Blood moon An American epic of war and splendor in the Cherokee Nation

John Sedgwick, 1954-

Book - 2018

This sweeping American epic reveals the story of the century-long blood feud between two rival Cherokee chiefs from the early years of the United States. Dramatic, far-reaching, and unforgettable, this book paints a portrait of these two inspirational leaders who worked together to lift their people to the height of culture and learning as the most civilized tribe in the nation, and then drop them to the depths of ruin and despair as they turned against each other. Theirs is a story of land,, honour, and loss that forms much of the country's mythic past today.

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New York : Simon and Schuster [2018]
First Simon and Schuster hardcover edition
Item Description
Map on liner papers.
Physical Description
xi, 487 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 447-455) and index.
Main Author
John Sedgwick, 1954- (author)
  • Part one: Paradise lost. A birth on the Hiwassee ; Contact ; The bloody land ; The first kill ; Foreign relations ; A birth on the Coosa ; A death for a death ; Prosperity ; Into the wild
  • Part two: The descent into Hell. The perils of peace ; Deliverance ; A nation of verbs ; "Barks on barks obliquely laid" ; Gold fever ; The imprisonment of Reverend Samuel Worcester ; The terrible truth ; "A consummate act of treachery" ; Specters in the shadows ; A final reckoning ; Our strength is our redeemer
  • Part three: Vengeance be mine. Honey Creek ; The business of removal ; Exodus ; "The Cherokee are a complaining people" ; "They can leave us" ; Indian justice ; $1,094,765 ; The defense ; "The groves of the Brandywine"
  • Part four: Fateful lightning. Slaves to fortune ; "As brothers live, brothers die" ; Civil War ; The end ; "I shall see them no more on Earth" ; What remained
  • Epilogue: On politics.
Review by Booklist Reviews

An estimated 30,000 Native Americans fought in the Civil War, including thousands from the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee were deemed by whites to be one of the "five civilized tribes" of the Southeast because they had a written language, some adhered to Christianity, and some even owned slaves. Yet that didn't prevent the federal government from forcing many Cherokee to relocate west of the Mississippi during 1838 and 1839, along the so-called Trail of Tears. As Sedgwick (War of Two, 2015) reveals, it was disputes among Cherokee which led to an unusual fact, that unlike most tribes, the Cherokee fought on both sides in the Civil War. Under government pressure during the 1830s, the Cherokee were divided between "accommodationists" willing to leave their lands and those determined to stay. The leaders of the opposing factions, John Ross and a warrior usually called the Ridge, began as friends but became bitter opponents. Their inability to resolve their differences led to intratribal violence and the split during the war. Sedgwick has written an informative and engrossing account of this sad episode in American history. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

When Europeans arrived in North America, the Cherokee Nation occupied a vast territory in the southern Appalachians, where they prospered from the land's abundant resources. Native tribes were profoundly affected by conflicts between both British and French forces. After the American Revolution, the Cherokee adopted many European customs, but this did not save them from the U.S. government policy of removal in the 1830s. Sedgwick (War of Two) chronicles the history of the Cherokee by focusing on the lives of two men: Chief John Ross (1790–1866) and lawmaker Major Ridge (1771–1839). Once friends, the men disagreed over the issue of removal. Major Ridge and his followers signed the treaty providing for removal, while Ross and his supporters opposed it. These were turbulent years for the Cherokee. Despite their adoption of Anglicized business values and constitutional laws, and even owning slaves, they were forcibly removed in what is known as the Trail of Tears, which remains a divisive subject in tribal history. VERDICT Sedgwick's journalistic writing style allows for an informative book that will appeal to general readers, while also providing much-needed historical research. Libraries will want to add this volume to their U.S. history and Native American history collections.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly at Illinois Eastern Community Coll., Mt. Carmel Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this richly textured slice of Native American history, journalist Sedgwick (War of Two) delves into the decades-long conflicts that divided the Cherokee Nation and eventually led factions to fight on both sides of the Civil War. At the center sit two Cherokee leaders, friends turned bitter rivals. He Who Walks on Mountains, known as the Ridge, and John Ross—both of mixed Cherokee and Scottish ancestry—first crossed paths while fighting under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. Fourteen years later, the two men served, respectively, as the principal chief and first counselor of a thriving tribe whose government had a constitution and legislative and judiciary branches."Then," Sedgwick notes, "gold was found in Cherokee Georgia, and that ruined everything." By the early 1830s, the Cherokee were forced to leave Georgia on the Trail of Tears. Sedgwick recounts the growing hostility between Ross, whose followers wanted to fight the order, and the Ridge, whose followers considered removal inevitable and wanted to make sure they got the best deal possible, through the Civil War. Though Sedgwick doesn't break new ground with primary sources, and his storytelling suffers from some language that treats members of the tribe as an exotic monolith ("The Cherokee have always been an inspired, resilient people, close to the earth, and, with it, to the eternal"), he has mined the best contemporary scholarship to craft a narrative riven with human drama. Illus. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A history of the lesser-known story of the 19th-century rivalry between Cherokee chiefs The Ridge and John Ross contends that, in spite of lengthy negotiations with the first 16 American Presidents, they and their followers became divided on key tenets of peace talks and devastated the Cherokee Nation with division, war and forced migrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A history of the nineteenth-century rivalry between Cherokee chiefs The Ridge and John Ross contends that though initially allies, they and their followers became divided on key tenets of peace talks and devastated the Cherokee Nation with division, war,and forced migrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

'Riveting...Engrossing...Mr. Sedgwick's subtitle calls the Cherokee story an 'American Epic," and indeed it is.' 'H. W. Brands, The Wall Street JournalAn astonishing untold story from America's past'a sweeping, powerful, and necessary work of history that reads like Gone with the Wind for the Cherokee.Blood Moon is the story of the century-long blood feud between two rival Cherokee chiefs from the early years of the United States through the infamous Trail of Tears and into the Civil War. The two men's mutual hatred, while little remembered today, shaped the tragic history of the tribe far more than anyone, even the reviled President Andrew Jackson, ever did. Their enmity would lead to war, forced removal from their homeland, and the devastation of a once-proud nation. It begins in the years after America wins its independence, when the Cherokee rule expansive lands of the Southeast that encompass eight present-day states. With its own government, language, newspapers, and religious traditions, it is one of the most culturally and socially advanced Native American tribes in history. But over time this harmony is disrupted by white settlers who grow more invasive in both number and attitude. In the midst of this rising conflict, two rival Cherokee chiefs, different in every conceivable way, emerge to fight for control of their people's destiny. One of the men, known as The Ridge'short for He Who Walks on Mountaintops'is a fearsome warrior who speaks no English but whose exploits on the battlefield are legendary. The other, John Ross, is descended from Scottish traders and looks like one: a pale, unimposing half-pint who wears modern clothes and speaks not a word of Cherokee. At first, the two men are friends and allies. To protect their sacred landholdings from white encroachment, they negotiate with almost every American president from George Washington through Abraham Lincoln. But as the threat to their land and their people grows more dire, they break with each other on the subject of removal, breeding a hatred that will lead to a bloody civil war within the Cherokee Nation, the tragedy and heartbreak of the Trail of Tears, and finally, the two factions battling each other on opposite sides of the US Civil War. Through the eyes of these two primary characters, John Sedgwick restores the Cherokee to their rightful place in American history in a dramatic saga of land, pride, honor, and loss that informs much of the country's mythic past today. It is a story populated with heroes and scoundrels of all varieties'missionaries, gold prospectors, linguists, journalists, land thieves, schoolteachers, politicians, and more. And at the center of it all are two proud men, Ross and Ridge, locked in a life-or-death struggle for the survival of their people.This propulsive narrative, fueled by meticulous research in contemporary diaries and journals, newspaper reports, and eyewitness accounts'and Sedgwick's own extensive travels within Cherokee lands from the Southeast to Oklahoma'brings two towering figures back to life with reverence, texture, and humanity. The result is a richly evocative portrait of the Cherokee that is destined to become the defining book on this extraordinary people.