This is a duplicate of a message I posted at the Alabama in the Civil War Message Board:
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In the case of the photograph provided below, I think this statement is true.
Some time ago, I began looking for one of my mixed-blood Native-American ancestors in the Confederate Army and I presumed I would find him in the Indian Territory. I found my ancestor in the 4th Arkansas (McNair’s ) Infantry, as well as several other Cherokee mixed-bloods in his company. Some of these men later transferred to recognized Indian units; however, others remained in the 4th Arkansas and fought to the “bitter end” East of the Mississippi River. As a result of this discovery about my own family member, I posted a message on the “Alabama in the Civil War Message Board” asking if others knew of full or mixed-blood Indians in Alabama units, previously thought of as “white only”. Such respondents as Quinn Elliott and Tom Scott, immediately responded with the names of their Catawba, Creek, Cherokee and Seminole ancestors who were regular members of Alabama Confederate units.
Subsequently, I’ve communicated with a number of descendants of Native-Americans who have provided photos, letters and biographical information regarding their ancestors. I believe, from initial responses, we will ultimately discover that racially recognizable Native-Americans were NOT uncommon in many Civil War units.
I would like to ask that the contributors to this message board be aware of “my project” and if you’re know of a Native-American serving in a Confederate unit, that you inform me with as much detail about them, as possible. Additionally, while doing your own research if you come across a Native-American or see an unusual name in a roster that leads you to believe it “might” be of Indian origin, please forward this info to me.
I have always had a great deal of interest in the contributions of Native-Americans to mainstream American culture and history. Though I can honor a history of “buckskin and Buffalo”, I believe the real story that should be told is the contributions made by Native-Americans as inventive, creative and productive participants in our American heritage. The participation of Native-Americans in the Civil War is a part of this story and my purpose in gathering this information is to shed a little light on this subject.
The man you see below was one of five brothers who fought for the Confederacy. What I think is very evident is that you're looking at an "Indian" in a Confederate uniform. Four of the brothers enlisted in late 1861 in the 5th Mississippi Infantry, Co.K from Winston County, MS. The fifth brother was a member of the 13th Mississippi (Barksdale’s) Infantry. This man, William “Billy” Krebs was the son of a Franco-American father and a Choctaw mother making him one-half (1/2) Choctaw. He was killed at Shiloh on the first day as a member of Chalmer’s Brigade. Another brother was wounded and died later from his wounds. Benjamin Krebs, a third brother, was wounded slightly at Shiloh, but recovered and fought in all of the major battles of the 5th Mississippi, finally surrendering with Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Durham Station, NC in 1865. The brother who enlisted in the 13th Mississippi Infantry surrendered at Appomattox. They did their duty just like their white counterparts and “remained steadfast to the last”.
I will soon be posting a URL for an interactive database called the "Native-Americans in the Civil War Registry" where visitors may enter service record information. Also, I'm currently attempting to identify all the "Poarch Creeks" of South Alabama who fought in Alabama Confederate units. I have a webpage at http://history-sites.com/poarch , where four units are listed that definitely had Native-American members. If you can contribute to this project, please email me.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
(The photograph below is provided with the permission of the descendants of William Krebs and may not be used, reproduced or printed without their permission)