Thomas' Legion (69th North Carolina Infantry Regiment)
|69th North Carolina Infantry Regiment
|1903 Reunion with Thomas Legion's Cherokee Indians
Thomas' Legion (AKA Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders and 69th North Carolina Regiment) was officially organized at Knoxville,
Tennessee, during September 1862 by Colonel William Holland Thomas. It was never officially designated the Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment.
Its soldiers were predominately recruited from the Tar
Heel counties of Haywood, Jackson and Cherokee; many were also recruited from East
Tennessee. The legion
initially totaled 1,125 men and contained an infantry regiment and a cavalry battalion. On September 27, 1862, Thomas was designated as Colonel
of the Legion. Unlike a regiment with approximately 1100 soldiers, the legion was a much larger and more comprehensive
fighting force. The unit mustered more than two thousand five hundred officers and men, and they were distributed
in infantry and cavalry. It added its light artillery battery on April 1, 1863. The size of the legion varied
as several companies were transferred, and its service proved invaluable in the defense of the vital and strategic
Saltworks and railroads. Together, the 62nd, 64th, and 69th (Thomas' Legion) North Carolina Regiments fought the enemy in East Tennessee and in western
North Carolina. In May 1864 it relocated to ole Virginia and participated in General Jubal Early's Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
The unit returned to North Carolina and was active at Soco Gap and Mill Creek, and Thomas surrendered at Waynesville, North
Carolina, on May 9, 1865. The legion fought skirmishes and battles in East Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. The
infantry regiment was commanded by Colonel William H. Thomas, Lieutenant Colonel James R. Love II, and Major (later Lt. Col.) William W. Stringfield. Its cavalry battalion served in the command of Lieutenant Colonels James A. McKamy and William C. Walker. Major Stringfield initially served as a Captain in Co. E, 39th Tennessee Mounted Infantry, AKA 31st
(W. M. Bradford's) Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Lt. Col. William C. Walker had prior service in the 29th North Carolina Regiment, while James R. Love initially served as a Captain in the Sixteenth
North Carolina Regiment.
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, spent 10 years conducting extensive Thomas Legion's research. Crow was granted access
to rare manuscripts, special collections, and privately held diaries which add great depth to this rarely discussed Civil
War legion. He explores and discusses the unit's formation, fighting history, and life of the legion's commander--Cherokee
chief and Confederate colonel--William Holland Thomas. Continued below...
Numerous maps and photographs allow the reader to better understand and
relate to the subjects discussed. It also contains rosters which is an added bonus for researchers and genealogists. Crow,
furthermore, left no stone unturned while examining the many facets of the Thomas Legion and his research is conveyed on a
level that scores with Civil War students and scholars alike.
NEW! North Carolina
Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover, 537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and
History (June 26, 2008). Description: The volume begins with an authoritative
246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete
roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes
the volume. Continued...
Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the
history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number
of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman,
state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually
expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By
the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery
was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting
prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east
of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is
also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding
source for genealogists.
Recommended Reading: Bushwhackers, The Civil War in North Carolina: The
Mountains (338 pages). Description: Trotter's book (which could have been titled "Murder, Mayhem, and Mountain Madness") is an epic backdrop
for the most horrific murdering, plundering and pillaging of the mountain communities of western North Carolina during the
state’s darkest hour—the American Civil War. Commonly referred to as Southern Appalachia, the North
Carolina and East Tennessee mountains witnessed divided loyalties in its bushwhackers
and guerrilla units. These so-called “bushwhackers” even used the conflict to settle old feuds and scores, which,
in some cases, continued well after the war ended. Continued below...
were highly organized ‘fighting guerrilla units’ while others were a motley group of deserters and outliers,
and, since most of them were residents of the region, they were familiar with the terrain and made for a “very formidable
foe.” In this work, Trotter does a great job on covering the many facets of the bushwhackers, including their: battles,
skirmishes, raids, activities, motives, the outcome, and even the aftermath. This book is also a great source for tracing
ancestors during the Civil War; a must have for the family researcher of Southern Appalachia.
War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerrilla Violence in East
Tennessee, 1860-1869. Description: One of the most divided regions of the Confederacy, East
Tennessee was the site of fierce Unionist resistance to secession, Confederate rule, and the Southern war effort.
It was also the scene of unrelenting 'irregular,' or guerrilla, warfare between Union and Confederate supporters, a conflict
that permanently altered the region's political, economic, and social landscape. In this study, Noel Fisher examines the military
and political struggle for control of East Tennessee from the secession crisis through the
early years of Reconstruction, focusing particularly on the military and political significance of the region's irregular
activity. Continued below...
Fisher portrays in grim detail the brutality and ruthlessness
employed not only by partisan bands but also by Confederate and Union troops under constant threat of guerrilla attack and government officials frustrated
by unstinting dissent. He demonstrates that, generally, guerrillas were neither the romantic, daring figures of Civil War
legend nor mere thieves and murderers, but rather were ordinary men and women who fought to live under a government of their
choice and to drive out those who did not share their views.
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The
Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation,
reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When
people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters
and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with
still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era
he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew
only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller,
and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the
words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained
photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed
as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every
Sources: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; Walter Clark,
Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865; National Park Service: American
Civil War; National Park Service: Soldiers and Sailors System; Weymouth T. Jordan and Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops,
1861-1865; and D. H. Hill, Confederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865.