Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Civil War Historical Novel Focuses On Mississippi River...

English: Bombardment and Capture of Island Num...
English: Bombardment and Capture of Island Number Ten on the Mississippi River, April 7, 1862 Colored lithograph published by Currier & Ives, New York, circa 1862. It depicts the bombardment of the Confederate fortifications on Island Number Ten by Federal gunboats and mortar boats. Ships seen include (from left to right): Mound City, Louisville, USS Pittsburg, Carondelet, Flagship Benton, Cincinnati, Saint Louis and Conestoga (timberclad). Mortar boats are firing from along the river bank. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"In the evening, Colonel Baker dispatched Company B 
to go out on picket duty. George considered it bad luck that he drew picket duty his very first night in New Madrid. For once, he wished he could trade places with Eli who was most likely playing cards in the officer's mess tent. The picket line was set up north of the town where they spent the entire night in the frigid cold.
Pickets were scattered several miles alongside a 

roadside ravine, standing amidst rain-soaked 
knot weeks, decaying leaves and twigs. 
It was the most miserable
night George had spent in the army, even worse 

than the night he had slept in the woods while 
making his escape from Fort Donelson...
"On their way back, the weary sentries passed by 
the flooded streets of New Madrid. They walked
 in silence, interrupted only by wheezing and
 coughing. Several of them passed by a shanty where their colonel and Major Couch were staying 
the night--attended by two
slaves. Bleary-eyed and stiff-fingered from clutching
his musket all night, George glanced at the chimney
atop the small wooden structure. It emitted a steady stream of white smoke that seemed to curl in the

 crisp morning air, promising warmth inside and
 a hot breakfast. George and one of his fellow 
sentries spit in the direction of the cabin 
as they walked by..."
Long Road Home:

The Trials and Tribulations Of A Confederate Soldier

By Richard G. Zevitz
  Michael C. Braswell

In a well-researched, in-depth dramatization, Richard G. Zevitz and Michael C. Braswell centers in on an overlooked military campaign as both the North and South recognized the importance of the Mississippi River to war efforts. Historians will have an opportunity to follow the battles that occurred, as seen by those that were actually there--as soldiers.

Readers will follow Lt. Eli Forrest and his friends as they first learn to fight and then watch as they suffer through the hardships or the few good times. One of the things quickly discovered was how the men viewed the competency of their superiors, knowing that many of their friends and neighbors were being killed because of the actions of these men. We learn how Ft. Donelson, Ft. Henry, New Madrid, Island No. 10, Ft. Pillow were all taken--often through surrender.

Eli Forrest is a very likable guy. He had just been sent into this area, having been demoted from Captain to Lieutenant when the daughter of his previous ranking officer had different ideas about their relationship than Eli did... In other words he had not been interested in marriage...
He met George Spears when he was brought to help reinforce Fort Donelson, which was a long way from his home in Alabama. When Eli asked George if he had any tobacco, George didn't quite know what to say--he was a private and Eli, an officer. Eli quickly told his tale about being demoted--perhaps he felt better around the enlisted men now, especially since he didn't know any of the officers either. No matter why, they bonded and became like brothers.

In fact, when George later sneeked out, as many were doing after another loss, George, though, was heading to be with his own brothers further South. And sure enough, Eli followed... George's brothers were Will and A.F., the latter being of concern to his brothers--even though he was big and strong, his mind was that of a boy of 12. He had run away from home to join his brothers, accepted as a man, but not thinking as one... It didn't take long before Eli was also friends with the three brothers, staying close when possible, even though he had started staying in officers quarters.

Fighting battle after battle, in camps that had little food to ones which did, but no guns, the four friends shared whatever they could, until they were once again in a battle where a surrender was negotiated, this time winding up in a prison camp. In fact, a significant issue of the book is the treatment of the soldiers while at Camp Randall Military Prison in Madison, Wisconsin.

Eli had some medical training and experience so began to help with the wounded or those who became ill due to the bad conditions there. The three brothers had a much worse experience...

Both Eli and George had found love interests, but there was so little time that those relationships were mostly in their minds, helping to make their time more enjoyable as they thought about their new friends and wondered about whether there would be a chance for a future with them.

And then the war was over...

For those who want to go deep into the actual war battles and the lives of those who fought, this novel is an excellent, realistic presentation, with details sometimes so stunning that it is hard to accept that some men can be so cruel and that young boys were fighting with so little support. Historians, if you have not read much about this area of fighting, then I want to highlight that there are several area maps and an extensive bibliography and specific referencing for each chapter. Highly recommended.


Richard G. Zevitz

A former division director for the Sheriff's Department in San Francisco, Richard Zevitz also worked for a neighborhood legal aid society. He earned four degrees including a degree in history and economics, a Doctorate in Criminology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska. He is currently Associate Professor of Criminology and Law Studies at Marquette University. Richard has published more than two dozen journal articles, including an article on Confederate prisoners of war at Camp Randall Military Prison in Madison, Wisconsin.

Michael C. Braswell

A former prison psychologist and marriage and family therapist, Michael Braswell earned four degrees in counseling and psychology, including his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has taught ethics and human relations for more than 30 years and is currently Professor Emeritus at East Tennessee State University. Michael's books include Morality Stories, Justice, Crime and Ethics, and the forthcoming Interview with Joab.
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