Elisabeth Payne Rosen
Unbridled Books, May 2008, $25.95
Mexican war veteran Hugh Hallam relocates to Tennessee with his wife Serena, their children and their slaves. The former Virginian establishes Palmyra Farm. His neighbors think Hugh is an idiot as he cares about the well being of his slaves; trying to keep families together and providing them with cabins; in five of these well kept abodes live eight men, five women and six children; in a sixth cabin resides his top hand French, a black slave he bought in New Orleans three years ago. He also works the field another taboo by the owners. Serena misses her upper crust life back in Charleston, but loves her husband so she goes with him.
When the Civil War breaks out, Hugh a seasoned soldier and graduate of West Point joins the Confederacy although he has doubts about slavery and the future of the southern economy. He commands the 8th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, which fights at Shiloh where he is wounded and taken prisoner. Meanwhile Serena runs their farm and raises the children.
HALLAM’S WAR is a powerful Civil War tale that vividly describes life in the south just prior to the conflict and during the war. Especially descriptive is the slave market where preadolescent girls are sold into bondage that separates them from their parents and includes acceptable sexual molestation by their owners and the battle hospitals where what seems barbaric practices today were the norm. Fans of Civil War dramas will appreciate Elisabeth Payne Rosen’s insightful look at the antebellum south.