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Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West
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William Hogeland's Autumn of the Black Snake presents forgotten story of how the U.S. Army was created to fight a crucial Indian war.
When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the newly independent United States savored its victory and hoped for a great future. And yet the republic soon found itself losing an escalating military conflict on its borderlands. In 1791, years of skirmishes, raids, and quagmire climaxed in the grisly defeat of American militiamen by a brilliantly organized confederation of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Indians. With nearly one thousand U.S. casualties, this was the worst defeat the nation would ever suffer at native hands. Americans were shocked, perhaps none more so than their commander in chief, George Washington, who saw in the debacle an urgent lesson: the United States needed an army.
Autumn of the Black Snake tells the overlooked story of how Washington achieved his aim. In evocative and absorbing prose, William Hogeland conjures up the woodland battles and the hardball politics that formed the Legion of the United States, our first true standing army. His memorable portraits of leaders on both sides—from the daring war chiefs Blue Jacket and Little Turtle to the doomed commander Richard Butler and a steely, even ruthless Washington—drive a tale of horrific violence, brilliant strategizing, stupendous blunders, and valorous deeds. This sweeping account, at once exciting and dark, builds to a crescendo as Washington and Alexander Hamilton, at enormous risk, outmaneuver Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other skeptics of standing armies—and Washington appoints the seemingly disreputable Anthony Wayne, known as Mad Anthony, to lead the legion. Wayne marches into the forests of the Old Northwest, where the very Indians he is charged with defeating will bestow on him, with grudging admiration, a new name: the Black Snake.
Autumn of the Black Snake is a dramatic work of military and political history, told in a colorful, sometimes startling blow-by-blow narrative. It is also an original interpretation of how greed, honor, political beliefs, and vivid personalities converged on the killing fields of the Ohio valley, where the United States Army would win its first victory, and in so doing destroy the coalition of Indians who came closer than any, before or since, to halting the nation's westward expansion.

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Street Date:
05/16/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374711580
ASIN:
B01M31A9BM
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APA Citation (style guide)

William Hogeland. (2017). Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

William Hogeland. 2017. Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

William Hogeland, Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

William Hogeland. Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: William Hogeland is the author of several books on founding U.S. history, The Whiskey Rebellion, Declaration, and Founding Finance, as well as a collection of essays, Inventing American History. Born in Virginia and raised in Brooklyn, he lives in New York City.
      • name: William Hogeland
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title
Autumn of the Black Snake
fullDescription

William Hogeland's Autumn of the Black Snake presents forgotten story of how the U.S. Army was created to fight a crucial Indian war.
When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the newly independent United States savored its victory and hoped for a great future. And yet the republic soon found itself losing an escalating military conflict on its borderlands. In 1791, years of skirmishes, raids, and quagmire climaxed in the grisly defeat of American militiamen by a brilliantly organized confederation of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Indians. With nearly one thousand U.S. casualties, this was the worst defeat the nation would ever suffer at native hands. Americans were shocked, perhaps none more so than their commander in chief, George Washington, who saw in the debacle an urgent lesson: the United States needed an army.
Autumn of the Black Snake tells the overlooked story of how Washington achieved his aim. In evocative and absorbing prose, William Hogeland conjures up the woodland battles and the hardball politics that formed the Legion of the United States, our first true standing army. His memorable portraits of leaders on both sides—from the daring war chiefs Blue Jacket and Little Turtle to the doomed commander Richard Butler and a steely, even ruthless Washington—drive a tale of horrific violence, brilliant strategizing, stupendous blunders, and valorous deeds. This sweeping account, at once exciting and dark, builds to a crescendo as Washington and Alexander Hamilton, at enormous risk, outmaneuver Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other skeptics of standing armies—and Washington appoints the seemingly disreputable Anthony Wayne, known as Mad Anthony, to lead the legion. Wayne marches into the forests of the Old Northwest, where the very Indians he is charged with defeating will bestow on him, with grudging admiration, a new name: the Black Snake.
Autumn of the Black Snake is a dramatic work of military and political history, told in a colorful, sometimes startling blow-by-blow narrative. It is also an original interpretation of how greed, honor, political beliefs, and vivid personalities converged on the killing fields of the Ohio valley, where the United States Army would win its first victory, and in so doing destroy the coalition of Indians who came closer than any, before or since, to halting the nation's westward expansion.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 1, 2017
        The history of the founding of the U.S. Army in response to indigenous push back against the takeover of their territory.According to this tightly focused account by Hogeland (Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation, 2012, etc.), American "existence, purpose, and future" were first clarified by the need to make military incursions into hostile Indian territory. The state-supported militias that had sustained the early republic and largely won the War of Independence against the British were no longer enough in conquering new territory westward. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and other nationalists fervently believed that this land belonged to Americans by native right and indeed had been ceded as a "gigantic mishmash" by Britain in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. However, the Indian confederation, made up of the Miami, Shawnee, Delaware, and other western tribes who lived and hunted west of the Ohio River and were led by Blue Jacket and Little Turtle, successfully resisted American incursion into their territory, climaxing in the utter rout of Gen. Arthur St. Clair's troops in the Battle of the Wabash in November 1791. Hogeland points to this battle, which resulted in the deaths of some 650 American troops, including Gen. Richard Butler and many civilians, as the moment that galvanized "Americans' real emergence as a national people." The author also highlights Washington's efforts to use St. Clair's ignominious defeat to gain support for a standing army; this was not an easy task in the face of popular resistance led by "state sovereigntists" like Patrick Henry, in spite of the newly ratified Constitution's assertion that Congress had the power to create an army. Hogeland vividly delineates these seminal personalities, such as the first commander of Washington's Western army, "Mad Anthony" Wayne; the Indian leaders Blue Jacket and Little Turtle as well as the half-white Indian ally, Alexander McKee, angling for British aid in the next American-Indian clash. An enlightening history of American westward expansion.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 15, 2017
        On November 4, 1791, a motley force of American troops was camped near the mouth of the Wabash River in what is now western Ohio. Although they were poorly trained, undisciplined, and ill-equipped, under the command of Major General Arthur St. Clair they were expected to pacify the various Indian tribes of the region and thus open up the Northwest Territory for white settlement. At dawn, a coalition of Miami, Shawnee, and Lenape Indians attacked and devastated St. Clair's men, killing around 900 in the worst American defeat at the hands of Native American fighters. This was both the humiliating end of a poorly conceived campaign and the start of a new initiative, urged on by an outraged President Washington, that saw the formation of a regular and effective American army that would repeatedly defeat and displace the Indians of the region. Hogeland (Founding Finance, 2012) relates how this task was achieved with eloquence and insight into the motives and actions of each side. This is a scrupulously balanced account of a formative period in westward expansion.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2016

        Still fighting the Native peoples of the Ohio valley at the end of the Revolution, the new country's motley militiamen suffered 1,000 casualties in 1792. That's when commander in chief George Washington decided that the United States needed a regular army. A lead title for Farrar.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 15, 2017

        In 1783, the newly formed United States found itself in a violent, escalating conflict with indigenous tribes of the Ohio Valley who witnessed land grabbers steadily encroaching on their property. In this, settlers were encouraged by British policy and agents. By 1791, the violence had worsened, and an expedition of militiamen was bloodily defeated by a coalition of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware tribes. In return, President George Washington decided that the new republic needed a national army lest expansion stop west of the Appalachians, something Virginian planters like himself could not chance. Hogeland's (The Whiskey Rebellion) complicated story of the politics and economics of the era involves Native tribes and Colonists along with Britain and France. The author spreads a rich tale of land hunger, self-dealing, betrayal, and change as Colonizers steadily migrated west, pushing Native tribes out of their traditional hunting and agricultural demesnes. Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian philosophies clashed while an unending stream of settlers trekked west. VERDICT Detailed and thoroughly cited from several original sources, this comprehensive work will attract readers of military and American history. [See Prepub Alert, 11/14/16.]--Edwin Burgess, Kansas City, KS

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 13, 2017
        Writing with dual purposes in mind, historian Hogeland (Founding Finance) grippingly relates the battles over the Ohio Valley between the fledgling U.S. and a coalition of the Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware nations. Hogeland’s principal aim is to relate the circumstances under which the fledging U.S. created a national army after the American Revolution in the face of deep apprehension about a standing military force. Well-known Revolutionary characters (Washington and Hamilton, for instance) fill Hogeland’s pages; so too do colorful, little-known, and impressively skilled British military figures and Native Americans. Hogeland’s second aim is to rescue an American general, “Mad Anthony” Wayne, and his Native American adversaries from undeserved obscurity. In this he succeeds fully, though Wayne, Blue Jacket, and Little Turtle are unlikely to become household names. The story’s outcome, ending in a treaty after the Army’s victory in the critical 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio, secured the Old Northwest for American settlers and accelerated the epochal, tragic eviction of native tribes from their original lands across the continent. Stuffed with detail, Hogeland’s solid and distinctive book fills a significant gap in the narrative history of the United States. Maps.

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shortDescription

William Hogeland's Autumn of the Black Snake presents forgotten story of how the U.S. Army was created to fight a crucial Indian war.
When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the newly independent United States savored its victory and hoped for a great future. And yet the republic soon found itself losing an escalating military conflict on its borderlands. In 1791, years of skirmishes, raids, and quagmire climaxed in the grisly defeat of American militiamen by a brilliantly organized confederation of Shawnee, Miami, and Delaware Indians. With nearly one thousand U.S. casualties, this was the worst defeat the nation would ever suffer at native hands. Americans were shocked, perhaps none more so than their commander in chief, George Washington, who saw in the debacle an urgent lesson: the United States needed an army.
Autumn of the Black Snake tells the overlooked story of how Washington achieved his aim. In evocative and absorbing prose, William...

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      • code: HIS036030
      • description: History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)