Choctaw Confederates

The American Civil War in Indian Country

By Fay A. Yarbrough

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, 10 maps, notes, bibl., index

Not for Sale in Canada

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6511-5
    Published: November 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6512-2
    Published: October 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6153-5
    Published: October 2021

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Awards & distinctions

2022 Pate Award, Fort Worth Civil War Round Table

When the Choctaw Nation was forcibly resettled in Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma in the 1830s, it was joined by enslaved Black people—the tribe had owned enslaved Blacks since the 1720s. By the eve of the Civil War, 14 percent of the Choctaw Nation consisted of enslaved Blacks. Avid supporters of the Confederate States of America, the Nation passed a measure requiring all whites living in its territory to swear allegiance to the Confederacy and deemed any criticism of it or its army treasonous and punishable by death. Choctaws also raised an infantry force and a cavalry to fight alongside Confederate forces.

In Choctaw Confederates, Fay A. Yarbrough reveals that, while sovereignty and states’ rights mattered to Choctaw leaders, the survival of slavery also determined the Nation’s support of the Confederacy. Mining service records for approximately 3,000 members of the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, Yarbrough examines the experiences of Choctaw soldiers and notes that although their enthusiasm waned as the war persisted, military service allowed them to embrace traditional masculine roles that were disappearing in a changing political and economic landscape. By drawing parallels between the Choctaw Nation and the Confederate states, Yarbrough looks beyond the traditional binary of the Union and Confederacy and reconsiders the historical relationship between Native populations and slavery.

About the Author

Fay A. Yarbrough is professor of history at Rice University and the author of Race and the Cherokee Nation.

For more information about Fay A. Yarbrough, visit the Author Page.


"An award-worthy feat of research and writing. Its wide-ranging treatment of the Choctaw offers much needed expansion to a literature of Civil War-era Indian Territory that remains disproportionately focused on the Cherokee."—Civil War Books & Authors

“Deeply researched and cogently written history…Yarbrough’s empathetic use of anecdotal material form the Indian Pioneer History Collection allows readers to experience events of the period through Indian eyes.”—Civil War Times

"Scholars of the Civil War Era, the Civil War in the West, and those interested in race and slavery in Indigenous nations will undoubtedly find this deeply researched book immensely valuable and illuminating."—Civil War Book Review

"Historians of the Civil War and Reconstruction should read Choctaw Confederates and appreciate Yarbrough’s important contribution."—H-CivWar

“Insightful. . . . Choctaw Confederates tells an important history that has too long been told from the vantage point of white outsiders.”—Civil War History

“A much-needed corrective to scholarship on Native experiences during the Civil War era. . . . Yarbrough’s study compellingly demonstrates that internal demands for the maintenance of slavery and the strengthening of tribal sovereignty drove the nation to support the Confederate war effort in 1861.”—Journal of Southern History