The First Confederate Prisoners Taken By the Union
I started the day just browsing the internet looking for information on the beef industry and its relationship to the Civil War. Well one thing led to another and the story of Col. William H. Emory and Black Beaver miraculously appeared. I thought you might enjoy! Isn’t Wikipedia great?
In May 1861, Colonel William H. Emory, stationed at Fort Arbuckle, learned that 6,000 Confederate troops were advancing toward him from Texas and Arkansas. He gathered the Union soldiers from forts Washita, Cobb and Arbuckle near Minco, but to escape to Kansas across the open prairie he needed a guide.
Many Indian guides turned him down for fear of reprisal by the Confederates. Emory guaranteed Black Beaver, of the Lenape Tribe, that the government would reimburse him for any losses, so he agreed to help. He scouted the approaching Confederate troops and provided information for Emory to capture their advance guard, who became the first prisoners captured during the Civil War. Black Beaver guided over 800 Union soldiers, their prisoners, and 200 teamsters managing 80 wagons and 600 horses and mules in a mile-long train across 500 miles of open prairie to safety at Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas without the loss of a single man, horse or wagon. This was the first use of what would later become the Chisolm Trail.
Emory served with distinction throughout the war, achieving Corps Command, until he was retired with the rank of Brigadier General by General Sheridan in 1876 as Commander of The Department of the Gulf during Reconstruction.
Emory, an 1831 graduate of West Point, became a historic explorer and map maker prior to the war. He married Benjamin Franklin’s great grandaughter. Read his story and be impressed. A side note on Black Beaver, born in Belleville, Il, He also is worth the trip through Wikipedia. By 1860 Black Beaver was the wealthiest and most well-known Lenape in America. He had settled in present-day Caddo County, Oklahoma and lived at Anadarko, where the Lenape had been removed. A historic trapper and guide he led an incredible life.
Enjoy as I did.