On March 21, 1865, the mayor of Goldsborough, (now spelled Goldsboro,) North Carolina, surrendered the town to General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops. It was the end of the Union Army’s march through the Confederacy, the deathblow that sealed the fate of the Southern insurrection. Charlotte Bratcher, Lottie to friends and family, an eighteen-year-old farm girl from Wayne County, had no particular allegiance to the Southern cause. She is known as the best horse rider in the county. She and Big John, her horse, cause quite a stir, as a group of horse thieves have them both in their sights. The Bratcher family, like most North Carolinians of the time, had no slaves and scraped a living from the land as best they could. The men in her family, conscripted into a war they did not believe in, soon lost the zeal young men have for living a war hero’s tale. These Tar Heels were forced to fight in a rich man’s war. By 1865, all Lottie and those like her wanted was an end to the bloodshed. As the one hundred thousand plus Yankees spread over Wayne County like ants, Lottie and her family out in Bratcher Patch are just trying to survive. In addition to blue-coated warriors, desperate deserters, bummers, thieves, and the home patrol to deal with, Lottie is also coming to terms with a long held infatuation with Patrice Cole. Not knowing how to name her feelings for the dark-haired Miss Cole, Lottie does what she knows how to do, run. Charlotte Bratcher runs, but it’s straight into the arms of the woman she has dreamed about for years.
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