Thomas’ Legion of Eastern Cherokee Indians was formed in 1861 by Chief William Holland Thomas. In a letter of September 19, 1861, President Jefferson Davis notified Thomas that he believed the use of a Cherokee battalion could be used advantageously to defend the coast and swamps of North Carolina against enemy invasion. The following relates the intense nature of these brave Southern defenders:
“In September the Sixty-ninth Regiment (Thomas’ Legion) was ordered to Powell Valley. This regiment was raised in the mountains of North Carolina and had in it two companies of Cherokee Indians. On this march and during an ambush at Baptist Gap, one of the Indian companies became engaged in a sharp little battle with the federals. Lieutenant Astooga Stoga, who is described by Major Stringfield of that regiment “as a splendid specimen of Indian manhood,” led a counterattack and was killed.
“The Indians,” says Major Stringfield,” were furious at his death and before they could be restrained, scalped several of the federal wounded and dead, for which ample apology was made and the scalps returned to their owners.”
(Confederate Military History, North Carolina, Volume V, Gen. Clement Evans, Confederate Publishing Company, 1899, pp. 147-148)