During the Civil War, the Cherokee Nation had 3,000 men serving as Confederate soldiers.
The Cherokee, by nature a peaceful people, were exceptionally skilled at protecting themselves. They were naturals at close-quarters fighting, and adept at the irregular tactics of guerrilla warfare.
A leader of the Cherokee, Stand Watie, was eager to join the Confederate cause. In June 1861, he began recruiting for an army to assist the Southern cause. He was elected Chief of the newly declared Southern Cherokee Nation
Stand Watie’s birth name was Tak-er-taw-ker, meaning “Stands Firm.” He combined parts of his Cherokee name and his father’s name, Oo-wat-ie, to call himself Stand Watie in English..
In March of 1862 Stand Watie caught the attention of senior officers when he captured a Union artillery battery. He then led a skilled rear guard action to protect a retreating Confederate army to prevent a disastrous defeat.
Watie’s courage, tactics and leadership led to his assignment to a command position. Watie rose to the rank of Brigadier General. One of the units under Watie’s command was the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. His unit was active in cutting Union supply lines and disrupting the enemy’s operations in the Western Theater of the Civil War.
He kept on fighting until June 23rd, 1863, months after Appomattox, and longer than any other Confederate General.