During the last remaining months of the US Civil War, men on both sides of the conflict began to lose heart. These men no longer believed in the causes for which they fought. They became desperate rogues, thieves and looters. This was very much the case in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia.
Jamie Lockhart lives in this region in the small village of Port Republic, with his mother. Too young to be a man and too old to be a child, Jamie struggles to maintain his family’s farm in the absence of his father, a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. One late gray afternoon, a stranger arrives at the Lockhart farm looking for lodging. He wears the tattered remnants of a Confederate uniform. With his arrival come reports of grave robbing in Port Republic. When he follows the suspected stranger into the night, Jamie makes a surprising discovery. A treasure map, a beautiful young girl, secret agents, desperate thieves and the promise of gold all come together to take Jamie on an adventure that will change his life.
Stonewall’s Gold, Congressman Robert J. Mrazek’s first novel, is based in truth according to a manuscript found in a court house archive in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The reader is encouraged to read both the explanatory note and the editor’s postscript, where historical background can be obtained. Though the story has been compared to Cold Mountain, the character studies lack the depth of those in Frazier’s novel. However, the lead character, Jamie, is very likable and readers will find themselves rooting for him as he struggles uncomplaining through each obstacle. Without becoming excessively meticulous in regard to description of period details, Mrazek accurately conveys a sense of atmosphere and knowledge of the period. Stonewall’s Gold, written by the congressman who saved the Manassas battlefield from the developer’s bulldozers, is a fast paced, well written first effort. Very highly recommended.