Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Cotillion Brigade: A Novel of the Civil War - A Book Review

 Historical Novels seems to be my latest niche for reading!

I love reading stories of bygone times and how life was lived in those days.  It takes me a while to get my mindset on the times, but once I 'm there, it's like I'm living it right along with all the characters in the book.  To me, this is part of what makes reading so enjoyable.  

The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney, is the latest Historical Novel that I have slipped into.  
Cotillion Brigade

Set in the South, this book will take you on a "tour of duty" that several  Southern women joined.  Now everyone has pictures in their minds of the South during the time of the Civil War.  Large plantations, huge homes, gaily dressed ladies who spend their afternoons doing needlepoint or watercolors, or some such hobby, while their homes are being looked after by the slave help.  No one in the South thought that this "silly" war would last more than a few months.  They were wrong, so wrong!

Grand parties and lots of social engagements are the norm for the plantation owners and their families.  But something is afoot!  There is talk about abolishing the Slave Trade and all of the Southerners are in Disbelief that anything like this could happen.  Even with the Underground Railways and slaves being moved to the north, no one thought that a Civil War would last any length of time.  

Well today we know what happened and that the South lost the Civil War and slavery was indeed abolished.

During the War though, there was much  discussion about what would be happening to their so well ordered lives.  No one thought that the war would last for 4 years at the onset.  But it did and the men of the South were gone from their homes and families, leaving their wives and girlfriends alone.

Who was going to protect them?  Certainly not the slaves as they were very eager to be free.   So what was to become of these plantations during the invasions of the army from the North?  

Well as genteel women did not do any kinds of manual work, it was up to a small handful of "progressive" thinking women to organize themselves.  They needed to be able to defend what was theirs.  After all, they were alone and everything that was theirs could become part of the invading army's arsenals.  But who was going to teach them how to defend themselves, especially under these circumstances.

Glen Craney takes us on a journey with the Women of the South and their determination to protect their homes and themselves!  

The "Nancy Harts" were a group of women from LaGrange Georgia, who when their husbands and brothers had all left for the war, organized themselves to protect what was theirs.  While many of them had never needed the skills to shoot a gun, when left to fend for themselves, they needed all the help they could get.  Nancy Morgan Hart (whom this band of women were named after) was originally from Pennsylvania (not historically proven).  She was a strong woman who had the skills that her contemporaries were lacking!  She was adept at using what was at her disposal to feed and help the women to survive!  She was a great marksperson and taught her friends to shoot.  While they were not officially part of the army, they trained and trained as if they were! These women were always to be at the ready, for invasion from the North.  
defending the cabin
                                                                                    Photo taken from Wikipedia!

Not only did they protect their homes and town, but they also learned how to take care of their wounded soldiers as well.  

These women managed to keep their town from being ravaged by a war that was going on all around them and even to capture some of the Yankees!  

Glen Craney has done a great job in taking us into the heart of what it must have been like for these "genteel" ladies, who had been left to care for themselves.  It is an interesting and very well written story that we don't think too much about today.  

The Nancy Harts, did themselves proud during four years of deprivation and managed to spare their homes and families until the end of the war!  

This book is well worth reading and I'm sure you will learn something about the history of this time period as well.  

Thanks Glen Craney for a book that was easy to sink my teeth into!



 If you would like a copy of the book it is available right here!

This book was made available to me by Glen Craney, and an honest review was promised!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I love historical novels and this is an era I have not read much about. This novel sounds really interesting. Thanks for the recommend Olivia.

    1. Mary Beth, I do hope that you take the time to read this novel. It really brings to life what was happening on the home fronts during that period of history.

  2. I never heard of the Nancy Harts in Georgia during the Civil War. Having lived in Georgia myself, I can especially see this being a very interesting read. Thanks for reviewing this book, Olivia.

    1. Pat I was sure that it would resonate with you having lived in Georgia! There are many places in Georgia that take their name from the Nancy Hart's. It was a very dark time in the history of the US! And you are right, not many people have heard of them!

  3. As a southerner, I suspect I would find this an interesting book to read. The "Nancy Harts" militia is an excellent foundation for a historical fiction. The book would, no doubt, cause many of us to sit back and consider what we would do in the same situation. Nancy Hart, herself, was a Revolutionary War heroine therefore has additional historical significance to women in America. Thanks for the review and introduction to this book.

    1. Oh you are the first one that has heard of them! I love how the real life and the fiction are melded into a story that you know could have been the truth. It really does draw you into their particular problem of being without any support during a time of great upheaval! Yes, what would you do in their stead? Good question!

  4. Thanks for the wonderful review, Olivia!

    1. You are quite welcome Glen Craney. I learned a whole lot about the south that I had not known before. My thoughts were more along the lines of Gone With the Wind. But the Nancy hart's bring what was happening in the South into a whole new focus. Thank you again for the opportunity to read and review your book!

  5. Olivia, this sounds like a fascinating novel set during one of the most tragic periods of our young nation’s history. During wartime, women often have had to take on the roles and responsibilities that traditionally belonged to the men in their families and communities, and have had to learn new skills and develop incredible courage to “keep the home fires burning.” (Now that women have become integral to the military, men, too, often must do the same.) This is a wonderful premise for a historical novel. I look forward to reading it.

  6. From when you said "it's like I'm living it right along with all the characters" I thought this is a book I would enjoy reading! This sounds a most fascinating and interesting book. Thank you for the wonderful review and recommendation.

  7. I love getting lost in another time period as well. In fact, I prefer books and movies like that. Anything that's too "today" stresses me out. So I opt for stories that aren't realistic to my life at the moment - and I KNOW I would love this novel.

  8. Olivia, I have only just realized that my favorite genre is historical fiction. I am glad to have another recommendation. This sounds like a very interesting read.

  9. I read anything about history, especially the Civil War. This book sounds so interesting. I agree with you Olivia, I love getting into the mindset of the time as if I were there myself. Thanks for the recommendation.


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