- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Anne Colleton gunned the Vauxhall Prince Henry up the Robert E. Lee Highway from Charleston, South Carolina, toward her plantation, Marshlands, outside the little town of St. Matthews. The motorcar hit a pothole. Her teeth came together in a sharp click. The so-called highway, like all roads outside the cities, was nothing but dirt. Even with a lap robe and a broad-brimmed hat with a veil, Anne was caked with red-brown dust. She supposed she should count herself lucky she hadn't had a puncture. She'd already repaired two since leaving Charleston.
"Punctures?" She shook her head. "Punctures are nothing." She counted herself lucky to be alive. With a dashing submersible commander, she'd been at a rather seedy hotel near the edge of one of Charleston's Negro districts when the riot or uprising or whatever it was broke out. They'd piled into the Vauxhall and escaped just ahead of the baying mob. She'd delivered Roger Kimball back to the harbor and then, not bothering to get the bulk of her belongings out of the much finer hotel where she was registered, she'd headed for home.
Down the road toward her, filling up most of it, came a wagon pulled by a horse and a mule and filled to overflowing with white men, women, and children—several families packed together, unless she missed her guess. She stepped on the brake, hard as she could. The Vauxhall came to a shuddering stop. Its sixty-horsepower engine could hurl it forward at a mile a minute—though not on the Robert E. Lee Highway—but slowing down was another matter.
Some of the whites wore bandages, some of those rusty with old blood. Over the growl of the motorcar's engine, Anne called, "What's it like up ahead?"
"It's bad, ma'am," the graybeard at the reins answered, tipping his battered straw hat to her—he could see she was a person of consequence, even if he didn't know just who she was. "We're lucky we got out alive, and that's a fact."
The woman beside him nodded vehemently. "You ought to turn around your ownself," she added. "Niggers up further north, they gone crazy. They got guns some kind of crazy way and they got red flags flyin' and sure as Jesus they're gonna kill any whites they can catch."
"Red flags," Anne said, and heads bobbed up and down again in the wagon. Her lips moved in a silent curse. Her brother Tom, a Confederate major, had said earlier in the year there were Red revolutionaries among the Negro laborers in the Army. She'd scoffed at the idea that such radicals might also have gained a foothold at Marshlands. Now fear clawed her. Her other brother, Jacob, was back at the mansion, an invalid since the Yankees had gassed him within an inch of his life. She'd thought it surely safe to leave him for a few days.
The fellow in the straw hat tipped it again, then guided his mismatched team off the road so the wagon could get around the automobile. As soon as she had the room, she put the Vauxhall in gear and zoomed forward again. Along with other innovations, she'd had a rearview mirror installed on the motorcar. Looking into it, she saw faces staring after her from the wagon as she drove toward trouble rather than away from it.
Every so often, trees shaded the road. Something dangled from an overhanging branch of one of them. She slowed down again. It was the body of a lynched Negro. A placard tied round his neck said, THIS IS IF WE KETCH YOU. He wore only a pair of ragged drawers. What had been done to him before he was hanged wasn't pretty.
Anne bit her lip. She prided herself on being a modern woman, on being able to take on the world straight up and come out ahead, regardless of her sex. Outdealing men had made her rich—well, richer, since she was born far from poor. But business was one thing, this brutality something else again.
And what were the Negroes, the Reds, doing in whatever lands—not Marshlands, surely—they'd seized in their revolt? How many old scores, going back how many hundred years, were they repaying?
As much to escape questions like that as to get away from the tormented corpse (around which flies were already buzzing), Anne drove off fast enough to press herself back into the seat. Perhaps a mile farther up the road, she came to another tree with dreadful fruit. The first had shocked her because of its savagery. The second also shocked her, mostly by how little feeling it roused in her. This is how men get used to war, she thought, and shivered though the day was warm and muggy: more like August than late October.
She drove past a burnt-out farmhouse from which smoke was still rising. It hadn't been much of a place; she wondered whether blacks or poor whites had lived there. Nobody lived there now, or would any time soon.
More traffic coming south slowed her progress. The road wasn't wide; whenever her motorcar drew near someone coming in the opposite direction, somebody had to go off onto the shoulder to get around. Wagons, buggies, carts, occasional motorcars came past her, all of them loaded with women, children, and old men: most of the young men were at the front, fighting against the USA.
Anne needed a while to wonder how widespread in the Confederacy the uprising was, and what it would do to the fight against the United States. Confederate forces had been hard-pressed to hold their ground before. Could they go on holding, with rebellion in their rear?
"We licked the damnyankees in the War of Secession," she said, as if someone had denied it. "We licked 'em again in the Second Mexican War, twenty years later. We can do it one more time."
She came up behind a truck rumbling along toward the north, its canvas-canopied bed packed with uniformed militiamen. Some wore butternut, some the old-fashioned gray that had been banished from front-line use because it was too much like Yankee green-gray. A lot of the militiamen wore beards or mustaches. All of those were gray—except the ones that were white. But the men carried bayoneted rifles, and looked to know what to do with them. Against a rabble of Negroes, what more would they need?
They waved to her when she drove past. She waved back, glad to do anything to cheer them. Then she had to slow almost to a crawl behind a battery of half a dozen horse-drawn cannons. Those couldn't have come close to matching her Vauxhall's speed under the best of circumstances, and circumstances were anything but the best: the guns had to fight their way forward against the stream of refugees fleeing the revolt.
Some of the southbound wagons and motorcars had Negroes in them: a scattering of black faces, among the white. Anne guessed they were servants and field hands who'd stayed loyal to their employers (masters wasn't the right word, though some people persisted in using it more than a generation after manumission). She was glad to see those few black faces—they gave her hope for Marshlands—but she wished she'd spotted more.
Truck farms abounded all around the little town of Holly Hill, about halfway between Charleston and St. Matthews. The farms seemed to have come through pretty well. Not much was left of the town. A lot of it had burned. Bullet holes pocked the surviving walls. Here and there, bodies white and black lay unburied. A faint stench of meat going bad hung in the air; buzzards wheeled optimistically, high overhead.Anne wished she could have got out of Holly Hill in a hurry, but rubble in the road made traffic pack together. A gang of Negro laborers was clearing the debris. That was nothing out of the ordinary. The uniformed whites covering them with Tredegar rifles, though ...
A couple of miles north of Holly Hill, a middle-aged white man whose belly was about to burst the bounds of his butternut uniform stepped out into the road, rifle in hand, and stopped her. "We ain't lettin' folks go any further north'n this, ma'am," he said. "Ain't safe. Ain't nowhere near safe."
"You don't understand. I'm Anne Colleton, of Marshlands," she said, confident he would know who she was and what that meant.
He did. Gulping a little, he said, "I'd like to help you, ma'am," by which he undoubtedly meant, I don't want to get into trouble with you, ma'am. But he went on, "I got my orders from Major Hotchkiss, though—no civilians goin' up this road. Them niggers, they got a regular front set up. They been plannin' this a long time, the sons of bitches. Uh, pardon my French."
She'd been saying a lot worse than that herself. "Where do I find this Major Hotchkiss, so I can talk some sense into him?" she demanded.
The Confederate militiaman pointed west down a rutted dirt track less than half as wide as the Robert E. Lee Highway. "There's a church up that way, maybe a quarter mile. Reckon he'll be up in the steeple, trying to spot what the damn niggers is doin'."
She drove the Vauxhall down the road he'd shown her. If she didn't find the church, she intended to try to make her way north by whatever back roads she could find. This Major Hotchkiss might have banned northbound civilian traffic from the highway, but maybe he hadn't said anything about other ways of getting where she still aimed to go.
But there stood the church, a white clapboard building with a tall steeple. White men in butternut uniforms and old gray ones milled around outside. They all looked her way as she drove up. "I'm looking for Major Hotchkiss," she called.
"I'm Jerome Hotchkiss," one of the men in butternut said; sure enough, he wore a single gold star on each collar tab. He didn't look too superannuated. Then Anne saw he had a hook in place of his left hand. That would have left him unfit for front-line duty, but not for an emergency like this. He nodded to her. "What is it you want?"
"I'm Anne Colleton," she said again, and caused another stir. She went on, "Your sentry back by the highway said you were the man who could give me permission to keep going north toward Marshlands, my plantation."
"If any man could do that, I would be the one," Major Hotchkiss agreed. "I have to tell you, though, it's impossible. You must understand, we are not trying to put down a riot up ahead. It is a war, nothing less. The enemy has rifles. He has machine guns. He has men who will use them. And he has a fanatical willingness to die for his cause, however vile it is."
"No, you don't understand," Anne said. "I have to get back to the plantation. My brother is an invalid: the damnyankees gassed him this past spring. Do you know if Marshlands is safe? I tried to telephone from Charleston, but—"
"Specifically, no," Hotchkiss answered. "And most telephone lines are down, as you will have found. I can tell you this, though: it's not safe to be white—unless you're also a Red, and there are a few like that, the swine—between here and Columbia. Like I say, ma'am, we have ourselves a war here. In fact—" He stopped looking at her and started looking at the Vauxhall. "I'm going to ask you to step out of that motorcar, if you don't mind."
"What? I certainly do mind."
"Ma'am, I am confiscating your motorcar in the name of the Confederate States of America," Hotchkiss said. "This is a military area; I have that right. The vehicle will be returned to you at the end of this emergency. If for any reason it cannot be returned, you will be compensated as required by law." When Anne, not believing what she was hearing, made no move to get out, the major snapped, "Potter! Harris!" Two of his men trained rifles on her.
"This is an outrage!" she exclaimed. The soldiers' faces were implacable. If she didn't get out, they would shoot her. That was quite plain. Quivering with fury, she descended to the ground.
Major Hotchkiss pointed farther up the road. "There's a crossroads general store up there. We've got a fair number of folks in tents already. It's about half a mile. You go on, Miss Colleton. They'll take care of you best they can. We smash this Colored Socialist Republic or whatever the niggers are calling it, then we can get on with the fight against the damnyankees."
"Give me a rifle," Anne said suddenly. "I'm a good shot, and I'm a lot less likely to fall over dead than half your so-called soldiers here."
But the Confederate major shook his head without a word. She knew she was right, but what good did that do her if he wouldn't listen? The answer tolled in her mind: none. Dully, she began walking up the road. When war reached out its hand, what did wealth and power matter? A fool with a gun could take them away. A fool with a gun had just taken them away.
Major Irving Morrell and Captain John Abell took off their caps when they went into Independence Hall to see the Liberty Bell. Philadelphia, being the headquarters of the War Department, was full of U.S. military men of all ranks and branches of service. Only someone very observant would have noted the twisted black-and-gold cords on the caps that marked these two as General Staff officers.
Abell, who had a bookish look to him, fit the common preconception for the appearance of a General Staff man. Morrell, though, was more weathered, his face lined and tanned, though he was only in his mid-twenties. He wore his sandy hair cropped close to his head, as field officers commonly did. He felt like a field officer. He'd been a field officer: he'd almost lost a leg in the U.S. invasion of Confederate Sonora, and then, after a long recuperation, he'd led a battalion in eastern Kentucky. What he'd done there had impressed his division commander enough to get him sent to Philadelphia.
Intellectually, he knew what a plum this was. It didn't altogether fill him with joy, though. He wanted to be out in the forest or the mountains or tramping through the desert—somewhere away from the city and close to the foe.
"Come on, let's get moving," he said now, and hurried ahead of Abell to get a good look at the Liberty Bell. His thigh pained him when he sped up like that, and would probably go on paining him the rest of his life. He ignored it. You could let something like that rule you, or you could rule it. Morrell did not aim to let anything keep him from doing what he wanted to do.
"It's been here a long time, Major," Abell said. "It's going to be here for a long time yet."
"Yes, but I'm not going to be here for a long time," Morrell answered. When he'd learned enough, or so the promise had gone, they'd promote him and send him back to the field to command a unit bigger than a battalion. "I want to fight with guns, not with maps and dividers and a telegraph clicker."
He looked back over his shoulder as he said that, just in time to catch the sidelong glance Abell gave him. The captain, like most General Staff officers, preferred fighting the war at a distance and in the abstract to the reality of mud and bad food and wounds and terror. Battle always seemed so much cleaner, so much neater, when it was red lines and blue on a chart.
Then such thoughts left Morrell's mind as, with a good many other soldiers, he crowded round the emblem of freedom for the United States. The surface of the bell was surprisingly rough, testimony to the imperfect skill of the founders who had cast it. Around the crown ran the words from Leviticus that had given the bell its name: Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
He wondered whether Robert E. Lee had seen the Liberty Bell when he occupied Philadelphia in 1862. Lee's victories had given the Confederate States a liberty the USA had not wanted to grant them, but he hadn't taken the bell back south with him. That was something, albeit not much.
Morrell reached out and touched the cool metal. "We're still free," he murmured. "Still free, by God."
"That's right," John Abell said beside him. "The freest nation on the face of the earth." Normally cold-blooded as a lizard in a blizzard, he sounded genuinely moved by the Liberty Bell. Then, almost gloating, he added, "And we're going to pay the Rebs back for all they've done to us these past fifty years, and the English, and the French, and the Canadians, too."
"You'd best believe it," Morrell said, and took his hand away. The metal of the bell had grown warm under his fingers. He smiled, enjoying the idea that he had had a connection with history. No sooner had he stepped back from the bell than a fresh-faced lieutenant came up and caressed its smooth curves with almost a lover's touch.
Independence Hall also boasted a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence. Facsimiles, though, meant little to Morrell. What was real counted. If you wanted to be theoretical ... you belonged on the General Staff. He snorted, amused by the conceit.
"What's funny, sir?" Captain Abell asked. Morrell just smiled and shook his head, not wanting to insult his companion.
They walked up Chestnut, back toward the War Department offices that had swallowed so much of Franklin Square. Philadelphia buzzed with all sorts of Federal activity; especially after the Confederate bombardment of Washington during the Second Mexican War, the Pennsylvania city had become the de facto capital of the USA. That was as well, for Washington now lay under the bootheels of the Rebels.
The opening Confederate attack in the war had aimed at Philadelphia, too, but was stopped at the Susquehanna, one river short of the Delaware. Here and there, buildings bore scars from Confederate bombing raids. These days, with the Rebels pushed back into Maryland, bombing aeroplanes came over more rarely. Even so, antiaircraft cannon poked watchful snouts into the air in parks and at streetcorners.
Abell bought a couple of cinnamon rolls, a Philadelphia specialty, from a street vendor. He offered one to Morrell, who shook his head. "I don't want anything that sweet," he said. Half a block later, he came upon a Greek selling grape leaves stuffed with spicy meat and rice. To make them easier to handle, the fellow had skewered them on sticks. Morrell bought three. "Here's a proper lunch," he declared.
He and Abell both slowed down to eat as they walked. They hadn't gone far when someone behind them shouted, "Get the hell out of here, you stinking wog! This is a white man's town."
Morrell turned on his heel, Abell imitating him. A beefy, middle-aged civilian was shaking his finger in the Greek foodseller's face. Ignoring the twinge in his bad leg, Morrell walked rapidly back toward them. As he drew near, he saw the beefy man wore a pin in his lapel: a silver circle, with a sword set slantwise across it. Soldiers' Circle members made up a sort of informal militia of men who had served out their terms of conscription. They were perhaps the leading patriotic organization in the country, especially to hear them talk.
A lot of them, of course, the younger ones, had been reconscripted since the war broke out. Others had proved useful in other ways: serving as additions to the New York City police, for instance, after the Mormons and Socialists had touched off the Remembrance Day riots this past spring. And some of them, like this chap, liked to throw their weight around.
"Sir, why don't you just leave this man alone?" Morrell said. The words were polite. The tone was anything but. At his side, Captain Abell nodded.
"He's a damned foreigner," the Soldiers' Circle man exclaimed. "He's almost certainly not a citizen. He doesn't look like he ought to be a citizen, the stinking wog. Are you a citizen?" he demanded of the Greek.
"Not your gamemeno business what I am," the foodseller answered, bolder than he had been before he had anyone on his side.
"You see? He doesn't hardly speak English," the Soldiers' Circle man said. "Ought to put him in a leaky boat and ship him back to where he came from."
"I got son in Army." The Greek shook his finger at the fellow who was harassing him. "In Army to do fighting, not to play games like you was. Paul is sergeant—I bet you never got no stripes."
The Soldiers' Circle man went bright red. Morrell would have bet that meant the Greek had scored a bull's-eye. "Why don't you take yourself somewhere else?" Morrell told the dedicated patriot. Muttering under his breath, the corpulent fellow did depart, looking angrily back over his shoulder.
Morrell and Abell waved off the foodseller's thanks and headed up Chestnut again, toward the War Department. "Those Soldiers' Circle men can be arrogant bastards," Abell said. "He was treating that fellow like he was a nigger, not just a dago or whatever the hell he is."
"Yeah," Morrell said, "and a Confederate nigger at that." He checked himself. "The other side to that coin is, the niggers down in the CSA are giving the white folks there a surprise or two."
"You're right," Abell said. "Now what we have to do is see how we can best take advantage of it."
Morrell nodded. Taking advantage of the enemy didn't come easy, not when machine guns knocked down advances before they could get moving—assuming artillery hadn't already done that before soldiers ever came out of the trenches.
He sighed. An awful lot of U.S. officers—including, as far as he was concerned, too many on the General Staff—didn't, maybe couldn't, think past slamming straight at the Rebs and overwhelming them by sheer weight of numbers. The USA had the numbers. Using them effectively was proving to be a horse of another color.
You went into General Staff headquarters through what looked like, and once had been, a millionaire's mansion. Morrell had always doubted that that fooled the Confederate spies surely haunting Philadelphia, but nobody'd asked his opinion. Inside, a sober-faced sergeant checked his identification and Abell's with meticulous care, comparing photographs to faces. Bureaucracy in action, Morrell thought: the noncom saw them every day.After gaining permission to enter the sanctum, they went into the map room. Abell pointed to the map of Utah, where U.S. forces had finally pushed the Mormon rebels out of Salt Lake City and back toward Ogden. "That was your doing, more than anyone else," he said to Morrell, half admiring, half suspicious.
"TR listened to me," Morrell said with a shrug. Instead of straight-ahead slugging, he urged attacked through the Wasatch Mountains and from the north, to make the Mormons have to do several things at the same time with inadequate resources. He'd proposed that to the brass on arriving here. They'd ignored him. A chanced meeting with the president had revived the plan. Unlike a lowly major, TR could make the General Staff listen instead of trying without any luck to persuade it.
Except for the soldiers actually fighting there (and perhaps except for the resentment higher-ups in the General Staff might show against him for being right), Utah was old news now, anyhow. Morrell looked at a new map, one that had gone up only a few days before. On it, the Confederacy, especially from South Carolina through Louisiana, seemed to have broken out in a bad case of the measles, or maybe even smallpox.
He pointed to the indications of insurrection. "The Rebs will have a jolly time fighting their own Negroes and us, too," he said.
"That's the idea," John Abell said. Both men smiled, well pleased with the world.
Scipio was not used to wearing the coarse, colorless homespun shirt and trousers of a Negro laborer. As butler at the Marshlands mansion, he'd put on formalwear suitable for a Confederate senator in Richmond, save only that his vest was striped and his buttons made of brass. He wasn't used to sleeping in a blanket on the ground, either, or to eating whatever happened to come into his hands, or to going hungry a lot of the time.
But he would never be butler at Marshlands again. The mansion had gone up in flames at the start of the Marxist revolt—the mostly black revolt—against the Confederate States. If the Congaree Socialist Republic failed, Scipio would never be anything again, except a stinking corpse and then whitening bones hanging from a tree branch.
The headquarters of the Congaree Socialist Republic kept moving, as the Confederates brought pressure to bear against now one, now another of its fluid borders. At the moment, the red flags with the broken chains in black flew over a nameless crossroads not far north of Holly Hill, South Carolina.
Cassius came up to Scipio. Cassius had worn homespun all his life, and a shapeless floppy hat to go with it. He had been the chief hunter at Marshlands, and also—though Scipio hadn't known of it till after the war with the USA began, and had learned only by accident then—the chief Red. Now he styled himself the chairman of the Republic.
"How you is, Kip?" he asked, the dialect of the Congaree thick as jambalaya in his mouth. But he did not think the way white folks thought their Negroes thought: "Got we anudder one fo' revolutionary justice. You is one o' de judges."
"Where he is?" Scipio asked. When talking with his fellows, he used the Congaree dialect, too. When talking with whites, he spoke standard English better than almost any of them. That had already proved useful to the Congaree Socialist Republic, and likely would again.
"Here he come," Cassius answered, and, sure enough, two young, stalwart black men were hustling along a short, plump white. His white linen suit was stained with smoke and grass; several days of stubble blurred the outlines of what had been a neat white goatee. In formal tones, Cassius declared, "De peasants an' workers o' de Congaree Socialist Republic charges Jubal Marberry here wid ownin' a plantation an' wid 'sploitin an' 'pressin' he workers on it—an' wid bein' a fat man livin' off what dey does."
Two others came up beside Scipio to hear the case, not that there was much case to hear at one of these revolutionary tribunals. One was a woman named Cherry, from Marshlands, whose screams had helped touch off the rebellion there. The other was a big man named Agamemnon, who had labored at Marberry's plantation.
He spoke to his former boss—probably his former owner, too, since, like Scipio, he was past thirty: "You got anything to say befo' the co't pass sentence on you?"
Marberry was old and more than a little deaf; Agamemnon had to repeat the question. When he did, the white man showed he had spirit left: "Whatever you do to me, they'll hang you higher than Haman, and better than you deserve, too."
"What is de verdict?" Cassius asked.
No one bothered with witnesses for the defense, or for the prosecution, either. The three judges walked off a few feet and spoke in low voices. "Ain't no reason to waste no time on he," Agamemnon said. "He guilty, the old bastard."
"We give he what he deserve," Cherry said with venomous relish.
Scipio didn't say anything. He'd been in several of these trials, and hadn't said much at any of them. He'd never intended to be a revolutionary—it was either that, though, or die for knowing too much. He had no love for white folks, but he had no love for savagery, either.
His silence didn't matter. Had he voted for acquittal, the other two would have outvoted him—and odds were he soon would have faced revolutionary justice himself after such an unreliable act. He'd survived so far by keeping quiet. He hoped he could keep right on surviving.
Agamemnon and Cherry turned back toward Cassius. They both nodded. So did Scipio, a moment later. Cassius said, "Jubal Marberry, you is guilty of the crime of 'pression 'gainst the proletariat of the Congaree Socialist Republic. De punishment is death."
Marberry cursed at him and tried to kick one of the men who held him. They dragged the planter off behind some trees. A pistol shout sounded, and then a moment later another one. The two Negroes came out. Jubal Marberry didn't.
With considerable satisfaction, Cassius nodded to the impromptu court. "You done fine," he told them. Agamemnon and Cherry headed off, both of them obviously well-pleased with themselves. Scipio started to leave, too. One of these days, he was going to let his feelings show on his face despite the butler's mask of imperturbability he cultivated. That would be the end of him. Even as he turned, though, Cassius said, "You wait, Kip."
"What you want?" Scipio did his best to sound easy and relaxed. The Congaree Socialist Republic went after enemies of the revolution within its own ranks as aggressively as it pursued them among the whites who had for so long oppressed and battened on the Negro laborers of the area.
But Cassius said, "Gwine have we a parley wid de white folks officer. We trade de wounded white folks sojers we catches fo' de niggers dey gives we. You gwine talk wid de officer." His long, weathered face stretched into lines of anticipatory glee.
Scipio didn't need long to figure out why. With a deliberate effort of will, he abandoned the Congaree dialect: "I suppose you will expect me to speak in this fashion, thereby disconcerting them."
Cassius laughed and slapped his knee. "Do Jesus, yes!" he exclaimed. "You set your mind to it, you talk fancier'n any o' they white folks. An' you don' git angried up in a hurry, neither. We wants a cool head, an' you got dat."
"When we do dis parley?" Scipio asked.
"Right now. I take you up to de front." Cassius reached into his pocket, pulled out a red bandanna, and tied it around Scipio's left upper arm. "Dere. Now you official." No doubt because the Confederacy, if you looked at it from the right angle, was nothing but an elaborate hierarchy of ranks and privileges, the Congaree Socialist Republic acted as if such matters did not exist. The revolution was about equality.
The front was just that, a series of trenches and firing pits. Both the black soldiers of the Socialist Republic and their Confederate foes were in large measure amateurs, but both sides were doing their best to imitate what the professionals from the CSA and USA had been doing.
Cassius took Scipio to a tent where the white officer waited. "Ain't gwine let you cross out of de country we holds," he said. "Cain't trust white folks not to keep you an' give you a rope necktie."
Considering what had just happened to Jubal Marberry and to many others, Scipio reckoned the barbarism equally distributed. Saying so, however, struck him as inexpedient. And he knew he should have been grateful that Cassius worried about his safety rather than planning to liquidate him.
The tent was butternut canvas, captured Confederate Army issue. Scipio pulled the flap open, ducked his head, and went inside. A man in Confederate uniform sat behind a folding table. He did not stand up for Scipio, as he would have on meeting a U.S. officer during a parley.
"Good day," Scipio said, as if greeting a guest at Marshlands. "Shall we discuss this matter in a civilized fashion, as it involves the well-being of brave men from both sides?"
Sure enough, the Confederate major's eyebrows rose. He wasn't a gray-bearded relic like a lot of the men the CSA was using to try to suppress the revolution; Scipio judged he would have been fighting the Yankees if he hadn't lost a hand. "Don't you talk pretty?" he said, and then, as if making a great concession, "All right, I'm Jerome Hotchkiss. I can treat for Confederate forces along this front. You can do the same for your people?"
"That is correct, Major," Scipio answered. "For the purposes of this meeting, you may address me as Spartacus."
Hotchkiss let out a bark of laughter. "All you damn Red niggers use that for an alias. Best guess I can give about why is that maybe you reckon we won't know who to hang once we've put you down. If that's what you think, you're dreaming."
Scipio feared the major was right. Showing that fear, though, would put him in Cassius' bad graces. Cassius being more immediately dangerous to him than were the forces of the CSA, he said, "I suggest, Major, that it is wise to kill your bear before you speak of skinning him."
"You want to watch the way you talk to me," Hotchkiss said, as if rebuking a Negro waiter at a restaurant.
"Major, you would be well advised to remember that you are in the sovereign territory of the Congaree Socialist Republic," Scipio returned. Hotchkiss glared at him. He looked back steadily. The shoe was on the other foot now, and the white man didn't care for the fit. Scipio understood that. He'd spent his whole life not caring for the fit. He said, "Shall we agree to put other matters aside for the time being, in the hopes of coming to terms on this one specific issue?"
"Fair enough," Hotchkiss said, making a visible effort to control himself. "Some of our wounded who got left behind when we had to pull back ... When we advanced again, we found 'em chopped to bits or burned alive or ... Hell, I don't need to go on. You know what I'm talking about."
"I also know that your forces are seldom in the habit of taking prisoners of any kind, wounded or not," Scipio answered. "How many Negroes have been hanged, these past days?"
Plainly, the thought in Hotchkiss' mind was, Not enough. "Negroes caught in arms against the Confederate States of America—"
Scipio surprised him by interrupting: "Lackeys of the oppressors caught in arms resisting the proletarian revolution of the Congaree Socialist Republic ..." The Marxist rhetoric he'd learned from Cassius came in handy here, no matter how low his opinion of it commonly was. He went on, "Our causes being as repugnant to each other as they are, is it not all the more important to observe the laws of war with especial care?"
"That'd mean admitting you have the right to rebel," Hotchkiss said.
But Scipio shook his head. "The USA did not admit the CSA had that right in the War of Secession, yet treated Confederate prisoners humanely."
He could see Hotchkiss thinking, White men on both sides. But the major didn't say that. What he did say was, "Maybe."
Taking that for assent, Scipio said, "Very well. We undertake to exchange under flag of truce men too badly wounded to go on fighting at a place and time you may choose, said men to have been treated as well as possible by the side capturing them. Is it agreed?"
"Agreed," Hotchkiss said, "but only as a war measure. It doesn't mean we say you have any right to do what you're doing. After we smash you, you'll still hang for rebellion and treason."
"First catch the bear, Major," Scipio answered. He'd done what Cassius wanted. He thought it would bring some good. How much? For how long? He wished he knew how the revolution fared across the rest of the Confederacy.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted September 27, 2003
2nd book of this Alternate world of choas which started in How Few Remain. if you are interested in this book make sure that you read How Few Remain first it leads into the Great War series which leads into the American Empire series which leads to the yet to be released Settling Accounts series.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 22, 2013
Either the publisher should have given the E-book transcription a good error check or they should have hired someone literate to perform the transcription! Many errors that are not in the print version. Otherwise it is a good book.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2013
Posted July 31, 2011
Posted July 31, 2011
Posted July 31, 2011
Posted February 8, 2007
I have read a lot of books looking for a good what if book. Now I have found a great what if timeline i was realy pleased with this book and i recomened it to anyone who loves historyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2007
I think it was well written, it gives and shows reasons of how World War One starts in this alternate history life. It also has World War One references.I really reccomend it.It has great descriptions of the different settings. The only bad thing is it's pretty long.also it has a cool map.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2003
Posted July 1, 2002
A tremendous finish to the Great War Series. Throughout the whole series I couldn't wait to see how it all ended, and the ending was as much as I expected. Turtledove has me hooked. I can't wait to start reading more of his work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2002
... and this book proves it. It is an awesome book describing war, and the affects it has on not only the soldiers, and the political leaders, but also civilians. It's action packed, and very hard to put down. A definite read for those who love war stories.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 26, 2001
Posted July 23, 2001
I was intrigued, and a little skeptical, when I picked up 'The Great War: American Front'. Until then the only good 'what if?' novel I had read was 'Fatherland' by Robert Harris. While Mr. Turtledove's book is on a different level, it exceeded all of my expectations. The author seems to have put a great deal of thought into the plot and the characters. Almost all of the scenes in the book come across with a feeling of authenticity. Mr. Turtledove has succeeded in making this idea of the USA fighting the Confederacy during the Great war very credible. Rarely does the book fall into the 'wishful thinking' that ruins so many other alternate history books. From the fighting in the trenches, the uprising in Utah to the Marxist rebellion in the South, the book takes the reader on a ride through the unknown what could have been.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2000
This serries is so enthralling that you will not be able to put the book down. I know this is said about many books but I really could not put it down. I finished it in three days and wanted more! I love the way he works fictional characters in with real historical figures and events.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2000
I liked it, but as usual with Turtledove there are a lot of characters to keep track of. It is also would be nice if there were some characters from the rest of the world, not only from america. An intersting point is that military logic, of the time, demands an harsh peace which lay the seed for another war regardless of which side won. I wonder if the economical terms will be equally harsh as the ones for territory and if the end of war will lead to an recession. All in all it's a good book and I will probably by the final, hopefully, installment as well.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2000
In The Great War: Breakthroughs Turtledove has written one of his best books ever and possibly set the stage for more books about WWII. In this book the U.S. gets it revenge against the Confederates, Canada and Great Britan. I've waited for this book for three years to see the U.S. come out on top. It was worth the wait.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2000
This book continues the Great War series. It is very believeable and very entertaining. If you like history or science fiction this is a book for you. It is also good for action lovers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.