Saddle the Pale Horse
My tale is an unusual hybrid of history and novel, but not another historical novel. How many of those have 90 pages of contextual footnotes and asides (not an Ibid to be found) with photos and maps in the back? Shelby Foote's "Shiloh" didn't.
Pale Horse follows the 1864 invasion of Missouri by Sterling Price, seen through the eyes of Federal and rebel generals, captains, enlisted men, bushwhackers and jayhawkers, slaves, camp followers, war brides and even a little boy being held by Federals with his women kinfolk in a Kansas City hotel.
Every one of these characters -- just like Margaret Hays, who reflects on her losses in Jackson County -- is a real person who left enough of a record behind in letters or memoirs or official documents.
This let me channel in a "Killer Angels" style their experiences that fateful fall, as well as their memories of earlier days in the war. While the time period is '64, much of this flowered from '63: the jail collapse that killed the Southern girls, Quantrill's Lawrence raid weeks later, the retribution, Order No. 11 and the Baxter Springs. Historical facts and lore, some which have never seen print before, spring up in as the characters make their way.
The story begins with the aging general waking in Missouri on his birthday and ends a month later with a young guerrilla -- who at 15 had been given to Quantrill by his mother to avenge his murdered father; he's the fellow on the cover -- going home after his leader, Bloody Bill Anderson, is killed
in front of him. In between are battles and massacres, broken down horses and burned out homes, all the real stories of the real people involved in a rich tapestry of violence found no where else but western Missouri.
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