A group of young men from Tennessee learns the true horrors of war in this historical novel.
Based on accounts of the author’s ancestors, this tale stars five Moore cousins, along with their friend Andrew Hawkins, and their horses. The men volunteer for the 1846 American invasion of Mexico. That conflict began as revenge for massacres by the Mexicans at the Alamo and Goliad. The story is narrated by 18-year-old Cameron “Cam” Moore, aided by his trusty steed, Hunter. The march to war starts as an adventure for the Moores: “We all groaned aloud with William, little bold William sayin’, ‘Well, we’s better than most them fella’s. It be sure them Mexicans don’t stand a chance with us Moore cousin’s doin the fightin.’ ” Traveling by flatboat to New Orleans is largely uneventful, at least compared to what follows. Then, long before they confront the enemy, weather and poisonous creatures take their tolls, with disease claiming American lives. The next enemy is boredom, as the soldiers try to amuse themselves while their leaders determine the best plan of attack. Then comes the bloodbath at Monterrey, where cousin Jake is killed. Next little William is sent home, stricken with malaria. Then, even after the remaining four are mustered out and head home, a tornado strikes the train they are riding. In Cam, Landerman-Moore (Samuel of the Nations, 2016) has created a levelheaded, moral compass for the war who follows his father’s dictum to treat everyone, even his enemies, in a Christian way after the battle is over. The invasion shows him all sides of humanity: the bad in his fellow Americans, the good in the Mexican peasants. The author’s authentic narrative benefits from access to the letters of Col. William Bowen Campbell, the cousins’ commander in Mexico. In addition, the illustrations by Beadles (Samuel of the Nations, 2016) help bring the Moores’ travails to life. Landerman-Moore’s descriptive prose skillfully takes readers inside the soldiers’ day-to-day encounters, whether humdrum or terrifying. An added bonus is a recap of the cousins’ fates after their return to Tennessee. All told, the author’s well-researched volume is an enjoyable examination of one family’s part in an unpopular conflict.
An intriguing new angle on a lesser-known American war.