Remembering the Civil War
By Richard Barlow Adams
2011 begins the sesquicentennial years of the American Civil War, and whatever your take on the “why” and “relevance” of the four-year conflict that resulted in more American dead and grievously wounded than suffered in all other American wars combined, its continuing impact on present day America is undeniable. Is this right? Is this healthy? Should we have “gotten over the war” by now and swept it under the rug of history? Whatever your view, the fact is that more American literature has focused on the Civil War than on any other aspect of American history. Civil War organizations continue to abound, with long histories and faithful memberships. Every year, Civil War reenactment groups revisit in greater numbers the battlefields of old, and a growing number of Civil War round tables populates both North and South, and states not even in the Union at the time of the war.Given this reality, and drawing upon my experiences as a graduate of West Point, I recently published a historical novel, The Parting: A Story of West Point on the Eve of the Civil War—fitting to the start of the sesquicentennial period. The story enters the Victorian world of West Point and the Class of 1861 as this band of fifty brothers and best friends experience a growing chasm within the class. The story is written with the Academy's Corps of Cadets as a microcosm of the nation, which it very much was, and with the intent of factually presenting historical events during the eleven-months leading up to the first major battle of the Civil War.
With few exceptions, the story characters are real and their relationships to one another are based on non-fictional sources. The story’s protagonist is John Pelham from Alabama, the most popular man in the class and perhaps the greatest young officer in the Confederacy. His Academy friends include Edmund Kirby of New York, Tom Rosser of Texas, George Armstrong Custer of Ohio, Henry du Pont of Delaware, Adelbert Ames of Maine, and many others. When the class begins its final year, Pelham meets Clara Bolton, a Philadelphian belle who captures his heart. In the months that follow, Pelham, Clara, and the Class of 1861 witness the unraveling of the Union and the birth of the Confederacy against the political backdrop of states' rights, slavery, the Democratic and Republican Parties, the fire-eaters of the South, and the abolitionists of the North. The story concludes with classmates and best friends confronting one another across Bull Run.
“Thanks to the great work of Rich Adams in The Parting, such a terrible period in America’s history is presented in a most profound and riveting fashion. There is a truth on these pages we can all benefit from. A great read.” –Hal Moore, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.), Distinguished Graduate of West Point, and co-author of the book and top box office film, We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.
Rich Adams is a registered professional engineer specializing in environmental issues. He and his wife split their time between Greenwood Village, CO, and Sandestin, FL, and his author’s website is www.RichardBarlowAdams.com. The Parting is available at Tattered Cover bookstores in the Denver area and can be ordered in hardback, softback, and eBook from major bookseller websites.