Publication Date: March 15, 2021
Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.
Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?
Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is a sweeping epic of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood amid devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.
“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”
1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles to the north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.
Five years later, secession and total war against the homefronts of Dixie hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.
Nannie defies the traditions of Southern gentility by forming a women’s militia and drilling it four long years to prepare for battle. With their men dead, wounded, or retreating with the Confederate armies, only Captain Nannie and her Fighting Nancies stand between their beloved homes and the Yankee torches.
Hardened into a slashing Union cavalry colonel, Hugh duels Rebel generals Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest across Tennessee and Alabama. As the war churns to a bloody climax, he is ordered to drive a burning stake deep into the heart of the Confederacy.
Yet one Georgia town—which by mocking coincidence bears Hugh’s last name—stands defiant in his path.
Read the remarkable story of the Southern women who formed America’s most famous female militia and the Union officer whose life they changed forever.
Throughout history, there have been countless books recounting the many battles of the Civil War. Whether from the Union or the Confederate perspective, the final outcome is the same. However, author Glen Craney explores a truly unique aspect in The Cotillion Brigade.
The story begins in LaGrange, Georgia, with Nancy “Nannie” Colquitt Hill and her friends. As young Southern belles, their focus is on finding a handsome husband and enjoying life. A few years later, as talk of war breaks out, a married Nancy convinces her friends to create a local militia, referred to as the Nancy Harts. The ragtag group slowly learns how to drill and shoot.
Meanwhile, a dual storyline takes root in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, where Oscar Hugh LaGrange meets an abolitionist one day who inspires him. His journey from farmer to soldier unfolds throughout the pages.
As historical fiction, the author does an excellent job taking facts and weaving them into an intriguing storyline. Alternating between Nancy and Hugh in the chapters provides another dimension. It’s evident that the two-story arcs will somehow connect, but it isn’t immediately clear how it will happen.
I found the characters to be very likable and even had to laugh at young Nancy’s antics. No one would ever mistake her for a silent wallflower. The stunts she pulls in the classroom are hilarious, in addition to her tactics for trying to catch Brown Morgan’s eye.
Aside from the actual story, I found the author’s note to be enlightening. The inclusion of images added an opportunity to put faces with the characters. The Cotillion Brigade highlighted a piece of history that I didn’t realize existed.
A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California, and has served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the Historical Novel Society.
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