In early 1861, over four thousand slaves lived in the Southern Indian nations west of the Mississippi, with many found among the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws. In late February 1861, James E. Harrison, James Bourland and Charles A. Hamilton of Texas were appointed commissioners and instructed “to proceed to [the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw Creek and Seminole Nations of Indians] and invite their prompt cooperation in the formation of a Southern Confederacy.” Excerpts of his April 23, 1861 report follows.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Indians of the Southern Confederacy
“. . . [Governor Sam] Houston gave as one good and sufficient reason for not withdrawing from the Union, the fear that should the Union be dissolved the wild tribes, who were now, in a measure, restrained from committing depredations and enormities by the very nature of their treaty guarantees, would be literally let loose upon Texas.
As far as the civilized tribes were concerned, all were of one mind and that took the form of the conviction that so great was the necessity of gaining and holding the confidence of the Indians, that Texas should not procrastinate in joining her fortunes with those of her sister States in the Confederacy.
James E. Harrison and his colleagues [found that the] “. . . Choctaws and Chickasaws are entirely Southern and are determined to adhere to the fortunes of the South. [They visited Gov. John Ross of] the Cherokee Nation . . . [whose] position is the same as that held by Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural . . .
The Creeks are Southern and sound to a man, and when desired will show their devotion to our cause by acts. They meet in council on the 1st of May, when they will probably send delegates to Montgomery to arrange with the Southern Government.
These nations are in a rapid state of improvement. Pure slate granite, sandstone, blue limestone, and marble are found in abundance. All this they regard as inviting Northern aggression, and they are without arms, to any extent, or munitions of war.
They declare themselves Southerners by geographical position, by a common interest, by their social system, and by blood, for they are rapidly becoming a nation of whites. They have written constitutions, laws, etc., modelled after those of the Southern States.
They can raise 20,000 good fighting men, leaving enough at home to attend to domestic affairs, and under the direction of an officer from the Southern Government would deal destruction to an approaching army from that direction, and in the language of one of their principal men:
“Lincoln may haul his big guns about our prairies in the daytime, but we will swoop down upon him at night from our mountains and forests, dealing death and destruction to his army.”
(The Indian and Slaveholder and Secessionist, Annie Heloise Abel, University of Nebraska Press, 1992 (original 1915), excerpts, pp. 90-95)