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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fort Pillow by Harry Turtledove

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: Fort Pillow, Tennessee, April 1864, during the Civil War
Fort Pillow is a dramatic retelling of an actual Civil war battle.  On April 12, 1864, the Confederate army attacked Union soldiers who were occupying the fort.  Manning the fort was the 13th Tennessee Cavalry  which consisted of soldiers from Tennessee who supported the Union rather than the Confederacy.  Along with them was an artillery unit which consisted of mostly African soldiers. The defeat of Fort Pillow, and the subsequent massacre of Union troops, made "Remember Fort Pillow!"  a rallying cry for African troops fighting for the Union.

The Confederate forces were led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  After the war, Forrest would become the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  Knowing that his forces outnumbered the Union troops, Forrest gave the Union officers the chance to surrender.  He understood that his troops especially disliked the Union troops.  This was due to the racial hatred rebel soldiers had for African soldiers, and their belief that the Tennesseans were traitors.  In Turtledove's novel, Forrest warns the Union officers that he would not be responsible for the actions of his troops if they refused to surrender.

The novel tells of the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and the resulting massacre.  Turtledove uses his usual method of telling the story by following a cast of characters.  In this novel, most of his characters are actual historical figures, however there are a few fictional characters.  Since we know the outcome of the battle, the events of the battle and the fate of the characters are what drives the plot forward.  Turtledove tries to stay true to actual historic events.  This makes for a pleasant read with few surprises.

Harry Turtledove is one of my favorite authors.  His usual genre is Alternate history.  Two of his Alternate history series rely heavily on Civil War history.

Fort Pillow

How Few Remain an Alternate History novel of the Civil War. 
What would happen if the South won?

Liberating Atlantis - The Civil War happens in the fictional continent of Atlantis.

Check out my eBook!

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