Saturday, June 9, from 5-6 p.m.
Vicksburg, Mississippi, is certainly a fitting spot to discuss civilians in the American Civil War. Vicksburg’s citizens, trapped by the battle, were subjected to the most fierce bombardment in warfare up to that date. Even civilians in Sebastopol in the Crimean War were not so thoroughly pounded.
I’m honored that in the loft at Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Howard Bahr and I will discuss what we learned about civilians in the war when we researched our novels. My novel, Morkan’s Quarry, is written about in many spots on this blog. Having read Bahr’s three novels on the Civil War, I still need an aid to my thinking and memory. That’s what working fifty hours a week at a great university press which publishes over 200 author creations each year will do to your memory and reading retention! So I’m going to post a cheat sheet here. I love these three books, and in each of them have found some of the finest writing anywhere, not just about war, but about us, about humanity.
This is a double cheat sheet, in that these synopses are (except for what I have added to the synposis of The Year of Jubilo) straight from Goodreads.com. So all credit is due Goodreads and I placed links here. I recommend all three of these books. I hope to see you Saturday!
The Black Flower is the gripping story of a young Confederate rifleman from Mississippi named Bushrod Carter, who serves in General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee during the Civil War battle that takes place in Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864. Written with reverent attention to historical accuracy, the book vividly documents the fear, suffering, and intense friendships that are all present on the eve of the battle and during its aftermath. When Bushrod is wounded in the Confederate charge, he is taken to a makeshift hospital where he comes under the care of Anna, who has already lost two potential romances to battle. Bushrod and Anna’s poignant attempt to forge a bond of common humanity in the midst of the pathos and horror of battle serves as a powerful reminder that the war that divided America will not vanish quietly into the page of history.
On a spring day in 1865 Gawain Harper trudges toward his home in Cumberland, Mississippi, where three years earlier he had boarded a train carrying the latest enlistees in the Mississippi Infantry. Unmoved by the cause that motivated so many others, he had joined up only when Morgan Rhea’s father, Judge Rhea, told Gawain that he would never wed his beloved Morgan unless he did his part in the war effort. Upon his return, he discovers post-war life is far from what he expected. Morgan has indeed waited for him, but before they can marry there are scores to be settled, chiefly with King Solomon Gault, who led a band of partisan home militia during the war, who killed Morgan’s sister and brother-in-law, and who has no intentions of losing his grip on Cumberland and surround.
In this epic novel of violence and redemption by the author of The Black Flower, a Civil War veteran travels back over old battlefields toward a reckoning with the past.
It’s been twenty years since Cass Wakefield returned from the Civil War to his hometown in Mississippi, but he is still haunted by battlefield memories. Now, one afternoon in 1885, he is presented with a chance to literally retrace his steps from the past and face the truth behind the events that led to the loss of so many friends and comrades.
The opportunity arrives in the form of Cass’s childhood friend Alison, a dying woman who urges Cass to accompany her on a trip to Franklin, Tennessee, to recover the bodies of her father and brother. As they make their way north over the battlefields, they are joined by two of Cass’s former brothers-in-arms, and his memories reemerge with overwhelming vividness. Before long the group has assembled on the haunted ground of Franklin, where past and present–the legacy of the war and the narrow hope of redemption—will draw each of them toward a painful confrontation.
Moving between harrowing scenes of battle and the novel’s present-day quest, Howard Bahr re-creates this era with devastating authority, proving himself once again to be the preeminent contemporary novelist of the Civil War.