BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER — Another Excerpt and Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!  Hope y’all are doing well today.

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER today.  You only have to leave a thought on the post in order to enter into the drawing.

And I thought I’d leave you with another excerpt from the book.  Hope you’ll enjoy it!

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER Excerpt

by

Karen Kay

PROLOGUE

Summer, 1879

The Season of Festivals

The Forks of the Big and Little Piney Creeks

Wyoming

 

As he stood within the great circle of the many camps, the boy, Maká Cí?ala, Little Skunk, squared his shoulders and raised his head, ready to receive the honors that were due him.  As was tradition, all the tribes of the Lakota people were gathered together for the summer races, games and festivals.  Although it was only midday, all of his family surrounded him in the center of the circle, and, as was also tradition, his band’s highest chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, Good Fight, held the two eagle feathers that Little Skunk was to receive.

Little Skunk was proud both of himself and his nation, the ?kpap?a, which he represented.  Although he was only twelve winters old, he was already acting as a man—he’d been a scout for several of the war parties this summer and had brought many honors to his family.  But this…  This was an accomplishment a boy of his age had never before won: for the past two days, he had competed with adults in his tribe’s foot races, and he’d won every event.

It was a bright day, and a warm one, with the afternoon sun shining upon him as though to touch him with the care and respect of a father.  He felt the tender sunlight on the top of his head and shoulders, and he held his head high.  Then, the drums began to beat, and the singers commenced to chant the honoring song.

Holding up the two feathers to the wind, the chief, Kicízapi Wa?té, said, “Today, Maká Cí?ala becomes a man.  He has gained the highest achievement in our foot races, and, because he has bested even the greatest men amongst us, he has won the right to earn himself a new name.  In honor of this great occasion, Maká Cí?ala’s grandfather, Waki?ya? Paza Tosa?, Blue Thunder Striking, has given his name to his grandson, who shall bear his name with great honor.”

The old chief paused as Little Skunk’s mother stepped forward to offer the chief a newly-made blanket, which the chief accepted.  He nodded and, opening the blanket, threw it around Little Skunk’s shoulders before offering the two eagle feathers to him.  “Blue Thunder Striking,” the chief said, “we of the ?kpap?a know that, from this day forward, we will look to you for many good deeds.  I give you these feathers to forever tell of your accomplishments.”  The old chief smiled at Little Skunk, then said in closing, “The honoring ceremony is now done.”

Blue Thunder’s mother and aunties stepped forward to give him the hand-stitched quilts that had been several months in the making.  Blue Thunder smiled and accepted the many gifts from them.  Traditionally, these blankets were not his to keep; rather, he was to give them to the people to honor his deeds this summer.  Stepping lively toward the side of the circle where people were sitting, he paced around it, offering the gifts to as many people as he could reach until all but one of the gifts was left.  This present was special, for he had made it himself.  This gift was for her.

Ci?cá Wací, Dancing Child, was about two winters younger than he.  But, though the distance between their ages might have been great for their young hearts, Blue Thunder couldn’t recall a time when he hadn’t loved her.

Her mother came from the Brulé band of the Lakota.  However, because her mother didn’t live with the Brulé, he saw Ci?cá Wací only during the summer when she was visiting her grandmother.

He still remembered the first time he had seen her.  He had been seven winters that summer and she, five, and he remembered it as a great occasion, for her grandmother had made a miniature lodge and given it to Ci?cá Wací:

 

She had invited him to play with her in the miniature tepee, and he’d accepted his role in her game as being her pretend husband.  That day, as soon as he’d ducked down to enter the lodge, he had seen that she had placed two different dolls upon small, buckskin blankets within the little tepee.

She had cautioned him to remain silent, since the dolls were “sleeping.”  Then, she’d gone to the women’s side of the tepee and had made a “soup” consisting of water and berries which she had served him in a large turtle shell.  From her tanned skin to her nearly-black eyes and the two dark-haired braids which fell down her back, she had captivated him, and his young heart had rejoiced.

They had played then, pretending to be married, and had continued their game into the coming days of summer.  Indeed, at summer’s close, he had begun to think of her as his wife in reality.  And, on that late summer day when she had told him she was to leave the next day, he had been so distressed, he’d said to her, “Since you are my wife, I would like to give you a gift before you go.”

She giggled and looked away.

“Well, what do you say?”

She stared up at him, her black eyes round and big, and smiled at him.  “I would like that.”

He didn’t know what to give her and, in the end, handed her the only possession that was truly his—a single strand of white deerskin with an image of a lone, blue prairie flower upon it.  He had, himself, painted the picture of the flower on the slender string.

Taking hold of the deerskin from her, he tied it as a necklace at the back of her neck, then said, “It is yours now.  I will never ask for it back.”

As she smoothed her hand over the necklace, she said, “I will love this and treasure it all my life.”

“Wa?cá Skúya, Sweet Flower; it is your new name in honor of this gift.  I give it to you.  It is a good name and is a better name than Dancing Child.  Tell your people.  It is your new name.”

“You give me great honor, and I will tell my people.”

From that day forward he had addressed her as Sweet Flower.  That her own people had still called her Dancing Child hadn’t caused him any worry, for he’d always known someday he would make her his wife, and, when that day came, she would become known as Sweet Flower.

 

At last, he found her in the crowd of people and, stepping near her, grinned at her.

She smiled while looking down, then said, “I am very proud of you.”

He laughed.  “As well you should be.”

Once again, she smiled.

Taking her hand in his, he led her toward the side of the crowd, out of view from most of the people.  As soon as they reached a private spot, he turned to her and said, “I have a special gift for you.”

Her smile widened, and she looked down as a proper, young Lakota maiden was expected to do, her demeanor shy.

“Hold out your hand,” he said, reaching into a bag and extracting something from it.

She did so, and he placed two strings of blue, white and pink-beaded earrings in her hand.

“For me?”

Hau, hau.  There is a woman from the Oglala tribe who makes the owi?la like these.  When I saw the earrings she was creating, I knew I had to make a pair for you.  She taught me how to do it.”

“They are very beautiful, and I love them,” she said. “I will always love them because they are so pretty and because you made them for me.  But, since I thought you might win today, I made something special for you, too.  If we go to my lodge, I will show you what I crafted for you this day.”

Hau, hau,” he said.  Then, because a man must always lead a girl and never walk behind her, he added, “Follow me.”

She did as he instructed.  As soon as they entered her little tepee, she stepped to the back of the lodge, and, turning so she faced him, she presented him with a recently-picked bouquet of flowers.  They were prairie violets and were very pretty.

As was the Indian way, she stared down at the floor of the tepee, which was little more than grass and dirt.  When he took the flowers from her and their hands touched, he felt so good inside, he knew he would love Sweet Flower always.

He said, “Have you any water, for I would keep them alive so they will always remind me of you.”

She laughed, then said, “I do have water, and it is in a pouch.  It will be perfect for them.  I give you not only the flowers, but my own parfleche bag.”  She giggled a little and looked away from him.

Carefully, he placed a finger under her chin and turned her face toward his own.  “Tell me, when we get older, will you marry me?”

Still not looking up at him, she said, “I will, if you would still want me to.”

He brought her chin up so she was forced to look into his eyes and said, “I will always want you to be my wife, for I would spend my life with you.  You are first in my heart, and I swear it will always be so.”

Ha?, ha?. I feel the same as you.”

He grinned at her. “Then let us commit ourselves to one another.  I wish we could marry now, but we are still too young.  Our parents would never allow it.”

“I know what we might do.”

“Hmm…”  He frowned.

“Let us tattoo one another with our own design,” she suggested.  “In this way we will always know we belong together.”

“This is a fine idea.”  He smiled.

She grinned back at him, then said, “I have a sharp bone that I use for sewing.  My grandmother gave it to me.  We might use it to prick our skin.”

“This is good,” he replied.  “And the violets you have given me will make a blue color for the tattoo.  But what design should we make?”

She shook her head.

“It should be simple, perhaps four small dots,” he said.  “One dot would show that we are of one mind; another could say we are of one heart.  The third dot might be one to indicate we will be of one body when we are older, and the fourth dot should be to signify that we have met soul to soul.”

She laughed and said, “What you say is pleasing to me.”

“Do you agree?”

“Oh yes,” she laughed.  “Always I will love you.”

“And I, you.”

“Stay here,” she said, “while I go to my grandmother and ask her to give me the sharp bone I use to sew.”

“I will.  But where should we put the tattoo?”

“Perhaps on the neck?”

“Maybe.  But, wherever we decide it should be, it must be in a place on our bodies that will be hard for others to see, for it is to be our secret…at least until we marry.”

Ha?.”

“I know where we could put it: we will place this tattoo on the upper back, close to and within the hairline, so it will not be seen by others.  Yours will be on the right side, and mine will be on the left.”

She smiled up at him shyly.  “I will go at once to my grandmother and ask for my sharpened bone.  Will you wait here for me?”

Hau, I will.”  He looked at her longingly.  “I would wait a lifetime for you.”

She giggled and bent to leave the little lodge to run to her grandmother’s tepee.  Soon, she returned with the prized bone she used for sewing.

As the afternoon turned to evening, they etched their tattoos onto each other, the small dots hidden by their hairlines.  When, at last, it was done, he reached out to take her hand in his own.

“It is done,” he said.  “We are married now, and someday soon we will be old enough to live together so others will know we two are of one heart.”

Shyly, she smiled at him and said, “Ha?, it is done, and I am glad of it.  With all my heart, I will always love you.”

 

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The Lost Gold of Minerva

Guest post by Michelle Griep

Wild west. What kind of image do those two words bring to mind? Gunslingers, cactuses, and tumbleweeds? If so, you’re in the majority. But that holds true for the nineteenth century. Let’s rewind time and travel back to the 1700’s, when the wild west was no farther than upstate New York.

During the mid-eighteenth century, a war was raging in the far west of what was then Colonial America. The French and Indian War is often glossed over in a U.S. History class. It wasn’t just between French fur traders and Indians. The truth is Native Americans fought on both sides of the skirmish, for the British and the French—which is who the war was really between.

But don’t panic…no stale history lesson here. I’ve got a tale to share from this period that inspired me to write The Captured Bride.

A legend sprang up during the years of the French and Indian War, first spread by word of mouth then finally being put to print in an 1875 Ohio newspaper. Apparently there was a shipment of French gold being moved from Fort Duquesne to Fort Detroit. Both were French forts, so it doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong. Danger lurked in those wilds, and for the French, that danger was British red coats.

Naturally, the French contingent was on high alert during their trek, scouting ahead and behind, making sure no one took them by surprise. One scout brought back word of a possible attack, either by British sympathizing natives or the British themselves is unclear. Either way, it spooked the soldiers, so they knew they had to do something drastic to survive.

Turning back wasn’t an option. Neither was forging ahead, hoping to outrun whatever trouble might be upon them. Lugging a shipment of gold around makes for very slow going. But what to do?

They decided to bury the gold then hide until the threat passed. The men took great care to painstakingly mark exactly where they buried the treasure. Relieved of the extra weight, they took off—putting space between them and the gold—and hid until the danger passed.

When they went back to retrieve their cargo, they followed their directions with utmost care. But when they got to the spot where the gold was buried, it was gone. But where did it go?

To this day, no one knows.

Many have looked, going so far as to dig up farmers’ fields and surrounding lands. But no luck. And the search continues. Recently there was a news story about another search about to take place.

I can’t tell you where the gold is, but if this legend piques your interest, I can recommend my latest release, an adventure in the wilds of upstate New York.

About : THE CAPTURED BRIDE

A war-torn countryside is no place for a lady—but Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause…to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he’s offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he’s the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

We’d love to find out! Michelle has graciously offered a copy of The Captured Bride, ebook or paperback, winner’s choice. To enter, leave a comment below.

 

About Michelle Griep:

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at http://www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

The Surprising History of Fort Pickens

The entrance to Fort Pickens.

I love visiting historic sites, particularly those that are so well preserved by the National Park Service. I’ve been to numerous ones throughout the West that are rich with that western culture and history we love here at Petticoats and Pistols, but you might be surprised that there exists such a place with western ties near where I live in the Florida panhandle.

Fort Pickens, which is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, has ties to American history going back to three decades prior to the Civil War. After the War of 1812, the U.S. government decided it needed fortifications to defend its major ports. Several were build to protect Pensacola Harbor. Among them were Fort Pickens, which sits on the end of Santa Rosa Island across the harbor’s entrance from Naval Air Station Pensacola, home of the famous Blue Angels demonstration flying team. On days when the Blue Angels are practicing, you can watch them from the fort.

The fort is filled with these types of arches.

Though we all learned that the first shots of the Civil War occurred at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, some say that they actually happened at Fort Pickens on Jan 8, 1861, when U.S. forces at nearby Fort Barrancas fought off a group of local civilians who intended to take the fort. Barrancas was abandoned in favor of the more defensible Fort Pickens. Two days after the attack on Fort Barrancas, Florida seceded from the Union. The fort was one of only four in the South that remained under Union control throughout the entire war.

The tie to the West came after the end of the Civil War, during what was known as the Indian Wars. Native American captives were transported east for incarceration. Apache war chief Geronimo; Naiche, the youngest son of Cochise; and several warriors were held at Fort Pickens, separated from their wives and children, who were held at Fort Marion in St. Augustine.

Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Tex. (Geronimo is third from the right, in front), September 10, 1886. Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain

Part of the reason the men were housed at Fort Pickens was because some in Pensacola felt Geronimo’s fame would enable the city to draw tourists, as horrible as that is to contemplate now. Tourists had to obtain permission from Colonel Langdon and then pay for a boat trip to the island so they could see the Apache prisoners. The Apaches were housed in two rooms that were built to house cannons and worked seven-hour days clearing weeds, planting grass and stacking cannonballs. In April of 1887, the prisoners’ families were brought to live with them at Fort Pickens. Fort Marion saw many deaths of Apache prisoners, but in contrast there was only one death at Fort Pickens. One of Geronimo’s wives, She-gha, is buried in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola.

From the top of the fort, you can look out over the Gulf of Mexico.

A yellow fever scare led to the the move of the prisoners to Mount Vernon Barracks north of Mobile, Alabama, in 1888. Six years later, they were moved to a reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Geronimo died in 1909, still a prisoner. In 1913, the prisoners were finally released. Some chose to remain at Fort Sill, but Naiche, the hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his family returned to New Mexico, to the Mescalero Reservation. Between 1850 and 1914, the Apache population had dropped a dramatic 95 percent.

The fort is full of displays such as this telling the long and rich history of the site. There is also a gift shop full of books if you want to learn more about the fort, historical figures and the time periods during which the fort operated.

Fort Pickens received some updates in the years that followed, partially to help guard against the threat of German U-boats, but by the end of World War II it had outlived its usefulness. It spent some time in the state parks system of Florida but has been part of the national seashore since the early 1970s. Today visitors can spend hours walking through the seemingly endless rooms of the fort, climbing to the upper level to look out over the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay, and imagining all the history that resides at the spot.

Welcome Guest Author Tracie Peterson!

Hello all of you wonderful readers,

This month I’m debuting a new series titled Heart of the Frontier. Book one is titled Treasured Grace and is the story of three sisters in 1847. The focal setting of the story is the Whitman Mission in the area of present day Walla Walla, Washington.Whitman Mission, Walla Walla, Washington

Whitman Mission aerial of grounds layout

This is a model of the mission layout with the main mission house to the right, the blacksmith shop in the center and the Emigrant’s House on the left. The mill pond (upper left) was where they also had a grist mill.

Treasured Grace by Tracie PetersonThis location was the site of the Whitman Mission Massacre that took place November 29, 1847. It was this massacre that truly changed the course of westward expansion and brought on the setting up of military forts along the Oregon Trail.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (she was one of the first two white women who crossed the Rocky Mountains) had tried for over ten years to win the hearts and minds of the Cayuse Indians in their area. However, a measles epidemic struck and killed a great many Cayuse, as well as whites. The Cayuse were convinced that Whitman (who was a doctor as well as a preacher) was trying to kill them and so on November 29th, they attacked and killed the doctor and Narcissa, along with most of the other men who were living at the mission. The remaining fifty-four women and children were taken hostage and held for nearly a month by the Cayuse.

The mission site is part of the National Parks system and open to visitors.

On my many visits there to glean information for my series, I found the park rangers to be some of the best I’ve encountered while doing research.  It was fascinating to learn about the Cayuse people. They were a nomadic people who were known for their horses and horsemanship. They were also considered to have some of the fiercest warriors.

They lived in tulle mat lodges and traveled with the seasons to harvest various roots and vegetation, as well as take advantage of the salmon fishing.

In the 1840’s this area of America was called Oregon Country. It was mostly inhabited by Native Americans and the British. The latter ran a string of Hudson’s Bay Company forts and traded with both the Native Americas and whites who came west. I mention this because another fascinating aspect of this massacre and the aftermath was the part the Hudson’s Bay Company played.

When it was learned that 54 white women and children were being held captive, Peter Skene Ogden (one of the factors at Fort Vancouver – now present day Vancouver, Washington) went to work to secure their release.  He and Chief Factor James Douglas put together a ransom hoping they could convinced the Cayuse to let the women and children go without harm. The ransom included 62 blankets, 63 cotton shirts, 12 Hudson Bay rifles, 600 loads of ammunition, 7 pounds of tobacco and 12 flints.  Eventually the Cayuse did agree to this and the women and children were set free. I thought it quite interesting, if not touching that The Hudson’s Bay Company never billed the American settlers for the ransom. I thought it equally interesting that reimbursement by the American government was never offered.

If you’d like to read a brief summary of the actual attack, this website should help.

I had a lot of fun researching this series and hope you enjoy it.  Book 2 Beloved Hope will come out in June and Book 3 Cherished Mercy is due out in September.Tracie Peterson

 

Tracie will send one of today’s commenters a lovely gift basket containing Treasured Grace and five more of her latest book, plus some other goodies. Take our word for it: You’ll love the prize!

 

Find Tracie online at her website, TraciePeterson.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Capt. William J. Fetterman: Fatal Hubris

Kathleen Rice Adams header

 

William J. Fetterman, Capt., U.S. Army
William J. Fetterman, Capt., U.S. Army

“Give me eighty men and I’ll ride through the whole Sioux Nation.”

So said Capt. William J. Fetterman in late 1866 as he assumed command of a U.S. Army detail tasked with defending a woodcutting expedition against Indians in the Dakota Territory. A fellow officer had declined the command after mounting, and failing to sustain, a similar effort two days earlier.

Fetterman overestimated his abilities and severely underestimated his opponent.

Born in Connecticut in 1833, William Judd Fetterman was the son of a career army officer. In May 1861, at the age of 28, he enlisted in the Union Army and immediately received a lieutenant’s commission. Twice brevetted for gallant conduct with the First Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment, Fetterman finished the Civil War wearing the brevet rank of lieutenant colonel of volunteers.

After the war, Fetterman elected to remain with the regular army as a captain. Initially assigned to Fort Laramie with the Second Battalion of the 18th Infantry, by November 1866 he found himself dispatched to Fort Phil Kearny, near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming. Since the post’s establishment five months earlier, the local population of about 400 soldiers and 300 civilian settlers and prospectors reportedly had suffered fifty raids by small bands of Sioux and Arapaho. In response, the fort’s commander, Col. Henry B. Carrington, adopted a defensive posture.

Red Cloud, ca. 1880 (photo by John K. Hillers, courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
Red Cloud, ca. 1880 (photo by John K. Hillers, courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Fetterman immediately joined a group of other junior officers in openly criticizing Carrington’s protocol. Although the 33-year-old captain lacked experience with the Indians, he didn’t hesitate to express contempt for the enemy. His distinguished war record lent credence to his argument: Since the Indian raiding parties consisted of only twenty to 100 mounted warriors, the army should run them to ground and teach them a lesson.

Fetterman’s voice and continuing raids eventually convinced the regimental commander at Fort Laramie to order Carrington to mount an offensive. Several minor scuffles, during which the soldiers proved largely ineffective due to disorganization and inexperience, merely bolstered the Indians’ confidence. Carrington himself had to be rescued after a force of about 100 Sioux surrounded him on a routine patrol. Even Fetterman admitted dealing with the “hostiles” demanded “the utmost caution.”

Jim Bridger, at the time a guide for Fort Phil Kearny, was less circumspect. He said the soldiers “don’t know anything about fighting Indians.”

On December 19, an army detail escorted a woodcutting party to a ridge only two miles from the fort before being turned back by an Indian attack. The next day, Fetterman and another captain proposed a full-fledged raid on a Lakota village about fifty miles distant. Carrington denied the request.

On the morning of December 21, with orders not to pursue “hostiles” beyond the two-mile point at which the previous patrol had met trouble, Fetterman, a force of seventy-eight infantry and cavalry, and two civilian scouts escorted another expedition to cut lumber for firewood and building material. Within an hour of the group’s departure from the fort, the company encountered a small band of Oglala led by Crazy Horse. The Indians taunted the army patrol, which gave chase … beyond where they had been ordered not to go.

The great Sioux war leader Red Cloud and a force of about 2,300 Lakota, Arapaho, and Northern Cheyenne waited about one-half mile beyond the ridge. In less than twenty minutes, Fetterman and all eighty men under his command died. Most were scalped, beheaded, dismembered, disemboweled, and/or emasculated.

Plaque at the site of the battle (courtesy Phil Konstantin)
Monument at the site of the battle (courtesy Phil Konstantin; used with permission)

The Indians suffered sixty-three casualties.

Among the Sioux and Cheyenne, the event is known as the Battle of the Hundred Slain or the Battle of 100 in the Hands. Whites know it better as the Fetterman Massacre, the U.S. Army’s worst defeat on the Great Plains until Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer made a similar mistake ten years later at Little Big Horn in Montana.

Whether Fetterman deliberately disobeyed Carrington’s orders or the commander massaged the truth in his report remains the subject of debate. Although officially absolved of blame in the disaster, Carrington spent the rest of his life a disgraced soldier. Fetterman, on the other hand, was honored as a hero: A fort constructed nearly 200 miles to the south was given his name seven months after his death. A monument dedicated in 1901 marks the spot where the officers and men fell.

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A war of another kind erupts within the pages of Prodigal Gun, the only novel-length western historical romance ever nominated for a Peacemaker Award. A Texas fence war pits cattlemen against sheepmen and barbed wire, bringing a notorious gunman home sixteen years after the Confederate Army declared him dead. The book is available in trade paperback and all e-formats at virtual bookstores everywhere. (An excerpt is here.)