Rifles for Watie

Rifles for Watie

Book - 1957
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Jeff Bussey walked briskly up the rutted wagon road toward Fort Leavenworth on his way to join the Union volunteers. It was 1861 in Linn County, Kansas, and Jeff was elated at the prospect of fighting for the North at last.

In the Indian country south of Kansas there was dread in the air; and the name, Stand Watie, was on every tongue. A hero to the rebel, a devil to the Union man, Stand Watie led the Cherokee Indian Na-tion fearlessly and successfully on savage raids behind the Union lines. Jeff came to know the Watie men only too well.

He was probably the only soldier in the West to see the Civil War from both sides and live to tell about it. Amid the roar of cannon and the swish of flying grape, Jeff learned what it meant to fight in battle. He learned how it felt never to have enough to eat, to forage for his food or starve. He saw the green fields of Kansas and Okla-homa laid waste by Watie's raiding parties, homes gutted, precious corn deliberately uprooted. He marched endlessly across parched, hot land, through mud and slash-ing rain, always hungry, always dirty and dog-tired.

And, Jeff, plain-spoken and honest, made friends and enemies. The friends were strong men like Noah Babbitt, the itinerant printer who once walked from Topeka to Galveston to see the magnolias in bloom; boys like Jimmy Lear, too young to carry a gun but old enough to give up his life at Cane Hill; ugly, big-eared Heifer, who made the best sourdough biscuits in the Choctaw country; and beautiful Lucy Washbourne, rebel to the marrow and proud of it. The enemies were men of an-other breed - hard-bitten Captain Clardy for one, a cruel officer with hatred for Jeff in his eyes and a dark secret on his soul.

This is a rich and sweeping novel-rich in its panorama of history; in its details so clear that the reader never doubts for a moment that he is there; in its dozens of different people, each one fully realized and wholly recognizable. It is a story of a lesser -- known part of the Civil War, the Western campaign, a part different in its issues and its problems, and fought with a different savagery. Inexorably it moves to a dramat-ic climax, evoking a brilliant picture of a war and the men of both sides who fought in it.

Publisher: New York, Crowell [1957]
ISBN: 9780690049077
Branch Call Number: FICTION (JUV)
Characteristics: 332 p. illus. 21 cm


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IndyPL_SteveB Jul 03, 2019

A fine, award-winning, historical novel about the American Civil War, focusing on the conflicts that rarely get covered in standard histories or novels. Jeff Bussey is a 16-year old in Kansas when the war starts in 1861. His father is a Union supporter whose life is threatened by Rebel sympathizers coming from Missouri. Jeff decides it is time to join the Union volunteers from Kansas. Like most 16-year-olds, he thinks war will be fun and glorious. He very quickly learns that war is anything BUT glorious.

Over the next four years, he is in a couple of battles, sees friends killed, and gets to see both sides of the conflict. Jeff gets stranded behind Southern battle lines, where he is forced to join the Confederate troops or be shot as a spy. Most of these particular Confederates are Native Americans under the direction of General Stand Watie, a Cherokee leader. After a year in the South, Jeff discovers a Union traitor who might tip the war in that area to the Confederate side. He has a difficult moral choice to make, because he has now acquired many Southern friends, as well as a Southern love, a Cherokee girl whose father and brothers ride with Watie.

The book is gritty in its details of every day camp life and the terror of a battle. Many of the officers are men who know little about the military or about how to handle people. The soldiers are basically fighting for each other and for their own survival, rarely for some big cause. If you enjoy Civil War novels, this is probably one you have missed – and should not have.

lots of references to 'Johnny Reb'. it's kind of one-sided to refer to the confederate soldiers as being 'confused about the war.' to them it was a conflict over states' rights. not many of them were fighting to keep slaves: they were too poor to do that. it was only after, that Lincoln made the war about freeing the slaves. He needed the Negro soldiers. A similar, contemporary dispute is over 'sanctuary cities.' The federal government doesn't want them because the feds are attempting to control illegal immigration. Some cities want to be sanctuaries. And are, to this day. But there will be no civil war over it.

Dec 04, 2017

this is a great civil war book. its one that does not show the confederates as bloodless killers but as humans involved and confused about the war. I also learned a lot about the civil war. The battle against the bush wackers tho!

May 21, 2017

My 11 yr. old daughter loved this book and learned a lot about the Civil War! She has been reading and looking for everything and anything she can find about the Civil War since. The characters and story of this book was so captivating to her.

Aug 02, 2016

This book was kind of slow the whole way through, but it had a lot of adventure and a great view of what the Civil War was like for the Confederates, and the Union soldiers.

Jun 05, 2013

Had to read it for school. It's slow at first, but I ended up reading ahead because it was pretty good.

May 11, 2013

kind of the opposite point of view fro. The other book The Perilous Road


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Aug 02, 2016

yellow_giraffe_402 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 05, 2013

blue_fox_361 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99


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