Portrait of Stand Watie

Stand Watie was the only American Indian to achieve the rank of general on either side during the Civil War. [Wikimedia Commons]

Watie, Stand (aka Degadoga) - Facts

December 12, 1806 - September 9, 1871

Key facts about Stand Watie (aka Degadoga), the only American Indian to achieve the rank of general on either side during the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Stand Watie
  • Degadoga

Birth Date:

  • December 12, 1806

Birth Location:

  • Oothcaloga, Cherokee Nation (modern-day Gordon County, Georgia)

Parents:

  • David Uwatie and Susanna Reese

Occupation:

  • Tribal leader
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Chief of the Cherokees
  • Brigadier General (CSA)

Spouse(s):

  • Sarah Caroline Watie
  • Elizabeth Fields
  • Isabelle Watie
  • Eleanor Watie

Place of Death:

  • Delaware County, Oklahoma

Date of Death:

  • September 9, 1871

Place of Burial:

  • Polson Cemetery, Delaware County, Oklahoma

Significance:

  • Stand Watie’s father, David Uwatie, was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, who was a prosperous planter and slaveholder.
  • Stand Watie’s mother, Susanna Reese, was the offspring of a Cherokee mother and a father of European heritage.
  • Stand Watie’s birth name was Degadoga (meaning, in Cherokee, “he stands”).
  • When Stand Watie’s father was baptized in the Moravian Church as an adult, he gave Degadoga the new name of Isaac S. Watie. The son later combined the two names and adopted the name Stand Watie.
  • Accounts of Stand Watie’s childhood are sketchy, but it is known that he was educated at the Moravian Mission School in Spring Place, Cherokee Nation.
  • As a young man, Stand Watie was a writer for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, which probably led to his gradual involvement in tribal politics.
  • By the 1830s, Stand Watie, along with his older brother, Buck (aka Elias Boudinot), his uncle, Ridge (aka Major Ridge), and his cousin, John Ridge, constituted a powerful caucus in Cherokee politics known as the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction.
  • Representing only a minority of the Cherokees in Georgia, a group of twenty Cherokees, led by members of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction, signed the Treaty of New Echota on December 29, 1835.
  • Stand Watie added his signature to the Treaty of New Echota on March 1, 1836.
  • Terms of the Treaty of New Echota required the Cherokee nation to cede all of its lands east of the Mississippi River) in return for five million dollars and a tract of land in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) equal in size to the land ceded.
  • The Treaty of New Echota obligated nearly all Cherokee Indians living in the southeast “to remove west within two years” of ratification.
  • Despite protests from the Cherokee National Council and Principal Chief John Ross, the U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty of New Echota by a single vote on May 18, 1836.
  • Soon after the ratification of the Treaty of New Echota, Stand Watie took his slaves to Indian Territory where he claimed a prized plot of land and established a successful plantation.
  • By 1838, U.S. President Martin Van Buren ordered a force of 7,000 U.S. soldiers commanded by General Winfield Scott to round up Cherokees in the Southeast and force them to move to Indian Territory.
  • Required to march over 1,000 miles without adequate food or clothing during the winter, many Cherokees contracted deadly diseases or starved to death along their journey to Indian Territory that came to known as the Trail of Tears.
  • Upon reaching Indian Territory, representatives of the legitimate Cherokee government met and condemned members of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction to death in retribution for their role in concocting the Treaty of New Echota.
  • On June 22, 1839, assassins dispatched Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot. Stand Watie escaped the same fate only because an informant warned him before his executioners arrived.
  • In 1842, Stand Watie shot and killed James Foreman, one of Major Ridge’s assassins, in Arkansas.
  • In 1842, an Arkansas jury acquitted Stand Watie of murder charges in the death of James Foreman on a plea of self-defense.
  • In 1846 Stand Watie was selected to serve on the Cherokee Tribal Council.
  • When the Civil War began, a majority of the Cherokees sided with the Confederacy. Protecting his interests as a slaveholder, Stand Watie organized a regiment of cavalry to fight for the South.
  • On August 10, 1861, Stand Watie led his regiment at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River.
  • Stand Watie was commissioned as colonel of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles in October 1861.
  • Stand Watie contributed to the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chusto-Talasah, (aka the Battle of Bird Creek) in present-day Tulsa County, Oklahoma, on December 9, 1861.
  • Stand Watie took part in the Battle of Pea Ridge, the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River during the American Civil War (March 6-8, 1862).
  • On July 3, 1862, when a Union force of roughly 250 men commanded by Colonel William Weer defeated a Confederate unit of similar strength that included Stand Watie’s Cherokees, at Locust Grove, in present-day Mayes County, Oklahoma.
  • On August 21, 1862, when a group of Stand Watie’s supporters called a council at Tahlequah and elected him Chief of the Cherokees.
  • After 1862, Stand Watie’s Cherokee’s operated primarily as irregular cavalry, ambushing trains, steamships, and Union cavalry in Indian Territory.
  • On July 1-2, 1863, Stand Watie’s forces led a successful raid on Cabin Creek.
  • On May 10, 1864, the Confederate government commissioned Stand Watie as a brigadier general in the Rebel army.
  • On June 15, 1864, Stand Watie’s soldiers captured the Union steamboat, J. R. Williams, on the Canadian River.
  • On September 19, 1864, Stand Watie’s soldiers carried out a successful raid on Cabin Creek.
  • Stand Watie’s raids resulted in the capture of large stores of federal commissary supplies and livestock, but they had little impact on the outcome of the Civil War.
  • In May 1865, the leaders of the Five Nations of Southern Indians, which included Stand Watie, convened a meeting at Camp Napoleon to “authorize delegates to communicate with the proper military authorities of the United States for the purposes of effecting a cessation of hostilities.”
  • On June 19, 1865, representatives of most of the southern tribes surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Asa Mathews at Doaksville, in the Choctaw Nation. Stand Watie, however, held out for another week.
  • On June 23, 1865, Stand Watie traveled to Doaksville, in the Choctaw Nation and surrendered his battalion to Lieutenant Colonel Asa Mathews.
  • Stand Watie was the only American Indian to achieve the rank of general on either side during the Civil War.
  • Stand Watie was the last Confederate general to lay down his sword during the Civil War.
  • After his surrender, Stand Watie returned to his plantation to find it in ruins.
  • Stand Watie’s seemingly unending feud with John Ross threatened to divide the Cherokee people again, until Ross died on August 1, 1866.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Watie, Stand (aka Degadoga) - Facts
  • Coverage December 12, 1806 - September 9, 1871
  • Author
  • Keywords stand watie, degadoga
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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