Having survived the bloody Battle of New Orleans and the loss of their ironclad Yazoo River, captain Samuel Bowater, engineer Hieronymus Taylor, and the survivors of their crew are given new orders -- take command of an ironclad warship being built in Memphis, Tennessee.
Bowater and his men take passage upriver from "Mississippi" Mike Sullivan, one of the wild, undisciplined captains of the River Defense Squadron, only to find, on their arrival, that their ship is not even half built and the enemy is closing fast.
Against their better judgment, Bowater and crew join forces with the mercurial Sullivan on board his ad hoc river gunship the General Page. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Confederates once again fling themselves bravely at the overwhelming power of the Yankee invaders. The deadly back-and-forth fight along the Mississippi ends at last in the massive naval battle of Memphis, and the near-suicidal attempt by the Confederates to hold back the Northern flood.
Filled with wild characters and heart-pounding action, and set against the bold backdrop of the Civil War, Thieves of Mercy is a worthy successor to the W. Y. Boyd Award-winning novel Glory in the Name, the book Bernard Cornwell lauded as "by far, the best Civil War novel I've read."
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James L. Nelson has served as a seaman, rigger, boatswain, and officer on a number of sailing vessels. He is the author of By Force of Arms, The Maddest Idea, The Continental Risque, Lords of the Ocean, and All the Brave Fellows -- the five books of his Revolution at Sea Saga. -- as well as The Guardship: Book One of the Brethren of the Coast. He lives with his wife and children in Harpswell, Maine.From Publishers Weekly:
If not quite up to the standard of his best naval historicals, Nelson's second nautical adventure set during the Civil War (after 2003's Glory in the Name) offers a rousing plot and seafaring detail as authentic as any in the Hornblower or Aubrey/Maturin books. In Memphis in the spring of 1862, while Confederate Lt. Samuel Bowater awaits his new command (of an ironclad under construction), he attends to such matters as ghostwriting a dime novel, using the plot of Hamlet, for "Mississippi" Mike Sullivan, captain of the ram General Page, and later taking Sullivan's side when the captain thinks a troupe of Shakespearean actors has plagiarized his work. Meanwhile, Bowater's lover, Wendy Atkins, is trying to escape Norfolk, Va., before the city falls to the Yankees. In this effort, she has the help of her free-spirited Aunt Molly and the hindrance of Union Lt. Roger Newcomb. After making their way out of burning Norfolk, Wendy and Molly have an improbable if diverting meeting with Abraham Lincoln. Civil War buffs, particularly Southern sympathizers, will be well pleased.
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