Excerpt from Interview with Loretta Metoxen, Oneida Historian
The Oneidas did not participate until 1863, even though the war had begun in 1861. President Lincoln had allowed a bounty of about $300 per person if they would join the service; for, he was not getting enough volunteers to fight the war. Lincoln had also initiated a draft at that time. The general population of Wisconsin was violently opposed to the draft. One of the things that occurred was that people from the local area, who didn’t want to go to war, would come and ask the Oneidas to take their place.
At that time the Oneidas were not citizens of the United States. Many of our men did go, about 1/10th of the Oneida population, between the ages of 17 – 45. There were fathers and sons in the war and the women were left at home to do the farming. At that same time we had a small pox epidemic on the reservation. Many of the men died. I believe about 147 went to war and about a quarter of them died from wounds or died in the prisons.
It is very interesting that Native men across the U.S. territory stood with the United States government; considering, that the government and settlers were pushing and oppressing the Native people.
I think there were 32 that died in the south that never returned. I have been to the battle fields but I have not been to their specific burial sites. I would like to identify those who died away from home in the service of the country. I have personally marched from Chattanooga to Atlanta where William Tecumseh Sherman marched to the sea. The 14th Wisconsin infantry had marched with him. We don’t have any letters from the Oneida soldiers to their families but the Brothertown have those type of letters from their people.