The Widow of the South
Down the rows of the dead they came. Neat, orderly rows of dead rebel boys who thirty years before had either dropped at the foot of earthen works a mile or so away or died on the floors of the big house overlooking the cemetery. Now there were stone markers, but for so many years there had been only wooden boards, weathered and warped, and tall posts proclaiming the numbers of the dead.'
This is the first paragraph of Widow of the South written by Robert Hicks. This is an incredibly moving book that really opens your eyes to the horrors of the civil war. Based, and very well-researched, on a true story, The Widow of the South tells the story of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The battle at Franklin, Tennessee raged for just 5 hours, but when the smoke cleared there were 9,200 casualties in a field just outside the town of 2,500. Carrie McGavock's plantation home was turned into a makeshift hospital where Carrie and her slave and friend, Mariah, worked tirelessly for days on end to save the wounded men who covered every inch of her house and yards. Two Confederate doctors worked away in the surgery upstairs, tossing amputated limbs out the window until a huge pile had grown. The story continues even after the men are gone and a bit of normalcy begins to take it's place. For Carrie, the war still rages on and she will tirelessly write letters to the dead men's families, so that they may know what has happened to their loved ones. The field where the battle raged and the men fell has also become their graveyard, so when, a few years later, the man who owns the field threatens to plow it over to plant crops, Carrie works to bring the men home to her plantation and several acres that her and her husband have set aside to become a cemetery for those lost men.
This is such a compelling story, written so well and with so much emotion. It will haunt your days until you finish the last page. Beautifully written and so full of history that it is very hard to put down. I know want to visit Carnton Plantation and the cemetery that Carrie worked so hard to preserve.