These mystery people of Southwest Louisiana have been referred to as Red Bone or Redbone. A group, perhaps the parent group, in South Carolina was similarly known. The origin of the term is no less elusive than the term Melungeon. The search is still on for answers to the meaning and origin of the term.
During The War Between the States some Redbones fought for the Confederate South and some were Union sympathizers. Geographically they were in an area ideally suited to hiding renegades and such was its history. The former Neutral Zone soon became home to Jayhawkers (Union sympathizers) regardless of their ethnic or racial identity. At the time of the Civil War "conscientious objectors" had no freedom to refuse service. Consequently, they hid in the canebrakes and swamps and if caught were often executed on the spot. Several groups of Jayhawkers located in the Neutral Zone were reported to have among their members runaway slaves, mulattos and persons of "mixed blood." In at least three instances Redbones from the Neutral Zone who were officers in the Confederate Army, were assigned to lead groups of soldiers in hunting Jayhawkers - some of whom were no doubt kinsmen. 36 An account of one of these officers was recently discovered in a very rare book written by Dennis E. Haynes, a Jayhawker who eventually joined the Union Army. He described a resident of the Neutral Zone, Captain Robert W. Martin, who led a group of Confederate Home Guards, as a "quadroon Indian." Could he have been anything but a Redbone? He was feared for his ferocity. 37 The other officers were Captain William Ivey and Captain David Paul.
The racial mix may be any combination of two or more of the following: Native American, European Caucasian, Asians (i.e. English, French, Irish, Welsh), or Portuguese, Spanish, Moor, Turk), and any of the various Negroid sub-groups.