Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black (Indian) History Month Freedmen in the Civil War

Graphic created by Terry Ligon © 2011

Many men fought for their family's emancipation from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Nations during the Civil War. When people think of the Civil War, rarely does Indian Territory or the Five Slave Holding Tribes become part of the conversation.

Names like Sugar George, Bynum Colbert and Mobile Boyd are unknown to most Civil War scholars but their contributions are just as important to the story of people willing to die for their freedom.

There are three main battles that occurred in Indian Territory that slaves played from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole nations fought with heroism; their story is slowly coming to light.

Brazil Cemetery, Mobile BOYD Photo by Terry Ligon © 2011

Agency Cemetery, Sugar T. GEORGE

Indian Journal April 24, 1878 p5c2

It is important to understand how serving in the military shaped the future leaders in what would become Freedmen communities. Men like Sugar T. George became significant leaders in their community and nation. Regretfully the Five Slave Holding Tribes don't seem capable of including men like Sugar George, Bynum Colbert and Isaac Alexander in their history despite the significant role they played in their respective nation.

M1301 #1477 Bynum COLBERT
Military Index Card Bynum COLBERT

As segments of the United States population "celebrate" the 150th year since the beginning of the "War of Rebellion" we are reminded that many brave men enslaved by the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole Nations fought for the freedom of themselves, members of their family and the rights of citizenship in the nation of their birth.

The men presented here represent many more who were compelled to fight for their freedom and illustrate how leaders would emerge from the oppressive yoke of slavery when given the opportunity. Let us celebrate them and remember to tell their story!


  1. Wow! Mobile is my direct family. I will present his info at our family reunion this weekend!! Awesome site!! Z.Boyd

  2. The Boyd's are my family! In fact, I was just looking at the same enrollment card on Mobile Boyd! Awesome site

  3. ZBoyd, I hope you and your family members get an opportunity to visit the cemetery where your ancestor's remains reside.

    A good friend of mine has tried to keep the area clear of the overgrown brush but it will take the effort of a lot of people to secure this historical cemetery.

    I would be interested in whether someone in your extended family has a photo of Mobile Boyd so there is a face to go with this headstone to fully document his personal history in Indian Territory and the U.S.C.T.

    Which begs the question, has anyone in your family sought to obtain his military file and if there was a pension file for his widow (if any?)