Thursday, May 14, 2009
OHP BOOK REVIEW: MARCHING THROUGH CULPEPPER BY VIRGINIA MORTON
Novel, illustrated, maps, notes, bibliography, 544 pp., 2000. Edgehill Books, P.O. Box 1342, Orange, VA 22960, $27.99 plus shipping.
Marching Through Culpepper is a novel written by Virginia B. Morton, who like Margaret Mitchell is a fist-time author. Marching Through Culpeper takes place from the vantage point of Culpeper, Virginia, which is situated between the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers and is on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Both the North and the South considered this a key location for their troops to invade or protect Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley. With this in mind, the citizens of Culpeper saw first hand “the movement of more troops than any other locale in the nation.”
This story is based on Constance Armstrong, the daughter of a wealthy and well-respected judge from Culpeper. The diary styled novel begins on July 3-5, 1860 and ends on April 24, 1865. You read about lives of the people of Culpeper as they witnessed the horrific bloodshed and hardships during the four years of the War Between the States. Character and story development allow you to love, hate, hurt, rejoice and suffer with the characters. Some notable characters that grace the book include Jeb Stuart, William "Extra Billy" Smith, A.P. Hill, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Judson Kilpatrick, and George Armstrong Custer. The reader witnesses the battles of Cedar Mountain, Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, Culpeper Court House, and other small actions in the area.
Marching Through Culpeper is a love story commingled with the harsh realities of war. Constance has several attentive beaus including the gallant Major John Pellham, Major Robert Beckham and a Yankee office, Aaron Ames. Her best friend and confidant is none other than Frank Stringfellow, an actual scout for Jeb Stuart and John Mosby. Her strength and ability to survive in such deplorable conditions are continuously evident. Constance is affected by the deaths of many people she loves at the hand of the despicable Yankees; yet she is drawn to the kindness of Aaron Ames no matter what his military tie is. Her life is inevitably changed by the war that rages around her and her home. A definite page-turner, you will want to experience the next victory or defeat of this spunky young lady who matures before your eyes.
Although this book is fiction, the author has spent much time and effort to research the events and people she has intertwined into this story. Mrs. Morton is a thirty year resident of the Culpeper area and is a local tour guide. A bibliography supports the facts and endnotes reveal where names may have changed since the 1860’s or other vital information. There are maps to review and pictures of individuals throughout the book. Although the initial edition contained a number of erroneous typos, this has been corrected in subsequent editions.
This book is a love story for the ladies, and war novel for the men and a wealth of information for historians of The War Between the States. Mrs. Morton stated, “Marching Through Culpeper is a story of the human spirit. I believe that same irrepressible spirit is with us today because it pulses through the veins of many of you." David Johnson, General Manager of Strategic Vision, a marketing firm in Atlanta declared, “Move over Margaret Mitchell and Michael Shaara…make room for Virginia Morton. This book will succeed." Marching Through Culpeper encompasses the human side of the atrocities Southerners experienced during the War Between the States. It is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about what took place on the home front and how the political power struggle with the Lincoln administration affected even civilians. Every library in the South should have a copy of this book on its shelf. I agree with Mr. Johnson, this book will succeed.
Written by Cassie A. Barrow