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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


With the beginning of the Civil War in mid-1861 almost all of the members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations in Indian Territory favored an alliance with the Confederacy. Aided by their pro-Confederate agent, Col. Douglas H. Cooper, as well as by the fact that both nations bordered North Texas, the Choctaws and Chickasaws signed a joint treaty of alliance with Confederate Indian agent Albert Pike and promised to raise military units for the war effort. The most well known of these was the First Regiment Mounted Rifles under Cooper and Lt. Col. Tandy Walker, a mixed-blood Choctaw.

The regiment completed its organization by August 1861 but lacked uniforms and equipment. Gathering an assortment of firearms, the regiment participated that November in the effort to disperse a band of loyal and neutral Upper Creeks at Deep Fork River. Finding the camp evacuated, Cooper's command pursued the fleeing caravan to Round Mountain, said to be near the junction of the Cimarron and Arkansas rivers or west of present Yale. Resistance there from the refugees under their leader, Opothleyahola, forestalled Cooper's attack on November 19 and allowed the Creeks to escape to Chusto-Talasah on Bird Creek. On December 9 Cooper again, attacked, to no avail. Confederate reenforcements under Col. James McIntosh finally routed Opothleyahola on December 26 at Chustenahlah. However, the First Regiment Mounted Rifles arrived too late to participate.

In spring 1862 the First Regiment Mounted Rifles facilitated the Confederate retreat following the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas in March, turned the tide for a Confederate victory at Newtonia, Missouri, on September 30, and suffered defeat at the Battle of Fort Wayne in the Cherokee Nation on October 22. On July 17, 1863, the regiment (now under Tandy Walker, who assumed command upon Cooper's promotion to brigadier general) again tasted defeat at the Battle of Honey Springs, in the Creek Nation.

In 1864 all of the Indian units in Indian Territory were consolidated into a single division commanded by Cooper. Within the division Walker's First Regiment Mounted Rifles reorganized into the Second Indian Cavalry Brigade. On April 18 the brigade contributed to a Confederate victory at Poison Spring, Arkansas, eliciting praise from Gen. Samuel Bell Maxey, in overall command of Indian Territory. Poison Spring was the last major engagement of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. As Confederate hopes for victory faded through the remainder of 1864 and on into 1865, its Indian allies contemplated capitulation and their future status with the Union.

Alan C. Downs

See Also



Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971).

Laurence M. Hauptman, Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War (New York: Free Press, 1995).

Jessie Randolph Moore, "The Five Great Indian Nations," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 29 (Fall 1951).

Muriel H. Wright, "General Douglas H. Cooper, C.S.A.," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 32 (Summer 1954).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Alan C. Downs, “First Regiment Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=FI013.

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