From the book jacket:
In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman
who has only her former slave to keep her
and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried
in her backyard. Years before, rather than
let someone plow over the field where these
young men had been buried, Carrie dug them
up and reburied them in her own personal
cemetery. Now, as she walks the rows of the
dead, an old soldier appears. It is the man
she met on the day of the battle that
changed everything. The man who came to her
house as a wounded soldier and left with her
heart. He asks if the cemetery has room for
Comment: Hicks' first novel blends historical fact with fiction. The story centers on Carrie McGavock, known as 'the widow of the south' - a Confederate woman whose house was commandeered as a field hospital following the Battle of Franklin (fought in November 1864 close to Nashville, Tennessee) - one of the bloodiest battles of the war with 9,200 casualties, mostly Confederate soldiers. The novel opens 30 years after the battle and then flashes back to the day of the battle - a day when four generals lay dead on Carrie's back porch, the pile of amputated limbs rose as tall as the smoke house, and a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrived who would shake Carrie out of her stupor allowing her to find new purpose in her life.
The story is told from alternating points of view, including Mariah, Carrie's slave-turned friend; Carrie's husband, who returns to his plantation after the war; various soldiers from both sides; Carrie's neighbors; and Confederate general, Nathan Forrest. This allows Hicks to write about the small human stories from various points of view, as well as the epic catastrophe of the Civil War itself. In the words of Kirkus Reviews, this first novel is "worthy of a place alongside The Killer Angels (Michael Shaara), Rifles for Watie (Harold Keith) and Shiloh (James Reasoner)."
This review was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the September 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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