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Thomas Legion History

The Thomas North Carolina Legion was organized by William H. Thomas a native of western North Carolina, who, because of his long friendship with the Cherokee Indians of that area, was permitted by the Confederate War Department to form a unit containing companies of whites and indians. Thomas and his family had been on very close terms with the Cherokees since the 1820's In 1836, upon the death of the two principle chiefs of the tribe,Yona-gus-kee and Jana-lus-kee, Thomas was elected chief. Because of the Cherokees of western North Carolina had a white man as their leader, they were not moved to the indian territory during the forced movement of the Cherokees from Georgia and South Carolina in 1838. Thomas was granted permission to form the unit in mid-september, 1861. A sort time later he receive permission to recruit a legion, that is a unit which contained both infantry and cavalry companies. The Thomas Legion contained four cavalry companies(two of indians and two of whites)and six infantry companies. He organized the unit at Knoxville, Tennesse in August, 1862. The legion was mustered into Confederate service there on September 27th, 1862. 1,125 officers and enlisted men were mustered into service as members of the unit. More detailed info has been found on the various companies of the legion. "A" a mounted Indian company; men from Haywood and Swain Co. "B"a mounted Indian company; men from Cherokee Co, North Carolina Jefferson Co, Tennessee. "C" a white infantry company; men from Haywood Co. "D" a mounted white company; men from Jackson Co, North Carolina, and Jefferson Co, Tennessee. "E" a white infantry company; men from Haywood Co. "F" a white infantry company; men from Jackson Co. "G" a white infanrry company; men from Jackson Co. "H" a mounted white company men from Cherokee Co. "I" a white infantry company; men from Cherokee Co. "K" a white infantry company; men from Union Co. Tennessee. During the summer of 1863 four additional cavalry companies were organized for the legion. One of these companies contained Cherokees, the other three being white men. These companies, however, appear to have never officially served with the legion .Rather, they were not mustered into service and saw srevice as North Carolina state forces. Most Civil War Legions were broken up into seperate parts shortly after taking the field.This was done because it was found that legions, instead of combining the strong parts of various branches of the service, magnified their weaknesses. The Thomas North Carolina Legion, on the other hand, was never officially broken up even though the infantry and the cavalry companies sometimes were detached from each other. In March, 1865, however, the unit was redesignated as the 69th North Carolina infantry even though the cavalry companies continued to serve mounted. Like almost all Civil War units, the Thomas North Carolina Legion was often known by an alternate designation derived from the mane of its commanding officer. Names of this type used by or for the unit are shown below. William H. Thomas' Legion, James R. Love, Jr 's Legion, William W. Strongfield's Legion, William C. Walker's Legion, James A. Mckamy's Legion, The last two names listed appear to have been used only for the mounted portion of the unit. Upon being mustered into Confederate service the legion was assigned to duty in the department of East Tennessee. It served there until the fall of 1863. It then joined the Army of Western Virginia and East Tennessee. The unit also served in the department of southwest Virginia and East Tennessee and the department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia before joining the Army of the Valley District In the summer of 1864. The unit ended its career in the department of North Carolina.

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