Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fighting Regiments of the Trans-Mississippi

As someone who enjoys learning about regiments, it should not come as a surprise that one of my favorite books is William F. Fox’s Regimental Losses In The American Civil War, 1861-1865 (1898). Yes, it is old-fashioned and the writing can be overwrought, but there is much of interest between its covers. The heart of the book consists of mini-histories of what Fox deemed “Three Hundred Fighting Regiments” in the Union army. As he explained at the beginning of the section, “It is not claimed that these are the Three Hundred Fighting Regiments of the Army; but, that they are three hundred regiments which evidently did considerable fighting. There were, undoubtedly, others which did equally good, or, perhaps, better fighting, and their gallant services will be fully recognized by the writers who are conversant with their history. But, for lack of other information, this chapter deals only with those which sustained the heaviest losses in battle” (p. 122).

Recently, I perused the section describing Fox’s Three Hundred Fighting Regiments to determine which ones served at some point in the trans-Mississippi. A total of twenty-three of the three hundred Union regiments or 7.6% of the total saw duty in the trans-Mississippi. This posting marks the start of a new series briefly highlighting the activities of Twenty-three Fighting Regiments of the trans-Mississippi.


  1. Mrs Johanssson,

    My name is John. I live out here in Massachusetts and am interested in the Native (Indian) involvement in the fighting within the Indain Territory and parts adjacent...I was wondering would you be willing to share any material on this topic? I am particularly interested in anything having to do with clothing and traditional practices (body painting, haircuts, weapons use) Thank You for Your time

  2. Rather than overwhelm you with suggestions of books, etc, I'm going to just list a few resources that may be helpful to you. Three books that I recommend are:
    Britton, Wiley. THE UNION INDIAN BRIGADE IN THE CIVIL WAR (1922)--this has been reprinted; written by a veteran of the 6th Kansas Cavalry, this has no notes or bibliography but is considered a standard source on the topic.

    Edwards, Whit. THE PRAIRIE WAS ON FIRE: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE CIVIL WAR IN THE INDIAN TERRITORY. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2001. This covers more than just Indian troops but is a useful introduction to a wide range of primary accounts.

    Gaines, W. Craig. THE CONFEDERATE CHEROKEES: JOHN DREW'S REGIMENT OF MOUNTED RIFLES. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Interesting account of an unusual unit; bibliography is a good guide to sources.

    Also, the Chronicles of Oklahoma, the scholarly publication of the Oklahoma Historical Society, has published many articles over the last few decades about the war in the Indian Territory. You can access this publication through
    On the pull down menu, you will also see the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, an excellent reference work that can be searched as well.

    Finally, check out
    This is a portal to many message boards relating to the Civil War including one relating to the Indian Territory. Try posting a query on that message board, and hopefully you'll make contact with someone who can provide you with more specific details about uniforms, etc. Hope this helps!

  3. Here is another book that you may find helpful:
    Baird, W. David, ed. A CREEK WARRIOR FOR THE CONFEDERACY: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHIEF G. W. GRAYSON. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.