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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