Under a Bloody Flag
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Under a Bloody Flag
In Kansas and Missouri, the War Between the States started long before Fort Sumter. Daniel Fitzgerald, a Southerner who tries to settle Kansas and leave behind his tormented Louisiana roots, soon finds that in Kansas Territory you have to take sides or die. Taking sides doesn’t lessen the chances of a violent death, it just determines who is going to try and kill you.
For Massachusetts-born Rebecca Styles, who comes to Kansas to insure freedom for slaves, the choice is easy. Or is it? When she meets Daniel, she is forced to take a new look at all the ideas she took for granted, like all Southerners are evil and all abolitionists are good.
Daniel’s half-brother and former slave, André, knows his first loyalty belongs to his friends and family, not a lofty ideal, but he can’t sit by and do nothing when injustice stares him in the face.
Throw into the mix all the larger-than-life characters who played a part in the sectional violence which led the nation into its bloodiest war and you have a novel with all the drama of the era. You’ll meet James Lane, John Brown, JEB Stuart, Robert E. Lee, Joseph Shelby, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and the other men and women who have shaped this nation into what it is today.
You will never look at any of them as just characters in a history book again.
This is a historical novel unlike any you have ever read before. It is a blend of history, action and romance. Facts read like fiction, and fiction could have been fact. It is a story of a time that changed a nation and a handful of people who lived and died in our nation’s most colorful era.
“Great story! I can’t wait for the next book to come out.” Lydia Hawke, author of Civil War novels Firetrail, Perfect Disguise, Exiles On The St. Johns, and Raiders On The St. Johns.
“Splendid!” Renée Gordon, staff-writer for the Philadelphia Sunday Sun.
“Really loved the characters in this one. Of course, now I'm worried about what kind of jeopardy you're going to expose them to in the sequel and if they'll survive!” Barbara Sachs Sloan, author of FOCUS: A Blueprint for a Happier Life.
May 24, 1856—Kansas Territory
Dan sat on the banks of the creek. The night was warm and muggy. The moon was full enough to see his trotline corks bobbing in the water and his damp clothes resting on the bank next to him. It shed enough light to see André splashing in the deeper part of the creek. The line of cottonwood trees hid the small log cabin the two of them had thrown up so hurriedly in the past two weeks since they had arrived in Kansas Territory. The cabin was just a temporary shelter until they could build something better, but getting in a crop on their forty acres was the most urgent necessity. It was all so different from Louisiana. Everything here was rough and primitive. Still he was glad to be here. So much had happened so fast since that night of his mother’s funeral.
When he had left the plantation he headed for New Orleans to drink away the pain and sorrow. It was three days later in one of the sleazier cat houses when André came for him. André sobered him up and cleaned him up. It was André who made him realize he could not just drink away his life. He needed to either reconcile with his father or make his own way. Reconciling with Michael was not an option. Making his own way was a novel experience for which eighteen-year-old Daniel Kerry Fitzgerald had no familiarity. It was André who told him of the group of settlers coming from Montgomery, Alabama, by way of Mobile. Their steamship, Florida, had just docked in New Orleans. They were headed for Kansas Territory to support the Southern faction in making sure Kansas was admitted to the Union as a slave state. Their leader, Major Jefferson Buford, was willing to accept a few more emigrants. He offered free passage to Kansas and help for one year while the emigrants got settled on their claims.
“He’s looking for ‘sober, industrious young men.’” André had stated. “So we’d better get you smelling a little fresher than you do now, Danny Boy.”
It had never occurred to Dan to wonder about the fact that his young servant had been allowed to sit in while Mr. Douglas, the long-suffering tutor Michael had brought in to turn his wild hellion of a son into a true Southern gentleman, had expounded good grammar along with Latin and the classics. A lot of things had never occurred to him. Like why André was so much lighter than his mother. And why Dan’s own mother never seemed to have a word to say to her husband unless it related to the management of the household. Now it all made a bitter and perfect sense. They boarded the steamer America and arrived in Kansas on May 2. Dan had lied about his age: he needed to be twenty-one to file a claim on the forty acres of Kansas land. He had in his pocket the few hundred dollars of his money and Buford’s pledge of support in the new land. André had in his pocket the manumission papers making him a free man which Dan had hurriedly processed before they left New Orleans.
They had rushed from the border to claim a plot of land here on Mosquito Creek near where it flowed into the Pottawatomie Creek. It was fertile and had lots of timber, some oak and cotton wood, that was easily felled and notched to let them get the cabin, if you could call it that, standing. The cabin had four walls, not yet caulked, and a rough chimney but only a dirt floor. Although most people in Kansas Territory assumed André was a slave, Dan filed a joint claim, making his brother a full partner. They had been putting all their energy into clearing a plot of land at least big enough for a vegetable patch and a cornfield for a cash crop.
He was pulled from his reverie by the muffled but unmistakable sound of gunfire. André heard it too and was out of the water throwing on his half-dry trousers as Dan reached for his own. The two young men hurried back by way of the almost hidden trail to their cabin. The cabin was closer to reach than the horses which were penned in a rough corral on the nearby prairie land to graze. Dan had purchased two dray animals to pull the wagon and supplies he had been given based on the agreement with Major Buford. Jokingly named Trouble and Double Trouble, they were sorry specimens but better than many settlers owned. Nothing was disturbed, but there were some horse tracks and footprints in the loose dirt near the door.
“Somebody was looking for us,” Dan observed. “Who would be calling after dark?”
“Could be them Free-State men,” André replied. “I heard they were a bit upset by the ruckus Sheriff Sam Jones caused when he rode into Lawrence a few days ago.”
“Yeah,” Dan replied. “Some ruckus."
He had heard all about the burning of the New England Emigrant Aid Company hotel and the destruction of two Free-State Lawrence newspapers presses. Jones' men had also burned down bogus Governor Charles Robinson’s house. "At least no one was killed. It would all simmer down if they would just leave us Southerners alone. Well, let’s just head down to the Doyle’s cabin and make sure they are all right.” ....