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PEGG, THOMAS (1806-1866)

Thomas Pegg was an important Cherokee politician, particularly during the Civil War. From 1853 to 1855 he was a member of the Cherokee Senate and a supporter of Chief John Ross. By 1861 Pegg was president of the Cherokee National Council and endorsed Ross's neutrality policy. Pegg was probably a member of the Keetoowah Society, a nationalistic group whose members supported tribal sovereignty and opposed pro-Southern Cherokees.

After the Cherokees agreed to an alliance with the Confederacy in August 1861, he was commissioned a major in John Drew's First Cherokee Mounted Rifles, a regiment loyal to Chief Ross. When Union troops invaded Indian Territory in the summer of 1862, he and more than six hundred of Drew's men joined the Union Army, and Pegg was commissioned a captain in the Third Indian Home Guard Regiment. He simultaneously served as acting principal chief of the Cherokee Nation while John Ross was in exile in Washington, D.C. In February 1863 Pegg and other pro-Ross Cherokees reestablished their government and abrogated the 1861 Confederate treaty at the Cowskin Prairie Council. After the war Pegg traveled to Washington, D.C. as a delegate during postwar negotiations, but he died there in 1866 before a Cherokee reconstruction treaty was finalized.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Craig Gaines, The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). Morris L. Wardell, A Political History of the Cherokee Nation, 1838-1907 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1938).

Trevor M. Jones

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