A Seneca Ghost?

Despite his popular moniker John Mosby can be eliminated as Lozen’s “Gray Ghost.” But are there any more likely candidates? As the tale came to Eve Ball, the mysterious stranger who captured young Lozen’s heart was a Seneca warrior. The Seneca homeland was far distant in upper New York, but in 1838 they were swept up in the Great Removal, following the Five Civilized Tribes to Indian Territory.

The Territory was a battlefield from the beginning. The tribes already on the land resented the newcomers, who brought with them their own inter-tribal rivalries and intratribal conflicts. They carried these bitter feuds into the Civil War, dividing the tribes between those who supported the Union and those who believed they might get better treatment from a victorious CSA than they had experienced from the USA. Those who wanted nothing to do with the white man’s war and wished only to rebuild their lives in peace were ridden down, burned out and trampled in the ensuing conflict.

The Seneca were among the tribes allying themselves with the Confederacy, and it’s likely some of their men were among the hundreds of Native Americans to take the field.. The best known is Brigadier General Stand Watie, whose Cherokee Mounted Rifles are renowned for capturing a steamboat on the Arkansas River. Watie, whose Indian name is better translated as “Standfast,” was the last Confederate general to surrender, laying down his arms on June 23, 1865.

Although the war ended, violence and lawlessness continued to plague the Territory for another 30 years. While most Indians stayed to fight for their lands, others moved on still farther from their original homelands. For example, Kickapoo and Potawatomi established villages across the Rio Grande in Mexico. So while the story is improbable, it’s not impossible that a Seneca veteran might have passed through New Mexico Territory “seeking some place where his people would be safe from their many enemies.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: