Phase One, 1776-1783
by Denise WeimerTheir marriage of convenience offers Moravian missionaries John and Clarissa Kliest enough of a challenge in my novel releasing this month, The Witness Tree. But it’s certainly not the only hardship they face. It’s 1805, and the couple join a party journeying from the quaint town of Salem, North Carolina, into Cherokee Indian Territory. John, a builder and surveyor, and Clarissa, a linguist and teacher, are to lend their expertise at a mission school for children of the Cherokee chiefs in what is now Northwest Georgia. John yearns for adventure, but the fact that those same Indians were at war with the Americans just above a short decade ago makes Clarissa more than a little nervous.
The Cherokee-American Wars divide into two phases, 1776-1783, and 1783-1794. Today we’ll focus on that first phase, when the Cherokees fought as allies of Great Britain against America’s bid for independence.
Early on, when the English strategy focused on the North, the Cherokees received only supplies from coastal ports and limited joint operations in South Carolina. Each section of Cherokee warriors (Middle, Out and Valley Town; Lower Towns; and Overhill Towns) were to attack different portions of the frontier, with the Overhill under Dragging Canoe (along the lower Little Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers) proving especially fierce. On one of their raids in conjunction with the Shawnee, they captured the daughter of Daniel Boone and two other teenage girls in a canoe on the Kentucky River. Boone and his men rescued them, but the incident provided inspiration for the plot of The Last of the Mohicans.
|Charles Ferdinand Wimar (1853) painting of abduction of Boone's daughter|
Colonial militia responded to the raids by attacking and destroying more than fifty towns. While the older Overhill chiefs wanted to sue for peace, and indeed peace was signed in April 1777 at Fort Patrick Henry, Dragging Canoe sent the women and children south of the Hiwassee and burned the villages they left behind. His warriors continued to raid to the Holston River, Cumberland settlements, French Broad River, and Wilkes County, Georgia (my setting for Across Three Autumns), until the end of the Revolution.
In my November post, we’ll look at the second phase of the Cherokee-American Wars. Meanwhile, if you’re curious how the Kliests’ mission work goes, it’s release day for The Witness Tree! Hop on over the Singing Librarian Books to find out more and enter a grand prize giveaway (The Witness Tree on Amazon / SLB Witness Tree Tour).
Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise: