Excerpt from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

by Sarah Bird

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird X
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 416 pages

    Feb 2020, 544 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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Sheridan might of been Satan himself, still I could not take my eyes off of the man. When I separated him from his mount, though, I found I was looking at a squatty little fellow with black hair so short it looked painted on, a long body, strong, broad chest, short legs, not enough neck to hang him with, and arms so long that if his ankles itched he could scratch them without stooping. He had a head like a bulldog, big and round, with a hard set to the jaws that signaled once he sunk his teeth into a thing, either him or that thing'd be dead before he turned it loose. It was a head molded by the Creator to do one thing on this earth. And that one thing was fight.

There wasn't but one Yankee fit such a description, the dreaded General Philip "Little Phil" Henry Sheridan. Even the Feds called him "Smash 'em Up" as that's what the young general was given to yelling as he rode, laughing and cursing up a blue streak, into battle.

Old Mister and his Secesh friends despised all Yankees, but they hated Sheridan worse than any other Federal. They called Sheridan's habit of burning everything in his path "despicable and unspeakable savagery and against every rule of civilized behavior." Unlike, say, shackling up humans and working, flogging, or starving them to death. All in all, I was inclined to like the man.

"Burn it all, lads!" Sheridan bellowed over the sound of the flames crackling and roaring. "Burn the Rebels' food and burn what they'd sell to buy food! Burn every grain of Rebel wheat and every kernel of Rebel corn! Burn it to the ground! I want the crows flying overhead to have to carry their own rations!"

Before that moment, I had never heard this exact brand of Yankee being spoke, and though it hit my ear like a handful of pebbles hurled against a window, I had to admit that the General, as I came to think of him then and forever after, could preach him some damnation.

Out beyond the dirt yard where the soldiers had gathered us up at bayonet point, flames flowed over the fields like a river of blazing orange spreading into an everlasting lake of fire. It roared so loud it took me a minute to make out the caterwauling of Old Miss.

"You are the devil, Phil Sheridan!" Old Miss wailed, gathering her three wormy offspring to her side. "The very devil himself, for only a demon of the lowest order would burn out a poor woman with a husband lying fresh dead in her parlor and leave her and these poor innocent children with nothing to eat!"

"Don't be calling me a devil, woman," Sheridan said, his queer accent turning "devil" into "divvel."

"The Union Army has burned your crops, madam, we have not slaughtered your sons. And we shall not be laying a hand upon your daughter."

He pointed a righteous finger toward the pasty-faced Little Miss, trembling in her pinafore worn now to a gray rag beside the two Young Sirs, both bowlegged with rickets.

"You traitorous Secessionists brought this miserable war on yourselves. Insisted upon it. Sought to sunder our country in two with it. War is brutal, my good woman. I do not make it any more so than I must."

The three gray curls that hung down either side of Old Miss's long face hopped around like fleas as she'd had no tonic to calm her nerves for the three long years the Rebellion had been grinding on. "We'll starve!" Old Miss cried, so pitiful you'd of never guessed at the blackness of her heart.

Never of imagined her looking bored and peevish when my grandmother, my Iyaiya, was led away, naked but for a rag twixt her legs, in a coffle of other wore-out slaves, all chained together like fish on a trotline. Old Mister had sold her for ten dollars to a turpentine camp down in Alabama, where they'd squeeze the last bit of work and life out of the captured queen in a dank pine forest. Bored and peevish was also how Old Miss had looked when my mama's other babies were sold away from her. It was how she looked when Old Mister took my beautiful baby sister, Clemmie, up to the house to use like a man uses a wife.

Excerpted from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird. Copyright © 2018 by Sarah Bird. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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