Preview: Dick Stanley, “Knoxville 1863”

1 06 2010

Dick Stanley of Austin, TX sent me a copy of his new book, Knoxville 1863, a novel about, well, Knoxville in 1863.  (For you folks who have wholeheartedly entered the 21st century, this is also available as an ebook.)  I’ve only skimmed the book, but this fictional account of the seige of Knoxville and the battle at Ft. Sanders seems to focus primarily on the 79th NY (the Highlanders) and Barksdale’s Mississippi brigade.  Stanley’s narrator is a Knoxville resident, the widow of a Confederate officer, through whose eyes and recollections the reader is brought up to speed on the war and Tennessee up to the point of the Confederate encirclement of the city and beyond.  From the back cover:

Gettysburg held.  Vicksburg has fallen.  Now rebel flags ring Knoxville in East Tennessee.  Longstreet means to wrench this railroad hub away from the occupying Union army.

To do it his ragged and starving men, veterans of Gettysburg such as Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade, must climb the icy, clay walls of Fort Sanders.

Inside are the New York Cameron Highlanders who are on half-rations and have never won a battle.  Yet they have special faith in the young lieutenant who leads them.

In Washington President Lincoln waits for news.  He sees the struggle as one more key to preserving the Union, freeing the slaves, and victory in the Civil War.

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5 responses

2 06 2010
Chris Army

Thanks Harry….may have to try out the new iPad with this one!


2 06 2010
Dick Stanley

Thank you, Harry, I do appreciate it.

So no potential reader gets the wrong idea from the start, the widow is one of six narrators in a mosaic narrative of the battle, similar to the method Foote chose to tell his battle novel “Shiloh.” The widow and one other narrator reappear elsewhere in the story and all six of them return in segments in the final chapter.

The narrators’ units, in addition to Barksdale’s and the Highlanders are with Parker’s “Boy Battery” of the Sixth Virginia Light Artillery, the Phillips Georgia Legion, and the Twenty-Ninth Massachusetts Infantry Regt.



2 06 2010
Harry Smeltzer

Sorry about that, Dick. I skimmed the first 20 or so pages, then picked a bit in the middle which byu chance seemed at least to be written in the voice of the same character. But I think the main points got covered, and it looks like you sold at least one ebook!


2 06 2010
Terry Johnston

Don’t recall the story of the 79th NY’s “young lieutenant who leads them” at Ft. Sanders. Doesn’t sound kosher to me, on its face, but I admit I’m rusty on the details of the regiment’s involvement at Knoxville.



3 06 2010
Dick Stanley


The “young lieutenant who leads them” is one of those cover statements that aren’t intended to mislead but sometimes do. It refers to the commander of the fort, Samuel Nicoll Benjamin, Battery E, 2nd US Artillery.


Fiction is hard enough for an author to summarize, let alone a previewer. ;-)


I hope you enjoy the tale.



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