Stand Watie (12 December 18069 September 1871) (also known as Degataga "stand firm" and Isaac S. Watie) was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded the American Indian cavalry made up mostly of Cherokee, Creek and Seminole.

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His son Saladin Watie served on Southern Cherokee delegation to Washington, D.C. to sign a new treaty with the United States at the end of Civil War. He died mysteriously at the age of twenty-one. (Saladin is an anglicized name for Salahuddin, the famous Muslim Sultan who liberated Jerusalem from the crusaders in 1187).


Early life

Watie was born near Rome, Georgia,on December 12, 1806, the son of Oo-watie (whose name in Cherokee means "the ancient one") who went by his Christian name of David Oowatie and Susanna Reese, who was Christian and of Cherokee and European heritage. He was the brother of Gallegina "Buck" Watie (Elias Boudinot). The brothers were nephews of Major Ridge, and cousins to John Ridge. Stand Watie, who was also a Christian, was given the Christian name of Isaac as Isaac Oowatie, however, he preferred the English translation of his Cherokee name "Stand" to the name Isaac. Later, the "Oo" was dropped from "Oo-watie" and the family name became Watie. His father David Oowatie became a wealthy slave-owning planter in 1827. Stand learned to read and write English at a mission school in Georgia, and occasionally helped write for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, which led him into the dispute over the Georgia state repressive anti-Indian laws. Later, when gold was discovered on Cherokee lands in northern Georgia, and thousands of white settlers poached on Indian lands, only the federal treaties gave Indians any protection from the states. Nevertheless, in 1832, Georgia confiscated most of the Cherokee land, and the Georgia militia destroyed the Cherokee Phoenix.

In 1835, the Watie family agreed with the New Echota Treaty which required Cherokees to leave Georgia in return for 800,000 acres (3,237 km²) in the Indian Territory and a cash settlement. Other Cherokee factions disagreed and an internal civil war ensued, until a truce was established in 1846.

The Watie brothers stood in favor of the Removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma and were members of the Ridge Party that signed the Treaty of New Echota. The anti-Removal Ross Party believed the treaty was in violation of the opinions of the majority of the tribe and refused to ratify it. Watie, his family, and many other Cherokees emigrated to the West. Those Cherokees (and their slaves) who remained on tribal lands in the East were forcibly removed by the U.S. government in 1838 in a journey known as the "Trail of Tears," during which thousands died. The Ross Party targeted Stand and Buck Watie and the Ridge family for assassination and, of the four men mentioned above, only Stand Watie managed to escape with his life.

Watie, a slave holder, started a successful plantation on Spavinaw Creek in the Indian Territory. He served on the Cherokee Council from 1845 to 1861, serving part of that time as speaker, eventually presiding over a Cherokee population of 21,000 in the Indian Territory in 1861.

Civil War service

Watie was the only Native American on either side of the Civil War to rise to a brigadier general's rank.

After Chief John Ross and the Cherokee Council decided to support the Confederacy (to keep the Cherokee united), Watie organized a regiment of cavalry. In October 1861, he was commissioned as a colonel in the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Although he fought Federal troops, he also used his troops in fighting between factions of the Cherokee, as well as against the Creek and Seminole and others who chose to support the Union. Watie is noted for his role in the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, a Union victory, on March 6–8, 1862. Watie's troops captured Union artillery positions and covered the retreat of Confederate forces from the battlefield.

After Cherokee support for the Confederacy fractured, Watie continued to lead the remnant of his cavalry. He was promoted to brigadier general by General Samuel Bell Maxey, and was given the command of two regiments of Mounted Rifles and three battalions of Cherokee, Seminole and Osage infantry. These troops were based south of the Canadian River, and periodically crossed the river into Union territory. They fought in a number of battles and skirmishes in the western Confederate states, including the Indian Territory, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas. Watie's force reportedly fought in more battles west of the Mississippi River than any other unit.

On June 23, 1865, at Fort Towson in the Choctaw Nations' area of Oklahoma Territory, Watie signed a cease-fire agreement with Union representatives, becoming the last Confederate general in the field to stand down.After the war, he served as a member of the Southern Cherokee delegation during the negotiation of the Cherokee Reconstruction Treaty of 1866.

The Confederacy

The Union abandoned all Indian Territory military posts in the spring of 1861, violating treaty pledges and making the area vulnerable to attack. As a slave-owning planter, Watie joined the Confederacy in 1861 because he feared the consequences of Lincoln's election and the Republican Party's free soil promises to open the west and the Indian Territory to white settlement.

Watie agreed to form a Cherokee cavalry unit after native American soldiers began to be recruited. At the Battle of Pea Ridge March 6-8, 1862, Stand Watie and his Cherokee Mounted Rifles captured Union artillery batteries in a dramatic charge and held their position to allow an orderly withdrawal of Earl Van Dorn's Confederate army. Pea Ridge began the Union invasion of the Indian Territory.

Although other Indian tribes began to desert, Stand Watie continued to fight. He took part in the Indian Expedition of 1862:

  • June 28: the advance from Fort Leavenworth led by Col. William Weer, who sought to take over the Indian Territory lands for his personal gain. The capture of John Ross occurred at this time
  • July 3: defeat at Locust Grove against the 6th Kansas Cavalry and the black First Kansas Colored Infantry. After Weer's officers had mutinied and retreated back to Kansas Watie was left in control of the Cherokee lands. His forces conducted a brutal campaign of revenge against pro-Union Cherokees and white missionaries. In
  • September 30: Watie joined a Confederate raid into southwest Missouri led by Col. Cooper and Jo Shelby, defeating Frederick Salomon at Newtonia

Stand Watie conducted raids in 1863 and 1864, focusing on military targets and distributing captured supplies to his people:

  • In November, 1863, he attacked the Union Cherokees at Tahlequah, Oklahoma, destroyed the town and burned the Rose Cottage of John Ross.
  • In December, Gen. Samuel Maxey began to rebuild Confederate Indian forces in the Territory and Watie was ordered to increase his raids to force a Union withdrawal from Fort Gibson. From his bases south of the Canadian River in 1864, he captured hundreds of horses from Fort Gibson and deprived the Union cavalry of fresh mounts.

On May 6, 1864, Watie was promoted to Brigadier General.

Two of his greatest successes were probably:

  • June 15 1864 at Pleasant Bluff, near the mouth of the Canadian River, he captured the steamer J. R. Williams carrying supplies to Fort Gibson.
  • September 19 1864 he captured 300 supply wagons carrying $1.5 million worth of supplies in a federal wagon supply train in the second battle of Cabin Creek on September 19, 1864

Watie surrendered on June 23, 1865, the last Confederate general to lay down his arms. After the war, he served as a member of the Southern Cherokee delegation during the negotiation of the Cherokee Reconstruction Treaty of 1866. He then retired from public life.

Stand Watie died on Sept. 9, 1871, at his home on Honey Creek in Delaware County, Oklahoma.

Leadership of the Southern Cherokee

In 1862, during the war, Watie was elected principal chief of the "Southern Cherokee Nation." ( The "Southern Cherokee Nation" in Kentucky as a tribal leader after the war, he was involved in negotiations for the 1866 Cherokee Reconstruction Treaty and initiated efforts to rebuild tribal assets. Watie and his nephew Elias Cornelius Boudinot were arrested for evading taxes on income from a tobacco factory, and were plaintiffs in the Cherokee Tobacco Case of 1870, which negated the 1866 treaty provision establishing tribal tax exempt status. As a result of this case, Congress officially impeded further treaties with Indian tribes, delegating Indian policy to acts of Congress or executive order. After his death the "Southern Cherokee Nation" was moved to Kentucky by his cousin James S.Martin

Watie married four times, the first three before tribal relocation to the West. His fourth marriage in 1843, to Sarah Caroline Bell, produced five children. Stand Watie died on Sept. 9, 1871, at his home on Honey Creek in Delaware County, Oklahoma. He is buried in Polson Cemetery in Oklahoma, near southwest Missouri.

Further reading

Harold Keith, Rifles for Watie - Fictional Account of the Civil War in Indian Territory. Winner of Newbery Medal in 1958.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Stand Watie. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.


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