restricted access The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles (review)
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190CIVIL WAR history The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles. By W Craig Gaines. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Pp. 178. $19.95.) For much of the nineteenth century, the Cherokee people were divided into two hostile factions: one led by Chief John Ross, and the other by Stand Watie. When the Civil War erupted, each faction raised an undersized regiment for Confederate service. While previous historians have focused on Watie and his 2d Cherokee Mounted Rifles, Craig Gaines's The Confederate Cherokees is the story of Colonel John Drew's 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles, the regiment loyal to Chief Ross. Ross and his followers reluctantly allied themselves with the Confederacy because of the geographical situation of the Indian Territory. Their ambivalence toward the secessionist cause was reflected in the brief and inglorious career of the regiment which participated in a marginal way in the Battle of Pea Ridge. After the battle, the regiment melted away as Drew's men fled to Kansas and joined Union Indian Home Guard regiments. By mid- 1862 the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles was no more. Gaines candidly acknowledges that Drew's command was "useless as a fighting force" (58) and was noteworthy only in that "it left an enduring mark in the history of the American Civil War as the only Confederate regiment to have almost its entire membership desert into Union service" (125). Why the author believes such a regiment merits a book-length study is a mystery. Why a major university press agrees with him is an even greater mystery. But the greatest mystery concerns the book's misleading title: surely it was Watie's stalwart rebels, not Drew's inconstant warriors, who were the true Confederate Cherokees. The Confederate Cherokees is marred by factual errors, inadequate research and undue brevity (125 pages of text), but it is not without merit. Gaines writes in a clear, if wooden, style and presents interesting information about the genesis of the regiment. He also includes a roll of officers and men which reveals family and clan relationships and illustrates how some Cherokees listed their names phonetically (Che lah Ke te hee), others in a literal English translation (Young Squirrel Flopper), and still others in an Anglicized form (John Riley). Alas, the author makes no effort to wring from this fascinating document information on the process of Anglo-Indian acculturation in the mid-nineteenth century. A historian better-versed in anthropology might have produced a more sensitive and insightful account of people caught up in a struggle not of their own making. A historian willing to undertake extensive research certainly would have found additional information about the Indians in the published and unpublished accounts of white soldiers who fought BOOK REVIEWS191 with and against them at Pea Ridge. As it stands, The Confederate Cherokees is a brief, barebones, operational history of a short-lived regiment which makes only a modest contribution to our understanding of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi. Wtlliam L. Shea University of Arkansas at Monticello From the Editor Jeffrey N. Lash is the winner of the 1989 Harold L. Peterson award of $1,000 for his article, "Joseph E. Johnston and the Virginia Railways, 1861-62," Civil War History, March 1989. This is the second consecutive year that an article in Civil War History has received this award. Eastern National Park & Monument Association, a nonprofit educational-service institution cooperating with the National Park Service in support of its education and interpretive programs, offers the Peterson award annually. The honorarium of $1,000 is presented each year to the author of the best article on any facet of American military history written in the English language and published during the previous year in an American or foreign journal. Jeffrey Lash is the author of a book on Johnston and the railways, Destroyerofthe Iron Horse: General Joseph E. Johnston and Confederate Rail Transport, to be published in spring 1991 by The Kent State University Press. ...


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