The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory

The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory

The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory

The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory

Synopsis

In Indian Territory the Civil War is a story best told through shades of gray rather than black and white or heroes and villains. Since neutrality appeared virtually impossible, the vast majority of territory residents chose a side, doing so for myriad reasons and not necessarily out of affection for either the Union or the Confederacy. Indigenous residents found themselves fighting to protect their unusual dual status as communities distinct from the American citizenry yet legal wards of the federal government. The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory is a nuanced and authoritative examination of the layers of conflicts both on and off the Civil War battlefield. It examines the military front and the home front; the experiences of the Five Nations and those of the agency tribes in the western portion of the territory; the severe conflicts between Native Americans and the federal government and between Indian nations and their former slaves during and beyond the Reconstruction years; and the concept of memory as viewed through the lenses of Native American oral traditions and the modern evolution of public history. These carefully crafted essays by leading scholars such as Amanda Cobb-Greetham, Clarissa Confer, Richard B. McCaslin, Linda W. Reese, and F. Todd Smith will help teachers and students better understand the Civil War, Native American history, and Oklahoma history.

Excerpt

Bradley R. Clampitt

From 1861 to 1865 the American Civil War raged after decades of sectional animosity between North and South, and the fratricidal bloodbath lives on in the imaginations of countless Americans. the endless public fascination with the Civil War has prompted one prominent historian to describe it as “The War That Never Goes Away.” One need not be a native of a former Confederate state to fall spellbound to the tragic “War for Southern Independence,” and one need not hail from a Northern state to appreciate the Union’s heroic effort to preserve the nation and eventually dismantle the abomination of chattel slavery. But where does that leave individuals who seek to understand the violent conflict in Indian Territory, a region populated predominantly by people who were neither Northern nor Southern and indeed were not U.S. citizens?

In recent years scholars have brought a degree of geographical balance to the study of the war by looking beyond the famed battles and leaders of the eastern theater and dedicating increased attention to the endless war in the western and Trans-Mississippi regions. This volume continues that admirable trend and contributes to the relatively sparse scholarly literature of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory. the contributors approach the subject from multiple perspectives in eight essays that incorporate modern scholarship and interpretations into a readable narrative designed for students and scholars alike.

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