Call Me Charlie
Prior to the onset of the American Civil War, Kansas Jayhawkers attacked proslavery farms in Missouri. When the war began, men organized guerrilla units on both sides of the slavery issue, which resulted in acts of murder and destruction. A major leader of the Southern cause was William “Charley” Quantrill. This novel tells the story of Ben Riddle, a young man who befriends Charlie and, eventually, is faced with the moral dilemma of following a cause about which he feels very strongly, and who then becomes disenchanted with the extreme methods the guerrilla army used in accomplishing its mission.
How does a young man cope with murder and mayhem disguised as military actions? At first, Ben feels that the harsh treatment of northern sympathizers is warranted, especially after his brother is killed in a raid. After the attack on Lawrence, Kansas, that left innocent bystanders killed and raped and the town pillaged, his attitude about guerrilla activities begins to change.
In his novel based on true events and actual characters, such as William Quantrill, Cole Younger, the James brothers, and Bill Anderson, the author tells an intriguing story of the Civil War, one that is seldom told. The story is historically accurate and character driven, particularly about how Ben Riddle changed as the war progressed. My only reservation was the “kind” treatment given to Quantrill, who has gone down in history as an outlaw and a tyrant, ordering unarmed men killed and small farms and towns destroyed, along with the infamous massacre of innocent citizens in Lawrence, Kansas. I recommend this book for those who enjoy stories written about the Civil War.