Excerpt & Giveaway: Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney

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

Georgia burns.
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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LaGrange, Georgia
July 1861

Gus hobbled up the porch steps of his sister Caroline’s house carrying several newspapers. He limped inside and dropped the pile on the parlor table used by the LaGrange women to sew uniforms. Unrolling the most recent edition of the Atlanta Intelligencer, he displayed its gaudy headlines:

The Lincolnites Attempt To Cross At Bull Run!
They Are Three Times Repulsed With Heavy Loss!
Fighting Lasts Four Hours!

Nancy bounded to her feet and sent the needles and thimbles scattering. “The rumors are true! Read us the details.”

Gus stored his cane on the umbrella rack and plopped into his favorite high-backed chair, set near the porch window to take advantage of the river breeze. The women gathered around, some scooting their chairs closer, others sitting on the floor. He cleared his voice as if an actor preparing a scene.

“Get on with it,” said Nancy.

Gus retaliated by taking his time removing his reading spectacles from his pocket, opening and closing the case, and polishing the lenses with his kerchief. “I pay for the subscriptions to these publications. You’d think that might entitle me to a lemonade.”

Caroline threw up her hands. “Leila, would you please be a dear and bring the pitcher from the cellarette to pour my helpless ward here a libation?”

Gus waved Leila to the task. “Oh, and whippersnapper, if a dash of spirits were by accident to fall into the glass to smooth the elocution ...”

Leila huffed. “Why am I always the one sent on errands?”

“You’re the youngest,” said Nancy. “It’s the price you pay to sit at our feet and imbibe our wisdom. Do you think the students of Socrates and the solons of Athens complained of having to wash their tunics?”

Leila stormed off, grumbling something about harpies.

Gus rustled open the Intelligencer and creased the front page to frame the most important stories above the fold. He read aloud: “‘General P.T. Beauregard of the Confederate forces met the Northern aggressors today and won a glorious victory.’”

“Praise God,” said Pack Beall.

Mary clasped Pack’s hand. “And praise President Davis for his wise choice of our gallant commanders.”

Leila returned with the lemonade and threatened to drop the glass into Gus’s lap before he stole it from her. He smelled its aroma and sighed, disappointed. Shrugging, he sipped to lubricate his tongue and read on. “‘At dawn, the enemy approached in large force at Bull Run and attempted to cross. The scene of the battle was three miles northwest of Manassas Junction.’”

“Where is Manassas Junction?” Nancy asked.

“A few miles south of Washington capital,” said Gus. “In Virginia.”

“I hope Lincoln suffers nightmares from it,” said Leila. “Maybe now he’ll sulk back to the frontier and leave us alone.”

Gus became so entranced while silently reading the written account of the battle that he forgot the women.

“Gus!” Nancy admonished. “This is not your nap time.”

Roused, Gus jerked and adjusted his spectacles. “Most remarkable. Says here the battle was going against us when one of our generals, Thomas Jackson, held his position. They’ve given him a nickname. Stonewall. Washington residents rode out in their carriages to watch the action as if attending a carnival. Our forces sent the Northern frolickers retreating in mayhem with the Federal army across a lone stone bridge.”

“How many casualties?” asked Mary.

The women shared worried glances and clasped hands.

Gus scanned the newsprint to find the tally. “Estimates for the enemy are three thousand killed and wounded. Our losses were half that number.”

Impatient, Nancy leapt up to hover over Gus’s shoulder. “Was the Fourth Georgia engaged?”

“There is no mention of the regiment. The wags at the tavern say our boys left Augusta too late. The War Department assigned them to an encampment near Norfolk.”

The women slumped with relief and pressed their palms together in prayerful gratitude for their brave men being spared the carnage—except Nancy, who felt a mix of emotions. She was grateful Brown was unharmed, but she feared he would stew for the rest of his days over missing the field of glory.

Mary dared to speak what all were hoping. “The war is over, then.”

Gus seemed less confident of that prediction. “A defeat so close to Lincoln’s office. I’m sure he can smell the gunpowder, but who knows what that conniving Illinois demagogue will do next?”

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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We have ten eBooks of The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Cotillion Brigade

1 comment:

  1. I read the post thinking of Cotillion and imagining the likes of Georgette Heyer! very pleasant surprise.


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