Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg

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9781416589655: Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg
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John Hough’s superbly readable historical novel, the revealing coming-of-age story of two young brothers fighting in the civil War, evokes the hardships and camaraderie of ordinary soldiers and civilians set against the bloody drama of the battle of Gettysburg.

· Brilliant characters: raised by their abolitionist father on martha’s Vineyard, eighteen-year-old Luke and sixteenyear- old Thomas Chandler volunteer for the union. They join the Army of the Potomac in Virginia and take part in the long march north in June, 1863, to intercept General Lee. Luke writes home to rose, their black Cape Verdean housekeeper, with whom he shares a secret that Thomas discovers on the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. The truth enrages Thomas and causes a rift between the brothers. When the battle is over, only one will survive.

· A classic in the making: Seen the Glory re-creates the Civil War experience as vividly as the classic novel The Killer Angels. The soldiers of the storied 20th massachusetts regiment, the sullen Southerners they march past, the hopeful freedmen and worried slaves, the terrified residents of Gettysburg, the battle-hardened Confederate soldiers are all rendered with brilliant realism and historical accuracy.

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About the Author:

 John Hough, Jr. grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts and now lives on Martha’s Vineyard. His grandfather and his father edited the Falmouth Enterprise and his great-uncle was for many years the editor of the Vineyard Gazette. Hough is the author of four previous novels, including The Last Summer, and three works of nonfiction.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

SIX

Even after hearing Elisha and McNamara, Thomas was surprised by the cursing.

"That goddamn Bobby Lee, what's he up to?"

"And that sonofabitch Stuart."

"We'll see how goddamn good they are without Jackson."

"Good enough to steal the march on us. Most of em's up in Maryland, you know."

"No, I don't know, and you don't either."

"They're gone, is the point, while we set here."

"What the hell's Hooker waitin on?"

"Sonofabitch ain't been right since Chancellorsville. Since that roof fell on him. You boys all know that."

"It warn't a roof. Shell hit a column next to where he was standin. Affected his brain someways."

"Is that the way of it?"

"What I heard."

There were seven or eight of them seated around a campfire, some on the ground, some on ladderback chairs and wooden supply boxes, Luke and Thomas sitting tailor-fashion on the ground between Elisha and McNamara, who had a chair, and speaking only when spoken to. The five recruits from Nantucket had also been enrolled in Company I, but they'd found men they knew from home in another mess and had joined them.

"These beans're good, Stonewall," Elisha told the man who'd cooked them, a Roxbury farmer who bore the same name, Thomas Jackson, as the Confederate general who'd been mortally wounded at Chancellorsville by his own pickets. The only good to come of that terrible day.

"Everyone be fartin all night," said the drummer boy, Willie Davis, a rank- smelling little Boston tough who cursed as filthily as any of the men, who encouraged it for their amusement.

"Watch your mouth, boy," McNamara said.

"Sure," the boy said, "I'll watch my goddamn mouth," and there was a chorus of laughter.

"Well," said a man who had not yet spoken, "we'll be marching soon, for sure. Any day, I speck."

It silenced them, like the melancholy toll of a bell. They looked into the fire, looked down at their plates of syrupy beans. There was white bread, too, and slices of dried apple.

"There's gonna be a big fight," the man said. He was hatless, and his hair was chestnut- brown and he wore a long handlebar mustache. Eyes quiet, and as dark and deep as wells. "The biggest yet," he said.

"Where at, Henry Wilcox?"

"Hooker's got to get between Lee and Washington, d'you see? Lee's behind the Blue Ridge, reason he got away so clean, and by the time he turns east he'll be clear to Pennsylvania. That's where we'll be fightin, boys."

"Pennsylvania," someone said. "By Christ."

It was getting dark. Voices rose around the other fires, short bursts of laughter. A soft evening breeze brought a foul smell from the company sink, an evil shit- piled trench hardly two feet deep, a middling walk from the rearmost row of tents.

"Lee gets up there, he'll go clear to Harrisburg," someone said.

"Could be," said Wilcox.

At a fire not far distant a fiddle struck up, slow, inexpert, sawing a plaintive, weepy "Lorena." The fiddler, or perhaps another, added his voice, a reedy tenor.

"Someone tell them boys that's a goddamn Reb song." The speaker had a narrow shriveled- looking face, squint- eyed and feral as some mean little animal, rat or weasel, with thin shoulders and long snarls of black hair and an untrimmed mustache.

"So what if it is?" said Tom Jackson.

The sun's low down the sky, Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flow'rs have been.

Luke looked at his brother in the firelight. Thomas was looking out into the distance. His mouth was full but he wasn't chewing. In the past year Rose had been singing "Lorena" and often playing it on the front parlor piano. She'd gotten the sheet music from Miss West.

"What's the matter with him?" someone said.

"He's tired," Luke said. "The day's been a long one."

"He'll see ones longer."

"That's a pretty fiddle," Thomas said softly, as if to himself.

"Isaac Brophy," someone said. "Dumbest bastard in the regiment."

"He can fiddle, though."

"Thomas," Luke said, "eat your supper."

"You homesicky, little girl?" It was the unkempt squint- eyed little man.

"Hey," Luke said.

"Hey yourself."

"What's your name?" Luke said.

"Jake Rivers, and what's that to you?"

"I'll lick you, you don't shut up," Luke said.

"Will you, now," Rivers said.

"Try lickin me and see what happens," another, larger, man said.

The music had broken off.

"Let's not go to lickin each other," Wilcox said. "Let's save it for the Rebs."

"These two're my friends from home," Elisha said. "They're Mac's friends too. What if he is homesicky? What of it?"

"He ain't even been here a day."

"That don't matter," Elisha said.

"What's their names, Elisha?"

"I done told you their names."

"Well tell em again."

"Luke and Thomas Chandler. They're brothers."

The fiddler began again. "Lorena."

"They talk intelligent, both of em."

"They come from education," Elisha said. "Their pa's a surgeon."

"You boys know Latin and Greek?"

"Some," Luke said.

"Thomas, is it?"

"How many times you need tellin?" Elisha said.

"How old're you, Thomas?"

Thomas smiled wanly. "Eighteen," he said.

"You ain't either."

"He's sixteen," Luke said.

"Lie to the recruiter, did you?"

Thomas nodded.

"Colonel Macy," Elisha said.

"That sonofabitch would of took you anyways," said the big man who'd challenged Luke. His name was Merriman and, the challenge done with, his broad fair face was open and genial, of a fit with his name. He was another Roxbury man, a stonecutter. "He'd of took you at fourteen. You get a bounty?"

"We didn't join for the bounty," Luke said.

"Sure you didn't," said Rivers.

"They didn't," Elisha said. "Didn't I tell you their pa's a surgeon? They got all the money they need."

It quieted them momentarily. "Lorena" played on.

"If that's so," said one, "you're either foolish or crazy, one."

"They're both," McNamara said.

"Takes one to know one, Mac," Merriman said.

"They come to help us whip the Rebs," Elisha said. "It ain't no more complicated than that."

"Hell. Can't argue with that," said Wilcox.

"Just next time don't get so hot, big brother," said Merriman. "There's some boys in this regiment you don't want to tangle with."

"He was standin up for his brother, Joe," said Tom Jackson. "Who can fault him that?"

"I ain't faultin him," Merriman said. "Gimme your hand, Luke. I like a man'll stand up for his own."

Luke put his plate down and Merriman laid his aside, and they leaned toward each other and shook hands.

"You go on eat your beans, Tommy," said Henry Wilcox. "Won't be any baked beans where we're goin."

Thomas managed another smile. He nodded, and dug a spoonful of beans.

"They're awful good," he said.

"Ain't they?" said Tom Jackson.

"It's a pretty song, even if it is secesh," Henry said.

They weren't alone together until an hour or so after taps, when Thomas got up and went out behind the tent to pee and Luke followed him. Neither had slept yet. They'd lain quiet, side by side, listening to McNamara snore, grabbing at invisible mosquitoes. The night air was warm, soft. Somewhere in the distance a mule brayed. Somewhere closer a whippoorwill called softly.

"Hear that?" Thomas said.

"Yeah."

"Didn't know they had them down here."

"What's wrong, Thomas?"

Luke said, just above a whisper.

"Nothing."

"It isn't nothing."

"It's the music. It makes a body sad."

"You'll be glad of it by and by," Luke said, and thought I told you so, didn't I? Didn't I tell you to stay home?

Thomas had finished and now Luke stood spread- legged, peeing.

"How do I look in my uniform?" Thomas said.

"Fine. Like a soldier."

"I feel like I'm going to a costume party."

"So do I," Luke said.

"Do you wish Mariah could see you?"

"No."

"Why not? She might change her mind if she could see you now."

"I wouldn't want her to."

"Why not?"

Luke had finished and was buttoning up. "Let's go to sleep," he said.

"Do you think Henry's right about a big battle in Pennsylvania?" Thomas said.

"Probably."

"It'll come soon, won't it," Thomas said.

"Thomas, listen to me. Don't look ahead. Live in the present, like each day was a complete thing -- like your life was one day long. That's what the soldiers do. I can already see it. You'd have thought Elisha had never had baked beans before, and in a way he hadn't."

Thomas nodded. He was looking at the ground, standing very still. Again Luke thought I told you so but he did not say it. Nor did he, ever, in all the difficulty to come. Copyright © 2009 by John Hough, Jr.

SIXTEEN

When Jubal Early came to Gettysburg the first time, which was four days before the battle, his cavalry arrived in advance, pouring into town on Chambersburg Street, whooping and hollering and discharging revolvers into the air like celebrants heralding a parade. There'd been distant shooting earlier, the Twenty- sixth Pennsylvania Militia having been called out to try their luck against this substantial segment of Lee's army, then a pregnant silence of an hour or more, and now a sound like the rumble of thunder on the horizon.

The girls at the Young Ladies' Seminary were at their literary exercises. It was three and a quarter in the afternoon. Mrs. Eyster heard the great noise and her eyes grew round and without a word she made for the door, with the girls piling after her, all gathering on the front portico, from which they could see, up the hill near the Theological Seminary, the dark, seething, hard- charging mass of the Rebel cavalry.

Mrs. Eyster clapped her hands. Run home! she said. As fast as ever you can, children!

And they did, not even pausing to collect their slates and schoolbooks, scampering this way and that, and now the pistol shots erupted behind them, staccato, like strings ...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. John Hough s superbly readable historical novel, the revealing coming-of-age story of two young brothers fighting in the civil War, evokes the hardships and camaraderie of ordinary soldiers and civilians set against the bloody drama of the battle of Gettysburg. - Brilliant characters: raised by their abolitionist father on martha s Vineyard, eighteen-year-old Luke and sixteenyear- old Thomas Chandler volunteer for the union. They join the Army of the Potomac in Virginia and take part in the long march north in June, 1863, to intercept General Lee. Luke writes home to rose, their black Cape Verdean housekeeper, with whom he shares a secret that Thomas discovers on the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. The truth enrages Thomas and causes a rift between the brothers. When the battle is over, only one will survive. - A classic in the making: Seen the Glory re-creates the Civil War experience as vividly as the classic novel The Killer Angels. The soldiers of the storied 20th massachusetts regiment, the sullen Southerners they march past, the hopeful freedmen and worried slaves, the terrified residents of Gettysburg, the battle-hardened Confederate soldiers are all rendered with brilliant realism and historical accuracy. Seller Inventory # BZV9781416589655

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