Spur & The Sash: Middle Tennessee, 1865: A Novel, The
Author: Robert Grede
Publisher: Three Towers Press (2010)
Binding: Hardcover, 376 pages
The Spur & The Sash is about a real person. Sergeant George Van Norman, a Yankee, was wounded in one of the last battles of the American Civil War, at Nashville. Left behind to recover when the armies marched on, he was ordered to guard a local plantation from January to July, 1865, where he fell in love with the owner's daughter. That much is fact. The story begins with his wounding at the battle, follows him to the plantation where he meets the woman, her family, and the former slaves who have been emancipated but have no place to go. George befriends a former Confederate soldier and, together, they overcome carpetbaggers, deserters from both sides, mobs of wandering blacks, and bushwhackers marauding throughout Middle Tennessee, including precursors of the Ku Klux Klan. Meticulously researched using letters, diaries, and official records, this is a story of passion and betrayal amid the anarchy of postwar Tennessee. George left behind a spur and a sash, passed down through the generations to the author, his great-great-grandson, along with the story of how he came to have them. This is that story.
A tale evoking the War Between the States & the story behind two heirlooms passed down from the author's great-great-grandfather who survived the 1864 Battle of Nashville.
Researched from diaries, letters, official records, attending documents & early photographs THE SPUR & THE SASH: Middle Tennessee, 1865, recreates how wounded George Van Norman (born 1842) Sergeant in the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment, was left behind as Union General Geo. H. Thomas swept Confederate General John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee from the field.
During months of recuperation at Elm Grove plantation, Van Norman falls in love with Eva, the daughter whose betrothed has been declared lost at the Battle of Chattanooga. When Van Norman's well enough & before he leaves for Demopolis, Alabama to muster out, Eva gives him the sash her brother had been wearing when he was killed.
Later, as Van Norman heads to Wisconsin, he gets off the train intending to visit Elm Grove, when Silas, now a free man & porter at the depot, tells him the news: Eva's Tom has come home from a POW camp in Massachusetts, they have married... & Eva's expecting. Crushed, young Van Norman turns around & heads for his parents' farm near Moscow, Wisconsin.
A well-presented reconstruction of the time when ordinary citizens went to war with each other & then picked up the pieces of a devastated land. George Van Norman was to prosper as a Milwaukee businessman, marry three times & live beyond The Great War.
Reviewed by: Dave Brown (2010)