As the Civil War rages, plantation owners Richmond and Carolyn Davidson continue to follow the path God set out for them—as an important link in the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves flee to the Northern states. Meanwhile, their older son, Seth, is working as a war photographer for the North—and their younger, Thomas, is a Confederate soldier. Torn by war on both sides, the Davidsons pray for both of their sons to come home safe—even as they struggle to keep their land in the face of financial troubles.
When Seth is reported missing and feared dead, the family despairs. But his new love, Charity Waters, refuses to accept the news passively. She sets out on a dangerous journey through the war-torn South to find Seth—and bring him home safe.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The year was 1862 and the war between the North and the South was a year old.
After a sluggish start in the spring and summer months of 1861, the Confederate army had won the first major decisive battle of the war at Manassas Junction in northern Virginia, repulsing a major Union offensive that had been intended to launch Union forces all the way to the Confederate capital of Richmond and put a quick end to the war.
The people of the North were shocked. Suddenly fear replaced optimism throughout the Northern states. This was not going to be as easy as most had assumed. The will to win throughout the South was strong, and their army more determined than Northerners had imagined.
Civil war was nothing new in the world. But that in the United States of America — built on Christian principles of liberty, equality, fairness, and reason — the sons of the North and the sons of the South should take up guns and now be engaged in a great effort to kill one another, could only be seen as an enormous national disgrace.
Perhaps war is a necessary purging fire for all nations, even democracies, at various junctures of their histories, even as the eternal cleansing fire will sweep the universe clean of sin that ultimate righteousness might shine out like the sun. Whether this present conflict between the army of the Union led by President Abraham Lincoln and the army of the Confederacy led by Jefferson Davis, would effect such a cleansing to the ultimate good of the now-divided country, or would tear this great experiment in democracy apart into a fragmentary shadow of its lofty ideal ... it was too early to tell.
But such high matters of eternal consequence did not occupy the thoughts of the soldiers carrying out the orders of their commanders. Though there was lofty talk about preserving the Union or defending states' rights, most had joined up in support of a cause they believed in — in its simplest terms, either to preserve slavery or to eliminate it. The heat of battle, however, quickly reduces ideals to practicalities. And the most practical of all practicalities was kill or be killed.
The Confederate army was aided enormously in the early stages by an ingenious Confederate spy ring that infiltrated the highest levels of government. Its foremost operatives were not what the unsuspecting officers in charge of Union troop movements would have recognized right in front of their noses. What made the ring so cunning was that its recruits were mostly beautiful women of high society, who used their feminine wiles to lure information out of unsuspecting officials — information passed south which eventually came into the hands of the generals of the Confederacy.
Recruited by former army officer and now Confederate colonel Thomas Jordon, Washington widow Rose O'Neal Greenhow was, even by the outbreak of the war, one of the most important figures in this secret war. Of Southern birth and loyalties, the beautiful Mrs. Greenhow was still young and admired in Washington social circles by one and all. She was friend to senators, generals, and former presidents and particularly admired by Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee. Through her friend Bettie Duval, Greenhow smuggled information extracted from Wilson about Union troop movements near Manassas Junction, Virginia. The information was smuggled to General Beauregard who used it to turn the first great battle of the war into a Confederate victory.
On the heels of such success, the Confederate spy network in Washington D.C. and in all the North continued to expand.
Throughout the remainder of 1861, as a result of the victory at Manassas Junction, optimism in the South was unbounded. Talk ran rampant of an invasion of Washington D.C. and a quick Confederate victory.
But there was no invasion of the Northern capital. Confederate forces pulled back. The rest of the year passed uneventfully. Only four minor skirmishes took place all year. Both sides were bolstering their armies, and making plans for the real fighting they knew was coming.
And it came with a vengeance. In the second month of 1862, Southern invincibility was dealt a stinging blow with the Confederacy's introduction to a man they would come to know all too well by the name of Ulysses S. Grant. In Tennessee, Union gunboats captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River as Grant's troops captured Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. Both rivers were suddenly in Union hands, making possible Union offenses deep into the South. Over 17,000 casualties shocked the nation on both sides — four times the casualties at Manassas. It would not only be a longer war than anticipated, it would be bloodier.
But the worst of early 1862 lay ahead for Confederate troops. It came south of Fort Donelson at Shiloh, Tennessee, in April. Again the struggle was for control of the vital Tennessee River and nearby railroad lines. The battle pitted two giants head to head, again Grant of the Union against General Beauregard of the Confederacy.
Thomas Davidson had fought in the battle of Manassas Junction. He had emptied his rifle many times throughout the day but didn't think he had shot anyone. At least he hoped not. But for the first time in his life he had seen men die — up close, bleeding, arms and legs blown off ... men screaming and crying out for the mercy of death. The experience had sobered him. Though the war was barely begun, he lay awake nights for the next month, the horrifying sounds of death in his ears, asking what he was doing there. He was scarcely more than a boy, eighteen when he joined in April, nineteen now. But never had he felt so alone and afraid.
Most of the men of his regiment were just like him, some older, some younger. They all pretended to be tough and courageous. But inside they were boys. Thomas wondered if they were afraid too. Most didn't act like it. Some almost seemed to enjoy the shooting and destruction. What did they think about at night, he wondered. Did they remember the faces of the men they'd shot?
The initial horror gradually faded throughout the year. Thomas did not again fire his gun in battle. But having been assigned to General Beauregard's army, he followed the general west into Tennessee and was part of his 40,000-man army that gathered at Corinth on the Tennessee River in April of the following year. Reports had reached them about the movement of Grant's army upriver toward them. It was their job to stop him.
Finally General Beauregard gave the order. Grant had disembarked his troops at Pittsburgh Landing. They would advance to meet him and beat his army back before reinforcements arrived. Thomas knew serious fighting was coming and tried to prepare himself for it. But inside he wondered if he would live through it.
The fighting that took place on April 6 near Shiloh Church two miles from the landing was senseless, savage, and confused. It was the first real action many of the young men on both sides had seen. Their enthusiasm without an effective battle plan only increased the panic and disorder. Neither side could successfully maneuver their troops. Many boys not yet twenty years of age killed for the first time that day. Just as many died. When darkness closed in and the day's fighting ceased, nothing had been achieved, other than that thousands of American youth lay dead on the fields and in the woods.
Dirty, hungry, exhausted, and afraid, Thomas Davidson lay down on his bedroll that night, terrible images from the day rushing back upon him. Manassas had been a Sunday picnic compared to what he had witnessed today.
The camp was silent except for the snoring here and there. But how could anyone sleep after an experience like that? He knew Grant's army was encamped over the ridge less than a mile away. Tomorrow they would all be trying to kill each other again. Yet here they lay, so close ... quiet ... sleepless ... probably many like him trying to remember how to pray and wishing they were home. Yet tomorrow they would again load their guns and aim them at each other. How stupid and senseless it all seemed!
He knew Cameron Beaumont had also been assigned to General Beauregard's army. Though he was in a different unit, he had seen him a few times on the march west through the summer and fall. To have a friend in the midst of all this might make it a little more tolerable. But Cameron had looked at him as if they hardly knew each other. He had always seen Cameron as a little kid, though he was only one year younger. He was certainly grown up now — hard and cold and mean looking.
Thomas wondered about the others from Dove's Landing. Were any of them here at Shiloh too?
Thomas's thoughts drifted toward home, and his father and mother. Unconsciously he wiped at his eyes. He couldn't allow himself to think about home! Not here, not now. It was too painful, the memories too confusing.
Whether what could actually be called sleep ever came to him that night, Thomas wasn't sure. He drifted and dozed and dreamed in and out of semiconsciousness, all the time realizing that morning would come eventually.
Thomas found himself suddenly awakened sometime around five o'clock in the morning to the explosions of cannon and gunfire. He hadn't realized he had fallen asleep, but he was awake now!
Grant had attacked their weakened position before anyone had expected it. Everyone was yelling and running and Captain Young was shouting orders. Chaos spread through the camp as they scurried for cover, grabbing rifles and boots in a disordered attempt to protect themselves and fight back.
The blue haze of cannon smoke filled the gray dawn. It was impossible to see anything. A deafening explosion shattered one of the supply wagons only thirty feet away. Thomas jumped up, grabbed his rifle again, and rushed away, heedless of direction. He sprinted blindly for the cover of a small thicket of trees, not sure whether the enemy was ahead or behind. It seemed they were everywhere!
Thomas stopped and tried to think. Gunfire and the explosion of Grant's cannons sounded from every direction. For all he could tell he was surrounded.
He had to get back ... he had to find Captain Young and the others!
He crept toward the edge of the woods. It was too hazy to see clearly. He must have turned himself around. He turned and ran through the woods in the opposite direction.
From among the trees in front of him came now another figure running toward him.
Thomas stopped in his tracks. But the soldier in Union blue did not see him until they nearly collided into each other.
He came to a stop. Both were staring straight into the other's eyes. Opposite him Thomas saw a boy who could not have been more than fifteen, trembling in terror.
For two or three seconds they stood staring no more than five feet apart.
All at once the boy raised his rifle and aimed it at Thomas's face. Without thinking, Thomas swung the butt of his gun and knocked it away just as the boy pulled the trigger and a shot exploded. The rifle shattered to the ground and, clutching his own, Thomas ran past him and disappeared, trembling from head to foot at how close he had come to being shot.
What was the stupid kid thinking! He wasn't going to hurt him.
By the time Thomas found his unit, the first wave of the assault was dying down. Their troops were managing to reorganize and Captain Young now led them in a wide arc nearer the river to connect with the main bulk of Beauregard's army that had been scattered by Grant's attack.
Sporadic fighting continued the rest of the morning. Shortly after noon, suddenly again came cannon and gunfire from their left flank.
But this time Beauregard's officers were ready for it. Quickly through the ranks they ordered a counteroffensive.
"Attack, men!" cried Captain Young. "This time we'll beat them back!"
Charging on foot over open terrain, several units of Beauregard's force charged together, firing blindly as they went. Thomas could not even see the enemy ahead, though hundreds of tiny flashes, gunfire and explosions of cannon, indicated clearly enough that the Union force was in front of them and returning their fire.
Beside him he heard a cry. He turned as one of his comrades fell.
Thomas kept on, firing occasionally, stopping to reload, and continuing on. He saw a blur of blue a hundred yards ahead ... thousands of Union soldiers were bearing straight for them!
The two armies met. Suddenly all became a chaos of yelling and close fighting and screaming and clashing of swords and bayonets. The air was thick with choking smoke. Thomas kept running. All at once he stumbled. His rifle flew from his hands and he fell facedown, splattering mud over the front of his uniform.
Struggling to pick himself up, he looked back. A few feet away lay the motionless form of a Union soldier lying facedown on the ground where he had tripped over him. He knew instantly that he was dead.
Thomas crept toward the body on hands and knees. Slowly he rolled him onto his back.
He gasped and his stomach went to his throat. It was the boy he had seen in the woods! The whites of his eyes were wide even in death, for the bullet that had found his heart only a minute or two before had killed him instantly. His chest was dripping in blood, still warm and wet.
Thomas turned away, lurched two or three times, then vomited violently.
When he came to himself he was running ... in what direction he had no idea ... he had to get away ... as far from it all as possible ... away from the horror ... away from the killing ... away from the death.
He did not know that Beauregard had given the order to retreat, and that the rest of his company was running with him away from the scene of the battle.
Gradually his senses began to return. He had no gun in his hand. His eyes were wet and he knew he had been crying.
Suddenly he heard his name.
"Tom ... Thomas, is that you?" called the voice again.
He stopped and glanced around.
"Thomas ... over here ... help me! I'm shot."
Thomas ran toward the sound. Everywhere around him was pandemonium. Shots were still being fired. The Union soldiers were chasing them as they ran, killing as many as they could before they could get away.
Lying on the ground a little way ahead he saw the form of a soldier dressed in the Confederate gray.
"Cam!" he cried, running forward and stooping down. "What happened? Are you ... how bad is it?"
"Help me, Tom," said Cameron in desperation. "It's my leg ... I can't walk. I'm wounded in the leg. They'll kill me if they find me lying here. They're all crazy ... help me, Tom — please!"
Thomas slid his hands under Cameron's knees and shoulders and scooped him off the ground. With a great effort he stood, glanced around to get his bearings, then hurried off in the direction of the retreat as rapidly as he was able.
The Union victory at Shiloh, though not decisive, placed most of west and central Tennessee under Union control.CHAPTER 2
A muscular dark Negro man slowly slid the end of the pitchfork in his hands beneath the muck of manure and straw in the stable yard, scooped out a dripping forkful, and splattered it onto the handcart beside him.
His owner had realized within days of purchasing the man more than a decade ago for, as he thought, the bargain price of sixteen hundred dollars, that he'd been swindled. By looks the man was everything he had been looking for, but Locke discovered soon enough that he was worthless as a field hand. Where he had been before now, he had no idea, but one thing was certain, he had never picked cotton.
But he could shoe a horse better than anyone he had ever seen, white or black, and he knew his way around machinery and wagons and horses and knew every farm implement he had and how to better most of them with some little addition or other. So gradually he had put him to work in his stables and equipment barn, and he had kept his wagons and harnesses and wheels and other farm machines in good repair. He had always intended to sell the fellow again and try to get his money back by passing him on to some other unsuspecting plantation owner he could trick like he'd been tricked. But he hadn't gotten around to it yet. In the meantime, the fellow was useful.
As he cleaned out the horse and cattle stalls before making his way to the pigpens, the black man paused briefly, listening carefully and glancing about, then looked toward the big house where his master and his son and men were now eating their breakfast.
Satisfied that no one was about, he set aside the fork, took the shovel that was leaning against a nearby wall, and hurried into the adjoining stable which he had finished cleaning only moments before.
Working quickly now, he bent down and began clearing away the dirt and straw and dried manure from one corner of the floor at the point where two walls of the corral came together. He shoved it into a pile to one side until the shovel in his hand scraped wood. A few seconds later he uncovered two pieces of board a foot wide and approximately three feet in length that had been buried about three inches below the surface. He grabbed them, lifted them, and tossed them aside.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Dream of Love"
Copyright © 2008 Michael Phillips.
Excerpted by permission of Bondfire Books, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Prologue: From the Old Books — England,
Crisis in England,
A Vision of Light,
Pilgrims to a New World,
A Nation's Conscience in Simple Garb,
Freedom and Bondage,
Part I: A Nation Divided,
Part II: Reunions and Losses,
Part III: Confused Loyalties,
Part IV: Beginning of Healing,
Part V: Missing,
Families in Dream of Love,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
All 3 books are amazing!!!
Vr Very ood Very good