Friday, February 16, 2018

Forgotten Books: SHILOH by James Reasoner (1999)

The illustrious author
Book 2 of the Civil War Battle series introduces us to Coriolanus Troilus Brannon, the middle brother of the Brannon clan, and is mostly about him. Cory begins the story as a seedy, sotten, no-account wharf rat, despondent for having failed in his plans to make it big in the West. The West (to a Virginian) is New Madrid, MO, on the Mississippi River. As our story progresses, Cory becomes a riverboatman, finds self-respect, earns friends, learns to fight, finds courage and meets his lady love. And just when things are really looking up for him, the war comes rolling in and hands him a fistful of woe.
The author's illustrious ancestor, Gen. J.M. Reasoner, C.S.A.. Remarkable resemblance, ain't it?
The author's illustrious ancestor, General J.M.
Reasoner, C.S.A.. Remarkable resemblance, ain't it?

On his way to an appointment with destiny at the Battle of Shiloh, Cory in involved in the engagements at Fort Henry and Fort Donaldson. One of the coolest battle scenes involves two Southern riverboats equipped with 18-pounders versus a squadron of Union gunboats, some of them ironclads.

Cory begins the fight at Shiloh as an infantryman and finishes riding with Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry, and even manages to save Forrest's life. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or in this case, farm) Titus Brannon is drowning his sorrows in moonshine. He has seemingly lost the rich girl of his dreams and is sliding downhill so fast he might as well be on a skateboard. Brother Mac is chasing  a ghost horse (not really, but that's how he thinks of it), Sister Cordelia is being her sweet, moralistic self, and Mother Abigail is showing signs of regret for having banished her eldest son Will. Will is having his own troubles in the Federal army. His fellow officers look down their aristocratic noses at him, and his sergeant (a guy he routinely arrested for drunkenness in his previous life as a sheriff), can't keep his hands off the bottle.

There's plenty of great storytelling here (360 pages worth), and I'm looking forward to the next volume (of ten!), Antietam.


Jerry House said...

I have a number of books in this series and your reviews are spurring me on to reading them much sooner than later. Thanks!

Evan. Lewis said...

A fine plan , Jerry. For best results, read 'em in order.

Oscar Case said...

Sounds like a great series to curl up by the fire with.