Cheryl Pierson: STAND WATIE—A MOST UNCOMMON SOLDIER

215px-Stand_WatieOnly two Native Americans on either side of the States’ War rose to the rank of brigadier general.  Standhope Watie (Uwatie), fighting for the Confederacy, was one of those two.  Yet, what makes this accomplishment so incredible is the fact that while he was fighting for the Confederate States of America, he was also fighting other Cherokee tribal leaders who held opposing political views and very different visions for the Cherokee nation.

Stand Watie commanded the Confederate Indian Cavalry of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.  While the cavalry unit was comprised mainly of Cherokee, some Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole tribal members also served.

Born in Oothcaloga in the Cherokee Nation, State of Georgia, Uwatie (or Oowatie) was also known as Isaac.  He was educated in a Moravian mission school.  In his early adulthood, he occasionally wrote articles for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.  The State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832 when gold was discovered, including the thriving plantation owned by Stand’s father and mother.  Stand and his brothers, part of the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the WA040Cherokee council, stood in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party.  Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge, and cousin, John Ridge for assassination.  Stand was the only one who survived the assassination attempt.  Although Watie’s family had left Georgia before the forcible removal of all Cherokees in 1838, another brother, Thomas, was murdered by Ross’s men in 1845.

In October, 1861, Watie was commissioned as colonel in the First Mounted Cherokee Rifles. Besides fighting Federal troops in the States’ War, his men also fought opposing factions of Cherokee, as well as Seminole and Creek (Muscogee) warriors who supported the Union.

In 1862, Stand Watie was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, through dissension continued among John Ross’s supporters.

On June 15, 1864, Watie’s troops captured the Federal steamboat J. R. Williams on the Arkansas River off the banks of stand_watie_memorial_editedPleasant Bluff near Tamaha, Indian Territory.  The next morning, Colonel John Ritchie’s men, who were stationed at the mouth of the Illinois River near where the two rivers met, engaged Watie’s men as they attempted to confiscate the cargo.  The river was rising, and they fought to a standoff.  When Watie learned of the advance of Union troops from Fort Smith, Arkansas, (within about 40 miles), he burned the ship and much of the remaining cargo, then sank it.

Watie surrendered a year later in June of 1865, the last Confederate general to lay down his arms.

In my debut novel, Fire Eyes, I weave this bit of history into my plot.  The villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang have come upon the site where the J.R. Williams was sunk four years earlier.  Fallon speculates there could have been gold aboard, and sets his men to dive for it.  As mercurial as his temper is, none of them dare question his order.  Here’s what happens:

FROM FIRE EYES:

“Damn! I know where we are.” Dobie Perrin said.

Andrew Fallon turned in the saddle, glaring at Perrin, the afternoon sun dappling them through the leaves of the thick canopy of trees. “So do I, you idiot! So do we all, now.”

The secluded cemetery sat on a bluff, overlooking the Arkansas River. They had been wandering for two days, ever since retracing their steps to the first small creek they’d come to. The one Fallon felt sure would give them their bearings. Now, at last, he recognized where they were. He’d figured it out ten miles back.

“Tamaha,” Denver Rutledge muttered. “I was raised up over yonder.” He inclined his head toward the riverbank. “Over in Vian.”

“Then why didn’t you know where we were?” Fallon’s anger surged. “I am surrounded by idiots!”

“I shore ’nuff shoulda known, General,” Rutledge said apologetically. “Right yonder’s where we sunk the J.R. Williams. Rebs, I mean. Stand Watie’s bunch.”

Fallon jerked his head toward the other man. “Right where, soldier?”

Rutledge kneed his horse, coming abreast of Fallon. “Why, right yonder, General. It was in June of ’64. She was a Union ship, the Williams was.”

“What was she carrying?”

Rutledge shrugged. “Don’t rightly know. Supplies, maybe.”

“Payroll? Gold?” Fallon fingered his curling moustache. “Could be anything, eh, Rutledge? But the Yankees were known to cache their gold profits in casks. Maybe that’s what the J.R. Williams was carrying. Casks that weren’t really supplies, but were filled with gold.”

“Could be, I ‘spect.” Rutledge’s voice was hesitant.

Fallon nodded toward the river. “I think maybe we’ll try to find out.”

****

AND LATER, WILL THE HOSTAGES BE ABLE TO ESCAPE WHILE FALLON’S MEN ARE OCCUPIED WITH THE SHIP?

“What’s he doing, Tori?” Lily whispered. She moved closer to her sister. The night had turned colder, and the girls’ clothing was becoming threadbare and ragged.

Tori shook her head. “Fallon’s plumb crazy, Lily. Making his men dive for that ship! What’s he think he’s going to do if he finds it? Pull it up with his bare hands?”

“Or a rope, maybe,” Lily said innocently.

Tori didn’t say anything. She reminded herself that Lily was, after all, only eight years old. And she, at eighteen, knew how the world worked much better than little Lily did. At least Lily had stopped crying all the time. Now, Tori wasn’t sure if that was an improvement.

Lily sometimes scared her, the way her eyes looked hollow. Like there was no feeling left in her. Tori had no mirror, but her little sister looked like she herself felt. Older than she should be. And sad. But Lily didn’t seem to be afraid any longer, and Tori supposed that was a good thing.

Tori knew what Fallon intended to do with her and Lily. But the initial shock and fear of Fallon’s intent was overshadowed by other things that had actually happened. The violent deaths of their parents and younger brother, the endless days of riding with scant food and water, the bone-deep weariness that never let up, not even when she slept on the hard ground at night next to Lily.

She was responsible for Lily, now that her parents were gone. She squared her thin shoulders, her gentle eyes turning hard for a moment. She would protect her sister, no matter what.

Tori watched as Fallon ordered three of his men back into the water yet another time. Even if they could see what they were diving for, it would be too deep to reach. But the scene helped Tori realize just how unstable Andrew Fallon was. Once or twice, she’d caught herself thinking he was almost a nice man. He’d brought her and Lily a blanket one cold night. And he’d given them extra rations another time. But she knew he was not nice, not even sane.

Evil, was what Andrew Fallon was. Evil, and most insane.

She watched him, posturing and screaming at his men, who were so terrified of him that they were making fools of themselves trying to dive for an unreachable goal, a ship that may contain treasure, but just as well may not. A vessel that was impossible to get to, all the same. Especially in the pitch-black night. Lily leaned against her, her weight heavy with sleep. They sat beside a tree, their backs propped against the rough bark. The night was cool, and Tori had drawn the blanket close around them. She sagged against the tree trunk, her arm around her little sister, as Lily’s eyelids drooped.

Fire Eyes

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37 thoughts on “Cheryl Pierson: STAND WATIE—A MOST UNCOMMON SOLDIER”

  1. Great post Cheryl, I loved reading this bit of history! I have always been interested in the Civil War! Your book sound like a fantastic read and I love the cover! You would be a new author to me and I would love to read your book! I’ll be looking for it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cheryl,
    Welcome to the Junction! We’re so glad you dropped by for a visit.

    I’d heard the name Standhope Watie, but I didn’t realize that he was Cherokee. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Fascinating story, Cheryl! Any post relating to the American Civil War will pull me right in. I was just watching a Clint Eastwood movie set just after the war. The Indian tribes the hero came into contact with had respect for him because he’d been a Confederate soldier, while the Federal soldiers were hated for forcing them off their lands.

  4. Hey Cheryl, I really enjoyed your post. There are many connections back to Georgia. We had plentious Creek Native Americans around here in the 1700s. They were displaced inland by the British and Spaniards who settled in to fight over the coast. From there, they were once again displaced to Oklahoma. Many of Georgia’s rivers still bear Creek names: Oconee, Ogeechee, Ocmulgee, and Altamaha. And one of my uncles many years ago, married a Creek Indian. I’m not descended from that line, but it is nice to share some kinship with these lovely people.

  5. CHERYL–very interesting bit of history. I knew some of this, but not as much as you wrote. I also did not know the Cherokee had a Mounted Rifle Troop in the Civil War. Fascinating–one of those bits of trivia that no one knew. Excellent–thanks–Celia

  6. Hi Tracy,

    It’s an odd name, isn’t it? But there was sooo much more I couldn’t include in the interest of keeping it short. He had such an interesting upbringing and life. Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for making me feel so welcome here.

    Cheryl

  7. Hi Cheryl,

    I love the research part of writing I mean look at the info you gave on Stand Waite. Of course, I write about Native Americans too so I do alot of research on them.

    I watch a piece on TV about this and I believe Wes Studi was in it. It was a wonderful piece.

    I have put your book on my must read list. Fire Eyes so wonderful

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  8. Hi Susan,

    I’m like you–I love the Civil War, but I know, for me, that would be a really tough sub-genre to write because it was such a sad, hard time. I admire you for being able to write that time period so well. You do a great job with it. You are so right about the way the Indians felt about the Federal officers vs. the Confederate officers, too. And I’m sure you are familiar with the history of the US Govt. distributing blankets infected with small pox to the Indians in an effort to annihilate them.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks so much for commenting, Susan!
    Cheryl

  9. Hey Maggie!

    We have a lot of Creek names here, too, of course, as well as the Cherokee. And we have an Okmulgee, with a K. For some odd reason, and I would love to learn the history of why this is, the original Creek words had many “c’s” in them as you are talking about. But here in OK, they have been changed to “K”–Muskogee, which is a main faction of Creek, was originally spelled “Muscogee” and still IS spelled that way on their license plates, but the town of Muskogee has a “k” instead. Very interesting stuff! Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Cheryl

  10. CELIA!!!

    Hey girl! Thanks for coming over and commenting, I know you are super busy right now. I know, WHO ISN’T, right? LOL Lots of really interesting stuff about Stand Watie and his faction of Cherokees. I didn’t know this, but before George Washington was elected there were 8 different “presidents” in charge of things. I believe they served a term of one year each. Elias Boudinot was one of them! Can’t remember the others, but I thought that was fascinating piece of trivia, too.
    Glad you stopped by and thanks for commenting!
    Cheryl

  11. TANYA!

    How are you!??? Hope all is well–I’ve been meaning to write you a chatty e-mail but as you know, RL has a way of getting in the way. LOL I rarely get a chance to “play” anymore. Yes, Fire Eyes is still doing well, thank goodness. I’m just finishing up another historical western called Gabriel’s Law and getting it ready to send to some places, and I just got my release date for my first contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, through The Wild Rose Press. OCTOBER 1!!!! I’ve been busy, and looking forward to the rest of 2010, for sure.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  12. MELINDA!!

    THANK YOU for stopping by and commenting, my friend. I know you write a lot of Native American stories, and I hope you enjoy reading Fire Eyes. My WIP that I’m getting ready to sub is also about a hero who is half Comanche and half Anglo, (ALL SEXY!) LOL There was a book that came out many years back called, “Rifles for Watie” that was actually for young adults, and won several awards at the time.

    Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Melinda. I appreciate your kind words!
    Cheryl

  13. Hi Colleen,

    THANK YOU!!! I am a history freak. LOL Living here in Oklahoma all my life has been one of the greatest gifts ever in that regard, because it’s all around. I love the cover of Fire Eyes, too. The funny thing is, the heroine is named Jessica and my daughter is also named Jessica. You can’t believe how many people think that is a picture of my daughter on the front. LOL But it’s not–it’s the wonderful artwork of Nicola Martinez from The Wild Rose Press. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
    Cheryl

  14. Hi, Cheryl,

    I am so with the group who have a great interest
    in things historical. It seems as though Fire Eyes
    is just perfect for us! I look forward to reading
    it. And I agree, the cover artwork is beautiful!
    Thanks for visiting with us today!

    Pat Cochran

  15. Hi Pat!

    I always like to include some history in my stories–usually something that’s local, since there is so much to choose from here in Oklahoma. I love alternate history too–and have found a great author in that genre that I just absolutely love–Eric Flint. He writes a lot about things like the War of 1812, but rearranges the facts some to make it all come out with a different outcome, in some instances. Which I just find utterly fascinating on so many levels. LOL I hope you enjoy FIRE EYES, and thanks so much for your kind words about the cover–I will let Nicola know how much everyone likes it.

    Thanks so much for having me here today. I thoroughly enjoy it.

    Cheryl

  16. Hi Cheryl,

    This is a beautiful excerpt. I love this! And the history is incredible. I share your sentiments on history and how valuable it is in a story. Just adds so much to a story.

    Beautiful excerpt — beautiful cover. Congrats! 🙂

  17. KAREN!!! Girl, I can’t believe you made it over here to read and comment as busy as you are today and with your book tour kicking off! Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Take care and enjoy your tour! Wish I was there!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  18. i just love your book cover and the excerpts were very captivating…after i get done posting i’m off to add it to my “wish list”
    thanks for the lesson and sharing a little of, “fire eyes”!

  19. I was familiar with the Ross vs Watie-Ridge conflict within the Cherokee Nation. I had not realized that Watie had served in the Confederate Army and become a General. The more history included in the stories the better. Never hurt anyone to learn a little along with their recreational reading.

    Interesting post, Cheryl. Thanks for the information.
    FIRE EYES sounds like a good book. I’ll be looking for it.

  20. Hi Patricia,

    He really had a very interesting life! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post, and I hope you will also enjoy FIRE EYES! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Cheryl

  21. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE HERE AT PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS for having me back to guest blog. I always enjoy my time here and getting to gab with everyone.

    Hugs to all the ladies here and the wonderful readers who took the time to read and comment on my post!

    CHERYL

  22. If I may share this sad news with everyone here–I just learned of this as I was getting ready to sign off tonight. Since we’ve had such a wonderful discussion about the Cherokee chief, Stand Watie, today, I wanted to let you all know about the passing of this wonderful woman. She was a great chief, and only just this past month let it be known that she was once more battling cancer. Very sad.

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, one of the nation’s most visible American Indian leaders and one of the few women to lead a major tribe, died Tuesday after suffering from cancer and other health problems. She was 64.

    Mankiller, whose first taste of federal policy toward Indians came when her family ended up in a housing project after a government relocation project, took Indian issues to the White House and met with three presidents. She earned a reputation for facing conflict head-on.

    As the first female chief of the Cherokees, from 1985 to 1995, Mankiller led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building new health centers and children’s programs.

    “We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us, but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us,” current Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said. “We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. ”

    Mankiller met snide remarks about her surname — a Cherokee military title — with humor, often delivering a straight-faced, “Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname.”

  23. I have followed her career over the years. A woman will look at what needs to be done in a different way than men will. Priorities and methods differ as do the end results. Her death is a great loss. Her legacy will be will be reflected in the future of the tribe.

  24. Yes, Patricia, you are so right on all counts. They have been talking about all the changes she has made over the years in so many different ways, not just with the years she was in office as chief but before and after. It is just amazing, all the things she saw a need for an helped to make better.
    Cheryl

  25. Hi Cheryl, your post is very interesting. You have done much research and you paid attention to every detail. I like the authors careful, I find it a sign of great professionalism.
    I’m Italian and read a book in English for me is difficult. However I hope to see it published the your book in Italy or hope to learn English well:)

  26. Hi Veronica!

    WOW, I admire you so much for trying to learn English. People say it is one of the hardest languages to learn. From your comment, it looks like you have done a great job of studying it. I’m so glad that you liked the post about Stand Watie–I love to do research and include it in my posts. Thank you so much for your kind words, Veronica. Please e-mail me offlist at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com I have something I want to send you.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  27. Ladies,
    I am most impressed…, honored (as the decendant of an ‘Eighth Alabama Calvaryman’, at your interest in your history.
    I find it a rare and wonderful thing. I have visited Stand Watie’s grave in Maysville. Though I am not more than of ‘European’ decent, my two children are part ‘Cherokee’. My ex-wife, part Cherokee and Italian (didn’t know whether to ‘scalp me or cuss me’)…, I finally gave her away, didn’t…, doesn’t appreciate her heritage, nor do our children. I do.
    I just wonder how much you ladies know of General James G. Blunt, one of those ‘damned Yankee’ Gererals’. lol
    Care to comment? Having lived in Eastern Oklahoma my whole life, having ‘kin’, as did the Cherokee and Creek on both sides of the ‘War of the Rebellion’ (as it was called then), I would be interested in hearing what you have to say.
    Being a ‘man’, though, I do not expect, nor will even waste my time, trying to get ‘the last word in’. LOL

  28. A hint. James G. Blunt was one of, if not, the last ‘Confederate’ General to surrender at the close of the ‘Civil War’ (never understood why they called it ‘civil’). What was James G. Blunt’s ‘blood-line’? How many battles did he win? What happened to him after the ‘Civil War’?
    I’m not a ‘scolar’, not attempting to take away from you or make you feel ‘uneducated’…, you Ladies could most likely educate me. Just being curious and having fun. We seem to spend a lot of time looking at a few people who interests us, without, perhaps, asking, “Why”?
    Thomas Jackson (Stonewall, as he is better know) spent his last night at my ‘Families’ home in Virginia before the wounds he received three days before his death. The last photograph of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, was in my ‘families’ home. Robert E. Lee was a guest there more than once, as were many other ‘notible’ Confederate officers.
    The point I am attempting to make is, there is always more to the story. Jasper Newton Yerby, my ggg-grandfather, James Franklin Yerby’s brother died at the ‘Battle of Seven Pines’. Another brother died at ‘Camp Chase’, Illinois (my ggg-granddad was at ‘camp douglas’. Other family died at many of the major battles of the civil war. Most were ‘Rebels’…, some were ‘Yankees’.
    Everyone has a story. There is always…, always more to a story than what is on the surface! Enjoy. Look at the ‘story’ behind the ‘story’. LOL

  29. As an ‘Footnote’…, I had a ‘different’ experience with Wilma Mankiller. I will not take away from what she did with the Cherokee Nation…, but I once worked at a Nuclear Facility while she was involved with some ‘anti-nuclear’ group. I took the place of a guard who was shot by one of them. The first night I worked there was a bomb threat. The third night, I found the chain-link fence cut and footsteps in the mud where someone had came in. I have done enough ‘tracking’ in my life to know I had ‘ran someone off’. By the end of the week, though we were not supposed to carry firearms…, I was. I had a young wife and newborn girl…, I intended to go home to them.
    Not to be argumentitive…, before you go praising someone…, think about who they were…, before who they were.
    No hard feelings here…, hope you feel the same.

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