Any historical war book is sometimes painful to read. Having had ancestors on both sides of this conflict, there were times I was deeply saddened.
"Now the conflict held duty, but no glory; responsibility, but little honor." I would change that to NO honor, but then I'd have those previously mentioned ancestors turning in their graves.
General James Downing fought for the North. He tells Mrs. Madeline Howard: "Fatigue often circumvents our best intentions" when she apologized for not seeming grateful when he made sure she returned home safely. Her husband, who also fought for the North had been killed in a skirmish two years before she met the General.
Colonel Elliot Haywood had been the Confederate soldier she tended when she attempted to serve as a nurse for the wounded confederate soldiers. She later met him at her Uncle's home at a party & he saluted her with a champagne flute thanking her for saving his life. She explained, "My career lasted one short day. I discovered the stomach doesn't always follow where a compassionate heart might lead."
At the same celebration at her Uncle's home where she went after her own home was destroyed, she met Major Lewis who she learned was a spy working in the South with soldiers protecting Jefferson Davis. He gave her a copy of a code book she could use in sending information to General Downing when she corresponded with him.
The Richmond weather was hot & humid. "Not a breath of air stirred the leafy branches overhead. If it became more any more humid, a person could wring the air like a wet dishrag."
Madeline's cousin Eugenia is a Southern Belle who is bridling at the restrictions the war is putting on her social life. She finally meets a suitable young man & will be escorted by him to Varina Davis's ball if it will be held. When she described this "Eugenia's smile revealed almost every tooth in her mouth."
When Madeline traveled to see General Downing again "she couldn't help feeling a thrill of excitement & a spike of trepidation." As she gets ready to leave he has made a pledge of fidelity. "Yet his words & promises had little place in a world gone mad."
Madeline is caught between General Downing & Colonel Haywood in the conflict of matters of the heart. Which man will she choose? Will they all survive this war?
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