WalterCoffey.com

Exploring the legacy of the American Civil War
Home     -     About Walter     -     Subscribe     -     Blog     -     Site Store     -     Media Resources             

THE LIBERTY LEGION

THE FIRST INSTALLMENT IN THE SUCCESSFUL CIVIL WAR SAGA

AWARDED HONORABLE MENTION FOR
2004 BOOK OF THE YEAR IN HISTORICAL FICTION
BY FOREWORD MAGAZINE

AVAILABLE HERE AND AT ALL MAJOR ONLINE BOOKSTORES

WHY SHOULD YOU BUY THIS BOOK?  HERE ARE A FEW REASONS:

ACTION!
Fanatics will stop at nothing to destroy the Union, including inciting riots, committing murder, and bribing the authorities.  Union spies must expose their heinous scheme or die in the attempt!

SUSPENSE!
It’s a deadly race against time as spies must thwart the plot against the Union before the fanatics can launch their invasion of the capital!

ROMANCE!
With the help of a lonely boardinghouse widow, a Union spy must cope with the loss of his wife and daughter and learn to love again.

THRILLS AND CHILLS!
Read about the dangerous extremism that dragged our nation into its deadliest conflict, much the same as the extremism that threatens to destroy our country today!


WHAT READERS HAVE TO SAY:

“The author has obviously researched this (Civil War) era and knows historical facts.  The story comfortably fits into the period, and characters are clearly motivated by the conflicts of war.  The plot is clear and compelling.  The cover graphics are interesting, and the back cover blurb is intriguing.”
-- Writer's Digest

"It not only stands its ground with the likes of Caleb Carr and Patrick O'Brien, in many ways it shines out splendidly.  Coffey has wisely taken his exhaustive knowledge about this flawed period of our nation’s history and used it to build a believable, yet subdued, framework for a much more personal, insightful story.  If you're looking for a worthy read, your money couldn't be better spent than buying this book."
-- Reader review

"Liberty Legion is a great story.  The author is great at weaving in personal drama into the story line.  I hope the author is planning on a sequel."
-- Reader review


SUMMARY:

In the first month of the Civil War, Washington is vulnerable to a Southern invasion, and Northern troops moving to defend the capital must pass through Maryland, a hostile Southern state.  When Union troops pass through Baltimore, a riot erupts that is instigated by an organization called the Liberty Legion.  It is a private military force funded by Elias Liberty, a Baltimore shipping magnate who believes it is God’s will that the Lincoln administration be overthrown. 

Sent to Baltimore to investigate the riot is J.B. Carver, a former detective and Mexican War veteran.  Carver sees Baltimore’s intense hatred for the Union, and he gradually learns of the plot against Washington.  Along the way, Carver must cope with recent loss of his wife and daughter, an unreliable partner, a suspicious boardinghouse owner, and a brash young detective eager to make a name for himself.

All the while, Elias Liberty is plotting to move on Washington before the city can be reinforced by Union troops.  Carver soon finds himself racing against time, as the fate of the Union depends upon the destruction of the Liberty Legion.


CLICK HERE FOR PURCHASE INFO...


BOOK EXCERPTS

BALTIMORE:  FRIDAY, 19 APRIL 1861

South of Pratt Street was Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, beneath a wooded bluff that separated the city from the sea.  The buildings lining the harbor belonged to various shipping companies, importing mainly coal and soybeans, and exporting mainly tobacco and cotton.  The largest cluster of buildings was near the center of the harbor.  This was the Liberty complex.

South of Pratt Street was Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, beneath a wooded bluff that separated the city from the sea.  The buildings lining the harbor belonged to various shipping companies, importing mainly coal and soybeans, and exporting mainly tobacco and cotton.  The largest cluster of buildings was near the center of the harbor.  This was the Liberty complex.

Through the front entrance was a reception area, where secretaries hustled at various desks.  There were several offices and rooms behind the reception area, but the main office was separate.  It was to the right of the front entrance.

It was a simple office.  It had white windowless walls and a brown hardwood floor.  A gas lamp with a steady humming flame hung from the ceiling.  Behind the basic desk hung an embroidered Bible passage in a plain wooden frame.  From the Book of Luke, 19:10:  “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  Beneath the frame, behind the desk, sat Elias Liberty.

He was the owner and president of Liberty Shipping.  He sat perfectly erect, not allowing his back to touch the chair.  His neatly pressed black suit contrasted with his pale wrinkled face, and his thick black hair was dotted with white streaks.  Liberty folded his hands in his lap and listened to the man standing before him.

“We have about seven hundred operatives within the city limits,” the man reported.  “Of these, about one hundred are serving us in a recruiting capacity.  And may I say sir, there has been no trouble locating volunteers for the cause.”

The man’s name was Jeremiah Taylor, and he wore the full dress uniform of a Maryland state militia colonel. The coat and trousers were smooth powder blue, with gleaming buttons ornamented by the state seal.  Epaulets were sewn onto the shoulders, and a shiny sword hung from the belt.  Pinned to the breast was a pin adapted from the Calvert heraldic cross, in honor of Cecilius Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore.  Taylor stood rigid, hands locked behind his back, the leather cap straight on his head.

“That is good,” said Liberty in a low southern tone, “but as you know, I am not inclined to betray my emotions by rejoicing over such news, as only God has the right to see into a man’s soul.  Wouldn’t you agree, Colonel?”

“Yes sir.”

“That is why I have chosen you to lead this force against the despots of Washington.  You share my conviction that the Northern Union is unholy and evil and as instruments of God’s justice, we must devote our full attention towards driving the infidel from our sacred land.”

“I look forward to nothing with a greater pleasure,” said Taylor.

Liberty’s face remained stern.  “Very well.  And so, in regards to your assertions that our numbers are growing, there are some issues that concern me.  One of which is the task of supplying such a large host in the face of a rapidly growing federal presence here in Baltimore.  Mind you, we have nothing to fear from local interests, but we must remember that Maryland has not yet seceded from the Union.  Until she does, we must operate in a covert manner.  That is why I’ve contracted to lease a storage facility north of town to maintain our cargo away from the curious eyes along the harbor.  That is also why I’ve persuaded the necessary port authorities to handle our shipments in a… shall we say, liberal manner.”

“Meaning they were paid to look the other way,” said Taylor.

“I gave to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” replied Liberty, “and soon we shall give to God what is God’s.”


WASHINGTON:  SATURDAY, 20 APRIL 1861

Major Hiram Eastwick had been J.B. Carver’s commanding officer during the Mexican War.  Carver was serving with the 1st New York Volunteer Infantry when Eastwick selected him to head a team of scouts to reconnoiter enemy positions on the path to Mexico City.  Much of the information obtained by Carver’s unit was used by the United States army to hasten the end of the war.  Following the fall of Mexico City, Eastwick recommended Carver’s promotion to brevet captain.

Now Eastwick stood in Carver’s parlor, and he was not as Carver remembered him.  He had gained over a hundred pounds, and the curly hair under his hat had gone gray.  He wore thick round spectacles and rumpled brown civilian clothes. 

“Did you not hear me knocking?” Eastwick asked as he straightened his wrinkled overcoat.

“I must’ve been tending to other duties at that time, sir.”  Carver eased back into the sofa and returned the closed razor to his boot.  Eastwick sat in the dusty velvet chair beside the liquor cabinet.  Carver grabbed the full jug off the table, took a drink, and offered it to Eastwick.

“No, not at oh-nine hundred hours,” said Eastwick.  His speech was formal and stiff, like the precise march step of a trained infantryman.  “At least I thought it was oh-nine hundred hours.  It is so dark in here it could just as well be midnight.  How long have you holed yourself up in this place?”

Carver’s nose wrinkled as the liquor trickled down his throat.  His gray bloodshot eyes crossed slightly.  “So nice of you to pay a visit,” he said.  “I hope my charming hospitality doesn’t dissuade you from doing so again some time.”

Eastwick smoothed his coat lapels and straightened the curly hair beneath his hat.  “I see you haven’t changed, Captain.  Everything is still a joke to you, is it not?”

Carver looked past Eastwick to the liquor cabinet.  “Not quite everything, Major.”

Eastwick turned to see what Carver was looking at.  Atop the cabinet was a daguerreotype of three people in a golden frame.  It was a father, mother, and daughter.  The father stood behind the mother, who sat with the small girl on her lap.  Eastwick turned back to Carver.  “My deepest condolences, John.  I was at their funeral service last month, but I did not wish to impose on you by announcing my presence.  It was a carriage accident, yes?”

Carver’s grim eyes stayed fixed on the portrait.  A lump welled in his throat and his eyes puddled as he tried to answer.  No words came, so he just nodded.


BALTIMORE:  TUESDAY, 23 APRIL 1861

With no expectations, Carver reached the door of the brick building numbered Seventy-Two and rang the bell.  This was the lodging house assigned to him, the home of an “L. Winters.”  Carver knew nothing else, and as he waited for the door to open, he silently hoped the man took kindly to strangers.

Carver had turned back toward the street to rethink his plan when the door opened.  He spun around, setting down his suitcase and retrieving his contrived business card.  To his surprise, in the doorway was not a man, but a lovely young woman.  He respectfully removed his hat.

Standing in the high doorway, the woman towered over Carver.  She had fair skin and thin red lips, and her hair was twisted into brown curls.  The corset under her light dress was tight enough to reveal an attractive slender figure.

“What’s your business here?” she asked.  Her voice stunned Carver.  Unlike her delicate features, the voice was deep and authoritative.

Carver hesitated before offering a business card.  “Uh, I’m looking for a Mr. L. Winters.”

“There’s no ‘Mister’ here.  I’m Miss Lucille Winters.  You looking for me?”

Carver stepped back.  Eastwick you crafty devil, he thought.  “Well, if you’re ‘L’ Winters, then I suppose I am.”

Lucille studied him, hands on her hips.  Then she took the business card and read.  “John J. Benedict.  Insurance salesman?”  Carver nodded.  “If you’re wanting a room, I don’t take in strangers without a recommendation.”

“Of course,” said Carver.  He pulled the sealed envelope from his coat and handed it to her.  Then he delivered his rehearsed line, “I was referred here by a Mr. Davenport Revels.”

The name meant nothing to Carver, but Lucille’s blue eyes brightened.  “I knew Mr. Revels very well,” she said.  “He and his associates traveled through here often.  Won’t you step inside?”

Carver sighed.  The line worked. 

Stepping up into the house, Carver followed Lucille on the standard tour.  It was a typical boardinghouse; on the first floor was a foyer, sitting room, parlor, dining room, living room, and kitchen.  A back door led to the latrines outside.  There were rooms on the second and third floors.  Following Lucille up the stairs, Carver was hoping for a third-floor room overlooking the street.  He was disappointed when Lucille stopped on the second floor.

She opened a creaky door and guided Carver into the room.  It was small and dark, and Lucille opened the shades to let in the sun.  The wallpaper was sky blue dotted with yellow daisies.  There was a threadbare blanket on a brass bed, and atop a chipped wooden dresser sat a washbowl, pitcher, and bedpan.  In the corner beneath a gas lamp was a dusty chair.  Carver looked out the window.  He had an excellent view of the fenced yard and latrine rooftops.

“It’s a bit confining in here,” said Carver.  “I much prefer a room in the front of the house.  And on the top floor if available.  I’d be willing to pay more if necessary.”

Lucille shook her head.  “Those are the choicest rooms of the house.  To be fair, I start the new boarders in the back, then move them up as rooms become available.”

“What’s the charge for a room such as this?”

“One dollar a week,” Lucille replied.

“I’d pay two dollars a week for a choice room.”

“Follow me.”


CLICK HERE FOR PURCHASE INFO...