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tv   Fay Yarbrough Choctaw Confederates  CSPAN  January 30, 2022 4:45am-6:01am EST

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on demand anytime anywhere on our new mobile video app c-span now access top highlights listen to c-span radio and discover new podcasts all for free download c-span now today. tonight's speaker. i'm very excited to introduce her to you. she stuck to fay yarbrough professor of history and an associate dean at rice university. dr. yabra as an expert on 19th century native american history, and she's got special interest in the interactions between indigenous people and people of african descent during the 19th century. so her first book was race and the cherokee nation sovereignty in the 19th century, and her most recent book is called choctaw confederates the american civil war in indian country. and of course you recognize the title. that book is the subject of tonight's talk and it's also
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basically brand new. i noticed it's official publication date was exactly two weeks ago. so it's a two-week birthday for your book this evening and we're excited to share it with you. you can find it in all of the usual bookstore places as well as directly from the university of north carolina, press the publisher. so the talk will be around 30 to 35 minutes or so. we'll have plenty of time for discussion at the end and the way we do discussion if you've been to these events before you'll know we do all through the q&a feature in zoom so you can type in questions to the q&a box at any time. so if something occurs to you during the talk, feel free to type it and then i'll wait till the end and we will get to as many of your questions as we can. we'll wrap things up within about an hour and 15 minutes. so around 8:15 eastern time. so that's all from me. i just want to say have
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grateful. i am that dr. yabra is able to be with us tonight. it's a wonderful book. i've enjoyed reading it. i'm looking forward to hearing the authors perspective on the book as well. and without further ado i will turn over the virtual podium to dr. yabra. so thank you very much for being with us. thank you so much and good evening everyone. it's a pleasure to be with you. if only virtually i'd like to thank you for spending some of your time with me this evening, and i'd like to thank professor paul quigley for inviting me and i'd also like to thank professor melinda miller for a really stimulating fun chat this afternoon as a prelude to my talk tonight. so i'll share some slides with you and in a moment, but first i want to just share the the introduction of my paper. then just as we started to leave
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here comes something across that little prairie short enough. we know they as indians the way they is writing and the way they is all strung out. they had a flag and it was all read and had a big criss-cross on it. that looked like a sawhorse. the man carrying it and rear back on it when the wind whip it but it flap all around the horse's head and the horse pitch and rear like he knows something going to happen short. about that time it turned kind of dark and began to rain a little and we get out to the big road and the rain come down hard it rained so hard for a little while that we just have to stop the wagon and set there. and then come along more soldiers than i ever see before. they all white men, i think and they have on that brown clothes dyed with walnut and butternut and old master say they the confederate soldiers. lucinda davis enslaved by tuskegee toscaya, heniha a full blood creek indian offers one of
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the few existing accounts of the battle of honey springs in late july of 1863. she describes seeing native troops approach carrying the confederate battle flag the changing weather conditions and the arrival of white confederate troops. her account goes on to explain the roar of gunfire that sounded like horses lopeman cross a plank bridge way off somewhere. davis offers compelling testimony about the far-reaching and destructive power of battle on the civilian population and on the landscape, but what i am most interested in tonight is the experience of native soldiers. what do we know of those soldiers on horseback who's writing style was so distinctive that davis and her fellow spectators identified them as indians from a distance. what can we say about their experiences in the confederate army? to answer these questions. i will turn to the service records from national archives compiled service records of confederate soldiers who served and organizations raised directly by the confederate government.
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from the outside outset. however, these records are something of a misnomer this title suggests that authorities from the confederate states of america listed these troops into service. however, choctaw legislative documents from the era revealed that choctaw spent a great deal of time talking about their commitment to the confederate states of america and raising this force. so here i will share screen so that we can make sure we're all on the same page about where we are in terms of location. so i'm most interested in the choctaw nation which you can see here in this the south east corner of indian territory at this time. and i focus on the choctaws because of their strong commitment to the confederacy, which is what i explore in the larger book project. here is my moment of shameless self-promotion dr. quigley did some for me but this talk and
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more on this subject can be found in in my new book chalk talk confederates and the strength of their commitment which we can talk about in the q&a i think is best exemplified by the fact that they pass the statute deeming it treason to say anything negative about the confederacy, right? that's how strongly they are committed to the confederate cause so as a separate sovereign nation with its own constitution judicial system and bicameral legislature choctaw legislators could choose to align with the federal government or the confederacy or attempt to remain neutral altogether during the war. they early allied with the confederacy and agreed to place a regimen of choctaw troops numbering a thousand men under confederate officers with the confederate confederacy committing to pay $500,000 to arm and equip-cent troops. which authorities choctaw or confederate then enlisted these troops as less clear than the
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records title suggest which will also be demonstrated by examining the actual enlistment documents, which i'll show you in a moment. in addition, i supplement the service records with first-hand accounts from civil war soldiers more broadly to create a fuller picture of choctaw soldiers experiences. the majority of these enlistment records consist of pre-printed forms compiled by the war department to facilitate efficiently and rapidly determining determining individual eligibility for pensions and other veterans benefits. the records include a jacket with the soldier's name company and rank and lists other cards associated with his record. there were sufficient numbers of choctaw troops that the pre-printed portion of the jacket or envelope stated first choctaw mounted rifles also known as calvary with confederate and parentheses. the jacket often contains a fill in the blank style company muster roll the company name and
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information appear pre-printed on this form as well the form list of the date location and term of enlistment. so here i'll give you an example of one record from private filimi of the second company k and you can see on his record that he's listed as age 30 that he enlisted on june 12 1861 at sulfur springs blue county for 12 months. he's enlisted by eschatinihoma and you can see that there's info from his company muster roll from july 26th 1862. so these are the records that form the backbone of this talk on military experience for choctaw soldiers and is also an important part of the larger book contract a book project. and if you see the i just want you to have a little sympathy for me because i looked through
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thousands of these records, you know in this kind of reverse, you know, black background white writing with the handwriting on there and compiled them into a database. so especially useful in these records is the remarks section in most cases. it merely states a finalistic was present at the end of his term of service, but sometimes it includes rich tidbits about soldiers being absent without leave about promotions or work duties a frequently included payroll form stated whether the soldier received a commutation for clothing for six months generally in the amount of $25 sometimes a bounty pay and receipt rule for $50 is on file as well along with petitions for official correspondence regarding the soldier less frequently. there are other miscellaneous documents often handwritten that are included in the soldiers jacket and i spent a little bit of time giving you this description of these records because there's often this misconception that there aren't
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a lot of records regarding native populations that are available, but in fact there are and we can do a number of things in terms of creative reading of the records that we do have. are looking more deeply to see if there are other records that we might be able to find and combine with other information to create a fuller picture of native experience. so again, just to remind you of the kinds of information that's in these records available through national. so given our time constraints today. i will touch briefly on some of the info that you can glean from these records first the records indicate that more choctaw served for the confederacy than we previously knew second. the records can give us some sense of changes taking place in choctaw society. we can also use the records to infer connections between people who served and in particular i will take up i will look at what the records can tell us about
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enlistments and how fluctuations and enlistments could vary based on battle and political activity most importantly the records provide a glimpse at the comp at the experiences of common soldiers in the civil war and remind us that the war was not just a rupture between northern and southern states, but that other groups native groups were drawn into the dispute. so the contemporary choctaw nation estimates that approximately 1200 choctaw troops served on the side of the confederacy by the middle of the civil war. i've collected the service records of over 3100 individuals for the totality of the war and these 3100 troops translate to roughly 17.2% of the total population or 20% of the choctaw population if you exclude enslaved persons in the united states soldiers accounted for approximately 14% of the northern population and 8.3% of the confederacy and border states if one excludes the enslaved population of the south
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however, 12.5 southerners served in the confederacy, so i point this out to say that wow that 3100 choctaw soldiers might seem like a small number as a proportion of the population. it's actually quite large and and substantial. so this figure though of 3100 troops is much lower than the 10,000 troops that colonel douglas h cooper predicted that the choctaws and chickasaws would provide in a letter to the president of the confederacy jeff davis a number all the more astonishing given the combined population of the choctaw and chickasaw populations at this time was less than 23,000 people including their enslaved populations cooper wrote the choctaws and chickasaws can furn 10,000 warriors if needed the choctaws and chickasaws are extremely anxious to form another regiment. the data included in the compiled military service records. tell us not only about
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individual soldiers, but can reveal aspects of the changing nature of choctaw society. so for instance the names on these records can simultaneously demonstrate the influence of euro-americans and the resilience of traditional naming practices. so here is an example of some of the names that we can see on in these records. so you'll see names such as john simpson several thomas jefferson's age jefferson davis a private h25, but all so more traditional names like cubby or ehan tubby or hiyo. kanubi. you see these blended names right where there's a euro a european route of a name, but then combined with choctaw language name and then you also see surnames of prom families within the choctaw political arenas so the fulsom's laforce
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and mccurtains are important families that produce district or principal chiefs and the choctaw nation during the 19th century. so again something as simple as these names on these enlistment records can reveal a broader changes that we're taking place in choctaw society. the age data on soldiers from the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted rifles also provides some opportunity for comparison with similar data on american soldiers and i'll just summarize to say that choctaw soldiers the average age of enlistees was just a little bit older than the average age of enlistees in the union army and then based on what little data we have on confederate soldiers. that jim mcpherson has compiled again. we can see that they're slightly older than their american countered parts. the age plus named data can also reveal relationships between soldiers where it suggests relationships between soldiers. so there's a cluster of five
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greenwood enlistees h20 to 28. we wonder if alan gibson harris hogan and sesan greenwood who all mustered into the same company 1e on the same day, july 3rd 1861 at the same location at blackjack court ground. we're all related to each other where they brothers or cousins who enlisted together similarly joseph hunter h43 and style and hunter aged 18 both joined may tubby's company at goodland station on september 2nd 1864. could they have been a father and son in hopes joining together in hopes of watching out for one another these sources are modeling maddeningly sil. out such connections, but other data from the indian pioneer history collection, which is very similar to the wpa. slave narratives, but the informants and the indian pioneer history collection are people who lived in indian territory during the 19th century.
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that data along with personal personal papers can augment some of these military records to confirm relationships and we know for certain that in both the union and the confederate armies family members did join together cousins brothers fathers and sons so we shouldn't be surprised that we see similar kinds of patterns these records in the choctaw nation. so the another kind of record that seems another piece of data that seems fairly straightforward is the question of company assignment, right? so individuals mustered into company a or to the second k or the second d. but as was common among many other confederate troops choctaw companies were also known by names connected to their commanding officers. so captain senta now was company for example was also known as walking state company, but also
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known as company i we have other companies captain colemani nelson's company or captain edmund gardner's company or our captain shimontha and parentheses john gibson's company these company names were pre-printed on these enlisted and enlistment records. so again reinforcing how frequently they occur and that people knew these companies by these other names and the use of i again, i think of choctaw language and english names is all so no noteworthy. so cinti is snake and choctaw and noah means walk so that walking snake and captain sent anoe's name walking snake company and sentineloa's company is a translation of of his name. and so i think it's interesting to ponder that that the traditional choctaw language name was was included similarly.
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shimon to may come from the choctaw word shima which means to dress up or embellish and so perhaps this john gibson. also known as captain simone says company is again a recognition of a traditional choctaw nation. so again the presence of these choctaw traditional names on these civil war military records exemplifies how much this quintessentially american event included other people who did not identify as americans. the date on the and on these records the date in place of muster record. reveals patterns about when and where soldiers enlisted into this mounted rifle group almost 70% of the records include this information, which only makes sense if you think about trying to keep track of how long people's enlistment period is
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supposed to laugh last you definitely want to keep track of when and where they enlisted so that you know when their term of service should end so we can see in these records that the majority of the enlistments took place in 1861, june and july were especially popular months to enlist $950 soldiers enlisted in these two months alone. and the this choctaw enthusiasm for the confederacy is even more remarkable given that the choctaws did not sign a treaty with the confederacy until july of 1861. so there are choctaw men who are committing to fight in the war even before the choctaw legislature had officially sided with the confederacy. so again, the enthusiasm is is high. historian angie debo notes that the work of consolidating indian support began before any formal treaties were signed between the choctaw indians and the
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confederate government the choctaw government had already passed a resolution and support of the southern states in february of 1861 though. the formal treaty alliance would not come for five more months. so perhaps getting these men to wasn't a difficult task. surely the choctaw resolution was then response to the february 4th meeting of six southern states in montgomery to form a provisional government and establish the confederate states of america so that resolution of support must have been in response to this meeting the choctaws may have been waiting for the secating states to create a more formal body before expressing choctaw support. us indian agent douglas h cooper enrolled natives for service as early as april of 1861 again before an official treaty of alliance had been signed muster role show over 100 troops enlisted in may of 1861 specifically on may 13th and scullyville.
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described which you can see here in the northeast corner of choctaw nation. and and scullyville was known as a particular stronghold for southern support because of the large number of slaveholders in the area. so perhaps that explains this high number of enlistments in that area or this fervor for enlistment might have been prompted by the neighboring state of arkansas's decision to join the confederacy less than one week prior on may 7th of 1861. so you can see other locations on this map that were hotbeds of enlistment activity dokesville, fort ouachita for arbuckle sulfur spring goodland station sugarloaf boggy depot, blackjack grove and perryville were all locations for clusters of enlistment in 1861 dogsville and
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boggy depot. so each served as capitals of the choctaw nation. so these seem like very logical sites for forming companies. in 1862 enthusiasm for the war among choctaw indians was still strong nearly 800 men enlisted in the regiment in the regiment during the second year of the war january march and july were especially popular times the almost 200 men who joined the regiment in january may have been spurred to action by the november and december battles that took place in indian territory round mountain. she stotalisa and houston nala. all three engagements were efforts to subdue wealthy creek indian authority. yahola and his followers initially hoping to remain neutral the creek leader disagreed with the creek council's decision to ally with the confederacy while other native nations were negotiating treaties of alliance with confederate officials. indians loyal to the american
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federal government were coalescing around of both lady ahola who we can see in this rendering here though. his wife was a slaveholder. he promised freedom for enslaved people and many in nearby indian nations ran away to join him. phoebe banks whose parents had been owned by the creek perryman and macintosh families recalled her family joining gage as a postlay. ohola was known our fan all our family join up with him, and there was lots of creek indians and slaves in the outfit when they made a break for the north the runaways was writing pony stolen from their masters. she says, moreover many free blacks also favored his units unionist stance and joined the loyal creek camps which were growing in size. some estimated that a closely ahola had as many as 9,000 followers though. only 2,000 would have been fighting men. kernel douglas h cooper led over
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1400 native confederates supplemented by the ninth, texas cavalry to attack and then pursue chief of both layaola and his band each of these three battles punctuated a postlay yehola's flight to kansas. there were a number of deaths that were recorded in these records 105 four of which were for horses, which is something we can talk about in the q&a if you would like seven were from this campaign against a post. layaola cherokee presbyterian minister steve steven foreman wrote in his diary in january of 1862 that he had heard about 14 men were lost in the fighting perhaps the additional deaths noted by foreman came from the ninth fourth, texas cavalry that colonel cooper had called in as reinforcements. despite these losses. the confederate forces could claim a victory because they had forced so many loyal indians into kansas and neutralized the
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threat represented by a post. layaola. but with this threat remain outside of indian territory missionary joseph morrow worried that once the weather conditions conditions improved. there will be squali times in this territory again, unless there is considerable force unless there is a considerable force of confederate troops on the kansas border to oppose old posey another nickname for a closely ahola and his indians and wilder jayhawkers. if this feeling was widespread within indian territory more broadly and among the choctaws in particular it may explain the burst of enlistments in january of 1862. the men joined the regiment at eagle town look fatka, and oatesville all look located in the epoque chanubi district in the southeastern corner of the nation closer to texas and arkansas nearly 230 mormon enlisted in march again from this same area.
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the companies raised in red river county formed on march 10th, most likely in response to the battle at pea ridge, which was at elkhorn tavern in nearby, arkansas, right? so here's one representation of the battle at pea ridge from 1889. so after the war but still in the 19th century and here is a 20th century rendering again, which we could talk about if you like that comes from the talk's tops trading card company, and this was produced in 1962 as a part of a celebration of the war centennial and it's the art of bob saunders and the back of the card had a summary of the war and the whole collection included 88 cards 87 with 87 with images and then a card that was the checklist so that you
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knew you had collected all the cards. and right you can see the difference in terms of the depiction and the 19th century versus the depiction in the 20th century. so i'm gonna i'm gonna pause share because i don't want to leave this on on this and well, i'll go forward to battle so you can see battles that are taking place. so the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted rifles failed to arrive on time at pea ridge and the federal forces defeated the confederate troops the confederate general albert pike pulled back his forces leaving indian territory, very isolated the proximity of the fighting and the threat of southern failure may have spurred confederate choctaw companies to form june and july brought still another 200 troops into service. so i hope what i'm giving you a sense of what i'm trying to argue for is that you can see that these.
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battles can spur enlistment activity that the enlistments are happening obviously in this larger world where they're paying attention to events. they're paying attention to political activity. they're paying attention to battles and this can encourage or discourage enlistments among choctaw troops. so because i want to be mindful of our time. and i always have more stuff than i should. i'm going to jump ahead a little bit. to one just to mention the tom kawa massacre which takes place in the least least district of the chickasaw nation. you can see this the star marking that and i want to bring this up just because it demonstrates that during the war there can be tensions within groups and there can be tensions
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between native groups that are magnified by what's happening with the war. so the wichita agency is in the least district and it's at the center of the action the wichita indians claimed that they're treaty with the confederacy had been signed under duress but groups such as the comanches and tom call was had signed willingly. the confederate government was not able to meet the stipulations for supplies and medicine included in the treaty as texans continue to make incursions at the asian sea despite their shared loyalty to the confederacy tensions rose to the point that indian agent matthew leeper moved his family to the safety of sherman, texas when union raiders which reportedly included members of the shawnee, delaware kickapoo seminal cherokee and osage tribes infiltrated the agency some confederate indians joined the raiders because of their frustrations with leaper and the confederate governments unkept promises. reports of the death of a cato
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boy and the suspected cannibalism of the tonkawa suddenly focused the various groups hire sharply on the tonkawas. the tankawa's reported to superintendent ss got that they lost 23 of their warriors and about a hundred of their women and children in the massacre. the american civil war then could exacerbate tensions within native groups and between native groups in some ways echoing the notion of the war as a fight in that could pit brother against brother or friend against friend. rather than stoke enthusiasm for the confederacy the takawa massacre revealed how convoluted the alliances between groups could be and the persistence of old grievances. by 1863 we see that the enlistment numbers declined sharply only 189 soldiers enlisted. remember we chart more than a thousand enlistments in 1861 and nearly 800 and 1862. as in the larger confederacy by
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1863 the civil war had gone on much longer than anyone expected the realities of fighting familial separation and being poorly provisioned extinguished chakra choctaw enthusiasm for the war as confederate officer. edward wkd wrote to his wife in 1863. i am sick of war and the separation from the dearest objects of life. surely many choctaw soldiers would have agreed with the sentiment captain david perkins for us for instance resigned his command of company e in the first choctaw and chickasaw regimen in 1863 because of physical infirmity, but also stated and last but not least. the reason is i have so many little children unless i stay at home and provide for them. they must necessarily suffer as they have been during my first campaign. these men felt the tug of family and home and do the suffering of the civilians as war as the war continued.
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the choctaw enlistments that did occur clustered in the first half of 1863 in february, march and april with no enlistments occurring after july. of course in january of 1863 we have the emancipation proclamation from abraham lincoln which took effect ending slavery and rebelling states and parts of states what it was while it was unclear if the proclamation applied to indian territory news of emancipation did spread to indian territory if nothing else union troops, sometimes informed enslaved people in indian territory of their change in status. so this charlotte johnson white um learned of emancipation when soldiers arrived at her cherokee masters plantation perhaps more relevant to choctaw military enlistments was the activity in the cherokee nation in the first
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part of 1863 a pro-union faction of cherokees claimed rightful authority to govern and establish a new legislature in february of 1863 and one of their first acts was to abolish slavery in the cherokee nation. while many cherokee slaveholders did not recognize the legitimacy of this new government and likely ignored this act the fact remains that these actions brought abolition and the prospect of emancipation to the heart of indian territory for some choctaws events in the cherokee nation may have hardened their resolve and led to the clusters of enlistments and scullyville and san boys locations and motion letubby district closer to the cherokee nation on the other hand, perhaps cherokee emancipation and lincoln's proclamation led many other choctaws to see the confederate chances for success declining and affected the overall soften the overall enlistment numbers.
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in july battles took place at cabin creek and honey springs. all right, which you can see that choctaw nation map here and that. some of where some of the enlistments have been taking place and if we go to the battle right, here we go. you can see the battles at cabin creek and honey springs. these also may have affected choctaw enlistment numbers cabin creek was located along, texas road and important supply route for moving military supplies from fort scott, kansas to indian territory and the battle consisted of a series of skirmishes as stanwady's forces attempted to capture federal supplies. the confederates eventually failed and weighty blamed the defeat on his lack of canon. more remarkable is the diversity of forces present troops from, colorado, wisconsin and kansas the indian home guards
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confederate indian troops, texas partisans and the first kansas colored volunteers all clashed on the battlefield. private christopher kimball of the ninth, kansas calvary described the federal forces attempting the crossing major foreman assumed command which consisted of the indians five companies of the colored regiment the mounted men of the second, colorado and captain charles j stewart's company the ninth kansas major foreman followed by captain bud gritts of the third indian advanced into the stream. it's it's amazing the confluence of troops that have participated in this battle. private kimball's words paint a portrait of men of different races fighting together to preserve the country. in fact historian mark laos suggests that the unions try racial army in the west could have been a model for future race relations in the united states. here you can see a very
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pixelated version of the confederate battle flag based on the seal of the choctaw nation note the bowen arrow as well as the tomahawk at the center like cabin creek honey springs was also located along the important supply route of texas of the texas road and in july of 1863 confederate forces use the location as a stage in ground to prepare an attack on fort gibson and push federal forces out of indian territory soldiers amassed honey springs hears a sketch of it from harper's weekly and brought in supplies and preparation for the march to fort gibson. again, the fighting would include men of native at ancestry of african ancestry and euromericans a fact not lost on the men involved as they waited for the command to advance colonel james and williams told the men of the first kansas colored volunteer tears. this is the day we have been patiently waiting for the enemy
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at kevin creek gave you the opportunity of showing them what men can do fighting for their natural rights and for their recently acquired freedom and the freedom of their children and their children's children. colonel williams also assessed his men's performance after the fighting. they the rebels received the lesson which in my opinion taught them not to just not to despise on the battlefield array. they had long tyrannized over as having no rights, which a white man was bound to respect. i had long been of the opinion that this race had a right to kill traders and proved their capacity for the work. colonel williams certainly understood the meaning of color troops on this battlefield for they for themselves and for the men that they face private edward folsom of the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted bridal rifles was on the other side of the battle lines and the color troops made in on him as well. he remarked it was not long before the federal cavalry found us and came over with -- tripped
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troops and give us fight. we had one side of elk creek and they the other it was a stand-up fight. i never did see so many wounded -- troops in a small fight soldiers everywhere. not just in the south were impressed by the combat action of color troops during the war. the confederates failed at honey springs because of inferior munition supplies and in part the combined actions of the first kansas code regimen and the indian home guards, the confederates outnumbered the federals by two to one, but were outgunned three to one. and the inferior quality of the confederate gunpowder meant that the downpour during the battle on july 17th rendered their arms useless according to general cooper. as the fight reached on the federal indian home guard regiment inadvertently misled the 20th and 29th, texas cavalry into thinking that the federals were retreating and the texans pursued only to be met with a volley of bullets from the first
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kansas colored and forced to pull back. the then the federal troops picked up the texans colors tandy walker arrived with choctaw and chickasaw troops laid in the fight and was able to hold the federal forces as a confederate forces continued to retreat dallas bowman a private from the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted rifles remembered the feds followed us about half a mile out on the prairie at which time our battalion charged on them and held them in check until the train could get out of the way native troops then were important to both confederate and federal forces in the battle as the troops fled general cooper ordered the destruction of supplies and munitions located in honey springs. corporal wk make emson of the confederate indian brigade led the squad that set fire to the commissary in quartermaster stores. formerly enslaved person henry clay had been owned in creek nation and remembered the smoke
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and fire as the yankees burn up honey springs. he said but in reality what he likely saw was the results of confederate action rather than federal action. some and save people also witnessed the battle and describe the fighting and retreat years later greek freed woman lucinda davis from this lectures opening heard the guns going all day and along in the evening here come the south side making for a getaway. they come riding and running by where we is and it don't make no difference how much the headmen haulers at them. they can't make that much slow up and stop. davis's description matches private bowman's comments that confederate troops scattered which caused confusion and we had a general stampede likewise private edward folsom reporter that his company's pickett stampeded and broke for the mountains and almost got away. phoebe banks's uncle jacob told her the fighting at honey creek
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was the most terrible fighting. he seen but the union soldiers whipped and went back into fort gibson. the rebels was chased all over the country and couldn't find each other for a long long time the way he tell it. banks' family had been owned by a creek family and followed a post-leahola to kansas uncle. jacob had returned to indian territory with federal troops to fight the indians that stayed with the south. in his words a disheartened private are mcdermott from the 2020th, texas cavalry seemed to confirm uncle jacobs account. i believe they will whip us and whip us all the time until we are reinforced from texas at some other point. we got so much scatteredness in the stampede that we was three days getting together and not all have come in yet. it seems that confederate soldiers truly had scattered across the country and did not regroup immediately for a counter attack or another engagement.
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so this battle at honey springs proved to be the largest battle fought in indian territory based on numbers approximately 9,000 men met here. and nearly 6,000 can work approximately 9,000 close to 6,000 confederates and close to 4,000 union soldiers. the confederate loss left the texas road open for union control and allowed federal troops to take fort gibson some view honey springs as a turning point for confederate forces in indian territory after which white troops no longer defended the area in an organized manner moreover the victory gave federal troops an avenue into choctaw nation described as the fiercest and most steadfast of the indian nations and the confederacy. given the scale of the fighting and the defeat it comes as no surprise that the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted rifles did not see any new enlistments for the remainder of the year the federal sent troops to fort gibson to strengthen their position in the territory and
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july of 1863 handed confederate forces major losses confederates were back on their heels and tracked our soldiers may have viewed the southern effort as a losing one overall. so the compiled service records for the soldiers of the first choctaw and chickasaw mounted rifles provide a window into the experiences of civil war soldiers in indian territory. the troops often did not leave other kinds of records such as journals or diaries and letters home were rare indeed service records include important information about when and where soldiers mustard for battle for how long they enlisted and the kind of they work they performed the accompanying records in the service jackets while uneven and predictable and unpredictable offer further glimpses of daily life for the troops some of the records that i haven't just discussed today tracked the movement of federal prisoners of war from camp to camp and showed that some soldiers would choose to swear the oath of loyalty and even join federal unions.
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other prisoners of war were exchange these records also included more mundane though consequent consequential information such as petitions for promotion letters of and certificates of disability. the records offer the opportunity to add me to bare-bone status about troop movements and battle losses. thus a picture emerges of enthusiastic enlistees in the choctaw nation at the beginning of the war who support for the war waned as they were plagued by poor provisions and desertion as the war progressed. talk talk consider confederates, then we're not so different from southern confederates in many respects. thank you. thank you very much. that was great. really enjoyed it. we've already got some good questions coming in and i'd like to encourage the audience to keep those questions coming type them into the q&a box.
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we've got a couple of questions that both touch on the motivations for chuck talk people to side with the confederacy and both people asking this question kind of assume based poly on what you've said and partly another knowledge. i think that it was it was one of those cases where they joined with the confederacy because the enemy of my enemy is my friend and you know, they obviously had a very strange history with the united states one of the people asking this kind of question draws a parallel with the american revolution where some native americans cited with one side of the other because of the way they've been treated the past so what would you say about the primary motivation of the choctaw for siding with the confederacy? i think that choctaws were interested in a couple of things one. they were interested in protecting their sovereignty and
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main and preserving their identity as choctaw people, and i think i sometimes make the joke that well though. i don't know if everyone will like this joke, but i sometimes make the joke that for the choctaws the argument about states' rights actually had real meaning meaning that the choctaws understood this as a moment that they could protect sovereignty surely people who are claiming to want to have states rights would recognize the sovereignty of these native nations, right and on moreover the confederate government promises them all kinds of things. they promised to recognize sovereignty they promised to pay for all of their costs related to the war they offer them represent. position in the confederate congress, right? so i think one layer of it is that they're attempting to preserve choctaw sovereignty
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another level of their support for the confederacy has to do with their participation in the enslavement of people of african descent their slaveholders. they have an economy in which slavery is an important part. they're producing cotton for the market now their mix of goods they're producing as a little bit different. they produce more more corn than cotton which isn't what you see in the larger south, but they are using slave labor and they are creating a society that has a racial hierarchy. and so i think that is another reason why they support the confederacy they have all these connections and ties to the south as well, you know, the indian agents that the federal government have sent to work with native nations are by and large from the south right so they're going to have this relationship and be proposing that the native nations should
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support southern causes. they are the funds that are due to the choctaw nation. a lot of them are invested in southern companies and southern concerns. right. so there's also an element of thinking. well if if we don't side with the south are we going to lose all of these investments that have been made on our behalf, right? so there are a lot of factors that push them in that direction, but i think i argue that paramount is this concern for sovereignty and this desire to protect choctaw sovereignty which is connected to a desire to preserve choctaw identity and then the fact that they're practicing the enslavement of people of african descent and the confederacy promises to protect that right? so, you know, that's an important factor in their decision. yeah, definitely and would you
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say that confederates genuinely saw the choctaws as equals in this kind of racial hierarchy, you know saw them as fellow slaveholders who had that common interest always it more an alliance of convenience for the confederacy. um, i i would i would go with the ladder an alliance of convenience and i say that because there these moments where they're coming to the confederacy goes to the native nations because they see this the indian territory as an important place that they don't want them to side with the federal government because you know, it's it's making an inroad into their into a place where federal troops could easily attack southern states, right? so they i mean there's that that's motivating confederate desire to have native nations as allies, but there are these and they recognize that their slaveholders and trade with them
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etc. but then there are these moments in the treaty agreement that they make with the choctaws and chickasaws for instance where they assert where the confederate government asserts authority in a way that reveals that they don't respect to their sovereignty. so for instance when they make the of you could have someone be a delegate in our government. they then want to supervise the election. well, why does the confederate government need to supervise the election in chickasaw nation or choctaw nation of their delegate? they've been conducting elections for quite some time and they seem to know what they're doing. so right so it's you know moments like that or where they make stipulations in the alliance that if the choctaws sell land or or make any land session agreements with the federal government, then they forfeit all of the land right? well, that's that's the kind of requirement you make when you
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see yourself as being in some position of authority over that population and then you have these also these statements from confederate soldiers where they talk about native troops and what it pretty racist terms, you know in the language that seems very familiar if you look at how soldiers white soldiers talk about colored troops right lack of discipline. don't take care of their uniforms right the same kind of language. so i think there's definitely they're not seeing them as equals. yeah. yeah a different kind of question now more on the kind of military side of things you told us about a few battles close to what was then indian territory or within and the in territory that chucked our sold just fought in did they fight in any
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battles for the east they the native nations make a requirement of their alliance with the confederacy that they can't be asked to fight outside of an indian territory without their permission, right? so they feel very committed to staying in the in the in indian territory unless they agreed to do it. so the example that usually comes out is poison springs or four pillow it's where there's a massacre of colored troops and it's chalk talk troops that are described as being vicious in their yeah. yeah, so they so they they can go outside of indian territory and but not a not on the eastern they're not going to go on the eastern seaboard unless they're i'm sure there may be examples of for instance maybe scouts
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that are right because we know that there are scouts like seneca scouts or whatever that are in in other areas, but i haven't seen evidence of them going all the way to the eastern seaboard and again, they they are very quite clear that they have to agree if they're going to go somewhere outside of indian territory. right, and we have a couple of questions about slavery and the choctaw people just kind of generally what was slavery like in the choctaw nation and another question about whether either the choctaw or the chickasaw made any kind of official statement about slavery or the enslaved people. i assume that means their role in the civil war and you know their place is a the place of slavery as a motivation for choctaw chickasaw involvement. um, so in terms of what slavery
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looked like in choctaw nation, there's a whole chapter in my book. or um for it for chickasaw nation, you can see barbara krauthamer's excellent book, but in general it looks a lot like what you think of as slavery in the american south so again the mix of crop production can be a little bit different but there are choctaw slaveholders who are large slaveholders who are producing cotton for market their examples of a broad marriages meaning marriages where the in the enslaved partners don't live on the same plantation. we see evidence of that and choctaw nation. i would say something that's a little bit different is that in choctaw nation and in indian territory you see examples of sometimes enslaved people
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serving as interpreters because sometimes you have enslaved people who actually may have been enslaved in a place like, georgia or alabama or something and speak english, but then now our verse in the choctaw language and so you have that happen sometimes where there are enslaved people who are serving as interpreters in the choctaw nation. so i think that probably would come as a surprise to people but in many ways the contours are very similar again to the larger american south are so there are some accounts that you see were enslaved people in their autobiographies later in their narratives later will say that native masters are kinder, but we also have accounts of native masters being quite cruel. so i think this the there's a spectrum of treatment just like in the larger american south but there's a spectrum of treatment.
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of enslaved people by masters that varies based on the master not so much because they're in a native nation if you take the accounts of some white southerners who describe what's happening in choctaw nation and in indian territory there are they will often say things which we i think we can assume are tinged by racism. so native masters are lazy and they don't know how to control their. their slaves or they don't know how to do work or they don't get it. they're not good masters like effective masters, and i don't know. if if we really have evidence of that or if that's just you know, the rhetoric that those people are using because they're trying to say something negative about native masters. so that's that's a little bit of a snapshot and i've lost the
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thread of the second half of the question. yeah. it was was there any kind of official statement where the choctaw the chickasaw came out and said, you know, we're doing this because of slavery or you know slavery means this to us. oh and that kind of way, um they there are let me think there are statements where the like where the principal chief or other choctaw officials will things like where southern in every respect where they say things like that? we're southern and every respect or where they talk about the purchase and sale of enslaved people or there's a letter from a prominent choctaw where he talks about why lincoln is a problem right and that they're not for emancipation or letters
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where they say kind of the same thing that you see a white slave holders say you know like say say howdy to my people for me. maybe they're enslaved people. so it's very similar. in terms of the way that they're talking about it now, do we have an alexander stevens cornerstone moment? no, we do not have a cornerstone moment of this news nation is built upon this no, we don't have that. all right, not that i found yet. right so when one of the things i really liked about your book is the way you talk about the sauces you used and that came out in the talk tonight with the compiled service records, and you know, you showed us examples in in the book itself. you also talk a fair amount about the wpa slave narratives and how you approach those and i
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think you have some very thoughtful and interesting things to say there. and so i wonder if you could share a bit of that with the audience tonight. you know, what those sources like how you use them? you know what kinds of cautions you have to take using those sources? yeah, so if folks aren't familiar with them the works progress administration slave narratives the wpa slave narratives are an amazing resource. i think at this point there's 50 volumes their vice cat organized by state, but that's a little bit misleading because they're like the texas narratives are people who were interviewed in texas. not necessarily who had been enslaved in texas, right? so these narratives develop because during the great depression. you know when they're putting people to work, they're also putting people writers to work
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to collect these narratives and the work really starts with black academics who send their students out from historically black colleges to go out and interview formerly enslaved people because they realize that it's you know getting they're getting older it's you know, 60 years after emancipation and that this is a valuable resource that's fading away. and so these black academics do some of this early interviewing of people and then the works progress administration kind of takes up the mantle of that and puts writers to work and has them have them go out and interview. formerly enslaved people and they ask about all kinds of stuff. food a punishment relationships
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church religious practices and there's a similar thing that happens with the indian pioneer histories. but again, they're interviewing people who were in indian territory in the 19th century and the wpa slave narratives, you know, you have to be very careful and how you work with them. so one some states are over-represented like, arkansas. right there too many narratives in arkansas for the distribution of the enslaved population there are obviously going to skew towards people who were very young at the time of emancipation because it's so many years after right. um, the another complaint is that people's memory might not be so good right that many years after there's a great article in the journal of southern history, that's about how maybe these narratives tell you more about the moment of the great
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depression than they do about the past because there's a lot of descriptions of food in those narratives and if you think about people who are literally who are starving because of the depression you could imagine a lot of discussion of of good food that you had in the past. but other problems include that some of the interviewers right some of the people sent out to interview these formerly enslaved people. are are related to the people who enslaved the person being interviewed, right? so that's awkward. we see a difference in terms of for instance how the informants talk about punishment if the interviewer is white or if the interviewer is black, right? um, there are also some things that you have to think about in terms of how the interviewer is rendering the person's voice.
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so there are near these narratives where the interviewer asks, the question the informant response and where the interviewer and includes this in the transcription, which i always find kind of amazing. um, auntie is this how you talk when you're with your own people. i want you to talk to me the way that you would talk to your own people so you'll have this first part that's in standard english then once the person has asked the informant. well, i want you to talk to me the way you talk to the your own people. everything else is in dialect, but then you wonder is it in dialect because the person actually spoke to you in dialect or did you decide they should right be speaking and dialect right? so i'm giving you all these reasons why we have to be careful or a little bit skeptical the sources. however, if you use them carefully if if you think about
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well like another transcription problem. i don't know how old i am. it'll say. i don't know how old i am but the person will write it as i don't know and oh how old i am instead of i don't know k n o w. how old i am? how do you know that your informant doesn't know the difference between no and oh and no k n o w right. so again these kinds of of concerns, but i think if you read them carefully and then compare them to other kinds of material that we have. look for patterns within the narratives where you see a common thing mentioned by many informants over a geography right that then you can make some some good suppositions about how accurate they are. and the last thing that i would say about them is that two things i would say about them
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one. they're held up to a kind of scrutiny that sometimes it seems that other sources not about black. people are not held up to right and i think we should be asking these kinds of questions of all of the sources that we look at. why is it that these sources in particular have to be so concerning for people? so that's one and number two is that they're this amazing opportunity to hear from enslaved people in their own voice as much as we can see that it's their own voice right that it's this it's a it's so unique that we have that that we have this way to access their their. some of their thoughts and feelings for you know a population that legally was prohibited from gaining literacy so that they could they could record this themselves at the time. so i think they're really valuable and really powerful and
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then also they sometimes include photos so you can actually see the person being interviewed which again, i just i think it's amazing and i tell my students in class all the time. slavery is not as far away from the present moment as we think. right. i mean these are people from the 20th century who were alive and experienced enslavement right that it's not a distant past. it's it's much closer than than perhaps uncomfortably close to us in time. yeah, absolutely. i couldn't agree more. maybe we can move on to the postwar period just for the last few minutes. so which you are so get into in your book and one of the questions is about relations with the us government and so attitudes towards the confederate government after the war after the confederacy was defeated, i guess one way to ask it would be that the choctaw's regret what they had done and
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did they suffer for what they had done in their relations with the us government after the war. yeah, so it's really interesting because you get a kind of rewriting of what happened later. so i i gave all these examples of wow, they're enlisting before the treaty has even treaty of alliance has even been signed they are. thronging these locate locations in order to sign up to muster and for service what you get after the war is you get statements from the principal chief that say things like we had no other choice. we were fort we were forced into this position. we would have chosen something else if we could have right so you definitely get a rewriting and a minimization of that enthusiasm and and desire to
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enlist that we see if we look at these records. so that's that definitely happens the second thing that we do see is that yes there it definitely affects the relationship between native nations and the federal government. they get reconstructed just like the larger south does and so there's you know a treaty that forces them to accept formerly enslaved people that they owned right so they don't have to take formerly enslaved people from texas say, right? they have to accept them as citizens and because land is held in common this gives those freed people land. and that's a huge difference obviously than what happens in the larger south right? so for the freedman, it's a it's a very different picture because they're in choctaw nation or
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nation or chickasaw nation versus in georgia or alabama etc. they get access to land now, do they get access to the same amount of land as other people as citizens by blood? no, but they still get access to land and that has real consequences which melinda miller could tell people all about right? so there's that consequence for the freed people, but the larger consequences that the federal government can use the participation of the choctaws and the chickasaws and the cherokees on the side of the confederacy to make more inroads on native sovereignty to to be punitive in ways that then allow them to get access to more. and and to chip away at native sovereignty and native self-government. so there are definite consequences definite bad consequences for having made that decision. right and you you mentioned, you
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know, the choctaw the chickasaw and the cherokee has been in some ways in a similar boat and situation one attendee is asking about the comparison between the way those three nations treated formally enslaved black people after the war, you know, you mentioned in the choctaw case that they were required to give black people citizenship of a kind but maybe not full citizenship and was that the same in in all three nations or was it different? well, so i should first say that initially the when the federal government makes this demand they say or or the people the freed people will have to leave and the choctaw nation says yes make them go so their initial responses. no, we don't want to make them citizens and you should and the
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federal government and withholds money waiting for the choctaws to comply and make citizens of these folks then the federal government gives them the money and so then the choctaw government says well, yeah. well we still want them gone. you gave us the money. we we told you we didn't want them here. so the freed people actually are exist in a weird kind of legal limbo in choctaw nation until 1883 where there until they pass a bill to clarify their status. cherokee nation since that's the subject of my first book they do things like put in the newspaper that freed people have to get back to cherokee nation in a time time limit if they want to be eligible for citizenship, which is tough because some cherokee and slavers actually. did what many other southerners do in refugee elsewhere and you know took their enslaved
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property to texas and so, you know, it's hard for the again a largely illiterate population you put an ad in the newspaper that says hurry back if you want to be eligible for citizenship, right? that's tough. so the cherokee nation does that and they they like the choctaw nation? are forced to grant citizenship? grant citizenship, but then do all kinds of things to limit your political rights, right? so they're the freed people are able to be citizens and to access land but they are there are other kinds of limitations placed on political rights and civil rights. yeah. well on that note. i'm afraid to say we're actually out of time. i really really enjoyed our conversation. i want to thank the audience that providing us with great questions. i apologize if we didn't get to
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your question by really appreciate them all and i also want to say i appreciate the sentiments of the people who simply say, you know, this was a great talk. thank you very much and that kind of thing guys. i couldn't agree more. so thanks to the audience. thanks to to the donors to the virginia center for civil war studies. they are very generous that they have been very generous over the 20 or so years. the center has been an operation and they make possible everything we do. so, thank you, but most of all, thank you to our speaker for tonight dr. yarbrough for giving us such a wonderful talk answering the questions as well. we really appreciate the conversation and the time you took and everyone i think is going to be interested to rush out or at least go to the website of that choice and purchase your book chuck talk confederates, and i think you'll enjoy it as you know, we we've intimated in the q&a session. there's lots more in the book
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and then you've heard about even tonight. so it's definitely worth going out and getting it. c-span has hundreds of programs on first ladies, including archival footage interviews and book talks. here's a look at one of our programs. i feel quite sure that what the american people lack is knowledge. i feel quite sure that. the american people if they have knowledge and leadership can meet any crises just as well as they met it over and over again in the past. i can remember the cries of horror when my husband said we had to have 50,000 airplanes and a given period but we had them. and the the difference was that the people were told. what the reason was and why and i have complete faith in the
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american people's ability if they know and if they have leadership. and no one can move without some leadership. and for the time being you feel that we are bereft of leadership. yes. take a closer. look at the spouses of our nation's presidents their private lives public roles and legacies watch all of our first ladies programs online at first ladies dot so over the past few years i've had the good fortune of working with kevin on our new book coming out soon coming soon from sabbath beatty, but we did a lot of our writing last year during the shutdown. we were both home. we both had some time and you know if i woke up in the morning and was at my desk and writing by 6. am i pretty good about myself i felt accomplished and we worked off a shared document so we could see when each of us were in their editing when we were


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