From the acclaimed author of Songbirds are Free comes this thrilling nonfiction narrative account of 300 men, women and children that followed Nashville founder John Donelson from Virginia and North Carolina to Fort Nashborough in the winter of 1779-1780. The journey should have taken only four weeks but more than four months after they departed, an emaciated group of settlers arrived at Fort Nashborough with a harrowing tale of survival. Their river journey took them through hostile Chickamauga territory at the height of ...
From the acclaimed author of Songbirds are Free comes this thrilling nonfiction narrative account of 300 men, women and children that followed Nashville founder John Donelson from Virginia and North Carolina to Fort Nashborough in the winter of 1779-1780. The journey should have taken only four weeks but more than four months after they departed, an emaciated group of settlers arrived at Fort Nashborough with a harrowing tale of survival. Their river journey took them through hostile Chickamauga territory at the height of the Chickamauga Indian Wars. Dragging Canoe, the Chickamauga leader, said that "whole Indian nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance" and he declared war on any settler daring to venture west of the Great Smoky Mountains, stating, "I swear to all those here and to all those we represent: the white man will never live in peace here. Let the rivers run red with their blood." As the Donelson party ventured west of the Smokies, they were relentlessly attacked from Chattanooga through Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Many of the settlers were killed and several captured, including two Stuart sisters suffering from small pox. Their capture would spread small pox throughout the Chickamauga tribes, wiping out entire Indian villages. As winter set in with a record snowfall, the settlers' food supplies dwindled dangerously, causing shortages long before they reached their final destination and with the constant Indian attacks, they were unable to hunt or forage for food. As some settlers began to starve, others succumbed to frostbite, losing extremities-and even their lives. The Tennessee River would also become their adversary as their flatboats and canoes, vessels not meant for whitewater rapids, were pummeled again and again, sometimes sucked into whirlpools and other times dashed against jagged rocks as sudden and vicious uncharted descents appeared in their paths. The story is told through the eyes of 18-year-old Mary Neely, one of ten Neely children that accompanied their mother, Margaret, John Donelson and more than 300 settlers on the perilous, fated voyage. The book was determined to be so factual that the original manuscript was provided to the Nashville Metropolitan Government Archives for future researchers and historians. The award-winning author, p.m.terrell, is a descendant of Mary Neely and relied on historical accounts recorded by John Donelson, Mary Neely and other settlers who dared the river passage. Winner, Best Drama Award Honorable Mention, Nashville Book Festival, 2010 "p.m.terrell's excellence in historical fiction and descriptive style compels me to coin her the next Larry McMurtry" - Maury County, TN Public Libraries "River Passage is well written and terrell has a sharp eye for detail. A rich and inspiring story!" - Nashville Metropolitan Government Archives
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