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“The Widow of the South ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 04/09/2005

The Widow of the South
Robert Hicks
Warner, Aug 2005, $24.95
ISBN: 0446500127

In Franklin, Tennessee mourning the loss of several of her children and not knowing how her husband fighting for the Confederacy is faring, Carrie McGavock feels alone and hopeless. Since she is unable to remotely run the family Carnton Plantation, Creole slave Mariah ably keeps things relatively smooth.

In 1864 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest appropriates Carrie's house and has it turned into a field hospital as a battle is coming soon nearby. The battle is lethal with 9,000 casualties and thousand of Confederate soldiers buried in a nearby field. Confederate Sergeant Zachariah Cashwell survives due to the nurturing of Carrie, but loses a leg. Carrie also provides care to other wounded. By the end of the battle, over 9,000 soldiers have perished, and thousands of Confederates are buried in a field near the McGavock plantation. When a neighbor decides to plow the makeshift cemetery, Carrie helped by a former Union officer, her former slave Mariah, and others re-inter about 1500 soldiers onto her plantation.

THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH is must reading for Civil War fiction aficionados as the tale is well written while paying homage to a real persona and events. The Battle of Franklin apparently was a key clash during the war (though to be honest this reviewer in spite of living in Atlanta for two decades and visiting several battlefields like Kennesaw never heard of this encounter). Robert Hicks provides a wonderful enlightening look at the battle (from varying perspectives), heroic individuals wanting to do the right thing, and some not so nice souls as powerful plot focuses on the tales of the forgotten within the background of a major deadly conflict.

Harriet Klausner

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