Secretary of State William H. Seward thought the Union Army was no place for an Indian.
In September 1861, Ely S. Parker, a Tonawanda Seneca from western New York and a close friend of the Union general Ulysses S. Grant, approached Seward requesting a commission. He refused, telling Parker that the war was “an affair between white men.”
“Go home, cultivate your farm,” Seward instructed. “We will settle our own troubles among ourselves,” he explained, “without any Indian aid.”