BETWEEN TWO FIRES: American Indians in the Civil War by Laurence M. Hauptman

BETWEEN TWO FIRES: American Indians in the Civil War

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A clear-eyed, provocative history of an often neglected area of Native American and Civil War studies. In this wonderfully complete look at Indian involvement in the Civil War, Hauptman (History/State Univ. of New York, New Paltz; Pequots in Southern New England, not reviewed, etc.) discusses the effect of the war on the tribes as entities and on the approximately 20,000 Native Americans who served on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. The author succinctly traces the prewar history of many of these groups and individuals, noting that, like their fellow white soldiers, the Indians enlisted for numerous reasons -- economic, political, and ideological. The assimilated Catawba of Virginia were loyal to the Southern cause; the Lumbee of Robeson County, N.C., were either conscripted by the Confederacy or became Union guerrillas to avenge themselves on local racist whites; Stand Watie, one of the last Confederate generals to surrender, was a wealthy, slave-owning Cherokee; and for some the war was just another battleground in their own intra- and intertribal conflicts. The majority of Indians who participated, however, sought acceptance by American government and society through their patriotic efforts. Unfortunately, few received the recognition that their services merited. Native American soldiers suffered from both official and unofficial prejudice during the war, often receiving half the pay of their white counterparts and no compensation for property seized or destroyed. Although the status of blacks as free citizens was allegedly ensured by the war, Native Americans continued to live in an ""alien nation"" limbo that exposed them to judicial and legislative abuse. Unlike the Union and Confederate governments they loyally served, Indians found the Civil War to be a no-win situation. A noteworthy contribution.

Pub Date: July 7th, 1995
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: Free Press