Based on the experiences of over 200 women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the American Civil War, I Shall Be Near To You is a superb piece of historical fiction. It tells the story of newlyweds Jeremiah and Rosetta Wakefield. Rosetta decides to cast off her role as a lonely young wife patiently waiting back on the farm to assume a new identity as Private Ross Stone. She does this to accompany her husband after he enlists – against her wishes – in the Union Army with the other boys from their little farming community in upstate New York. Jeremiah’s dream is to use their Army pay to buy a farm in Nebraska after a few months when the war would hopefully come to an end. History intervenes.
Under constant pressure to protect her true identity and over Jeremiah’s objections, Rosetta marches into battle by the side of her husband at both Second Bull Run and the Battle of Antietam, which remains the bloodiest day in American history. The couple is not so much star-crossed as saber-crossed, so to speak, and the story plays itself out in a totally compelling manner. This is fine writing by author, Erin Lindsay McCabe, and has rekindled my longstanding interest in carefully researched and wonderfully rendered historical fiction.
I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, Crown (2014)
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Content contributed by Michael G. Arden, Audiovisual Librarian