THUNDER FROM A CLEAR SKY by Ray Mulesky

THUNDER FROM A CLEAR SKY

Stovepipe Johnson's Confederate Raid on Newburgh, Indiana
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A crafty Confederate officer boldly raids a small Indiana town in the early stages of the Civil War.

With any epic conflict like the Civil War, there are bound to be countless small stories that get lost. Here, Mulesky rescues one such tale from obscurity. Adam Johnson, better known as “Stovepipe,” was a southern rascal seemingly destined to be a thorn in the side of the North. What he lacked in troops and equipment he made up for in guts and guile. After displaying his gumption by raiding the National Hotel in Henderson, Ky., with only two comrades, the opportunistic Johnson set his sights on a larger prize: a cache of weapons stockpiled in the small but economically significant town of Newburgh, Ind. Made possible by a combination of good fortune (a recent thunderstorm had knocked out the telegraph lines in nearby Evansville, preventing quick contact with possible reinforcements) and inside information provided by a few Confederate sympathizers from Newburgh, including wharf master “Hamp” Carney, Johnson’s raid was the first Confederate attack launched north of the Mason-Dixon line. Johnson’s objective was accomplished without firing a shot, as his force captured approximately 85 already-wounded or sick men. Though of minimal military significance, the raid on Newburgh has all of the components of an absorbing story: intrigue, betrayal, revenge and a wily, charismatic (anti-)hero in Johnson. Following the brief narrative is an appendix of the major players, further information on the Newburgh residents who conspired with Johnson and a helpful timeline of events. Mulesky’s account is deft, rendered in crisp prose. Although the subject matter may have the most appeal for regional readers, history buffs will undoubtedly appreciate this illuminating account of an event outside the periphery of most history books.

Not for every reader, but Civil War buffs will surely take note.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2005
ISBN: 0-595-33852-6
Program: Kirkus Indie
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