GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Sunbury Press has released Three Rogues in Gettysburg by J. Geoffrey Barber under its Milford House Press imprint.
About the Book:
There would be no monuments for these Johnnies…just charity from the hand and heart of a Quaker maiden.
A historic photograph of three Rebel prisoners at Gettysburg has long been a familiar icon of the Civil War. Yet we have wondered whatever became of those three soldiers, their identities seemingly lost forever. Inspired by their images captured by an unknown photographer, Three Rogues in Gettysburg is the story of three such prisoners who pose before a box camera while eluding their Yankee captors. Each will make his own discreet departure from the battle-scarred town, but not before first encountering Hannah Strumn, a forsaken Quaker mother of two young sons, Seth 12 and Jonathan 3.
What begins with a charitable cup of water will develop into a prolonged stay for the wayfarer named Vergil. The chemistry between him and the wary Hannah grows fonder with each event-filled day on the Strumn farm. Both have secrets which neither wishes to divulge in spite of circumstances that beg for explanations. Hannah is curious to know something about the dead Yankee whose diary Vergil has placed in her care. Vergil, however, desperately would like to know more about the prize horses the family keeps hidden on the property. There is also the question of Hannah’s marital state—where is the man-of-the-house whom she refers to as Jeduthun, or Mr. Strumn?
Inadvertently Vergil will gleam information from young Jonathan, who happens to mention the nocturnal comings and goings of black people to the house. Vergil surmises that Hannah’s domicile is a mercy station on the Underground Railroad. He will become the family guardian when he fatally fends off a devious Yankee sheriff, who assaults Hannah and threatens to arrest her for aiding the enemy and harboring slaves. Later, with Seth’s help, Vergil will set a trap for a despicable slave owner who arrives, with two baying hounds, to reclaim his fleet-footed property. In the end, Vergil, his thirst quenched and wearing a new suit of clothes sewn by Hannah, rides away on a gleaming black steed. He carries with him provisions from Hannah’s pantry—as well as a piece of her heart and the promise to return.
An epilogue, written in the first-person alleging to be a descendant of Vergil, lends the fiction a sense of reality while exploring themes of ancestry and lost personal identity. For families of Civil War soldiers, news of the death of a family member was heart-wrenching. Worse still, however, was to have never learned the fate of a missing loved one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James G. Barber is a historian and curator at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. His research interests include the portraiture of the Jacksonian and Civil War eras, and the American presidency. He is the project coordinator for the Smithsonian’s popular Civil War Web site, CivilWar@Smithsonian. In observance of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, he was an editorial consultant for two Smithsonian books, The Civil War: A Visual History(DK, 2011), and Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection (Smithsonian, 2013). He is the curator of the Portrait Gallery’s TIME magazine collection of more than 2,000 works of original cover art.
Barber was born in Washington, DC, and is a life-long Alexandrian. With family roots in Carlisle and New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, his early memories include car trips passing through Pickett’s charge on the Emmitsburg Road.
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