Denise Weimer here, delighted to be back with you after a hiatus during which I was researching and writing some contemporary novels. But good news! My best writing ever will hit the shelves in April in the form of Bent Tree Bride, a Federal-era frontier romance set in the Southeastern states. Allow me to share some of the fascinating and little-known history behind it.
|Gen. Jackson as depicted in Harper's|
When I tell people that Bent Tree Bride is the story of a mixed-blood Cherokee lieutenant who falls for his colonel’s daughter while fighting in the Cherokee Regiment during the Red Stick War portion of the War of 1812, most folks draw a complete blank, much less have any idea that Cherokee warriors turned the tide for General Andrew Jackson against the Red Stick Creek warriors at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. What was the Red Stick War, you may be asking.
In the early 1800s, the United States became caught up in the war between Britain and France. Our fledgling country resented British trade restrictions and naval impressments and feared Native Americans in the Northwest Territory who had decided they needed British support to prevent further American settlement. In 1811, Shawnee war chief Tecumseh traveled into Creek Indian Territory (primarily modern-day Alabama) to urge the Creeks to unite against the Americans. It’s said someone threatened him not to repeat that speech in Cherokee Territory (where many progressive chiefs embraced white ways), or they’d kill him. When the Red Stick Creeks (those who sided with Tecumseh and the British—their naming is another story) began attacking National Creeks (those who did not want war), the National Creeks called to the Cherokees for aid.
In July 1813, militia from Fort Mims, near Mobile, ambushed a Red Stick supply caravan, leading to a skirmish at Burnt Corn Creek. Reprisal occurred at Fort Mims, where most of the civilians and soldiers were killed except for the slaves.
The governors of Tennessee and Georgia asked for Cherokee enlistments in the militia. When Cherokee Chief The Ridge failed to sway a neutral Cherokee Council, he rounded up volunteers himself. But then a Cherokee woman was killed by Red Sticks, drawing first blood in a conflict, and Principal Chief Pathkiller gave his blessing for his warriors to fight alongside the Americans. They agreed to supply five to seven hundred men for 39-year-old Colonel Gideon Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment. Though white, Morgan had a Cherokee wife and lived within Cherokee Territory. In late November 1813, they repair to Fort Strother on the Coosa River, southwest of present-day Gadsden. From this rough-and-tumble, hundred-yard-square enclosure, the adventure of Bent Tree Bride begins.
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 the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!
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For more information, Toward the Setting Sun by Brian Hicks and Forging a Cherokee-American Alliance in the Creek War: From Creation to Betrayal by Susan M. Abram