The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory

By Hopkins, David P. | The Journal of Southern History, November 2016 | Go to article overview

The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory


Hopkins, David P., The Journal of Southern History


The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory. Edited by Bradley R. Clampitt. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2015. Pp. [viii], 192. Paper, $25.00, ISBN 978-0-8032-7727-4.)

Today, historians continue to seek meaning in the Civil War. What did the war mean for the North and the South? How would the nation move forward? Why did Reconstruction fail? But these questions are usually posed in the context of the Union or Confederate war, North or South, and black or white. Bradley R. Clampitt's edited collection of essays, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory, offers a perspective on the war beyond these constraints. Clampitt views the war from Indian Territory in an attempt to bring some balance to the larger story both geographically and thematically. The well-researched essays collected in this work cover a lot of ground with regard to the war as it was experienced by a number of Native American groups, including the military importance of the region, the civilian experience, slavery, public commemoration, and Reconstruction. For people in Indian Territory, the Civil War was not a single defining event. For Native Americans, deciding who to support in that war was one of many different choices that they would be forced to make during the years 1861-1877. While there has been a surge of recent scholarship on both the Civil War in the West and the war's impact on Native Americans, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory is an excellent sampling of this research collected into a single volume.

In one of the book's stronger chapters, Clarissa Confer details the Native American civilian experience during the war. Confer focuses on Indian Territory as a border region in which Native Americans received the brunt of the violence, sometimes from guerrilla fighters who expanded their reach beyond Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. Confer argues that the war was very disruptive and "brought immense suffering to Indian Territory" (p. 58). Clothing and food could become scarce, and one might become displaced because of the war or neighbors settling old scores. As a result, loyalty was key to wartime survival. The conflict displaced a number of Native Americans in the territory, leading to decreased agricultural production, theft, and illness throughout the region. Confer's essay sheds some light on the importance of home for so many inhabitants of the region who could not leave. …

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