Welcome

Having completed a collection of stories, two of which have been published in small literary journals, I believe myself to be a novelist by nature and consider the shorter works to have been essentially an apprenticeship.

I can’t really say why, but I have always had a fascination for the American Civil War. My original intention was to write a book using what might be considered Civil War “mythology” to tell a fundamental human story. In the course of my research, however, I became caught up in the savagery and sexual exploitation of the Southern plantation system and decided that my true story, the one that needed to be told, required a much larger canvass than I had anticipated—and thus the Gallant Pelham series began to evolve. It now appears that the six books that comprise the series will ultimately contain upwards of 750,000 words. The first two books are finished; the other four are in various stages of completion. (Although the books form a single, continuous story, each is a self-contained novel providing a hook to the next.)

The books deliberately use many facts and incidents familiar to history buffs and readers of Civil War fiction, but present them in a very different light. Although some of the events depicted may seem improbable, care has been taken to ensure they are never impossible. (I should mention that Pelham’s bizarre “affliction” is the author’s invention, as are his “abolitionist sympathies.”) Many occurrences depicted within the series are highly probable, but unfortunately cannot be documented. Readers will no doubt be surprised to learn how many details, no matter how contrived they might seem, are based on historical record. My objective was to expose the underlying story hiding within the historical facts and commonly accepted mythology. As Ta-Nehisi Coates says of the Civil War in his best-selling Between the World and Me:

American reunion was built on a comfortable narrative that made enslavement into benevolence, white knights of body snatchers, and the mass slaughter of the war into a kind of sport in which one could conclude that both sides conducted their affairs with courage, honor and élan. This lie of the Civil War is the lie of innocence . . .

Unlike a good deal of traditional Civil War fiction that diplomatically portrays Confederates as “those who wore gray,” the Gallant Pelham series confronts the darkest side of the antebellum South; most especially, how slavery and the plantation system defined manhood, that being at the core of Pelham’s affliction. The story empathizes with the common Confederate soldier, however, and distinctly condemns the planter class rather than the Southern people as a whole. This author firmly believes that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Darwinian Theory might classify Pelham’s affliction as a monstrosity rather than an adaptation, but it also teaches that the potentiality for change is borne by the individual, and it is only by means of the individual that evolutionary change comes about. Despite his short life appearing to end in calamitous tragedy on behalf of an evil cause, Pelham’s potentially monumental impact on history, imperceptible as it may be, makes his story a positive affirmation of the undaunted human spirit. As his commanding General, Robert E. Lee, said in his last years, following the war:

The truth is this. The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.

The books in the Gallant Pelham series are told from multiple points of view—Pelham, Lee, and two of Lee’s children, Custis and Agnes. The following synopsis and excerpts are exclusively Pelham’s.