day the letter was printed in the Springfield Republican. [128] Evan Jones, reading the letter in the newspaper was struck with disbelief:
I was exceedingly troubled when I heard of the surrender of the Cherokees, though I had feared that the force which would be brought to bear on them would be overwhelming and that they might not be able to withstand it long without the promised protection of the U. States. This they had been hoping for and looking for with great confidence and anxiety, but it failed to come in time to avert disaster....I trust God will yet bring about their deliverance from the heartless grasp of those selfish men who would exterminate the Indians as well as enslave the Blacks. [129]
In the same session that ratified the Confederate treaty, a bill was passed confiscating all of the mission stations in the Cherokee Nation and selling off all of the mission property to the highest bidder. The bill specifically mentioned the missions of the American Board, the Baptist missions, and the Moravian missions; the churches of the Southern Baptists and the Southern Methodists were left untouched. Chief John Ross vetoed the bill, “because I can see no propriety or justice [in]...precipitating the missionary families out of possession as intruders.” [130]

In early November, Brother Joseph Vann informed Chief Ross that he was able to secure the consent of Opthle Yahola to a meeting held at Drew's Headquarters in the home of Brother Joseph Coody (Cherokee #21) near North Fork Township in the Creek Nation; Opthle Yahola was to be escorted to the meeting by Keetoowah James McDaniels and John Porum Davis of the Drew regiment. [131] Opthle Yahola and his followers had organized a wagon train and were circling the settlements to the west, north and east of the Little River to “join Union sympathizers among the Cherokees with whom they were in communication.” [132] The Loyal Cherokee with whom the Creek Pins met “complained because they were compelled to dig up the hatchet and fight their Great Father, after they had agreed to remain neutral.” [133] Opothle Yahola's first step was to move his refugee army to the Cherokee Nation, where he expected assistance from the Keetoowah of the Cherokee Nation. [134]

With Albert Pike in Richmond finalizing treaty arrangements, Chief Daniel McIntosh (Creek Nation) and Chief John Jumper (Seminole Nation) wrote to Colonel Douglas Cooper of the Confederate States of America requesting assistance pending a rumored attack by Opothle Yahola's assembled forces. [135] McIntosh, a Freemason and an ordained Baptist minister associated with the Ebenezer Baptist Church (recently taken over by Southern Baptist J.S. Murrow), reportedly disdained Opothle Yahola's pagan beliefs and his associations. He encouraged enlistment in his First Creek Regiment by promising that captured cattle and Negroes -- free or slave -- belonging to Opothle Yahola's supporters would be sold to benefit the Creek Nation treasury. [136]

Cooper assumed Pike's command and assembled the Confederate Indian forces: The First Regiment Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles; the First Creek regiment under Colonel McIntosh; the First Regiment Cherokee Mounted Rifles under John Drew; the Second Regiment Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Colonel Stand Watie; the Choctaw Battalion led by Chief Chilly McIntosh; and the Seminole Battalion under Chief John Jumper. In addition to the Confederate Indians, Cooper had at his disposal Colonel Quail's regiment Fourth Texas Cavalry; an effective fighting force of nearly fourteen hundred troops. [137] A Texas soldier described Drew's Keetoowahs, “Colonel Drew's Regiment is encamped here, and over one thousand strong of the finest set of warriors that can be found anywhere; they will make their mark whereever they come in contact with the enemy.” [138]

General Ben McCulloch, the Confederate Commander in Arkansas, ordered Drew's regiment to “proceed without delay” and join forces with Colonel Daniel McIntosh's and Colonel Douglas Cooper's command. They were to move against Chief Opothle Yahola's band of nearly 10,000 refugees, which included 1500 soldiers and 700 armed blacks. McIntosh's and Cooper's troops caught up with Opothleyahola's troops near Red Fork on the Arkansas River on November; they sent out a slave to warn the runaways of an impending attack but the renegades refused to heed the warning. [139] On November 15, 1861, Colonel Quayle and his Texas troops attacked what they thought was Opothle Yahola's camp near North Fork but finding only a deserted outpost, they set out again in pursuit of the elusive Creek warriors. [140]

The Confederate troops finally caught up with the Creek exodus at Round Mountain, west of the junction of the Cimmaron and Arkansas Rivers in the Creek Nation. [141] On the eve of what was to be the first battle of the Civil War in Indian Territory, Echo Harjo met under a flag of truce with Chief Opothle Yahola but he refused to yield or surrender to the Confederate troops. Kennard and Harjo later wrote to John Ross:

On the evening before the battle Echo Harjo went into their camps and conversed with them they proclaimed war, and affirmed that they were looking for Cherokees to aid them that they had promised to come to their assistance. They have a quantity of our property which they are taking Northward. Should they be passing through your country, please stop them! [142]
Another note from the Cherokee delegates to Opothle Yahola rearticulated that the refugees were to find comfort and solace among the Cherokee, “...a Creek Messenger from Opothle Yahola had reported that O. said that he wanted Peace & will take the advice of his Cherokee Brethren and come into the Cherokee Country &c &c.” [143]

On November 19, 1861, the Confederate troops pursued the Unionist Indians to Round Mountain, but they ran headlong into a line of resistance that was nearly twelve hundred men long; the volley from the Creek soldiers cut down several of the unwary Confederates who then retreated. The Creek forces, led by Creek war chiefs Billy Bowlegs, John Chupco, Halleck Tuskenugge and Little Captain, had formed a defensive line to protect the women, children, the elderly and the livestock of Opothle Yahola's band. [144] Cooper reinforced his troops and again attacked the renegades with the full force of the combined armies of the Confederacy. Drew's forces had not yet decided commit to this action. The battle became quite heavy until darkness fell upon the combatants, forcing both sides to break off the engagement. [145] Cooper's force was defeated in the battle, losing nearly twenty men in the engagement; in his inflated reports to military authorities, he reported the loyal Indians losses to be 110 killed and wounded. [146]

Shortly before the battle at Round Mountain, a friendly “beloved man” from the Cherokee Nation had ridden into the Creek encampment. He offered Opothle Yahola hospitality in his village along Bird Creek in the Cooweescoowee (Ross's traditional name) District of the Cherokee Nation. When the Battle of Round Mountain had come to a close due to darkness, Opothle Yahola's renegade band of “wild Indians and Negroes” slipped over the Arkansas River separating the Creek and Cherokee nations. As they retreated, the renegades set fire to the plains; hundreds of acres were burned as they covered their path. [147] Less than fifty miles from Kansas, the renegade band once again made their stand at Bird Creek in the Cherokee Nation not far from the home of Captain James McDaniel, one of the founders of the Keetoowah Society. [148]

The Turning Point

Colonel Cooper was less than confident in the battle readiness of his troops, especially those among John Drew's First Cherokee Mounted Rifles with whom he knew considerable Union sentiments existed. When he learned that Opothle Yahola and his Keetoowah followers had taken refuge within the Cherokee Nation, he was even more concerned. Withdrawing his troops to Spring Hill, he allowed his troops and horses to rest and recuperate before once again setting out against Opothle Yahola. Knowing that the next battle would be fought within the Cherokee Nation in a district where loyalty to John Ross was strong, he set forth upon a decisive plan to ensnare and eliminate his opposition.

As Cooper's forces were preparing for yet another conflict, Captain James McDaniel and his Confederate Keetoowah troops were encamped within close proximity of Opothle Yahola and his renegade band of Blacks and Indians. McDaniel's troops were in constant communication with the Opothle Yahola's soldiers and when asked by Drew to report on the location of the renegades, McDaniel informed Drew that his sentiments lie with his fellow Keetoowahs and not with the Army of the Confederacy. In spite of his problems with Cooper, McDaniels “always sent a secret message to the Loyal League [Keetoowahs], in the rebel service [Drew's Regiment] informing them of his real movements.” [149]

In late November, rumors that McDaniels and his fellow Keetoowah were associating with the enemy swept through Fort Gibson where William Potter Ross and Lewis Downing were currently stationed. When Chaplain Reverend Lewis Downing left for Camp Coody to deliver supplies to Drew's troops, a large number of his regiment sought to accompany him to the place where the impending battle was to take place. However, only a small group of men were chosen to accompany Downing in his return to Verdigris where Camp Coody where the rest of the Drew's Battalion lie in wait for the impending battle. [150] Though Drew know precious little of Downing's activities, “the Yankee abolitionist” [151] Opothle Yahola and his followers were kept well abreast of Confederate movements. [152]

On November 27, Colonel Cooper and his refreshed troops set forth from Spring Hill to Bird's Creek to overtake and destroy Opothle Yahola and his followers. Colonel William Sims' Ninth Texas Cavalry Regiment was given the order to ride up the Verdigris River towards Camp Coody where they were to rendezvous with Drew's First Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Rifles. The combined troops were to move on the Union Indians from different angles in order to trap the renegades between the three groups of Confederate troops. When learning of Cooper's plans, Colonel Drew announced that his troops would rendezvous with Cooper's column on the road to James McDaniel's house. [153]

In early December, rumors once again began to spread throughout the district that Captain James McDaniel and his company of Keetoowah's had deserted to the enemy. Drew, attempting to verify the rumor, sent a messenger to Camp McDaniel and ordered Captain McDaniel and his troops to return to Camp Coody and join up with the Confederate Cherokee. The courier returned with the message that Opothle Yahola and his forces had created a breastwork of logs and made their stand at Bird Creek near McDaniel's home. It was also quite apparent to the courier that an entire company of Drew's Regiment had deserted the Confederacy and had joined with Opothle Yahola and his renegade exodus. [154]

Upon receiving final confirmation of orders to meet with Colonel Cooper and Colonel Sims at Chief David Vann's homestead, Drew's Cherokee forces hurried to make their rendezvous with the Army of the Confederate States on December 7, 1861. Mysteriously, Colonel Drew and his Keetoowah soldiers “misunderstood” their orders and somehow made their camp less than six miles northeast of the position held by Opothle Yahola and his troops. On several occasions, there were short engagements with the enemy.

At one point, Captain George Scraper and his Keetoowah men captured eight or ten Union Indians one encounter. A small scouting party of “White Indians” detected nearly a dozen “Black Indians;” when asked by the Unionist Indians on which side they belonged, Captain Pickens Benge repled that “he belonged to the Cherokee regiment who were soldiers of the South.” [155] For whatever reasons, these “White Indians” were allowed to escape with their lives and made a hasty retreat back to their camp.

That night, some of the Keetoowah who were on guard duty at Camp Melton were surprised to see Captain James McDaniel approach them giving them the hailing signs of their secret society. Allowed to pass the pickets, the “yankee abolitionist” Captain James McDaniel met with Keetoowah of Drew's First Regiment of the Confederate States of America (probably Lewis Downing, Budd Gritts, Smith Christie, and Thomas Pegg). At this meeting of Union and Confederate Keetoowah, they planned what would be their course of action over the next several days. The Keetoowah under Drew's command confessed that they were serving in the Confederate Army both against their will and in opposition to the laws of the Keetoowah Society. [156]

On that night, moved by the “Kituwah Spirit,” the men in Drew's regiment decided to take their guns, horses, and ammunition and join their brethren on the other side of the line which separated North from South. [157] The following morning, Colonel Drew announced that Chief Opothle Yahola had sent of message to Colonel Cooper of the Army of the Confederate States of America “expressing a desire to make peace.”

After a short meeting between Colonel Drew, Colonel David McIntosh, and Colonel Cooper, members of Drew's regiment were sent to the opposing camp, expressing the concern that “they did not desire the shedding of blood among Indians.” The peace delegation sent from Drew's delegation was composed entirely of Keetoowah officers (Chaplain Lewis Downing, Major Thomas Pegg, Captain John Porum Davis, and Captain George Scraper). They were led to Chief Opotheyahola's camp by the Creek scouts who earlier had been captured by Captain Scraper. [158] Here is the official story of their meeting with the renegade Indians:

When Pegg and his companions reached Opothle Yahola's camp, they were dismayed by what they saw. Milling around the area were hundreds of painted warriors. Not only did the Creeks refuse to let the truce party through to see their leader, but open threats were made. Shouting at the Cherokee, the Creeks threatened a night attack on the Confederates. At first, the Creeks would not let Pegg's party return to their unit. Pegg finally secured their release on the plea that he wished to go so he could secure the removal of the women and children. [159]
In Drew's camp, the remaining Keetoowah spread the rumor among the regiment of an impending assault by an overwhelming force of African Americans and Native Americans under the leadership of the fierce warrior Opothle Yahola. The Pins among Drew's troops had little sympathy for the Confederacy. They were also quite reluctant to fight against their fellow Pins among the Union Creek and Seminole whose only offense was loyalty to “the beloved community” and to the tenets of the Keetoowah Society. Throughout the early night, messengers passed through the pickets of the opposing sides using the hailing signs which were such an ancient part of the indigenous culture.

Unwilling to fight against their brother Keetoowah in the opposing camp, three-quarters of Drew's regiment tied cornhusks in their hair and made their way across the cornfield to the other side. As they passed one another, the Keetoowah brothers would ask “Who are you?” The reply from the other side would come, “Tahlequah -- who are you?” Defenses were lowered and unity restored with the words, “I am Keetoowah's son.” [160] In the midst of political division, class conflict, racial animosity, and even brotherly disunion, the breach was sealed by the “Kituwah Spirit.”

Captain James Vann, Captain Albert Pike (Cherokee), Captain George Scraper, Lieutenants White Catcher, Eli Smith, Samuel Foster, John Bear Meat, and Nathaniel Fish and most of their troops joined with Opothle Yahola. The entire peace conference had been an elaborate ruse to allow the officers of Drew's regiment to be away from camp so that most of the regiment could desert and join their fellow Keetoowahs without a fight. The plan, perfected in the Keetoowah secret meeting the night before, had worked perfectly and the Keetoowah were united once again. In all, some six hundred Confederate soldiers would desert and join Chief Opotheyahola's forces, and eventually the Army of the United States of America. [161]

Michael Roethler, in his dissertation “Negro Slavery among the Cherokee Indians: 1540-1866” poses an interesting question seldom explored in other stories of the Drew's regiment. He states:

When one remembers that Northern troops were on the Northern border of the Cherokee Nation and that the majority of the Cherokees, especially the full-bloods, were in sympathy with the Union, it is not surprising that Colonel Drew should have defected from the Confederacy in 1863, bringing with him into the Northern camp the 2,200 soldiers in his command. By the time of the defection Drew's regiment contained many Negro slaves who, for the most part, had freely joined the army with their masters. The Indian slaves served well in the border warfare, and there was no recognized difference of social status between the red and black soldier. An eyewitness disclosed that a Negro officer, “was captured by the Southern forces, and faming fright, gave the Confederate commander a variety of misleading and damaging information, later escaping to his own regiment.” [162]
Given that, as late as 1863, Drew's command contained “many Negro slaves who, for the most part, had freely joined the army with their masters,” it is even more than likely that Drew's command in 1861 contained many Negro slaves. Among the Keetoowah, for whom bonds of culture and community transcended lines of clan, of Nation, and possibly even of “race,” there were probably black people. Among the Baptists who made up Drew's command, there were most certainly black people. When asked who he was as he crossed lines to join his brethren, the black soldier would most likely answer, “I am Keetoowah's son!”

The Mourning After

When Colonel Drew stepped from his tent in the middle of the night, he discovered that only about sixty of his original force of nearly five-hundred men remained in his camp. Learning of the impending attack from his loyal troops, Colonel Drew began to saddle his horse and ordered his men to set themselves for a strategic withdrawal. As he was preparing a quick retreat, Captain Pickens Benge rode up exclaiming, “We had better be off, as the enemy are upon us.” [163] As the remainder of Drew's Confederate Cherokee were riding hurriedly off to the Southeast to rejoin Colonel Cooper and his troops, Major Thomas Pegg and his peace delegation returned to Camp Melton to find it abandoned.

In his report to Colonel Cooper, Drew cited the circumstances of the Ketoowah “dispersion” as being:

The causes which led to the dispersion of the regiment arose from a misconception of the character of the conflict between the Creeks, from an indisposition on their part to engage is strife with their immediate neighbors, and from the panic gotten up by the threatened attack upon us. The regiment will be promptly filled and ready for service. [164]
When Cooper learned of the Keetoowah betrayal, he immediately called for his drummers to beat the “long roll” and his troops turned out on the double. He then sent Drew and his remaining twenty-eight Confederate Cherokee to salvage what was left of their former encampment. Cooper and his troops then withdrew down the east bank of Bird Creek to await reinforcements from Watie's Cherokee, as well as soldiers from the Creek Nation, Seminole Nation, and Choctaw Nation.

The next morning, Cooper and his troops of the Confederate States of America would attack the people of the United Nations of the Indian Territory; the Southern Baptists, Southern Methodists, and Presbyterians would fight against the “dogs” [to be hissed on by abolitionists] [165] of the Northern Baptist churches; the progressives would reap their revenge on the traditionalists; the “Knights of the Golden Circle” would vanquish the lowly “Keetoowah.” In the end, brother would fight against brother. Years later, a Cherokee historian would describe the roots of the conflict as being within Cherokee Lodge #21, where “a coolness that had grown out of different attitudes toward the war....some of the leading members of the lodge sympathized with the North.” [166]

On December 9, 1861 the Civil War within the Indian Nation began in earnest. One of the participants tells the story:

The McIntosh men got nearly everybody to side with them about the Civil War, but we Negroes got word somehow that the Cherokees over back of Ft. Gibson was not going to be in the War, that there was some Union people over there who would help slaves to get away, but we children didn't know nothing about what we heard our parents whispering about, and they would stop if they heard us listening. Most of the Creeks who lived in our part of the country...belonged to the Lower Creeks and sided with the South, but down below us along the Canadian River they were the Upper Creeks and there was a good deal of talk about them going with the North. Some of the Negroes tried to get away and go down with them, but I don't know if any from our neighborhood that went to them.
Some Upper Creeks came up into Choska bottoms talking around among the folks there about siding with the North. They were talking, they said, for old man Gouge, who was a big man among the Upper Creeks. His name was Opoeth-le-ya-hola, and he got away into Kansas with a big bunch of Creeks and Seminoles during the War.

Then early one morning, about daylight, old Mr. Mose came down to the cabin in his buggy, waving his shotgun and hollering at the top of his voice. I never seen a man so mad in all my life. He yelled at mammy to “git them children together and git up to my house before I beat you and all of them to death!” Mammy began to cry and plead that she didnt know anything, but he acted like he was going to shoot sure enough, so we all ran to mammy and started for Mr. Mose's house as fast as we could trot.

I asked mammy where everybody had gone and she said, “Up to Mr. Mose's house where we are going. He's calling us all in.” “Will pappy be up there too?” I asked her. “No. Your pappy and your Uncle Hector and Your Uncle William and a lot of the menfolks wont be here any more. They went away. That's why Mr. Mose is so mad, so if any of you younguns say anything about any strange men coming to our place I'll break your necks.

“We're going to take you black devils to a place where there won't be no more of you run away!” He yelled after us. So we got ready to leave as quick as we could. I kept crying about my pappy, but mammy would say, “Don't you worry about your pappy, he's free now. Better be worryin about us. No telling where we will end up.” [167]

and another:
They called the old Creek, who was leaving for the North, “Old Gouge.” All our family join up with him, and there was lots of Creek Indians and slaves in the outfit when they made a break for the North. The runaways was riding ponies stolen from their masters.

When they get to the hilly country farther north in that country that belonged to the Cherokee Indians, they made a big camp on a big creek and there the Rebel Indian soldiers caught up, but they was fought back.

The Creek Indians and the slaves with them tried to fight off them soldiers like they did before, but they get scattered around and separated so they lose the battle. Lost their horses and wagons, and the soldiers killed lots of Creeks and Negroes, and some of the slaves were captured and carried back to their masters....Dead all over the hills when we get away; some of the Negroes shot and wounded so bad the blood run down the saddle skirts, and some fell off their horses miles from the battle ground, and lay still on the ground. [168]

The Battle of Bird's Creek raged for four hours with repeated advances and retreats from both sides, but Opothle Yahola's position at a horseshoe bend in the creek was quite difficult to overcome for the Confederate forces. In many instances, the battle was fought not just with powder and bullets at close range but with fists and knives as Texan and Indian fought hand to hand. The Keetoowahs fought with tremendous determination; Alligator, a muscolge from Florida, would fight in the tradition that would make the “black Seminoles” a legend: [169]
An old warrior fired upon a party of eight or ten from behind a tree. The men did not wish to kill him, and even used entreaties to induce him to surrender; but, with death imminent, he continued to load his old rifle with a sublime indifference never attained by the Cynic philosophers of Greece, and having loaded he coolly proceeded with the priming, when his admiring foes were compelled to dash out his old brave life. [170]
The results of the battle were inconclusive militarily yet painful and bloody. The Confederates had lost fifteen killed and thirty-seven wounded; Opothle Yahola's had lost twenty-seven killed and several hundred wounded. When darkness fell, Opothleyahola and his forces retreated to the Osage Hills of the Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Nation. In their hasty retreat, the renegades left many of their supplies including the largest part of their ammunition. They also left much more:
One time we saw a little baby sitting on a little blanket in the woods. Everyone was running because an attack was expected and no one had the time to stop and pick up the child. As it saw people running by, the little child began to wave its little hands. he child had no knowledge that it had been deserted. [171]
In the ensuing turmoil and conflict of allegiances, there were few ways to detect enemy from friend, Northerner from Southerner. The only way that the “loyal Indians” could define themselves was by the means and mechanisms of the Keetoowah Society. In the absence of uniforms, the “shuck badge” became the emblem of freedom; it also became a badge of subversion. As Colonel Cooper reported, “My supply of ammunition being nearly exhausted, and having on my arrival at Vann's, the night before December 10 learned that a body of Cherokees from Fort Gibson, about 100, who passed up the previous evening, had put on the “shuck badge” (Hopoeithleyohola's) and gone direct to his camp at Shoal Creek, I was impressed with the necessity of placing the force under my command as soon as possible in position to counteract any movement among the people to aid Hopoeithleyohola and his Northern allies.” [172]

On Christmas Day, 1861, Colonel Stand Watie and his Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles finally joined with Cooper's troops and on the following day, the combined armies attacked the renegades led by Seminole war chief Hallek Tustenuggee. More reinforcements from Texas and Arkansas arrived and the combined forces of the Confederacy defeated Opothle Yahola's renegades, who had been weakened by fight and flight, and they were forced to retreat. Colonel James McIntosh, West Point graduate, reported that 250 of Opothle Yahola's followers were killed and 160 women and children, 20 Negroes, 30 wagons, 70 yoke of oxen, 500 horses, and several hundred head of livestock were captured. [173]

Not content with defeating the Keetoowah, Stand Watie, Elias Boudinot, and their Knights of the Golden Circle pursued Opothle Yahola's followers as they fled, raining death upon them at every occasion for over twenty-five miles. Watie's troops massacred nearly one hundred “Union Indians” without taking a single loss in a series of running fights from the site of the Battle of Patriot Hills. Boudinot described his forces hunger for the slaughter, “Every man seemed anxious to be foremost, and the charges made upon the enemy over rocks, mountains, and valleys -- the roughest country I ever saw -- were made with the utmost enthusiasm, and with irresistible impetuosity.” [174]

In spite of concerns in the Confederate papers regarding the potential danger to the Confederacy of the “the Yankee abolitionist” Opothle Yahola and his 4,000 warriors -- the “dogs” -- were routed:

After our first fire, they fell back among cliffs of rocks. We then dismounted, again attacked them, and again routed them. Finding that we could not overtake them on foot, we returned to our horses and followed up the retreat for 2 miles. Coming in sight of them, we again charged and routed them. We followed up the retreat for 3 miles, shooting and cutting down the enemy down all long the route. I estimate that we killed from 80 - 100. I had none killed. [175]
Confederate Indian Agent Albert Pike was pleased to hear of the quelling of this rebellion and the determined pursuit of his brother Mason, Opothle Yahola, the “rebel.” [176] Joseph S. Murrow, Confederate Indian Agent and Southern Baptist missionary at Ebenezer Baptist Church, described the pursuits of the soldiers:
He later, from Scullyville, wrote interesting letters, wholly lacking in compassion for the refugees, describing the pursuit of Opothleyahola's people to within ten miles of the Kansas line.

He said that the country they went through was laid waste. Indian settlements and towns where formerly a contented and prosperous people lived, were ruined and destroyed, houses and barns burned, stock killed or driven off. Murrow, he says, termed the whole enterprise an effort to cut down a `rebellion of Opothleyahola's action' [177]

On January 1, 1862, the weather turned bitter cold and a sleet storm allowed the Confederate Soldiers to more easily track the renegades who by now were within miles of the mythical “Kansas.” To protect themselves from the elements, the Keetoowahs had pitched their tents at the foot of a tall bluff on the Arkansas River; the Confederates swept down upon them killing one man and taking twenty one prisoners, all women and children. The weather was bitterly cold and there were no provisions to be had for either side:
The fatiguing scout of seven days, embracing the entire country lately occupied by Hopoeithleyahola's forces, accomplished over an exceedingly rough and bleak country, half the time without provisions, the weather was very cold (during which 1 man was frozen to death), was endured with great fortitude by the officers and men under my command. Its results were 6 of the enemy killed and 150 prisoners taken, mostly women and children, the total dispersing in the direction of Walnut Creek, Kansas, of Hopoeithleyahola's forces and people, thus securing the repose of the frontier for the winter. [178]
On the other side of the line in Kansas, the surviving Keetoowahs led by the “arch old traitor” Opothle Yahola gathered to lick their wounds. Nearly five thousand Creek, Cherokee, Seminoles and Africans were making camp near Leroy in East Central Kansas. Kansas had made no provisions for the refuges and the six weeks of fighting in the bitter cold had taken its toll; an army surgeon who visited the refuges found them lying on the frozen ground with little or no shelter. Influenza and disease swept among the peoples under circumstances beyond the control of the neighboring citizens, government, and military officials. More than one hundred frozen limbs had to be amputated. Mass graves covered the ground. [179] The army surgeon reporting on their condition wrote, “Why the officers of the Indian Department are not doing something for them, I cannot understand; common humanity demands that something be done, and done at once to save them from total destruction.” [180]

Chief Opothle Yahola lay under a tent made by a blanket so bare that it failed to reach the ground by nearly two feet. Once he had been a rich man, the owner of a vast plantation, and a prominent member of Creek Society. Now he lived little different from those he had given up this life for. No longer in his possession was a letter from Abraham Lincoln's Indian Agent E.H. Carruth which he had received in September of 1861; somehow, in the confusion of flight, the letter had been lost. The letter had stated:

You will send a delegation of your best men to meet the commissioner of the United States Government in Kansas. I am authorized to inform you that the President will not forget you. Our Army will soon go South, and those of your people who are true and loyal to the Government will be treated as friends. Your right to property will be respected. The commissioners from the Confederate States have deceived you. They have two tongues. They wanted to get the Indians to fight, and they would rob and plunder you if they can get you into trouble. But the President is still alive. His soldiers will soon drive these men who have violated your homes from the land they have treacherously entered... Those who stole your orphan funds will be punished, and you will learn that the people who are true to the Government which so long protected you are your friends. [181]
In late January, at the request of Commissioner William P. Dole, Federal Indian Agent George Collamore and Baptist missionary Evan Jones visited the now ten thousand refugees at their camp in southern Kansas. Reverend Jones was there to see what could be done to assist the plight of the renegade Keetoowah, but he also sought information from the Keetoowah as to what had led to this state of Affairs in the Nation. In his report to Commissioner Dole, Collamore described the flight of the Keetoowah into Kansas and their condition upon his finding them:
Their march was undertaken with a scanty supply of clothing, subsistence, and cooking utensils, and entirely without tents, and during their progress they were reduced to such extremity as to be obliged to feed upon their dogs and ponies, while their scanty clothing was reduced to rags, and in some cases absolute nakedness was their condition. Let it be remembered that this retreat was in the midst of a winter of unusual severity for that country, with snow upon the prairie. The women and children suffered severely from frozen limbs, as did the men. Women gave birth to their offspring in the naked snow, without shelter or covering, and in some instances the new-born infants died for want of clothing, and those who survived reached their present location with broken constitutions and utterly dispirited.
Such coverings as I saw were made of the rudest manner, being composed of pieces of cloth, old quilts, handkerchiefs, aprons, etc. etc., stretched upon sticks, and so many limited were many of them in size that they were scarcely able to cover the emaciated and dying forms beneath them. Under such shelter I found, in the last stages of consumption, the daughter of Opothleyahola, one of the oldest, most influential, and wealthy chiefs of the Creek Nation. [182]
Reverend Evan Jones traveled among the several thousand renegades which now constituted the bulk of his mission. He solicited help for the dispossessed from among the local churches and the supporters of his mission at the American Baptist Missionary Union:
I have lately received a good deal of information from the Cherokee Nation, all favorable to the faithfulness and loyalty of John Ross and the body of the Cherokee people. In daily visiting the camps of the Indians, I witness a vast amount of destitution and suffering, and it is painful to think how little I can do towards its alleviation. I am glad to hear such good news about Missionary contributions coming in. [183]
Among the Baptists and especially among the Keetoowah, Jones inquired as to what could led his old friend John Ross to capitulate to the Confederacy; Jones wrote to Commissioner Dole of his findings among the Keetoowah regarding John Ross:
And since I have had free conversations with the Cherokee messengers from Opothleyahola's camp, about the events which have transpired with the last few months, I am satisfied that I was not mistaken in Ross's character, and -- that whatever unfavorable shade may rest on his movements, is the result of causes beyond his control. [184]
Years later, Evan Jones would describe those forces upon the Cherokee and the resistance among the Keetoowahs in a letter to the American Baptist Missionary Union:
...for several years past, efforts have been made in various forms, to extend the power of slavery among them, and other Indian tribes. In this work there have been engaged commissioners and superintendents of Indian affairs, Indian agents, emissaries of secret societies, -- such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, members of the Blue Lodges, missionaries under the patronage of religious bodies, pro-slavery politicians and their satellites, hireling presses in the pay of slave interest; together with the Commissioners of the States of Arkansas and Texas; voluntary commities of influential private men; and from the government of seceded states, their commissioner and superintendent of Indian affairs and Indian agent. All these have been earnest and indefatiguable in their endeavors to bring the Cherokees over to the side of the rebellion. But they stood up firmly for their principles and their rights, and would have put down, and kept down, the rebellion among themselves, even in the absence of the pledged protection of the United States. And they were forced into an unwilling surrender by the power of a rebel army, which they were in no condition to resist. And the result was, the conclusion of a treaty under the dictation of Confederate officers [Pike]. But the hearts of the people were not in it. And though brought under the control of the rebellion, they continued to cherish their loyalty to the government of the United States. [185]


[1] Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 68-69; Wardell, 124; Debo, 171.

[2] Choctaw and Chickasaw Convention, “Resolutions passed by the Convention of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, held at Boggy Depot, March 11th, 1861,” Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

[3] John Ross to Cyrus Harris, Cherokee Nation, Papers, 1801-1982, Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla; Papers of Chief John Ross, 2: 459-460. See also Gary Moulton, John Ross: Cherokee Chief (Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1978); John Ross, The Cherokees and the war: ... a synopsis of a correspondence which passed between the chief of the Cherokee Nation and various rebel authorities and citizens of Arkansas. (Fort Smith, Ark.: Rebellion Record, 1862).

[4] The Commitee which Ross appointed was composed of Willim P. Ross, John Spears and Keetoowahs Lewis Downing and Thomas Pegg. [Gary E. Moulton, John Ross : Cherokee Chief (Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1978), 247].

[5] The Arkansas Gazette, January 25, 1861 (Arkansas Post, Ark : W. Woodruff, 1861); McLoughlin, After the Trail of Tears, 169.

[6] Henry Rector to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 2: 505; Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifle (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989), 39; Moulton, 167.

[7] Ross, 2: 458.

[8] ibid.

[9] Ross, 2: 464.

[10] Ross to Cherokee Council quoted in Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 72.

[11] Report of E.H. Carruth, General Files, United States Bureau of Indian Affairs: Southern Superintendency, Records of the Southern Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1832-70 [microform] (Washington: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1966).

[12] According to William Mc Loughlin, the Bushyheadville Church of the Baptist Mission was the most integrated church in the Cherokee Nation. The records of the church clerk report thirty five Cherokee, fifteen white, and twenty six black members. However, Mcloughlin notes that “It seems likely that with this many black members the church seating was segregated. Baptists did not believe in social equality of the races, even though they opposed slavery.” [Champions of the Cherokees, 302]. In asserting this position quite unsupported by evidence, McLoughlin ignores the depths of historical relationships among the dispossessed in the South, the fact that none of the slave's owners were members of the church, the strength of the “old ways” among the traditionalists which made up the church, and the presence of a black ministry within the Baptist churches of Indian Territory from their very inception. This position seems part of a larger effort of mitigating against the black presence within the Cherokee Nation.

[13] Willard Upham, letters, ABMU, February 20, 1861.

[14] John B. Jones, letters, ABMU, July 12, 1858.

[15] John B. Jones, letters, ABMU, December 4, 1860.

[16] ibid.

[17] John B. Jones, letters, ABMU, March 6, 1861.

[18] ibid.

[19] McLoughlin, Champions of the Cherokees, 386.

[20] Sam Houston left home at the age of sixteen lived among the Cherokee for three years. He was adopted into the family of Chief Jolly and lived as a Cherokee in dress and language. His courageous fighting in the Creek War led him to be appointed subagent to the Cherokee by General Andrew Jackson. Houston was made a Mason at Cumberland Lodge #8, Nashville Tennessee, in 1817. In 1818, he resigned his commission and removed with the Cherokee to Indian Territory establishing a trading post near Webber's Falls and married into the Cherokee Nation. He moved in Texas in the early thirties and became a member of Holland Lodge #36, then under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana. In February of 1861, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America and was deposed from his position as Governor of Texas declining the offer of assistance of federal troops to protect his seat. He retired from public office and died two years later. See Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland, Sam Houston with the Cherokees, 1829-1833 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967); Grant Foreman, Pioneer days in the early Southwest (Cleveland : Clark, 1926).

[21] “Report of a Committee of the Convention, being an address to the people of Texas, March 30, 1861” in Abel, The Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 93; Moulton, 166.

[22] ibid.

[23] Abel, 129; Franks, 116. For more information on Freemason Robert Toombs, see Fred Cole, Robert Augustus Toombs (Schenectady, N.Y. : Union College, 1961); Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, The Life of Robert Toombs (New York : The Macmillan Company, 1913); Pleasant A. Stovall, Robert Toombs, Statesman, speaker, soldier, sage: his career in Congress and on the hustings--his work in the courts--his record with the army--his life at home (New York : Cassell Publishing Company, 1892).

[24] Sammy Buice, “The Civil War and the Five Civilized Tribes,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 1970), 10. Albert Pike is one of the most interesting figures in this entire story. Fluent in the classical languages including Sanskrit, he was also a gifted linguist in Native American languages. After being discredited following his stint as Commisioner, he retired to become a leading scholar on Freemasonry and the occult. He also donated a large collection of his research on Scottish Rites Freemasonry to the African American Freemasons, though he never accepted them as freemasons. See Albert Pike, Message of the President and Report of Albert Pike: Commissioner of the Confederate States to the Indian nations West of Arkansas. Richmond, 1861. Fred W. Allsop, The Life of Albert Pike (Little Rock: 1920) Robert Duncan, Reluctant General:The Life and Times of Albert Pike (New York: 1961); Roy A. Clifford, “The Indian Regiments in the Battle of Pea Ridge” Chronicles of Oklahoma 25 (Winter 1947-48): 314-322; Ohland Morton, “Confederate Government Relations with the Five Civilized Tribes” Chronicles of Oklahoma 31 (1953-54): 189-204.

[25] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Vol. 3, 575; Wardell, 142.

[26] The Scottish Rite is a higher degree of Freemasonry. It was established in the New World in Haiti in 1763 under the auspices of Stephen Morin. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, it entered the United States through chapters in Boston and Charleston.

[27] Denslow, 61.

[28] Constitutional Convention of Arkansas, An ordinance to dissolve the union now existing between the state of Arkansas and the other states, united with, her, under the compact entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America" [microform.] (Memphis : Lithographed from the original manuscript by O. Lederle, 1861).

[29] Abel, 125.

[30] Franks, 115-116; Wardell, 127.

[31] Albert Pike to Robert Toombs, May 29, 1861, in Abel, 189; Moulton, 167-168.

[32] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Vol. 13, 493.

[33] Albert Pike, Message of the President and report of Albert Pike, Commissioner of the Confederate States to the Indian nations west of Arkansas, of the results of his mission [microform.] (Richmond: Enquirer Book and Job Press, 1861).

[34] Elizabeth Watts, Indian Pioneer History Collection [microform], Grant Foreman, ed. (Oklahoma City Oklahoma : Indian Archives Division, Oklahoma Historical Society Microfilm Publications, 1978-1981), 11: 284.

[35] Wardell, 130; Christine Schultz White & Benton R. White, Now the Wolf has Come: the Creek Nation in the Civil War (College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 24-25; Albert Pike to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, February 17, 1866, in Abel, 136.

[36] Janey B. Hendrix, Redbird Smith and the Nighthawk Keetoowahs (Park Hill, Oklahoma: Cross-Cultural Education Center, Inc., 1983), 8. For further information on the role of the Natchez in Southeastern Native American culture, see John R. Swanton, Early history of the Creek Indians and their neighbors (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922); Horatio Bardwell Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians, Edited and with a foreword by Angie Debo, (New York: Russell & Russell, 1972); Edward L. Berthoud, A sketch of the Natchez Indians, (Golden CO: Transcript book and job print, 1886).

[37] Angie Debo, The Road to Disappearance (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941), 118.

[38] American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1842.

[39] J. M. Gaskins, Black Baptists in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Messenger Press, 1992), 547; Walter Wyeth, Isaac McCoy: Early Indian Missions (Philadelphia: W.N. Wyeth Publishers, 1895), 192-193; C. W. West, Missions and Missionaries of Indian Territory (Muscogee: Muscogee Publishing Company, 1990), 21.

[40] American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1843, 141.

[41] Debo, 117.

[42] McLoughlin, Champions of the Cherokees, 307.

[43] Chilly was the son of William Mc Intosh, a member of the Treaty Party among the Creek Nation. William McIntosh was executed by traditionalist (Red Stick) Creeks in a manner similar to members of the Cherokee Treaty Party. Following the death of McIntosh, the Creek delegation to Washington was led by Opothle Yahola. The delegation led by Opothle Yahola resisted removal but were ultimately undone by intrigue.

[44] Letter of Evan Jones, American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1849, 145.

[45] Debo, 120; American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1848, 271.

[46] American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1850, 97.

[47] ibid.

[48] Letter of Evan Jones, American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1848, 62.

[49] Letter of Evan Jones, American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1851, 336.

[50] American Baptist Missionary Union, Annual Report 1860.

[51] ibid.

[52] William McLoughlin, The Cherokees and Christianity, 233; Mooney, 225; D. J. MacGowan, “Indian Secret Societies” in Historical Magazine, X, 1866.

[53] Debo, 203.

[54] West, Missions and Missionaries in Indian Territory, 36, 37.

[55] Denslow, 75.

[56] The Seminoles were settled among the Creeks when the were relocated from their homelands in Florida. The Creeks and the Seminoles are related culturally; the Seminoles were once part of the Creek Nation. The Muscogean speaking peoples had split in the latter half of the eighteenth century. See also Edwin C. McReynolds, The Seminoles (Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1957); J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Creeks & Seminoles : the Destruction and Regeneration of the Muscogulge People (Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1986); / Jane F. Lancaster, Removal aftershock : the Seminoles' struggles to survive in the West, 1836-1866 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994); Kenneth W. Porter, The Black Seminoles : history of a freedom-seeking people; revised and edited by Alcione M. Amos and Thomas P. Senter, (Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 1996).

[57] Gaskin, 92. Murrow was from Jefferson County, Georgia but his family were originally from Charleston, S.C. For further information on Murrow, see Raymond L. Holcomb, Father Murrow : the life and times of Joseph Samuel Murrow, Baptist missionary, Confederate Indian agent, Indian educator, and the father of freemasonry in Indian Territory (Atoka, OK: Atoka County Historical Society, 1994); C. W. West, Missions and Missionaries of Indian Territory (Muscogee: Muscogee Publishing Company, 1990); Oklahoma Grand Chapter Royal Arch Masons, History of Freemasonry in Oklahoma (Muskogee, OK: Muskogee Print Shop, 1935); William Carleton, Not Yours but You (Berkeley, CA: n.p., 1954).

[58] Gaskin, 93.

[59] ibid.

[60] Gaskin, 107-108; McLoughlin, The Cherokees and Christianity, 233.

[61] Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 76. That the Factors were an old and important family among the Seminole Nation is evidenced by their “ownership of large numbers of cattle and slaves.” [99] However, understanding them as slave owners is increasing complicated by the fact that many of them were married to the “slaves” that they owned. James Factor, himself, was married to a black woman. Another member of the Factor family emancipated his wife and children in 1843. [99]

[62] Denslow, 67.

[63] West, 108.

[64] Denslow, 75.

[65] G.W. Grayson, A Creek Warrior for the Confederacy: The Autobiography of Chief G.W. Grayson, W. David Biard, ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988), 127.

[66] Asi Yahola (Osceola) was a prominent leader of the African American/ Seminole resistance movement in Florida. He was married to an African American runaway slave. Many reporters state the cause of the Second Seminole War was the seizure of Osceola's African wife by merchants who sought to sell her back into slavery. Osceola was finally murdered following treachery by federal authorities. In a practice which has become common among Florida authorities, his brain was “donated to science” and kept on a shelve for many years.

[67] Denslow, 70-75. For information on Opothle Yahola, see John Bartlett Meserve, “Chief Opothleyahola” Chronicles of Oklahoma 10 (Winter, 1931): 439-452; Clee Woods, “Oklahoma's Great Opothle Yahola” North South Trader 4, (January-February): 22-36; Mrs. Clement Clay, “Recollections of Opothleyahola” Arrow Points 4 (February 1922): 35-36.

[68] Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 469; Moulton, 169.

[69] Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.) 8. See also Indian cavalry in Confederate service: being a brief account of Confederate organization and operation of Indian troops in Indian Territory,1861-1865, and containing excerpts from the official records of General Albert Pike (Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, Tulsa, OK); Mabel Anderson, “General Stand Watie,” Chronicles of Oklahoma 10 (1932): 540-548; M.L. Cantrell and Mac Harris, Kepis and Turkey Calls: An Anthology of the War Between the States in Indian Country (Oklahoma City: 1982); Edward E. Dale and Gaston Litton, ed., Cherokee cavaliers: forty years of Cherokee history as told in the correspondence of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot family (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1940); Edward E. Dale, “The Cherokees in the Confederacy” Journal of Southern History 13 (1947): 159-85; Kenny Franks, Stand Watie (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1979) Alvin Josephy Jr., The Civil War in the American West (New York: Knopf Press, 1991): Ohland Morton, “Confederate Government Relations with the Five Civilized Tribes” Chronicles of Oklahoma 31 (1953-54): 189-204.

[70] Wardell, 130; Christine Schultz White & Benton R. White, Now the Wolf has Come: the Creek Nation in the Civil War (College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 24-25; Albert Pike to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, February 17, 1866, in Abel, 136.

[71] Denslow, 75.

[72] Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 87.

[73] Moulton, 169-170.

[74] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Vol. 3, 625; Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 144; Abel, The Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 194.

[75] Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 145.

[76] Franks, 116; Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989) 8. See also Henry Thomas Malone, Cherokees of the Old South; a people in transition. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1956); Thurman Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (New York: 1970).

[77] Henry F. Buckner to E. L. Compere, June 26, 1861, E. L. Compere Papers, Dragan-Carver Library, Nashville, Tennessee.

[78] Evan Jones, letters, ABMU, July 10, 1861.

[79] Franks, 118.

[80] Report of E. H. Carruth, General Files, Report of E.H. Carruth, General Files, United States Bureau of Indian Affairs: Southern Superintendency, Records of the Southern Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1832-70 [microform] (Washington: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1966).

[81] Albert Pike, Message of the President and Report of Albert Pike: Commissioner of the Confederate States to the Indian nations West of Arkansas [microform] (Richmond, n.p. 1861), 1; Gaines, 16; Perdue, 130; McLoughlin, 264.

[82] John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 478.

[83] John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 479.

[84] Cherokee Nation, Creek Nation, and Choctaw Nation, Memorial of the delegates of the Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw Nations of Indians, remonstrating against the passage of the bill (S. 679) toorganize the Territory of Oklahoma, consolidate the Indian tribes under a territorial government, and carry out the provisions of the treaties of 1866 with certain Indian tribes [microform] (Washington : Govt. Print. Off., 1870; Christine Schultz White & Benton R. White, Now the Wolf has Come: the Creek Nation in the Civil War (College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 24-30. See also George Washington Grayson, A Creek warrior for the Confederacy : the autobiography of Chief G.W. Grayson, edited with an introduction by W. David Baird, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988); Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., Africans and Creeks : from the colonial period to the Civil War (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979).

[85] Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 147.

[86] Opothle Yahola to Abraham Lincoln, quoted in Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 147-148.

[87] McLoughlin, Champions of the Cherokees, 395. For more information on this first Civil War battle in the American West see Return Ira Holcombe, An account of the Battle of Wilson's creek, or Oak hills, Fought between the Union troops, Commanded by Gen. N. Lyon and the Southern, or Confederate troops, under Command of Gens. McCulloch and Price, on Saturday, August 10, 1861, in Greene county, Missouri (Springfield, MO: Dow & Adams, 1883); Edwin C. Bearss, The battle of Wilson's Creek, with battle maps by David Whitman, (Wilson's Creek, MO: George Washington Carver Birthplace District Association, 1975).

[88] Report of E. H. Carruth, General Files, United States Bureau of Indian Affairs: Southern Superintendency, Records of the Southern Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1832-70 [microform] (Washington: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1966).

[89] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 130 Volumes, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900),Volume 3, 174; Gary E. Moulton, John Ross, Cherokee Chief (Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1978), 172; See also Rachel Caroline Eaton, John Ross and the Cherokee Indians (New York : AMS Press, 1978)

[90] Gaines, 12.

[91] Moulton, 170. John Ross was at this point “overborne” [Howard quoted in Abel, 220] by the struggle over slavery. Though Ross owned of over one hundred slaves, a visitor to the Ross plantation stated “the niggers are the masters and do about as they please.” [Albert D. Richarson, quoted in Laurence Foster, “Negro Indian Relations in the Southeast,” 60.] Ross's wife, Mary, was a Quaker and vehemently opposed to an alliance with the South. “It is said that his wife was more staunch than her husband and held out until the last. When an attempt was made to raise a Confederate flag over the Indian council house, her opposition was so spirited that it prevented the completion of the design.” [Howard quoted in Abel, 220]

[92] John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 481.

[93] ibid.

[94] Dale and Litton, 108-109; Woodward, The Cherokees, 268; Franks, 117.

[95] John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 483.

[96] Opthle Yahola and Sands Harjo to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 482.

[97] John Ross to Opothle Yahola, Papers of Chief John Ross, 488.

[98] Executive Department to Benjamin McCulloch, Papers of Chief John Ross, 483. Three of the five men signing this petition were members of Cherokee Lodge #21.

[99] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 130 Volumes, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Vol. 3, 692; See also Perdue, 134; Franks, 118.

[100] Francis Samuel Drake, Dictionary of American biography, including men of the time; containing nearly ten thousand notices of persons of both sexes, of native and foreign birth, who have been remarkable, or prominently connected with the arts, sciences, literature, politics, or history of the American continent. Giving also the pronunciation of many of the foreign and peculiar American names, a key to the assumed names of writers, and a supplement (Boston, J.R. Osgood and Company, 1872), XIX, 538.

[101] ibid.

[102] McLoughlin, Champions of the Cherokees, 269; Mankiller, 124.

[103] J. Fred Latham, The Story of Oklahoma Masonry, 6-11.

[104] John W. Stapler to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 488-489. Anderson Downing was a relative of Keetoowah leader and Baptist minister, Lewis Downing.

[105] Motey Kennard to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 489; Moulton, 173.

[106] Mankiller, 125; Franks, 119. See also Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1955), 217-218; Annie Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 157-159; Roy A. Clifford, “The Indian Regiments in the Battle of Pea Ridge,” Chronicles of Oklahoma 25 (Winter 1947-48): 314-322; Edward E. Dale, “The Cherokees in the Confederacy,” Journal of Southern History 13 (1947): 159-85; Fairfax Downey, “The Blue, the Grey, and the Red,” Civil War Times 1 (July 1962): 6-9, 26-30; Leroy H. Fischer, “The Civil War in Indian Territory,” Journal of the West 12 (1973): 345-55.

[107] John Ross to Opothle Yahola, Papers of Chief John Ross, 492.

[108] Jay Monaghan, Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1955), 218.

[109] At various times, several members of the Keetoowah Society were appointed Chaplain of the battalion including Budd Gritts and Reverend John Buttrick Jones. This occurred much later in the war when the members of the Drew's Regiment had become the First Kansas Indian Home Guards of the Army of the United States of America.

[110] John B. Jones Papers, ABMU, November 17, 1859.

[111] Evan Jones, letters, ABMU, October 16, 1861.

[112] Kenneth Wiggins Porter, Relations between Negroes and Indians within the present limits of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 193-), 63?.

[113] Abel, 23.

[114] John B. Jones Papers, ABMU, November 17, 1859; Mooney, Myths of the Cherokees, 225-226; Angie Debo, The Road to Disapearrance, 203.

[115] Lucinda Davis in T. Lindsay Baker and Julie Baker, ed., The W.P.A. Oklahoma Slave Narratives, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996) 109. Davis was “owned” by Chief Opothle Yahola.

[116] John B. Meserve, “Chief Opothleyahola,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma, v. 9 (December 1931): 441-450; Latham, 11; Grant Foreman, A History of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1945), 105. See also Blue Clark Carter, “Opothleyahola and the Creeks during the Civil War” in H. Glenn Jordan and Thomas M. Holm, Indian leaders: Oklahoma's first statesmen (Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Historical Society 1979); t. f. Morrison. “A Forgotten Hero: A True Story of a Creek Indian Chief of Civil War Times (Chanute, Kansas: Printed by the authro, n.d.).

[117] Andre Paul DuChuteau, “The Creek Nation on the Eve of the Civil War,” Chronicles of Oklahoma 52 (Fall, 1974): 299-300.

[118] Edwin C. Bearss, “The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory, 1861, The Flight of Opothleyoholo” Journal of the West 11 (1972): 9-42; Monaghan, 219; Littlefield, Africans and Seminoles, 182.

[119] Gaines, 25.

[120] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 130 Volumes, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900),Volume 3, 174; Vol. 8, 25; Albert Pike, Report, 4; Dean Banks, “Civil War Refugees from Indian Territories to the North.” Chronicles of Oklahoma 41 (1963-64): 286-298; White, 26; McLoughlin, After the Trail of Tears, 192; Monaghan, 220-221.

[121] Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 148; Debo, A History of the Indians in the United States, 174;

[122] David McIntosh to John Drew, September 11, 1861, in Drew Papers, Gilchrease Institute, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

[123] Edwin C. Bearss, “The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory, 1861, The Flight of Opothleyoholo.” Journal of the West 11 (1972), 12.

[124] Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 148.

[125] Monaghan, 220.

[126] Motey Kennard and Echo Harjo to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 496-497.

[127] John Ross to Motey Kennard and Echo Harjo, Papers of Chief John Ross, 497.

[128] Cherokee Nation, Message of the principal chief of Cherokee Nation : together with the Declaration of the Cherokee People of the causes which have led them to withdraw from their connection with the U. States (Washington : L. Hargrett, 1943).

[129] Evan Jones, letters, ABMU, October 28, 1861.

[130] William G. McLoughlin, Champions of the Cherokees, 399.

[131] In the listings of the founding members of Cherokee Lodge #21, there is a listing for James Daniel. Whether this is James McDaniel or not is open for speculation.

[132] Debo, A History of the Indians in the United States, 175.

[133] ibid.

[134] Franks, Stand Watie, 120; Gaines 24.

[135] Monaghan, 219. It is important to note that both Jumper and McIntosh were probably converted to Christianity by the efforts of the Cherokee Baptist Missionary Society. Both were Baptist ministers who had left the Jones' Baptists to become associated with J.S. Murrow of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jumper was Freemason, as was probably McIntosh due to the fact the Samuel Checote was his Adjutant in the Civil War.

[136] Monaghan, 221.

[137] Wiley Britton, The Union Indian Brigade in the Civil War (Kansas City: Franklin Hudson Publishing Company, 1922), 38.

[138] James J. Diamond, quoted in Gaines, 32.

[139] Abel, The Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 255; Monaghan, 220; McLoughlin, After the Trail of Tears, 194; Gaines, 39.

[140] Franks, 120; Abel, The Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 255; Monaghan, 220; McLoughlin, After the Trail of Tears, 194; Gaines, 39; Littlefield, Africans and Seminoles, 182.

[141] For a description of the events leading up to the Battle of Round Mountain, see Robert W. DeMoss, Exodus to Glory (Tulsa, OK : Handi-Printing, 1991); Muriel Wright, “Colonel Cooper's Civil War Report on the Battle of Round Mountain” Chronicles of Oklahoma 39 (Winter, 1961): 352-97; Orpha Russel, “Ehvn-hv lwue: Site of Oklahoma's First Civil War Battle” Chronicles of Oklahoma 29 (Winter, 1951-52): 401-407. There is also much discussion concerning the actual site of the battle, for a synopsis, see Angie Debo, “The Location of the Battle of Round Mountain” Chronicles of Oklahoma 41 (Summer, 1963): 70-104.

[142] Motey Kennard and Echo Harjo to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 505.

[143] James Porum, Cabin Smith, and Porum Davis to John Ross, Papers of Chief John Ross, 506.

[144] All of these war chiefs were “black muscolges” and veterans of the Second Seminole War in Florida. Chupco was a leader of the Black Seminoles which nearly to the man fought for the Union. Hitchiti Billy Bowlegs was also a veteran of the Florida wars and fought with the Federal troops “as energetically as he had struggled against them in Florida.” The only blacks who didn't fight with the North were the slaves and followers of the Southern Baptist Convention ministers and Freemasons Chilly McIntosh, Daniel McIntosh and John Jumper. [Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 307; McReynolds, 293-299; Kenneth Wiggins Porter, “Billy Bowlegs (Holata Micco) in the Civil War” Florida Historical Quarterly 45 (April, 1967): 390-401]

[145] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 6.

[146]United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 6.

[147] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7; Britton, 39-40.

[148] For an excellent description of the flight of Opthle Yahola and the struggle to reach Kansas, see Christine Schultz White & Benton R. White, Now the Wolf has Come: the Creek Nation in the Civil War (College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 1996). The book is an attempt to tell the story “from an Indian point of view” which makes it interesting. Although the book uses numerous primary sources to support its narrative, it ignores materials describing the black presence in the Creek Nation and Seminole Nation. In rendering African Americans as peripheral characters in the story, it continues to present an “Indian point of view” which is not characteristic of the depth of character of the participants.

[149] Delegates of the Cherokee Nation, Memorial of the Delegates of the Cherokee Nation to the President of the United States and the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress (Washington, D.C., 1866), 5.

[150] William Potter Ross to John Drew, November 29, 1861, in Forman Papers, Gilchrease Institute.

[151] This is how the Southern newspapers portrayed Opothle Yahola and his “four thousand” warriors as they fled across the Cherokee Nation for Kansas. [Monaghan, 225]

[152] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7.

[153] ibid.

[154] ibid.

[155] Pickens Benge quoted in Gaines, 45.

[156] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7-8.

[157] Delegates of the Cherokee Nation, Memorial of the Delegates of the Cherokee Nation to the President of the United States and the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress (Washington, D.C., 1866), 5-6.

[158] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7-8.

[159] Bearss, “The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory, 1861, The Flight of Opothleyoholo”, 21. This is quite obviously a fabrication for the benefit of the Southern Troops; there were no women and children among the Confederate forces. Being in such close communication with their fellow Keetoowah, the Creek “Pins” would certainly have known this.

[160] Mooney, 226.

[161] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7.

[162] Roethler, 212.

[163] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 7-8.

[164] ibid.

[165] Ross, 2: 458.

[166] T.L. Ballenger, History of Cherokee Lodge #10, Ballenger Papers, New berry Library, Chicago, IL, 12.

[167] United States Works Progress Administration, Oklahoma Writers Project, “Interview with Mary Grayson,” n.d., 117-119.

[168] United States Works Progress Administration, Oklahoma Writers Project, “Interview with Phoebe Banks,” October 10, 1938, 2-3.

[169] The Black Seminoles courage would best be recognized as the “Buffalo Soldier” in later wars against the Plains Indians. For further information on the Buffalo Soldiers see William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers : a Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1967); Kevin Mulroy, Freedom on the border: the Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas (Lubbock, Tex.: Texas Tech University Press, 1993); Kenneth Wiggins Porter, The Negro on the American Frontier (New York: Arno Press, 1971): Kenneth Wiggins Porter, Alcione M. Amos, and Thomas P. Senter, The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-seeking People (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996).

[170] Victor M. Rose, Ross' Texas Brigade (Kennesaw, GA.: Continental Books, 1960), 42.

[171] James Larney, quoted in Debo, The Road to Disappearance, 150.

[172] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 10-11.

[173] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 22-33;

[174] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 32.

[175] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 30. See also Frank Cunningham, General Stand Watie's Confederate Indians (San Antonio, Naylor Company, 1959); Harold Keith, Rifles for Watie, (New York: Crowell, 1957); Wilfred Knight, Red Fox: Stand Watie and the Confederate Indian Nations during the Civil Way years in Indian Territory (Glendale, California, The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1988); Edward Everett Dale and Gaston Litton, Cherokee Cavaliers: forty years of Cherokee history as told in the correspondence of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot family (Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1969)

[176] Latham, 14.

[177] Grant Foreman, quoted in Latham, 13.

[178] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 13.

[179] Debo, A History of the Indians, 175-176; Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 261; Woodward, 273-274, Gaines, 59; Monaghan, 227.

[180] Dr. A.B. Campbell to Dr. James Barnes, February 8, 1862, in United States Office of Indian Affairs, Annual reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, [1824-1848] (New York , N.Y.: AMS Press, 1976) 294-295.

[181] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 Volumes. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1900), Volume VIII, 25.

[182] Collamore quoted in Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 262.

[183] Evan Jones, letters, ABMU, May 12, 1862.

[184] Evan Jones to William Dole, January 21, 1861, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75, Tape M-234, Roll 99, Archives of the United States of America, Washington, D.C.

[185] Evan Jones in Forty Ninth Annual Report, American Baptist Missionary Union, July 1863.

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Beneath the Underdog
Are You Kituwah’s Son?
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