Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Trouble Tecumseh Stirred

by Denise Weimer

As we turn from 2020 to 2021, my focus gravitates to 1813. Why? It’s the year my April 2021 release, Bent Tree Bride, is set. Travel with me as I draw back the veil on a little-known era of U.S. history, the Red Stick portion of the War of 1812. Our backdrop will be the Southern states, present-day Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

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. One such Native American leader was Shawnee war chief Tecumseh. After surviving multiple destructions of his boyhood villages during the American Revolution, he joined a band attacking settlers’ flatboats on the Ohio River. Eventually, he became a leader, while his brother, Tenskwatawa, became a prophet who predicted an apocalypse that would destroy the settlers. In 1808, at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers, they established Prophetstown, a multi-tribal village. 

In September 1811, Tecumseh traveled to Creek Indian Territory (modern-day Alabama) to stir support for his British-allied union of tribes. They performed the Dance of the Lakes at Tukabatchee, principal Creek town on the Tallapoosa River. Days later, Tecumseh revealed a vision of his brother’s that said they should kill their cattle, destroy spinning wheels, and cast aside plows. “The white people have no right to take the land from the Indians, for it is ours. The Great Spirit gave it to us. Let all the red men unite …” He then presented the Creeks a bundle of red sticks which he pointed out could not be broken because the sticks were joined together. When Chief Big Warrior responded with skepticism, Tecumseh declared, “Your blood is white! You have taken my talk, and the sticks, and the wampum and hatchet, but you do not mean to fight.” He stormed out after stating he’d return home to shake the ground. The extensive tremors of the New Madrid earthquake in December of that year convinced some that Tecumseh was right.

It’s said someone threatened him not to repeat his speech in Cherokee Territory (where many progressive chiefs embraced white ways), or they’d kill him. Some speculate this could have been Cherokee Chief The Ridge, who was the Cherokee ambassador at the Tukabatchee meeting. Thus, Tecumseh traveled home without stopping in Cherokee Territory. Facing great division and confusion, The Ridge had his work cut out when his people met in council at their main town, Ustanali.


Massacre at Ft. Mims

When the Red Stick Creeks (those who sided with Tecumseh and the British) began attacking National Creeks (those who did not want war), the National Creeks called to the Cherokees for aid. Meanwhile, the American militia entered into conflict with the Red Sticks at Burnt Corn Creek and Fort Mims, near Mobile, and the governors of Tennessee and Georgia called for Cherokee volunteers. The Ridge failed to sway the council from its neutrality until a Cherokee woman was killed by Red Sticks. At that point, he helped round up five to seven hundred volunteers for The Cherokee Regiment, which would come to serve under General Andrew Jackson. And there begins my story, Bent Tree Bride.

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! 

Connect with Denise here:

Monthly Newsletter Sign-up





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


  1. Thanks for posting. Very interesting. Congratulations on your new book.

  2. Welcome. Wow this is interesting facts. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your newest book.

  3. Hi Denise, I hadn't thought about the Cherokee Chiefs embracing white ways. Much to think about.
    My mother had Cherokee people on her side but could never prove it because they did not register on the Rolls. She was very disappointed. I have the information that she gathered and submitted for possibly learning her roots. Interesting post!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, ladies. Fascinating, lesser-known War of 1812 history! :)