Rebel Chief

The Motley Life of Colonel William Holland Thomas, C.S.A.

Paul A. Thomsen

Forge Books

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After the phenomenal success of his first novel Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier described his next novel as being based on the life of a white man who was made an Indian chief, served in the government in Washington D.C., fought on the side of the South in the Civil War by leading a band of guerilla warriors, and eventually wound up dying in a mental institution.

That man was William Holland Thomas.

Thomas, a Southerner, has a story that embodies much of the dark side of the American dream in the 19th century. At an early age he was adopted by a local Cherokee tribe as he engaged in trade to support himself and his mother. As the "frontier" moved further west, he acted on behalf of the tribe in their negotiations with the U.S.government. Part Indian agent, part politician he negotiated their treaties and was named a chief. During the Civil War he organized them into a fierce counterinsurgent guerilla band responsible for protecting the mountain passes of North Carolina from Union infestation.
And then after the war it was all down hill.

The government continued its enforced debilitation of the Indian nations, reneged on their previously negotiated treaties, leaving the tribe no choice but to hold Thomas legally responsible. His own business holdings "went south", and pressed by debts and personal hardships he was committed to an asylum until his death years later.

His life serves as a perfect backdrop to the government actions around the border states of the Civil War as well as the programs involved against the American Indian.

It is indeed a fascinating and unseemly part of the American story.

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Chapter One

The Colonial Frontier

On February 5th, 1805,2 Temperance Thomas gave birth to her only child, William Holland Thomas, in a small house on the western mountainous frontier of North Carolina.3 The birth had been a brief but welcome respite from recent troubles plaguing the small family.

While the woodland mountain landscape of the Southern Appalachians conveyed a natural presence of serenity and majesty for centuries to explorers and passing travelers, the region’s rugged features remained a constant reminder for the thirty-year-old mother that life on the frontier

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About the Author

Paul A. Thomsen

Paul A. Thomsen has published numerous articles in such publications as the Journal of Military Intelligence, American History, and Military History as well as contributing to such volumes as History in Dispute, A Date That Will Live In Infamy, and Alternate Gettysburgs. He is an archivist researcher for the New York Parks Department, and lives in Rockaway Beach, New York.

Paul A. Thomsen

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Available Formats and Book Details

Rebel Chief
The Motley Life of Colonel William Holland Thomas, C.S.A.
Paul A. Thomsen

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Tom Doherty Associates
Forge Books
September 2004
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466806443
ISBN10: 1466806443
304 pages
$7.99
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