Monday, June 28, 2021

Book Highlight: Cheyenne Summer by Terry Mort

The Battle of Beecher Island: A History 

Pegasus | $27.95 | Hardcover | 352 pages | 6 x 9” | 9781643137100 | July 6th, 2021

"Mort bases his detailed, page-turning account largely on recollections by Forsyth and by Cheyenne warrior George Bent, creating a nuanced portrayal of a battle that epitomizes the struggle to settle the Plains. A rich addition to the popular military history of the late-18th-century frontier." 

KirkusStarred Review

About the Book

During the morning hours of September 17, 1868, on a sandbar in the middle of the Republican River in eastern Colorado, a large group of Cheyenne and Sioux soldiers attacked 50 civilian scouts, signaling the start of one of the hardest fought battles in the annals of the American frontier. In Cheyenne Summer - The Battle of Beecher Island: A History (Pegasus | July 6th, 2021), a navy veteran and acclaimed author Terry Mort presents a stunning, detailed account of this untold chapter of American history, the Battle of Beecher Island.   


In the years after the Civil War, the completion of a railroad connecting the states on both coasts was a national priority. At the same time, the railroad - and the settlements along its route - posed a direct threat to Indigenous people. The Army, drastically reduced in size since the end of the war, was charged with keeping the peace, prompting General Phillip Sheridan to hire civilian frontiersmen to supplement his forces. After a week of scouting, a group of these frontiersmen, finding themselves at the limit of their supplies, were attacked by a force of as many as six hundred Cheyenne and Sioux warriors. 


When the smoke cleared after four days of fighting, half of the scouts and nine Cheyenne warriors were killed or wounded, including the famous fighter, Roman Nose. The commanding officer, Major George Forsyth, was finally able to send two scouts back to the nearby Fort Wallace on foot while the rest held out on the island for nine more days. All were on the verge of starvation when the 10th Cavalry—one of the Army’s two African American units nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers”—came riding to their rescue with a field ambulance and medical supplies. 


Though the Battle of Beecher Island was a small incident in US history, its story is exemplary of the Western frontier—exhibiting the heroism of warriors on either side of the dramatic conflict.  

“The Wrath of Cochise is compact, crisply written and provocative. Simply as a narrative of Western warfare, Mr. Mort's lucid, often beautifully written book is a pleasure to read. But he also poses questions that take his story to a deeper, morally challenging plane.”  

– The Wall Street Journal 


 “A well-done chronicle of a harsh war fought in a harsh environment.”  

– Booklist 


 “Meticulously written. Mort makes a fascinating read of every subject he takes up.” 

 – The Associated Press 


 “A unique biography of Ernest Hemingway’s decision to volunteer to hunt German U-boats in the Gulf Stream—it was this quest that would shape much of The Old Man and the Sea.  A rewarding read about the inner workings of an artistic mind.”  

– Kirkus Reviews 


 “Epic in scope. Terry Mort tells the story of a little-known period in the life of one of America’s greatest novelists.”  

– Philip Caputo, author of A Rumor of War 

About the Author

Terry Mort did his undergraduate work in English literature at Princeton University and his graduate work at the University of Michigan. After school he served as an officer in the navy, specializing in navigation and gunnery. His service included a lengthy deployment to Vietnam. He is the author of five novels, a book on fly-fishing, and most recently The Hemingway Patrols, a non-fiction account of Ernest Hemingway’s anti-U boat patrols off Cuba during WWII. He has also edited works by Mark Twain, Jack London, and Zane Grey. He lives in Sonoita, Arizona, and Durango, Colorado. 

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