Cherokee General Watie Surrenders First Indian Brigade

Degataga, Cherokee for “stand firm,” was the name given to Stand Watie at his birth. He was baptized as Isaac Watie so Stand Watie is a blend of his Cherokee and English names.

Watie supported the relocation of the Cherokee Nation to Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma.) Even though Chief John Ross and the majority of the Cherokee opposed the removal, Watie and a few other tribal members negotiated and signed the Treaty of New Echota. The treaty with the United States forced the Cherokee to leave their lands, traveling what was later called the Trail of Tears.

The treaty signers weren’t popular. A friend’s timely warning allowed Watie to escape being killed with other signers in 1839.

He joined the Southern cause in 1861. As colonel, he raised a Cherokee regiment, the Cherokee Regiment of Mounted Rifles. He and his troops helped drive pro-Union Native Americans from Indian Territory to Kansas.

Watie and his men excelled as scouts and skirmishers. His courage was noticed and he became Brigadier General Watie on May 6, 1864—the only Native American to receive this rank in the Civil War. He commanded the First Indian Brigade, made up of Cherokee, Seminole, Osage, and Creek soldiers.

After General Kirby Smith surrendered the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, Watie knew his turn was coming.

On June 23, he surrendered at Doaksville in Indian Territory.

The last Confederate general to surrender was Cherokee chief Stand Watie.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Conclusion of the American Civil War,”, 2018/03/21

“Conclusion of the American Civil War,”, 2018/03/22

Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara. The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865, A Da Capo Paperback, 1971.

Plante, Trevor K. “Ending the Bloodshed,” National Archives, 2018/03/21

“Stand Watie,” Civil War Home, 2018/04/22

“Stand Watie,” Civil War Trust, 2018/04/22