THE COTILLION BRIGADE: A NOVEL OF THE CIVIL WAR AND THE MOST FAMOUS FEMALE MILITIA IN AMERICAN HISTORY
BY GLEN CRANEY
Publication Date: March 15, 2021
Brigid’s Fire Press
Paperback & eBook; 399 pages
Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.
Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?
Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is a sweeping epic of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood amid devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.
“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”
1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles to the north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.
Five years later, secession and total war against the homefronts of Dixie hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.
Nannie defies the traditions of Southern gentility by forming a women’s militia and drilling it four long years to prepare for battle. With their men dead, wounded, or retreating with the Confederate armies, only Captain Nannie and her Fighting Nancies stand between their beloved homes and the Yankee torches.
Hardened into a slashing Union cavalry colonel, Hugh duels Rebel generals Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest across Tennessee and Alabama. As the war churns to a bloody climax, he is ordered to drive a burning stake deep into the heart of the Confederacy.
Yet one Georgia town—which by mocking coincidence bears Hugh’s last name—stands defiant in his path.
Read the remarkable story of the Southern women who formed America’s most famous female militia and the Union officer whose life they changed forever.
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In 1856, Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in a plantation in Georgia amidst Southern Senators. Meanwhile, Wisconsin farmer Hugh LaGrange is brought into the Abolitionists cause and made a conductor on the Underground Railroad while fighting to ban slavery in Kansas. When the Civil War begins, Hugh and his brother join up and Hugh leads the First Wisconsin Cavalry. Nannie's husband joins the Confederate troops leaving Nannie and the other women of the town alone. Nannie decides to form a brigade, The Nancy Hart's, to help defend their town. With the help of Nannie's cousin, Gus, the women become skilled and fierce defenders as The First Wisconsins come to town.
The Cotillion Brigade is not a typical Civil War novel, focusing less on the battles and more on the stories of Nannie and Hugh. Written with rich historical detail, Craney has brought to life the enigmatic Nannie Colquitt Hill, the real leader of the Nancy Hart Brigade in LaGrange Georgia. Nannie is fiercely determined and once she sets her sights on something, she does not back down. These qualities helped her to lead this amazing group of female militia. While Nannie believed in the Southern ideals of the time, her story is important in remembering the women who were willing to fight. Through Nannie's eyes we also see the devastation and destruction of war as well as the emotional toll on those who were left behind. Hugh LaGrange was also the real leader of the First Wisconsin Cavalry. Hugh is a pragmatic problem solver whose nature helped him to win battles without losing more lives than necessary. The beginning of the story, before the war broke out was a little slowly paced as we learned the backgrounds of both characters and what made them into the people they became. Overall, a detailed and character based story of courage, bravery and foraging relationships during the Civil War.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
About the Author
A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California, and has served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the Historical Novel Society.
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