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Cheyenne Summer - The Battle of Beecher Island: A History

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Cheyenne Summer - The Battle of Beecher Island: A History by Terry Mort is a stunning, detailed account of the battle of Beecher Island.  In September 1868, the undermanned United States Army was struggling to address attacks by Cheyenne and Sioux warriors against the Kansas settlements, the stagecoach routes, and the transcontinental railroad. General Phillip Sheridan didn’t have enough troops or enough experienced officers to deal with the highly mobile Indian warriors who traveled the Great Plains as they wished, attacked where they chose, and disappeared into the seemingly endless prairie. 


Sheridan hired fifty civilian frontiersmen and scouts to supplement his limited forces. Placing them under the command of experienced army officers and Civil War veterans Major George Forsyth and Lieutenant Frederick Beecher. Their orders were to find the Cheyenne raiders and, if practicable, to attack them.  A major problem being that the experienced Cheyenne would only be found if they wanted to, and if they did it was because they had selected a time and place for attack. 


Their patrol left Fort Wallace and headed northwest into Colorado.  After a week or so of following various trails, they were at the limit of their supplies—for both men and horses. They camped along the narrow Arikaree Fork of the Republican River. In the early morning they were surprised and attacked by a force of Cheyenne and Sioux warriors. 


The scouts hurried to a small, sandy island in the shallow river and dug in. Eventually they were surrounded by as many as six hundred warriors, led for a time by the famous Cheyenne, Roman Nose. The fighting lasted four days. Half the scouts were killed or wounded while the Cheyenne only lost nine warriors, including Roman Nose. Forsyth asked for volunteers to go for help. Two pairs of men managed to escape and set out for Fort Wallace on foot—one hundred miles away. The remaining scouts held out on the island for nine days. All their horses had been killed. Their food gone, the wounded were suffering from lack of medical supplies, and all were on the verge of starvation when they were rescued by elements of the Tenth Cavalry—the famous Buffalo Soldiers. 


The Ninth and Tenth Infantry units comprised of exclusively black soldiers spent twenty years on the plains fighting against Native attacks.  General Sherman, who said of them in 1874: “‘They are good troops, they make first-rate sentinels, are faithful to their trust, and are as brave as the occasion calls for.’”


Thank you for considering Cheyenne Summer for coverage and author Terry Mort is available for interviews.  Pegasus will publish this book in hardcover on July 6, 2021, a link to the digital galley can be found here 




Jen Rivera

Associate Publicist

jrivera@pegasusbooks.us // (732) 241-3701

$27.95 • Hardcover • 978-1643137100• 352 pages • 6 x 9 • History • July 6, 2021


148 W 37th Street, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10018 • www.pegasusbooks.com


About the Author

Terry Mort studied English literature at Princeton University and the University of Michigan. Later he served as an officer in the navy, including a lengthy deployment to Vietnam, specializing in navigation and gunnery. He is the author The Hemingway Patrols and The Wrath of Cochise, among other books.  He lives with his wife in Sonoita, Arizona.


Praise for Terry Mort:

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

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