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|1824: The Arkansas War|
|Series||Trail of Glory|
|Preceded by||1812: The Rivers of War|
The novel is set during 1824–25, ten years after 1812: The Rivers of War. The United States, under the influence of Sam Houston, the Commissioner for Indian Affairs, has signed a treaty with the southern Indian tribes, establishing a confederacy of chiefdoms in the territory that in our time line is composed of the State of Arkansas west of the Red River, and the State of Oklahoma without the Panhandle, roughly the boundaries of the historical Arkansas Territory.
Shortly thereafter, in Louisiana, Henry Crowell, a free black man and one of the officers of the Iron Battalion who won the Battle of the Mississippi, offended the local Creole leadership by courting a Creole woman. Slave-catchers waylaid Crowell and castrated him. In revenge, the Iron Battalion mobilized and destroyed the homes of the Creole leadership, then smashed the Louisiana militia who came after them to suppress "servile rebellion". (This is referred to later as the "Algiers Incident".) Shortly afterwards, Crowell and the Iron Battalion moved to Arkansas.
The easternmost chiefdom, Arkansas, is led by Patrick Driscol. Arkansas has banned slavery, and has become a magnet for freedmen throughout the United States, who, thanks to the influence of Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, are subject to state laws called Freedmen Exclusion Acts, compelling free blacks to quit their territory.
As the book begins, one such family, the Parker family, leaves Baltimore, Maryland, after the head of the household is killed by a mob of whites. They are stopped on the Ohio River by slave-catchers, who plan to take them before a partial judge, have them declared runaway slaves, and sold. However, before the slave-catchers can haul the Parkers away, a party of abolitionists led by John Brown and his brother Solomon Brown intervenes.
When the Parkers arrive in New Antrim, the capital of Arkansas, they learn that Crowell's bank will loan the family money to start again if the men join the Arkansas Army. Sheffield Parker and his uncle Jem enlist and undergo a rigorous training regimen.
In the United States, Henry Clay secretly finances a filibustering expedition to be led by Robert Crittenden to attack Arkansas. The expedition fails, but Clay uses this failure as a lever succeed James Monroe as president in the 1824 election. His opponents, led by Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, however, are planning to take the presidency from him the following term.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Driscol contacts his old friend, British soldier Robert Ross and asks that he come to Arkansas to act as a military advisor. After some trepidation, Ross agrees, bringing his family.
Meanwhile, Sam Houston's wife Maria (daughter of President Monroe) is shot dead by an impromptu assassin from Georgia, and Houson and his son Andy leave for Arkansas to aid Driscol and Ross in the upcoming war against the US.
The novel ends in 1825, as the USA goes to war with Arkansas, and John Quincy Adams, Jackson, and other political opponents of Henry Clay make plans to end slavery.