Escape from Bone

Escape from Bone

by Allen R. Coggins


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This novel takes place in Civil War torn Middle Tennessee. It opens as George, an abused slave, is brought into a prisoner of war camp at a place called Big Bone Cave. There he meets Luke, a Union prisoner of war. Luke, a Western Pennsylvania Quaker, takes pity on George and they quickly become friends and confidants. Together they face brutal prison guards and the grueling task of mining cave soil from which is extracted saltpeter, used in production of gunpowder. Union blockades of gunpowder and saltpeter into the South have made it necessary for the Confederate Army to acquire its own sources of the valuable commodity from privately owned caves, some worked by prisoners and slaves. In the process of digging soil deep within the cave, Luke and George accidentally discover a back entrance from which to escape. Unfortunately, they have no knowledge of where to go if they do escape and no provisions to see them through a long journey to freedom. In short, escape seems futile. After a few weeks, they meet Roger, a Confederate Army deserter who is also brought to the cave as a prisoner. Although he is a bigoted and unsavory character at first, they soon realize that he may be their only hope for escape and survival. In time he warms up to George despite their racial differences. Born and raised in Middle Tennessee, Roger knows the country well and hence can guide them to freedom. Furthermore, he has friends and relatives willing to assist. Seeing no alternative, they take Roger into their confidence. “We can get you out of here,” they say, “if you can guide us north as far as the Kentucky line.” Meanwhile, Union Army scouts discover the covert saltpeter mining operation at Big Bone Cave and determine that it is the prize for which they have been searching, the largest such operation in the South. Within hours, Union troops are marching eastward to capture it. As the Confederate Army prepares to retreat with their equipment and prisoners, Luke, George and Roger make their escape after overcoming guards. As they leave under the cover of darkness, Roger reveals that he has overheard a conversation that leads him to believe that the civilian owners of the saltpeter works have hidden a large cache of gold near the cave. They decide to delay their journey north until both armies have left the area and then return to the cave to search for the treasure. They eventually find more gold than they can physically carry, so they bury most of it and take the rest with them. Escaping the cave was nothing in comparison to their suspenseful and arduous flight northward, traveling by night and hiding and resting by day. Escape from Bone Cave is a suspenseful story of hardship and friendship, set in a dynamic time in our nation’s history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681390208
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Publication date: 04/17/2015
Pages: 374
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Allen R. Coggins has previously published two nonfiction books through academic presses, but this is his first historical fiction novel. His first book, Place Names of the Smokies, was published in 1999 by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, Gatlinburg TN. His second, Tennessee Tragedies: Natural, Technological, and Societal Disasters in the Volunteer State, was published in 2011 by the University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. These books earned him Awards of Distinction and Research Excellence.

Through the years, he has also published numerous magazine and newspaper articles along with brochures and technical documents. He recently retired after thirty years in the field of emergency management, and prior to that he served as the chief naturalist for both Georgia and Tennessee State Parks. An avid spelunker in his youth, he has now combined his fascination with caves and his passion for history to create this suspenseful story. Allen and his wife Barbara live in Blount County, Tennessee, in the shadow of their beloved Great Smoky Mountains.

Contact information:

Allen R. Coggins
4310 Reed Road
Louisville TN 37777
Home: (865) 380-0123
Last revision: 7-25-2014

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