The Taylor family portrayed in this novel was a real family that traced its roots from the Mayflower to the South to the settling of the early American West. The author is a descendent of Joseph Taylor. Many of the events in the novel are based on oral or documented family history passed down
A surprising amount of this specific family’s history is available on the Internet.
William Bailey Lake and Sarah Jane Marler's stories are well-documented. Some of the characters portrayed in this novel are actual persons which the author has labored to portray with authenticity to what is known about them and their actions.
On a personal note, Civil War history has been my passion for over 40 years. I have tramped over all of the major battlefields of the war and have read extensively on the Civil War. My family will testify to long trials of the patience where they endured my frequent side trips to well-known and little known Civil War sites across the South and Border States.
I spent six years in my doctoral program at Purdue University and grew to love Lafayette and the many surrounding small towns of northwestern Indiana. The small town cemeteries are peppered with Civil War tombstones. Because the 20th was also formed at Lafayette, much of the local history and culture that contributed to the 20th Indiana soaked into me.
I will never forget visiting an old graveyard on the southern side of Lafayette, Indiana. One tombstone caught my eye. It was dedicated to a soldier from Lafayette who was killed at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864. The words chiseled on the stone stated that the body was not there but the memory of this boy lived forever in the family' memory. Years later when I lived in Atlanta, I visited the Kennesaw Mountain battle site many times. Often I thought of that boy’s tombstone in Lafayette. How he had traveled the distance from Indiana only to die on the slope of Cheatham Hill in front of the Confederate lines. No doubt his body was thrown in a common grave and now rests as one of unknown hundreds in Marietta National Cemetery.
I spent 7 ½ years in the Army National Guard, two years as a combat engineer in Utah, then 5 more in the Army Indiana Guard from 1986-1991 as an infantry reconnaissance scout and later a Stinger gunner. I have a pretty good appreciation of what it means to be a private under the thumb of good, indifferent, or flat-out vindictive NCOs or officers. Completing my service with a Ph.D. nearly in hand and the rank of Staff Sergeant was an interesting experience not recommended for the faint-hearted. I spent those 5 years training across many small towns and farmlands of northwest Indiana. The landscape and small town culture sank deep in my soul. Along with the American West where I was born and now live.
I have great appreciation of veterans, what they experienced and sacrificed for the rest of us. This novel series is my attempt to tell one man's realistic story in the context of the early American West and on-going American Civil War.
A final note. Military service runs in my life. I cannot appreciate enough the courage and determination of my eldest son. He was a hellion to raise but he became a great example to me and my family of a dedicated American soldier and hero. He went into the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Battalion, at the age of barely 18 and traveled with his unit to Afghanistan in December 2001, just 3 months after 9/11. He was in combat his first day in-country. Later he became a Green Beret in the 10th Special Forces and now trains SWAT police officers. He managed to go to just about every place no normal person would want to during those 13 years.
Thank you for protecting us.
Joseph Taylor: Mormon Battalion, Donner Party, Utah War Militia Officer