eKas Redskins in Co/ederate ray
HOWARD N. MARTIN
EAST TEXANS, LOAFING ON THE BANKS OF THE TRINII'j RIVER
near Swartwout in October, 1863, were not surprised at
the flatboat, but when they saw the crew, they sat up and
stared. Indians from Polk County's Alabama and Coushatta vil-
lages-wearing Confederate uniforms-manned the river boat.
They were carrying supplies to the Confederate forces at Galveston
and other points along the Gulf coast.1 The Confederates had been
trying to find a place for these Indians to serve the South. For
one reason or another, each earlier effort had failed.
During the Civil War years the Polk County Indians were, as
they are today, a small minority group in Texas' total population.
They had only a minor role in this conflict between the North
and South, but the Texas Legislature of that period recognized
the sincerity and significance of the Indians' Civil War service
to the state. Unfortunately, circumstances forced the Alabamas
and Coushattas to serve the Confederacy in such obscurity that
they were not even mentioned in plans for commemorating
Texas' participation in the Civil War.
When the war began in 1861, the Polk County Indians told
their agent, R. R. Neyland, that they wanted to enlist in the
1The general nature of these Indians' flatboat service for the Confederacy are
described in a letter, Captain William Herbert Beazley, C.S.A., to James Barclay,
January 12, 1865 (original letter in possession of W. H. Risinger, Woodville, Texas).
Alexander Hamilton Beazley, the son of Captain Beazley, was born on the Ham-
ilton Washington plantation on December 24, 1868, and spent the first sixteen
years of his life on the Logan League. His knowledge of Confederate activities
along the Trinity River was based primarily upon stories related by his father and
other members of his family who lived on the Trinity during the Civil War years.
Colonel Hamilton Washington permitted Chief Colita's band of Coushatta
Indians to live on the Logan League. The clothing worn by these Indians inspired
the name, "Shirt-tail Bend," that was applied to the Washington plantation. The
men who operated steamboats on the Trinity River began calling the Logan
League the "Shirt-tail Bend," because they observed the Coushattas there wearing
long, deerskin blouses that "looked like shirt-tails flapping in the breeze." A. H.
Beazley to H. N. M., interview, February 15, 1958.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed August 2, 2015.