The Red Bird and the Devil
November 1675, Henry Woodward was in Westo Town in the middle of the wilderness on the Savannah River, negotiating a trade agreement with the chief. Under the shade of a live oak tree, he wrote a long-promised letter to the English philosopher John Locke, Sir, I have made the best inquiry that I can concerning the religion and worship, origins, and customs of our natives… He continued that the coastal Indians believed in heaven and hell. The red bird (cardinal) was sacred and their medicine men could send out rattlesnakes to hunt down and kill enemies. He concluded, The Westos among whom I now am, worship the devil in carved images of wood.
The Redbird and the Devil is the story of Henry Woodward's remarkable life as Carolina's first Indian trader and his role in settling Carolina Colony. He lived with the Native Americans in Carolina Colony, the only Englishman in four hundred miles. Held prisoner by the Spanish in St. Augustine and rescued in a daring raid, he served as a surgeon on a buccaneer ship, was shipwrecked in a hurricane, and miraculously ended up back in Carolina Colony. Overcoming political intrigue, personal loss, and physical hardship, Henry became one of the most important figures in the colony. His legacy is tangled—was he a friend or a foe of the Native Americans? His legacy is tangled. Was he a pawn of the ruthless English Lords Proprietors, America's first frontiersman, or both?