Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

Here are several points about the book:

  • It is a historical novel based on much research using diaries, journals, and state historical collections.
  • During the Civil War, Stand Watie was an Indian leader of the Rebels. He entered this story toward the latter end on the book.
  • A sixteen-year-old boy. Jefferson Davis Bussey, enters the conflict on the Union side.
  • The plot is fictional.
  • Many characters are real characters in the war, but their stories were fictionalized when connected to the hero of the story.
  • There were Indian tribes fighting each other and tribes taking both North and South sides of the War.

The hero of the story is Jeff Bussey who is only 16 but joins the Union Volunteers and takes along a few of his friends.

One of them gets so homesick that he ran away from camp. His mother refused to allow him to stay at home. He became a successful soldier after  much struggle.

Jeff couldn’t wait to see conflict, but it didn’t turn out to be so glamorous when he saw many people die and when he faced hunger and severe weather.

Jeff had many other challenges when he became a spy in the Confederate army. His name was a plus in that situation.

Not the least of the challenges was when he became friends with those of the opposition and fell in love with a rebel girl. It was a struggle for him to remain faithful, in his heart, with the Union cause.

Many people believe the Civil War was all about slavery. That was only part of the conflict.

Another problem was economical. Cotton was a principal crop in the south. Cotton was sold to the factories in the north for low prices. Cotton became fabric and clothing which was sold back to the Southerners at high prices.

Also, the southern plantations depended on slave labor. If slaves were granted freedom, the plantation owners would suffer financially. The climate of the Southern states was more conducive to growing large crops of cotton and plantation owners felt they could not function without slaves.

Some say the cotton gin caused the Civil War

The original cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793. Whitney began to work on this project after moving to Georgia in search of work. Catherine Greene provided Whitney with funding to create the first cotton gin.

Whitney created two cotton gins: a small hand-cranked model and a large one driven by a horse or water power. The amount of raw cotton yielded doubled each decade after 1800. The creation of the cotton gin also led to the creation of machines designed to spin and weave the fabric, which helped to expand the Industrial Revolution in Western Civilization. .

With the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, Southerners feared their world crumbling. They knew Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance, and they knew their present way of living was doomed if slavery was outlawed. The South decided to secede, and the Civil War became inevitable.


The following link can be copy-pasted in your search bar for a very interesting article about slavery, Gold Rush Days, cotton and the Civil War.