Confederacy Of Fenians

Written by James D. Nealon
Review by Cindy Vallar

The South’s victory at Gettysburg in 1863 brings a new ally to their side when the British invade from Canada. General John Fox Burgoyne is determined to restore family honor and stop the United States’ expansion and economic dominance. President Jefferson Davis sees the invasion as key to maintaining the Southern cause’s viability, but General Lee won’t abide taking orders from Burgoyne. Upon Lee’s resignation, Longstreet assumes command, but his strength is defense rather than high-risk tactics.

The invasion provides George McClellan with choices, either of which will allow him to fulfill his destiny: accept command of the Union Army again, or run for president in the next election. Can he do both? He and the army head north to engage the British, leaving only a small force behind to defend Washington.

For John Patrick Lane, Britain’s entry into the war sparks a revolutionary idea. His fellow Irishmen in the Union army are soldiers gaining invaluable experience for when they return to Ireland to throw off the English yoke after the war. What if there is a way to gain freedom without firing a shot? What if the Fenian Irish abandon the Union and fight for the South? First, he must convince Burgoyne and gain the queen’s pledge of Home Rule for Ireland. Such a move goes against everything Viola fights so hard for, freedom for all Blacks. John is a stranger to her, but they form an uneasy alliance as she feeds the British army, gathers information for the Union, and helps runaway slaves.

Actions always have consequences, and sometimes these are unintended as this story deftly shows. The epilogue stretches believability in one regard: Would Viola truly stay apart from her children for nearly a year to stay with John? In spite of this weakness, the characters are well-defined and vividly drawn, and the stakes are high in this riveting tale of what-ifs based on credible possible outcomes of the Civil War.