Red Trails is one of five books now available in Black Dog Books' Hugh Pendexter Library. The others are The Shadow of the Tomahawk (reviewed HERE), Along the River Trail (HERE), The Shorthorn Kid and According to the Evidence (reviews coming soon). And there are more books in the works. I know, because I'm working on an Introduction to Voice of the Night, a collection of mystery stories.
This adventure novel first appeared in two parts in Adventure magazine back in 1919, and was published in hardcover in 1920 as Red Belts. It's loosely related to The Shadow of the Tomahawk, taking place ten years later and not far away, on the frontier east of North Carolina that would eventually become Tennessee.
The cool thing about this book is that it features a real-life hero pitted against real-life antagonists with the future of the United States in the balance. It's 1784, and the U.S. is still just a collection of states with dreams of becoming a country. Spain knows this, and is courting the Indian nations, seeking to establish a rival country on the frontier. Spain's front man is the Creek "Emperor" Alexander McGillivray, the educated and dandified son of a Scotsman. McGillivray is trying to persuade the leaders of nearby Cherokees and Chickamaugas to join him in scouring the frontier of white settlers and clearing the way for this new rogue nation.
Standing in McGillivray's way, thankfully, is John Sevier, a man commanding great respect from whites and Indians alike. The situation is desperate, and Sevier ventures alone into hostile territory, relying on his wits, his woodcraft, his personality and his fearsome reputation to foil McGillivray's plans.
Following the events in Red Trails, Sevier went on to become the first and only governor of the short-lived State of Franklin, and later the first governor of Tennessee. He once fought a duel with Andy Jackson, an act that would have endeared him to our patron saint, Colonel David Crockett.
As usual, Pendexter tells a rousing good story, and cloaks it well-researched detail. If this ain't the way things really happened, it ought to be.
Red Trails is available HERE.
The illo below is from the 1920 hardcover edition.