The post-war life of General John Bell Hood is the basis for this action-packed novel by Robert Hicks.
Historically, the Civil War left General Hood defeated and crippled. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of one arm; his right leg was amputated at the Battle of Chickamauga. His defeat at Franklin, Tenn., cost the lives of 5,000 men, and many said he had uselessly led his troops into ambush. Mr. Hicks’s earlier book, “The Widow of the South,” tells of that battle.
After the war, General Hood went to New Orleans and married Anna Marie Hennen, the beautiful and educated daughter of a prominent Creole family. Together the couple had 11 children, including three sets of twins.
But tragedy seemed to follow the General: In 1878, a yellow fever epidemic destroyed his insurance business. Anna Marie died shortly after the birth of their 11th child. Both General Hood and Lydia, the oldest daughter, became ill. When father and daughter died about a month later, 10 orphaned children were left penniless.
General P. G. T. Beauregard, who also lived in New Orleans, had Genearl Hood’s memoirs published, raising about $30,000 for the Hood orphans, who were then adopted out all over the South.
The novel begins, with General Hood on his deathbed reflecting upon his life.
General James Longstreet referred to his battles as “the weight,” and it is likely that General Hood felt the same weight. He wrestled with his demons, wondering if he was good at only one thing – killing.
The other characters in the novel are equally compelling. Some have done some horrifying things, but have softer sides as well. No character in the book is without some regret, small or huge.