Major Ridge in Trail of GloryEdit
The Ridge (took the title Major after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend) was a prominent Cherokee leader. He was an ally of the United States during the Creek War, and early on realized the inevitability of conflict between his people and the Americans. He'd even visited Washington, D.C. in the first decade of the 19th century in an attempt to reach an accord with the U.S. to no avail. His alliance with the U.S. brought him into contact with Sam Houston, the adopted son of minor Cherokee chief John Jolly, who was an advocate of voluntary relocation. Ridge saw an opportunity through Houston.
Battle of the Horseshoe BendEdit
Although Gideon Morgan was the official leader of the Cherokee, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, U.S. General John Coffee relied on The Ridge as commander in the field. When the battle began, Coffee ordered a rear assault on the Red Stick village located on the Tallapoosa. The Ridge helped lead the assault, taking special precautions to make sure the U.S. troops didn't start firing on the Cherokee.
The Ridge's men carried out their part. The Red Sticks engaged the Cherokee, Jackson's men a necessary distraction for their frontal assault. Later, when the Red Sticks were routed, The Ridge and his men used firearrows on the Red Sticks' hastily fortified positions.
Despite Jackson's promises that the Cherokees homes would not be molested while they were at the front, forces under the command Colonel Homer Milton foraged off of Cherokee farms. The Ridge (now calling himself Major Ridge) and several of his followers returned to their farms, refusing to return to Jackson's side. Jackson's new protege, Sam Houston, offered plan to bring Ridge back. Jackson agreed, suggesting that Houston take Ridge with him to Washington.
Ridge refused the trip, knowing that if he went, he'd be viewed as compromised by his fellow Cherokee. He did convince Houston to take his son, John, his daughter, Nancy, and his nephew, Buck Watie with him, so they could be placed in an American school. Houston reluctantly agreed, knowing it would help gain Ridge's favor.
While in Washington, Houston and John Ross participated in the Battle of the Capitol, effectively halting the British advance on Baltimore. Houston became a national hero. Ross, while less a public figure, served as an aide to Secretary of State James Monroe. These three were able to develop an early plan for the voluntary relocation of the Cherokee people further west.
Houston was promoted to colonel, and placed in charge of a large expedition to reinforce Andrew Jackson at New Orleans. On the way south, the expedition met the Ridge, and convinced him to bring 200 of his own warriors. They also shared the relocation plan with Ridge. Ridge agreed to bring his men, but was non-comittal on the plan.
Ridge and his men arrived on December 18, 1814.