Note: Ledford is responding to a letter to the editor by Carolyn Rice Nohria entitled “Don’t forget about Confederate Cherokees” which addresses points in one of his previous columns.
Good point. I’m so glad someone from somewhere else pointed this out as I would have never guessed that ancestors of my own family, both sides, were members of the 69th North Carolina Regiment. Hint: I knew that, always have. But, thanks anyway. Now here’s my point of view, a rebuttal if you will.
Cherokee fought in the Civil War, but not because of any eagerness to support this cause. We owed nothing to the Confederacy, especially Georgia, but because we were surrounded by it and it was inevitable. My people served and fought well in many campaigns only to be treated worse during Reconstruction than any other group. For that, I truly believe that only the proud veterans of the 69th North Carolina had the right to carry and display their regimental flag and the battle flag.
And, I am aware that the “battle flag” became almost universal after Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia first carried it and eventually most units had a version to carry along with their regimental colors. These days the “Rebel Flag” is a symbol of pride and hate for the KKK and something “good ol’ boy” Southern rednecks display because they don’t know any better. Having grown up among them, I won’t have anything to do with it.
My people were a proud people before the Civil War, and we are just as proud now. We have served in every war this country has ever fought. None of our veterans are forgotten. But, since you think you know a little about my people, my next commentary will perhaps open your eyes about the welcome Cherokee veterans received when they returned home from other wars. Stay tuned.