1824: The Arkansas War
by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Big Dot Design
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0345465695
Date: 28 November, 2006 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
New characters include a free black family forced out of Maryland by a new law forcing freedmen to leave the state and a relative of Anthony MacParland. Upon arrival in Arkansas, Sheff and his uncle Jem are recruited into the Army of Arkansas. Cal MacParland is following in his cousin's footsteps and joins as well. These two are sent on a mission to New Orleans where they meet the Ross's coming from England to visit the new nation.
Things are not all rosy. The Indian Nations are squabbling over land rights and the right to own slaves. This creates problems as the nation prepares for the coming war. A war pushed for by the scions of the South, especially those in Louisiana and Mississippi who see the rich bottom land of Arkansas as an opportunity. Pushing their cause is Henry Clay, Speaker of the House. Clay's goal is the Presidency and power. Opposing his rise is President Madison, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson.
Also of note are Zachary Taylor and William Henry Harrison. Taylor is called upon by Jackson and Adams to stay in the Army and take command in Missouri where he will be positioned to prepare for invasion and not be in a position to end up in the bloodies battles of the coming war. Harrison is called upon by the President to lead the invasion of Arkansas where the army will face the defensive line Driscol has been preparing since coming to Arkansas. His forces do not fear the colored army that they will face. They have underestimated their enemy.
This book explores the race relations and attitudes of the United States in an early period. A senator of a Southern state has children by a black woman and acknowledges them as much as possible. In a nation already dividing over the slavery issue, the actions of this book push the problem well before events in our own time line. There is also a place for freed and fleeing blacks to go that accept them willingly. But it is not a black nation, it is an amalgamation of races and beliefs. Women's rights are pushed and even the church feels the pressure.
Like all alternate history, major historical figures interact to new situations created from the point of departure (POD). The POD for this series was the wounding of Sam Houston at the Battle of Horseshoe bend. Houston is not wounded as badly. He is thus able to be more involved in the events unfolding in the War of 1812. The POD is well described by the author on his website for this series.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it. You should read the first book in the series first, as events in the earlier work directly relate to the current. I also recommend checking out the earlier linked website as it contains a great deal of information about the characters and events.