A Civil War novel asking what did the killing of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson have to do with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln—was it a conspiracy created and carried out at the highest levels of government?
AURA LEE – a Civil War novel of historical fiction built on edge-of-the-page suspense designed to ensnare the reader with pulse-pounding involvement: What did the killing of General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson at the battle of Chancellorsville have to do with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly two years later? Scofie Goodis and Hunter Worboys are two young Confederate soldiers assigned as batmen to General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and his brother-in-law Lt. Joseph Graham Morrison, and also the perfidious Capt. William Jameson. Their presence forms the prism through which much of the action is filtered. Before the war, when Jackson was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute and Jameson a keydet, Jackson had caught the young man cheating on an exam. When confronted with the evidence and brought before the Honor Committee, Jameson denied culpability and challenged Jackson to a duel. As Fate would have it, Jameson is eventually brought by Jackson to serve in the Stonewall Brigade during the Civil War. How does Jameson, a Confederate officer, become the catalyst for the unexpected tragedy during the Battle of Chancellorsville, remembered by history as the South’s greatest victory -- while accounting for its greatest loss? Melissa and Daniel Menefee of North Carolina harbor a keen desire to defect and join Union forces to fight against the South. After a long march into the Shenandoah Valley, with Melissa posing as a fifteen year old private and "brother" to her husband Daniel, they are serendipitously recruited by General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker of the Union Army of the Potomac to ensnare General Jackson in an elaborate plot first concocted by President Lincoln. The Great Emancipator is well aware Jackson is the one man who can orchestrate the South's final victory over the North, and he knows that day is at hand. "Old Blue Light" has to be removed before it is too late - if it isn't already. What were Lincoln's most intimate thoughts and Situation Room maneuverings as the war ground his administration toward certain defeat? What curious, personal conversations took place with Mary Todd Lincoln in their bedrooms at the White House? . . . What was the real motive behind Lincoln's removal of abulic General Ambrose Burnside from command of the Army of the Potomac in favor of General Joseph Hooker, a man whose very name has become synonymous with certain areas of derision? . . . What unilateral decision did Lincoln make, which dramatically changed the outcome of the Civil War and unquestionably altered the course of American history? . . . What was the intricate, daedal role of John Wilkes Booth (and certain others) in the deaths of Lincoln and Jackson? What ancient Roman battle became the blueprint for Fredericksburg's devastation and the master plan for Jackson's demise? . . . What dramatic, surprising involvement did many in Lincoln's administration have in the dark activities of 1863, '64, and '65?. . . And how did the discovery by a disillusioned Union corporal of General Lee’s carelessly lost Battle Plan No. 191 set the stage for the Confederacy’s ultimate disaster? These are but some of the elements that make up AURA LEE. Although a work of fiction based on historical facts and populated, in part, with characters plucked from the imagination of an author immersed in the who, why, wherefores, and what-ifs of historical happenstance, this 268 page, 68,000 word novel takes on the imbroglio and impact of a docu-drama, which affords the reader a new, disturbing view of America’s foreboding past as the new nation struggles with its destiny at the hands of people we all know – or think we do. Robert A. Mills 4444 Derwent Dr Roswell GA 30075 770-402 1947 RobtMills.comcast.net
John Wilkes Booth sat in a comfortable anteroom, outside Jefferson Davis’ cluttered office, and the two men stared at each other across an ornate mahogany desk.
Davis spoke first. “Your ride through lines was without incident, Mr. Booth?”
“Not entirely, sir. After I left General Hooker, I circumvented nearly every area of conflict by moving in a wide arc around what they call ‘the Wilderness,’ and I didn’t cross the Rappahannock until I was well east of Fredericksburg. I may have sacrificed a day or two, but it was apparently worth it: I’m here.”
“Yes,” affirmed the President of the Confederacy, “you most certainly are.”
Jefferson Davis seemed, to Booth, even thinner than he remembered him from his days in Washington as a U.S. senator. Thin, to the point of gaunt; his skin sallow, a shade of gray more pale than his sparse hair that hung loosely over his ears and curled above his tight collar. His bad left eye was glazed over with a rheumy film disguising whatever color was left to match his good brown one, and it was obvious he was nearly, if not completely, blind in that diseased orb. When speaking, his head turned automatically to the left so that eye contact could be made with his right.
“Was there any opportunity,” he inquired, “that you might have called upon General Lee?”
Booth shook his head slowly. “No, none, sir. I thought foremost, however, that if a chance presented itself, I would seek out Stonewall Jackson, as I have reason to believe Hooker and he are on the verge of some sort of assignation.”
“Really . . .” Davis leaned forward toward his young guest, his attention locked.
“Yes, sir. I think Hooker has some idea he can persuade Jackson to persuade Lee to, somehow, persuade you to look at a plan for a truce, or armistice. Or else—something else.”
“Yes. I think—I have reason to believe Abraham Lincoln has a plot unfolding by means of Hooker to achieve a more deliberate equanimity on the field of battle.”
Davis shifted uneasily in his chair. “I don’t think I follow your thought, Mr. Booth.”
The actor emulated the President and moved similarly. “In all honesty, sir, I’m not certain I follow, myself.”
Unexpectedly, Davis gestured with his palms open and changed the subject. “Well, then, for now, tell me the news from Washington.”
Booth wondered at this sudden change in the flow of conversation and found himself drawing back and thinking, before speaking, in a more cautious and conservative mode. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said with quiet circumspection, “I of late have found myself more or less removed from the normal social circles that would qualify me as any sort of quidnunc-at-large. News, however, from the Yankee cave is always, lately it seems, of a negative and uncertain tenor. Lincoln holds a hard whip over the press—but they adore him (when they are not crucifying him) and his infernal stories and anecdotes. The social magpies have dubbed Lincoln’s wife, the redoubtable Mary Todd Lincoln, as ‘the First Lady’ of the land, a neoteric and laughable appellation of hyperbole. The White House offers little in active hope that the war shows signs of running out, and they only begrudgingly admit (suggest, really) that Southern victories are increasing, especially in major battles. The casualty numbers are known by all to be inaccurate; the Yankees reflect statistics that cannot be ascertained. They are, in fact, incredible. Incredibly absurd. Both sides are suffering horribly incalculable losses.”
Davis nodded, hoping to hear more from his guest than the generalities of uninformed gossip.
“What of Lincoln himself?” Davis asked. “It now seems preposterous, but I never met the man, never shook his hand or so much as exchanged the pleasantries of the day, despite our common birth heritages. How fares he with society and the intellectual dandies who I’m certain parade constantly through the White House?”
Booth paused, trying to think of an incident worth reporting, but none came to mind. “Aside from the vandals who call invited and uninvited and roam freely about the mansion stealing mementoes and even clipping chunks of fabric from the draperies, I don’t think the people in that government are fully cognizant of the intestine circumstances or have as much regard for the old baboon as the newspapers would have us believe. I perceive there is great tension in his cabinet. I suspect Edwin Stanton and Salmon Chase cannot wait . . . for the day . . . much longer . . .”