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Oklahoma Indian was key to Civil War outcome




Invading the Confederate-held West was not an easy task for the Union. One reason: Stand Watie.
In Indian Territory "later Oklahoma " Watie, a Cherokee, led a minority band of the tribe that had voluntarily signed the removal treaty, agreeing to settle in Oklahoma and give up its lands in the South.
Daring, Watie spent the war harrying the Union forces. Again and again, Watie faced capture or death, only to slip away so often that he became known as the Red Fox.
And the war didn't end with Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender " it ended with Watie, said Oklahoma historian Whit Edwards.
"He was the last to surrender. That is huge," said Edwards, of the Oklahoma History Center. "He is the only Native American to achieve the rank of general during the Civil War."
By the end of the war, Watie had risen to the rank of brigadier general. Edwards said Watie didn't surrender until his band could be guaranteed safety.
"The reason he was the last to surrender " he feared reprisals," Edwards said. "The Civil War was bloodiest among the Cherokees,"
After the war, Edwards said, Watie settled back onto his farm near Spavinaw and was reclusive.
"He was ostracized afterwards and lived a quiet life on the farm in the Cherokee nation," Edwards said. "The war brought an end to him." "Ben Fenwick

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