The Winter Soldiersby Andrew Miller
When Abraham Lincoln wins reelection in the fall of 1864, it spells final doom for the Confederacy. Driven by desperation and by the odds against them, Southern leaders reach a decision that could bring them sudden, stunning victory: They will kidnap Lincoln from the very streets of Washington, whisk him to Richmond, and hold him for a king’s ransom. They… See more details below
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When Abraham Lincoln wins reelection in the fall of 1864, it spells final doom for the Confederacy. Driven by desperation and by the odds against them, Southern leaders reach a decision that could bring them sudden, stunning victory: They will kidnap Lincoln from the very streets of Washington, whisk him to Richmond, and hold him for a king’s ransom. They will demand the release of all Confederate soldiers being held in Northern prison camps, in addition to $50 million in gold. It will be a devastating blow to Northern morale, restore the wasted Southern armies, and topple the Union government.
The man assigned to carry out the operation is Philip Bartlett, the South’s best agent and a spy in Washington since early in the war. Brilliant and ruthless, Bartlett is an aristocrat and a true believer in Southern independence. He has never failed. The spy foresaw this decision by Richmond, but he does not believe in the mission. To Bartlett, failure and success are both the same this time: If successful, he fears what enraged Northern armies will do to the South. If it fails, his remarkable operation in the enemy’s capital will be destroyed for nothing, and good men along with it. But whether the operation fails or succeeds, the spy knows the South will suffer for it, and the war made even harder on his beloved homeland. Still, he he is a soldier and he will follow orders.
Bartlett’s accomplices will be some of the South’s best cavalrymen, disguised as Union troopers. They will enter Washington the night of the operation, meet the spy, and abduct Lincoln as he takes his nightly stroll near the Executive Mansion. They will dash out of the city, then down dark country roads protected by Southern partisans, and into the Rebel capital.
The Confederate spy comes up against an unwitting opponent in Captain Peter Murphy, a young Union officer from a small town in Pennsylvania. Murphy has been damaged by two years of relentless warfare; his sudden bursts of temper and violence have convinced his superiors to send him off to Washington for a few months of rest and recuperation. Murphy is intelligent and sensitive, a teacher and educator before the war, but a man tormented by thoughts that he can never be the person he once was. Murphy has seen combat at Antietam, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the Shenandoah Valley, and a dozen other places. He is wracked with guilt and confusion at having survived when so many others have fallen. When he is ordered to Washington, he must leave his friends and comrades in the Army of the Potomac, a painful separation for a man already bearing many physical and mental wounds.
Although Philip Bartlett and Peter Murphy come from entirely different worlds, and they could not possibly be more different as human beings, their destinies will meet in Civil War Washington.
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When one thinks of the a typical alternate history most stories usually focus on one or more events that if done differently would change the course of the times and bring us into a much different world. What ifs pose a lot of speculation and have kept readers entertained for years. However, The Winter Soldiers, puts a fresh spin on an intriguing premise. With the re-elected of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in the fall of 1864 the Confederate States of America are destined for defeat. The war should be over in a few months. Lee¿s army is caught between a rock and a hard place at Petersburg. The Confederacy is hemorrhaging fast and military options for a victory do not exist. Desperate times call for desperate and imaginative thinking. Southern leaders have devised a scheme they feel will bring a quick and sudden turn around in things and could ensure them a stunning victory. The plan: Kidnap Lincoln and hold him for ransom. The ransom: $50 million in gold and the release of all Confederate soldiers held in Northern prison camps. Southern leaders are confident that this will be a devastating blow to the Yankee¿s morale and will topple the Union government. But Lincoln will have to be kidnaped from the very streets of Washington, D.C. itself. A daunting task that will require clever maneuvering. This kidnaping will be no easy mission. It will require a strategist and someone who has easy access to Washington. It will also require someone who can spill blood without thinking, taking the necessary precautions to see that the mission succeeds at all cost. The South already has a player in place. Philip Bartlett, a Southern aristocrat from New Orleans, has been in Washington since near the beginning of the war. Bartlett is a advocate for Southern independence. He is a man of means, ruthless and a man given to detail. Yet Bartlett does not share the enthusiasm his noble leaders tend to have concerning this mission. He see either success or failure marked with the same end: the defeat of the Confederacy. Philip Bartlett is a soldier and he will follows order, regardless of personal viewpoint. As careful a planner as Bartlett thinks he is, things are about to come unraveled when Union Captain Peter Murphy becomes his unwitting opponent in a cloak and dagger game that moves through the seedy side of the Union¿s capital. Murphy has been sent to Washington for a few months ro recoup from the ravages of war that has scared his soul over the last two years. While in Washington, Murphy stumbles, quite by accident, into a hornets nest of espionage that will sweep him and Philip Bartlett into a deadly dance of deception and murder. Andrew Miller has composed a thrilling alternate history of the Civil War that focuses more on the players than the event that will change history. The readers is quickly drawn into a world of dark maneuvering and ruthless people. Miller paints a believable world of these Civil War times and skillfully guides the reader through the streets of our nation¿s capital, a vivid portrait of how much Washington was and still is a den of cutthroats, espionage, death, disease and political scheming. Miller¿s characters exemplify how we humans can operate in times of desperate trials. This first novel will not disappoint the alternate history or spy-thriller enthusiast. This is a good read and a well deserved one at that.