Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas

Thomas' Legion
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Senator William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(NC Office of Archives and History)

William Holland Thomas
(February 5, 1805--May 10, 1893)
 Cherokee Chief, Confederate Colonel, Lawyer, Entrepreneur, and Statesman

William Holland Thomas never knew his father, was raised by a single mother in a lowly mountain home, lacked any formal education, but was one of the most influential figures in western North Carolina’s history.

Colonel William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(NC Office of Archives and History)

Introduction
 
It is widely believed that without Thomas's intervention the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would not exist.
 
Although William Holland Thomas would serve concurrently as Chief of the Eastern Band and as member of the North Carolina State Senate (1848-1861), he remains the only white man to have served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Indians. Adopted by Chief Yonaguska, Thomas learned to read, write and speak Cherokee at a young age, and his cousins included both President Zachary Taylor and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Although he was an entrepreneur and businessman, a self-taught lawyer and Indian Agent who negotiated Cherokee treaties with Washington, Thomas aligned himself with the Confederacy and commanded a unit known as Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders, a military force that proved to be instrumental in keeping western North Carolina free of any long term Union occupation. Whereas Thomas owned more land than any fellow citizen in western North Carolina's history with landholdings that rivaled the Vanderbilts, he died penniless. To date, the Eastern Band continues to honor its great white chief, and the North Carolina State Senate has also recognized Thomas with Senate Joint Resolution 1171.

Cherokee Chief Yonaguska
Chief Yonaguska.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Making of a Chief
 
William Holland Thomas was born on February 5, 1805, in Haywood County, North Carolina, and unfortunately his father had died in an accident in the fall of 1804. His parents were born in England, and his mother, Temperance Calvert, was born in New Castle on the Tyne (present-day Newcastle upon Tyne). William spelled his mother's maiden name Colvard, since Colvard was, however, a common spelling for Calvert, with many Colvards and Calverts being related. The reason for the misspelling was simply phonetics. Temperance Calvert was the grand-niece of Lord Baltimore, the Founder of Maryland, and through her Strother lineage, she was cousin to Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States. (Temperance's mother was 1st cousin to Zachary's mother.) Taylor was also 2nd cousin to President James Madison and 4th cousin, once removed, to General Robert E. Lee. He would even become father-in-law to (future) Confederate President Jefferson Davis -- who had married Taylor's daughter, Sarah Knox. Taylor's son was dashing Confederate General Richard Taylor, making him brother-in-law to Davis. General Nathan Bedford Forrest once commented that if the South had more soldiers like General Taylor, "we would have licked the Yankees long ago!" 
 
William's father, Richard Thomas, was of Welsh descent. During the American Revolution, Richard was one of the famed Overmountain men who fought the British at Kings Mountain, and while serving in the 11th Virginia Regiment, he was captured by the British and held as a Prisoner of War from August 1, 1776, to September 1, 1777. He either escaped or was released and rejoined the 11th Virginia and continued fighting the British. Like many Revolutionary War veterans, Richard Thomas accepted a Land Grant in western North Carolina.
 
During his youth, William excelled in biblical studies and mathematics, and while employed at a local trading post, a Cherokee co-worker taught him the Cherokee language. William was eventually adopted by the tribe, and he learned their customs as well as how to write in Cherokee (see Learn How to Speak, Read, and Write in the Cherokee Language). He also learned their legends, history, and culture. At the age of 16, William would initiate his first of five businesses, a store known as a trading post where he perfected his organizational, leadership, and managerial skills. With a volume of law books that he obtained from his former employer Felix Walker, William would become a self-taught and persuasive lawyer, and acquired knowledge that would prove critical to the Cherokee survival.

Eastern Cherokee Indian Nation
Eastern Cherokee Indian Nation.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Cherokee Chief Yonaguska (Drowning Bear) referred to the young William as Wil-Usdi, meaning "Little Will." Yonaguska was considered the most prominent Chief among the Eastern Cherokee and would refer to Little Will as his son. Years later, after someone read a few chapters of the "Gospel according to Matthew" to  Yonaguska, the Chief replied, "It is a strange that the white people are not any better after having this so long." Because William and Chief Yonaguska were strong advocates of the Temperance Society, the Cherokee would eventually sign a pledge stating that they would abstain from spirits, and any Indian who partook in alcoholic consumption was subject to a fine or whipping. Many Indians  professed to be Christians, they attended the Methodist Church, and the largest concentration of Cherokee Christians resided along the Valley River and near Murphy, North Carolina. Their Christian worship resembled modern-day Pentecostalism and was celebrated with "dancing and shouting," recorded William Stringfield.
 
Chief, Intercessor, Adviser, Agent, and Lawyer

 

For nearly five decades, Thomas played a crucial role in Cherokee affairs.
 
During the 1835 Treaty of New Echota negotiations, Indian Agent Thomas was in Washington* and he successfully lobbied for the right of a number of Cherokee to remain in North Carolina (see Cherokee Treaties). The Indians that Thomas had saved long ago, now form the present-day Eastern Band, and throughout history the tribe has been known as Oconaluftee, Lufty, and Qualla Indians. But it was Thomas who spent a good portion of his life in Washington that in fact secured the preservation of the Eastern Cherokee from the forced march west known as the Trail of Tears of 1838 (see The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy), which the Lufty refer to as Nunahi-Duna-Dlo-Hilu-I or Trail Where They Cried.
 
During the death march in 1838, Thomas had provided safe haven for some 1000 Cherokee Indians, and it is noteworthy that his intervention can be seen today with more than 12,000 Cherokee residing in western North Carolina. The tribe believes that without Thomas's efforts the Eastern Band would not exist.
 
*Although David (Davy) Crockett allied himself with General Andrew Jackson against the Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the Tennessee Congressman strongly and openly opposed President Andrew Jackson's (7th President, 1829-1837) Indian removal policies, which ultimately cost Crockett his political career. Consequently, Crockett relocated to Texas and died in the Battle of the Alamo. (President Andrew Jackson and the Cherokee Perspective.)

Chief William Holland Thomas History
Chief William Holland Thomas History.jpg
William Thomas and the Cherokee

Thomas's Chest in 1846
Thomas's Chest in 1846.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

(Right) Thomas purchased this chest in 1846, and he used it to store his numerous documents and papers relating to the Cherokee.
 
During 1839-1840, William was in Washington fighting for the claims and rights of the Cherokee. It was also in 1839 when Chief Yonaguska appointed his adopted son Will as Cherokee Chief. Yonaguska believed that Will was the best choice and that he also held all things Cherokee close to his heart. Thomas loved the Indians, they were his family, and even when the Confederacy was doomed in 1864, Colonel Thomas would plead with South Carolina officials to immediately send food and clothing, the basic necessities, to the western North Carolina Cherokee lest they starve (O.R. Series 1, 53, pp. 313-314**). Thomas's land purchases constitute much of the Qualla Boundary, and Paint Town, Bird Town, Yellow Hill, Big Cove and Wolf Town were also named by him. Near the Qualla Boundary a monument dedicated to Thomas says that he was "the best friend the Cherokee ever had."
**Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; hereinafter cited as O.R.

 

In the late winter of 1839, while Thomas was in Washington, Yonaguska died. Thomas learned about it in April. Before his death, the old chief had summoned the men in his band to form a circle around his pallet in the Soco Council House. They accepted his recommendation that Little Will be allowed to succeed him. Yonaguska then advised them to abstain from drinking liquor and never to move west. William Holland Thomas became Chief of the Oconaluftee Indians. He was the only white man to hold that office. E. Stanly Godbolt, Jr. and Mattie U. Russell, Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas, 40-8.

Entrepreneur, Husband, and Visionary

William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Will was also a businessman and his extensive travel experiences promoted his profound vision for lucrative Southern turnpikes and railroads. He spent numerous years lobbying wealthy business owners, banks, and the state senate to support constructing the transcontinental railroad, only to see his plans and dreams derailed prior to the Civil War. He often stated to his wife that his dream was to build a transcontinental railroad, because he believed it was necessary for the South's survival.

Many sources declare that Thomas owned vast amounts of real-estate. His holdings included more than 150,000 acres, including thousands of acres held in trust for the Cherokee. Although a very wealthy man, his selflessness and profound generosity kept him in debt and on the constant brink of bankruptcy. For months and sometimes years, many Indians purchased goods on credit at Thomas's stores. Although the Cherokee were hard workers, many were unable to compensate Thomas because employment in the region was scarce. But even when he didn't receive payment he continued to meet the Indians' needs.

Colonel Thomas Muster Record
North Carolina Confederate Civil War Record.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

He didn't display much affection for the so-called fancy city women because he believed that they were too worldly and self-centered. Senator Thomas found solace in smoking cigars, fishing, and occasionally attending the "theatre." Eventually, at the age of 51, the bachelor William had a romantic relationship with the shy, 24 year old, Sarah Jane Burney Love. Their marriage bond reflects that they married on June 30, 1857, at Sarah's home in Haywood County, with Reverend Banister Turner officiating.
 
Sarah, affectionately referred to as Sallie, was the daughter of William's long time friend and former business partner James Robert Love, and she was also the granddaughter of the Revolutionary War hero Colonel Robert Love, the founder of Waynesville, North Carolina. Sarah's father was a successful lawyer and prosperous businessman with vast landholdings, and he raised his family in White Sulphur Springs, near Waynesville, where Sallie enjoyed like social status with Chief Thomas. William and Sarah begat three children: William H. Thomas, Jr. (1858-1898), James Robert Thomas (1860-1936), and Sallie Love Thomas (1862-1954), and many of their descendants currently reside in western North Carolina. (See Cherokee Adopt William Holland Thomas's Descendants.)
 
Thomas L. Clingman wrote to his close friend Thomas: "As to the dark eyed girl do not hesitate to go totally forward. I hope to get to your wedding soon." E. Stanly Godbolt, Jr. and Mattie U. Russell, Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas, 79-4.

Senator & General Thomas Clingman
Senator Thomas Clingman.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Thomas Lanier Clingman was a prominent United States Senator representing North Carolina and he also commanded the 25th North Carolina Infantry and later Clingman's Brigade. Colonel Thomas Clingman, later promoted to brigadier-general, was an ardent lawyer and one of the most outspoken politicians of his era and his proslavery and states' rights positions were known by Congress with his quote: "Do us justice and we stand with you; attempt to trample on us and we separate!"
 
General Lee's appreciation for Clingman was well-known at the time he ordered the brigadier to defend Richmond, Virginia. At Lee's request, Clingman and his Bonnie Blue Boys would also assist in routing the Union forces at the Battle of Cold Harbor, a fight that would prompt General Grant, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican-American War, to later write: "I regret this assault more than any one I ever ordered." Grant would eventually lead the overwhelming Union resources to victory, a conquest which he would ride all the way into the White House as 18th President.
 
North Carolina Senator (1848-1861) and Confederate Colonel (1862-1865)

The Thomas Legion
The Thomas Legion.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Thomas displayed a rare ability because he earned the respect and loyalty of both the Cherokee and western North Carolinian. As an adopted Cherokee, Indian agent and Cherokee chief, he earned the confidence of the Cherokee; as a North Carolina State Senator, he gained the vote and trust of the western North Carolinian (aka mountaineer or highlander); and as a self-taught lawyer, he even convinced Washington to exempt approximately 1000 Cherokee Indians from the Trail of Tears.
 

Will, a North Carolina State Senator from Jackson County, was also one of the largest slave owners in western North Carolina. Jackson County, ironically, was named in honor of President Andrew Jackson, and he had signed the act that forced the Cherokee to relocate. According to archives and census records, Thomas had owned less than 50 slaves (Jackson County, North Carolina, 1860 Slave Census) before their emancipation in 1865. Many of the slaves were his friends and he even entrusted one slave to conduct commerce and business transactions on his behalf.

 

Thomas was not a Fire-Eater, he initially opposed secession, and during the war a $5,000 bounty was offered to "anyone that would assassinate the Confederate Chief." (Cherokee Declaration and Civil War, Cherokee Loyalty, and Cherokee Indians and the American Civil War.) While reconnoitering Union positions in Chattanooga, Thomas captured a vidette and he wrote to his wife on June 25, 1862, and stated: "The Indians say as I took the first prisoner each of them must take one to be even." Thomas believed strongly in defensive guerrilla warfare and, since the Union army typically outnumbered the Confederate army by more than two-to-one, he wisely opposed the traditional Napoleonic Tactics. 

Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas.jpg
The headstone of William Holland Thomas' grave

William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.gif
(Historical Marker)

(Right) William Holland Thomas Historical Marker
Inscription:
William Holland Thomas
1805-1893
Businessman, planter and author
Agent and attorney for the Eastern Cherokee
Member of the North Carolina State Senate and Chairman of its Committee on Internal Improvements
Early railroad builder in western North Carolina
Builder of the first wagon road across the Great Smokies
Colonel of the 69th N.C. Regiment
Commander of the Thomas Legion, C.S.A.
Friend and Benefactor of the Cherokee People
Location:
Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, North Carolina

William Holland Thomas to his wife, January 1, 1861
 
North Carolina cannot remain much longer stationary; she must write her destiny either under the flag of Mr. Lincoln and aid to coerce the south or unite with the south to resist and defend their rights.
John C. Inscoe and Gordon B. McKinney, The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War, 46-7.

Thomas Clingman to William H. Thomas, January 9, 1861 

The obvious policy and purpose of the Black Republicans is to keep the South unprepared and divided until they can get into power, and then their intention is unmistakable — to use all the power of the government to compel the South to submit to their domination, to the extent even of abolishing slavery, should civil war afford them a tolerable pretext. If, however, North Carolina, Virginia and the border States will act at once, they may, by preserving a united South, avert the evils of civil war. John C. Inscoe, Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina, 225.

 William H. Thomas to his wife, June 17, 1861 

The mountains of Western North Carolina would be the center of the Confederacy; we shall then have one of the most prosperous countries in the world. It will become connected with every part of the South by railroad. It will then become the center of manufacturing for the Southern market. The place where the southern people will spend their money, educate their children and very probably make laws for the nation. John C. Inscoe, Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina, 228.

Alpha Male and Type "A"

During the Civil War, Thomas was court-martialed three times. Regarding the court-martials, President Jefferson Davis wrote that they were "disingenuous and destructive to the Confederate cause."

Thomas Legion's Officers
Thomas Legion.jpg
(Some of the Unit's Officers)

Thomas's Civil War strategy was the basis for his court-martials. In the summer of 1863, while assigned to Brig. Gen. Alfred Eugene "Old Mudwall" Jackson's command, Colonel Thomas was arrested and awaiting court-martial. Colonel Thomas' Legion had been reorganized into Jackson's Brigade, and Jackson's Brigade consisted of Thomas' Legion only (O.R., 1, 29, pt. II, p. 812 and O.R., 1,  33, p. 1137). Was it a legion or a brigade. This confusing and conflicting command structure was highly contested, so General Jackson had Thomas arrested in June of 1863 and charged with "disobedience of orders." Thomas was sent to Knoxville, Tennessee, to be court-martialed, but Union General Ambrose E. Burnside's East Tennessee invasion intervened and, as a consequence, Thomas' Legion was reassigned thus defusing the situation.

 

Another court-martial was to occur on February 23, 1864, because of the capture of General Robert B. Vance, brother to North Carolina Governor Zebulon B. Vance. Leaving Thomas at Gatlinburg, General Vance had proceeded to Sevierville, Tenn., and was captured because he failed to post pickets and not as a result of Thomas disobeying orders. Vance remained in a Federal prison until the war ended and even conceded that his capture was a misunderstanding of orders. 
 
Prior to the war, while the Vances considered Senator Thomas the nemesis who held opposite views on the ad valorem tax and senate railroad bills, the feud only got worse as the conflict continued. According to official records and reports however, Thomas was not responsible for Robert Vance's capture. But ignoring the reports, Zebulon Vance believed that Thomas was culpable and used his brother's capture as an opportunity to punish his nemesis. Zebulon had initially commanded the valiant 26th North Carolina Regimentwhich would later suffer the greatest loss of any regiment during the Civil War. Zeb would serve as North Carolina's Governor (1862-1865 and 1876-1878) before serving in the U.S. Senate (1879-1894).

War Department & Colonel Thomas
William Holland Thomas Civil War Letter.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

Regarding the capture of Robert Vance, Colonel John B. Palmer, commanding District of Western North Carolina, stated that Lt. Col. James L. Henry, and not Thomas, should be court-martialed (O.R., 1, 32, pt. 1, p. 76). James Seddon, the Confederate Secretary of War, believed that Vance was partially responsible for his own capture, too. Concerning the culpability of Vance's capture, President Jefferson Davis had written that "no action is practicable which seems proper." (O.R., 32, 1, p. 77). And on behalf of Thomas, President Davis also intervened, the charges were dismissed, and no trial was held.
 
On May 11, 1864, Thomas was charged with receiving deserters from the 65th North Carolina Regiment between September 1863 and April 1864. On this occasion, however, General Jackson was relieved of his command and sent to the Army of Tennessee. Again, there was no court-martial. In October of 1864 the trial resumed and Thomas was found guilty of all charges. This court-martial combined a prior court-martial with four additional charges. As with prior charges, he appealed to his dear friend, Jefferson Davis, who once more reversed all charges and exonerated the colonel.
 
In 1865, William Holland Thomas would sign the "Oath of Loyalty to the United States." With a prewar taxable property value exceeding $20,000, a Presidential Pardon was required. North Carolina born President Andrew Johnson, a friend of Thomas for twenty-five years, granted the pardon to the former Confederate on July 5, 1866.
 
Golden Years

Grave of William Holland Thomas
Green Hill Cemetery.jpg
(Green Hill Cemetery)

At the end of the Civil War and advanced in years, William Holland Thomas was emotionally, financially, and physically debilitated. See also Thomas and the Results of the Civil War: An Emotional, Financial, and Physical Toll and William Holland Thomas: Insanity and Syphilis.
 
Initially, in 1867, he was admitted to the North Carolina Insane Asylum at Raleigh and diagnosed with dementia. Subsequently, on May 12, 1883, Thomas was admitted to the western North Carolina Insane Asylum at Morganton, some 200 miles west of Raleigh. Now known as Broughton Hospital, it continues to serve western North Carolina residents. 
 
Whether he volunteered or was forced to enter the asylum, Thomas spent most of his latter years at the asylum or under close supervision. There were times when he was placed on what is commonly referred to as house-arrest in his home near Whittier, North Carolina. Ironically, while Thomas was a state senator a bill was placed on his desk; it was a proposal to create and fund Broughton Hospital.

Thomas was a man well prepared for death, for he had witnessed the loss of every single person that was close to him: his father had passed away just prior to Little Will's birth; his adopted father, Chief Yonaguska, had died one year after the 1838 Trail of Tears; thousands of Cherokee had died during the Trail of Tears; hundreds of North Carolina Cherokee had been killed by smallpox during and after the Civil War; many of his closest friends had died during America's bloodiest war (1861-1865); on October 1, 1874, Will's mother Temperance had died at the age of 100; his darling wife Sallie had died at the age of 45 on May 15, 1877.
 
Within one week of Sallie's passing, Thomas was committed to the asylum where he would spend the remainder of his life. Further irony would plague the Colonel when he petitioned the Governor of North Carolina for his release, because none other than Zeb Vance himself would be sitting in the Governor's chair.

William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(Historical Marker)

At the age of eighty-eight the great Cherokee Chief, Little Will, went to his final resting place at 2:30 A.M. on May 10, 1893.

William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

Thirty years prior, General "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire and died on May 10, 1863, and on May 10, 1865, Union troops captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia. Thomas dreamed about a transcontinental railroad, and on May 10, 1869, the "Golden Spike" (aka "The Last Spike") was the ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the "First Transcontinental Railroad" across the United States connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. Thomas also believed that the North Carolina mountains would become one of the most visited regions of the nation. Today, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located mainly in western North Carolina, is the most visited National Park in the United States. (See Southern Appalachian Mountains.)
 
Two hundred years after Little Will's birth, the Tar Heel State continues to honor and celebrate the beloved Chief with Senate Joint Resolution 1171. Although Union forces never subjugated western North Carolina, the Eastern Band continues to bestow honor and gratitude to its great white chief. My ancestors were friends with William Holland Thomas and several served in Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Reservation.jpg
(Historical Marker)

Cemetery where Thomas was laid to rest
Chief William Holland Thomas.jpg
Chief William Holland Thomas

In Memorial: William Holland Thomas lobbied Washington for the Cherokee to remain in North Carolina and was even on the scene during the 1838 Trail of Tears and persuaded General Winfield Scott, the Indian removal enforcement officer, to allow the Cherokee hiding in the North Carolina mountains to also remain. Without Thomas's intervention at both fronts, there would not be a single Cherokee in western North Carolina. Thomas had spent his entire life, including his massive savings and investments, to secure the right for the Cherokee to survive and remain in North Carolina. Thomas was our Oscar Schindler, and his significance is reflected with the existence of the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This website is dedicated in his memory and honor.
 
Notes: Senator William Holland Thomas photograph, 1858; Colonel William Holland Thomas photograph, ca. 1863, while serving as commanding colonel of Thomas' Legion.

(Bibliography and related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas. Description by University of Tennessee Press: William Holland Thomas (1805-1893) was a unique transcultural figure. A white man from western North Carolina, he was adopted by a small Cherokee Indian band and later became its chief. Equally at home in a drawing room or at a Green Corn Dance, Thomas served as agent for the Oconaluftee Indians in Washington, protecting them from removal to the West in 1838 along the infamous Trail of Tears. Thomas was also a frontier merchant, a builder of railroads and turnpikes, a wealthy owner of land and slaves, a state senator, and a Confederate colonel in the Civil War, in which he commanded a legion of Cherokees and white Appalachians. Continued below…

In this first published biography of Thomas, the authors depict nineteenth-century America at a turning point and document a human tragedy. An influential businessman and politician who enjoyed a storybook courtship and marriage, Thomas came to ruin when—as a member of the North Carolina secession convention—he committed his loyalty toward his people, family, and region to the hopeless cause of the Confederacy. This investigation of Thomas's life also reveals much about the culture and plight of the Cherokees, their experience with removal, their legal battle to "legitimize" themselves as citizens of North Carolina, and their role in the Civil War. Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief will be of interest to students of the Civil War and of Native American, North Carolina, Appalachian, and Southern history. The Authors: E. Stanly Godbold, Jr., is a professor of history at Mississippi State University and coauthor of Christopher Gadsden and the American Revolution. Mattie U. Russell was curator of manuscripts in the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University.

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Related Reading:

Graves:

 

Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description: Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, dedicated an unprecedented 10 years of his life to this first yet detailed history of the Thomas Legion. But it must be said that this priceless addition has placed into our hands the rich story of an otherwise forgotten era of the Eastern Cherokee Indians and the mountain men of both East Tennessee and western North Carolina who would fill the ranks of the Thomas Legion during the four year Civil War. Crow sought out every available primary and secondary source by traveling to several states and visiting from ancestors of the Thomas Legion to special collections, libraries, universities, museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee, to various state archives and a host of other locales for any material on the unit in order to preserve and present the most accurate and thorough record of the legion. Crow, during his exhaustive fact-finding, was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, privately held diaries, and never before seen nor published photos and facts of this only legion from North Carolina. Crow remains absent from the text as he gives a readable account of each unit within the legion's organization, and he includes a full-length roster detailing each of the men who served in its ranks, including dates of service to some interesting lesser known facts.

Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is presented in a readable manner that is attractive to any student and reader of American history, Civil War buffs, North Carolina studies, Cherokee Indians, ideologies and sectionalism, and I would be remiss without including the lay and professional genealogist since the work contains facts from ancestors, including grandchildren, some of which Crow spent days and overnights with, that further complement the legion's roster with the many names, dates, commendations, transfers, battle reports, with those wounded, captured, and killed, to lesser yet interesting facts for some of the men. Crow was motivated with the desire to preserve history that had long since been overlooked and forgotten and by each passing decade it only sank deeper into the annals of obscurity. Crow had spent and dedicated a 10 year span of his life to full-time research of the Thomas Legion, and this fine work discusses much more than the unit's formation, its Cherokee Indians, fighting history, and staff member narratives, including the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Numerous maps and photos also allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects. Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is highly commended, absolutely recommended, and to think that over the span of a decade Crow, for us, would meticulously research the unit and present the most factual and precise story of the men, the soldiers who formed, served, and died in the famed Thomas Legion.

Bibliography:
 
Digital Library of Georgia; Museum of the Cherokee Indian; Official Website of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation (cherokee-nc.com); Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers; Vernon H. Crow, The Justness of Our Cause; Duke University; University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill); University of Tennessee (Knoxville); North Carolina Division of Archives and History; National Archives and Records Administration; Library of Congress; State Library of North Carolina; North Carolina Museum of History; Tennessee State Library and Archives; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Thomas Legion Papers: (thomaslegion.net/papers.html); Western Carolina University; North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; E. Stanly Godbolt, Jr. and Mattie U. Russell, Confederate Colonel and Cherokee Chief: The Life of William Holland Thomas; The Civil War Diary of William W. Stringfield, Johnson City, TN: East Tennessee Historical Society Publications; North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion), North Carolina Office of Archives and History; John R. Finger, The Eastern Band of Cherokees; Paul A. Thomsen, Rebel Chief: The Motley Life of Colonel William Holland Thomas C.S.A.; Christopher M. Watford, The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers' and Civilians' Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2: The Mountains; John C. Inscoe and Gordon B. McKinney, The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War; D. H. Hill, Confederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865; Weymouth T. Jordan and Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865; Walter Clark, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865; National Park Service, American Civil War; The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Rice University; William R. Trotter, Bushwhackers: The Civil War in North Carolina, The Mountains; John C. Inscoe, Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina; William C. Davis, Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour (1991); Rankin Barbee, The Capture of Jefferson Davis (1947); James I. Robertson, Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend; John S. D. Eisenhower, Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents Series: The 12th President, 1849-1850; Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture; Sean Michael O'Brien, Mountain Partisans: Guerrilla Warfare in the Southern Appalachians, 1861-1865; Noel C. Fisher, War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerrilla Violence in East Tennessee, 1860-1869; The Sylva Herald (North Carolina); Smoky Mountain (North Carolina) News; Jackson County (North Carolina) Genealogy Society; Cashiers (North Carolina) Historical Society; Macon County (North Carolina) Historical Society & Museum; American Neurological Association; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Victoria Casey McDonald, A Pictorial History: The African-Americans of Jackson County; General Assembly of North Carolina, Session 2005; archives.gov; whitehouse.gov; bioguide.congress.gov; senate.gov; Confederate War Records.

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