Silk Flags and Cold Steel by William R. Trotter

William R. Trotter is a native North Carolinian who has written in a wide range of genres, including historical fiction, horror, true crime, biography and non-fiction.    Silk Flags and Cold Steel:  The Piedmont  is part of Trotter’s trilogy, “The Civil War in North Carolina”.   Each volume deals with a separate geographical region of the state, and can be read as stand-alone volumes.   Trotter is eminently accessible and just as informative as more academic works on the Civil War in North Carolina.  Perhaps due to his extensive experience as a fiction writer,   Trotter’s Civil war trilogy reads nearly like a novel.    Silk Flags and Cold Steel covers the NC Piedmont from the war clouds of 1860 to the final surrender at the Bennett farmhouse in Durham in April, 1865. Also covered are the political issues   and Governor Zebulon Vance’s conduct of the war.

Though covering a wide time frame, Trotter is expertly judicious in keeping his narrative flowing.  Silk Flags and Cold Steel is also admirably balanced, discussion topics such as the Underground Railroad and Unionists in North Carolina in addition to Confederate leaders and military actions such as the Battle of Bentonville.   Trotter is entertaining as well as informative, relating episodes such as the famous dalliance between Union General Kilpatrick and Columbia society girl  Marie Boozer, including the General’s famous “shirttail skedaddle” near present-day Fort Bragg.   The author relates interesting tidbits such as how wartime shortages resulted in buttons being made from gourds and persimmon seeds while candles were made from pine knots.  The book contains numerous illustrations, photos, and maps, presenting a concise and readable overview of the Civil War in the central part of North Carolina.  After reading Silk Flags and Cold Steel, the reader will gain new insights into familiar places where we work and travel.  His other two volumes on the Civil war in North Carolina are also highly recommended!

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