"Outstanding" - THE COTILLION BRIGADE by Glen Craney

A remarkable novel of the Civil War and the Most Famous Female Militia in American History from Glen Craney.

The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney

The Cotillion Brigade

Georgia burns.

Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.

Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?

Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is a sweeping epic of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood amid devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.

“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”

1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles to the north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.

Five years later, secession and total war against the homefronts of Dixie hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.

Nannie defies the traditions of Southern gentility by forming a women’s militia and drilling it four long years to prepare for battle. With their men dead, wounded, or retreating with the Confederate armies, only Captain Nannie and her Fighting Nancies stand between their beloved homes and the Yankee torches.

Hardened into a slashing Union cavalry colonel, Hugh duels Rebel generals Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest across Tennessee and Alabama. As the war churns to a bloody climax, he is ordered to drive a burning stake deep into the heart of the Confederacy.

Yet one Georgia town—which by mocking coincidence bears Hugh’s last name—stands defiant in his path.

Read the remarkable story of the Southern women who formed America’s most famous female militia and the Union officer whose life they changed forever.


In the author's words . . .

A Q&A with Glen Craney

In this book, you write about a piece of Civil War history many people aren't familiar with. Will you tell us something about the writing of The Cotillion Brigade?

Thank you for inviting me to Books and Benches. The Cotillion Brigade is based upon the true Civil War story of the Nancy Harts of Georgia, the most famous female militia in American history. I stumbled upon the exploits of the Nancy Harts thirty years ago while working as a political journalist with the Washington, D.C., press corps. Several years later, I visited LaGrange, the town saved by the Nancy Harts, and fell in love with the area. I wrote the story first as a movie treatment and nearly had it sold as a movie to Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, but the executive who championed the project moved on from the company. So, a few years later, I turned it into a novel.

What sparked your interest in history?

I caught the history bug as a boy. A great uncle lived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark defended the blood-soaked ground on which a reconstructed 18th-century palisades fort now stands. He would take me to the nearby Civil War battlefield of Perryville and share stories about his father, a captain in the Union army who served there against his own brother, a Confederate cavalryman with Morgan’s Raiders. A couple of years ago, I traced the steps of my great-great-grandfather, who kept a diary while fighting with Grant during the Vicksburg campaign. I’m always struck by how much more there is to learn about these most important four years in American history. The Cotillion Brigade is the first novel I’ve written about the Civil War, but it’s always been my favorite era, and I return to it again and again.

Which scene, character, or plot-line changed the most from first draft to published book?

In my initial draft, I focused primarily on Captain Nancy Colquitt Hill Morgan and the women in her militia. But as I delved deeper into the research, I found equally fascinating the character of Colonel Oscar Hugh LaGrange, the Union officer and ardent Abolitionist who confronted the women in the climactic scene of the novel. I realized after the first draft that to properly tell the story, I had to use a dual timeline, following my two protagonists, Captain Morgan and Colonel LaGrange, through the war as their destinies slowly but inexorably converged.

What appeals to you most about writing historical fiction?

I’m drawn to stories about the underdogs of history whose voices were suppressed or silenced. Historical fiction is the perfect genre to bring those voices back to life. Often such stories suffer gaps in the annals, which are usually written by the victors. Second, because I took the unusual route of learning and practicing screenwriting first, I tend to see stories visually, as if on a screen in my mind’s eye. Dramatizing history is much easier with historical fiction than with nonfiction. Finally, historical fiction can draw a larger audience. For example, of the thousands of books written about the battle of Gettysburg, the one that has had the most influence and reach--to the dismay of historians--is the Killer Angels, a novel by Michael Shaara that was turned into a movie.

Do you have a favorite phrase that inspires you?

“Welcome to your gory bed or to victory.”

It’s a line from the poem “Scots What Hae” by Robert Burns, about the exploits of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence. My college roommate and I would mutter it as we walked into the classroom to take an exam. Little did I know that, thirty years later, I would be writing an historical novel about Robert Bruce and his best friend, James “the Black” Douglas. I used that same line in THE SPIDER AND THE STONE.


The Author

Author Glen Craney

A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California, and has served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the Historical Novel Society.



Genre: Historical Fiction

Type: Novel

Publisher: Brigid’s Fire Press

Publication Date: March 15, 2021

Content Rating: PG-13

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Tour Giveaway

We have ten eBooks of The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 14, 2021. You must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is sponsored by the author and hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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