Additional thoughts on the Confederate Flag, War Between the States and Honoring Our Dead

By Angela Wittman 

 "Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Ephesians 6:2,3 (AKJV)


The following caption appears under the original image: Above is shown the last photograph ever taken of the remaining members of the famous Thomas Legion, composed of Cherokee Indians in the Confederate Army. The photograph was made in New Orleans at the time of the New Orleans Reunion of Confederate Veterans. The inscription on the banner, displayed in the photograph, is as follows: "Cherokee Veteran Indians of Thomas Legion. 69 N. C. Regiment. Suo-Noo-Kee Camp U. C. V. 4th Brigade, N. C. Division." Reading from left to right, those in the picture are: front row, 1 Young Deer; 2 unidentified; 3 Pheasant; 4 Chief David Reed; 5 Sevier Skitty; back row, 1 the Rev. Bird Saloneta; 2 Dickey Driver; 3 Lieut. Col. W. W. Stringfield of Waynesville; 4 Lieutenant Suatie Owl; 5 Jim Keg; 6 Wesley Crow; 7 unidentified; 8 Lieutenant Calvin Cagle. All of these men are now dead with the exception of Sevier Skitty, who lives one mile from Cherokee. Lieut. Col. Stringfield and Lieut. Cagle were white officers of the legion. Names of the men in the photograph were furnished by James R. Thomas of Waynesville, son of the late Col. W. H. Thomas, who commanded the Thomas Legion. This band of Indians built the first road across the Great Smoky Mountains. - See more at: http://thomaslegion.net/cherokeeindiansandtheamericancivilwar.html


I recently came across this image of the Cherokee Confederate Veterans Reunion taken in New Orleans in 1903 and with all the media mania shouting for removal of Confederate flags from Federal and State properties (including cemeteries), I felt it would be wise for the more fair-minded folks to take a closer look at the the Native Americans who fought in the War Between the States and why they risked their property, loved ones and lives for the Confederacy.

My personal stake in sharing this information is to honor my ancestral "fathers" and the preservation of truthful history. I fear American history is undergoing a purge due to political correctness gone mad. As a Christian, it is my duty to take a stand for honoring those who have gone before me, even if it's unpopular to do so.

The information I will be presenting is from the website ThomasLegion.net.


Thomas Legion's Flag (February 2007) Courtesy Museum of the Cherokee Indian

"A great majority of the people were poor and had no interest in slavery, present or prospective. But most of them had little mountain homes and, be it ever so humble, there is no place like home -- but when the Federal army occupied East Tennessee and threatened North Carolina..." Lt. Col. William W. Stringfield: Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65, Vol., 3, p. 734.
Thomas Legion was the 69th North Carolina Regiment and North Carolina's only Civil War legion; it was a legion of 'Indians and Highlanders.'

(Some of the Legion's officers)
"Thomas' Legion included infantry, cavalry, artillery, an Indian battalion, and fired "The Last Shot" of the American Civil War east of the Mississippi. Commanding Colonel William Holland Thomas was the only white man to have served as a Cherokee chief and his cousins included President Zachary Taylor and President Jefferson Davis. Thomas' Legion recruited Cherokee, one of its soldiers was awarded the rare Confederate Medal of Honor, it served with General John C. Breckinridge (14th Vice President of the United States and cousin to Mary Todd Lincoln), was assigned to the same division as General George S. Patton's grandfather, and was the last Rebel unit to surrender east of the Mississippi.
"With the determination of Thomas' Legion, Union forces never controlled Western North Carolina, and the command captured the Union occupied city White Sulphur Springs, North Carolina, and was perhaps the only unit to have captured an enemy occupied city in order to negotiate its own surrender. In 2003 the Last Surviving Union Widow died, and her late husband had fought against Thomas' Legion some 140 years earlier."
- See more at: http://thomaslegion.net/index.html#sthash.3XtHWguA.dpuf
 ThomasLegion.net writes in the introduction to Cherokee Indians and the Civil War:

"The Cherokee Indians, though not citizens of the United States nor of the recently formed Confederacy, supported both the Northern and Southern governments and served in both the Union and Confederate militaries, which resulted in warring factions within the Cherokee. The Cherokee were involved predominately in the eastern and western theaters and fought bravely in many of the major battles of the Civil War. The Oconaluftee Indians (Eastern Cherokee) would form the last Confederate unit to surrender East of the Mississippi, and Cherokee chief and Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, who attained the highest rank among the Cherokee, commanded the final Confederate command, consisting of men of the Cherokee Nation, to surrender West of the Mississippi and of the four year Civil War."
The War Between the States was brutal and the suffering of our Forefathers on both sides should not and cannot be forgotten. It's been said that when history is forgotten (or purged), it will be repeated. As a civilized nation, we should be doing all we can to preserve American History for our descendants.

Here is some disturbing information about the prisoners of war taken by both sides during the Civil War (Warning: graphic image included):

'For the sake of humanity, we want for medicine, we can not feed nor clothe nor shelter the prisoners, so for their lives will you not exchange them?' - Confederate pleas with Washington to resume exchanges.
Civil War POW - Library of Congress
"The exigencies of Civil War (1861-1865) applied to the soldier, the grunt on the battlefield, but it also extended to the infantryman who became the prisoner of war. Union and Confederate prisons were unimaginable horror chambers employing slow agonizing deaths to its guests. Early in the war prisoner exchanges were common, but many on both sides believed that the war would only last 90 days. As months became years, it was obvious to Union and Confederate commanders that the continued battlefield gridlock and stalemate had to cease. The once honored prisoner exchanges were now viewed by Northern politicians such as Lincoln and Stanton as merely recruiting stations and reinforcements for the dwindling Confederate military. Attrition was the answer to winning the war, was the prevailing thought of Secretary of War Stanton. The Union Army could replace soldiers, but that was not the case in the South, so halting all exchanges indicated that the Confederacy would soon be unable to field an army. While it was true that it spelled the final hurrah for the men in gray, it also meant that until the war ended the Union prisoners could no longer hold to hopes of being exchanged, but they would now have to endure prison life knowing that only their death or complete Union victory would liberate them. Although the South continued to field an army for nearly two years after the prisoner exchanges halted in the summer of 1863, it was not able to adequately feed and clothe its men on the march. Since Rebel soldiers marching into the fray lacked shoes, uniforms, medicine, and food, how would Yankee prisoners fair in the Heart of Dixie? But the Confederacy continued to plead with Washington that it was vital to resume exchanges because they could not feed nor clothe Union prisoners. For the sake of humanity, we want for medicine, we can not feed nor clothe nor shelter the prisoners, so for their lives will you not exchange them? By failing to resume large scale prisoner exchanges, several thousand Union soldiers would die in Confederate prisons." - See more at: http://thomaslegion.net/civil_war_prisoner_of_war_prison_union_confederate_prisoners_and_prisons_.html
The Federal government’s view of former Confederates was that of 'traitors, revolutionaries, and the enemy.' The United States Senate in 1866

The aftermath of the War was mass destruction of property and human lives;  ThomasLegion.net reports:

"The South suffered the greatest impact since most of the battles and skirmishes were fought on Southern soil. Sherman's March to the Sea, for example, destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and farms. In many Southern states the infrastructure was annihilated and to make matters worse the states were bankrupt. These harsh conditions were greatly exacerbated in the South, since crops and livestock were now scarce. Much of the South was scarred and reduced to ruin and rubble, it was a virtual waste land, and all they had was each other and hope. The South, however, was not alone in her woes because the nation was now bankrupt and it would take decades to recover." - See more at: http://thomaslegion.net/aftermath.html#sthash.UkqvvDje.dpuf


Reconstruction and Aftermath of Civil War. Library of Congress


So, dear friends, will the removal of Confederate flags and monuments begin the "healing process" as I heard a South Carolina politician say or will it instead dishonor those men who suffered and gave their lives for their heartfelt convictions? Will we learn from history or erase it? Will you teach your children the truth?


Dear Father in Heaven,


Please forgive our erasure of unpleasant history and give us the courage to face our past with the hope we can help prevent future civil war and its real human loss and pain for our descendants. Help us to see that only by acknowledging our sins can we truly repent and be healed.


In Lord Jesus Name, I pray and cry out for mercy and forgiveness. Oh, Lord, heal our land.. Amen

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