Saturday, June 22, 2013

Appreciating the Civil War Legacy of Choctaw Freedmen






Simon Clark was the first person admitted by the Dawes Commission as a Choctaw Freedman. He was a man of influence in his community and he was a leader as well among the Freedmen. However, beyond his history as a post Civil War leader, was the fact that Simon Clark was also a Freedom Fighter. He served in the 2nd Kansas Colored, which was later redesignated as the 83rd US Colored Infantry.

Often the soldiers from Indian Territory are overlooked when discussion of Civil War is mentioned. Less discussion arises when those who were enslaved are mentioned. However, it has been noted by a few historians that men from the Creek and Cherokee Nation enlisted in the Indian Home Guards as well as the Kansas Colored regiments.

However, fewer references are made when the soldiers came from the Choctaw Nation. But there were some who were Union soldiers and although their numbers were smaller, they should be acknowledged.

So far, some have been found in the 11th US Colored Infantry (Old), the 79th US Colored Infantry, the 83rd US Colored Infantry and the 54th US Colored Infantry. The participation of enslaved men from the Choctaw Nation should be presented. They participated in acts of resistance, and enrolled when given the chance to fight for their own freedom.


   


Caesar Hall is believed to have been living on the Hall plantation during the time that there was a slave uprising. Not much is really known about his role, however, there is the strong possibility that the spirit of resistance carried forth for him as he enlisted in the Union Army when opportunity presented itself. He lived in the Skullyville area of the northern part of the Choctaw Nation.



William Hall was another slave from the Skullyville Community. This area is not far from Ft. Smith Arkansas so when the opportunity presented itself, able bodied men from Skullyville took advantage, seized their freedom and enlisted in the Union Army.



The Newberry name is famlliar to many who research Chickasaw Nation history. Some Chickasaw Freedmen however, were actually born in the Choctaw Nation. Later enrolled as Chickasaws, the birthplace of Choctaw country is still noted on the enlistment records, such as for Aaron Newberry.


Like many soldiers, their enlistment put them face to face with danger. Some lost their lives. Others were gravely wounded. Richmond LaFleur (LeFlore) was one who would become severely wounded, suffering amputation of a wound and bringing about early discharge. 




Some of those who enlisted in the Union Army did not return to the Territory, choosing instead to begin a new life in neighboring states. As a result many will not be found on Dawes Rolls, for they chose to move away from the communities where they were once enslaved and begin a new life as free men.




 It should be noted that there are others who later lived in Choctaw communities after the war, and who were born in other states and later sold to Choctaws as slaves. Men such as Mobile Boyd and others are also honored as Union soldiers who lived in Choctaw country.

As additional men who enlisted in the Union Army from the Choctaw Nation are found the list will be amended. However, their service is noted and appreciated, and hopefully their legacy will not be lost.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Angela for more family info! ZRBoyd

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are welcome ZBoyd. Which is your ancestor?

    ReplyDelete