Ironclads and Columbiads

Ironclads and Columbiads


The Coast

William R. Trotter

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Ironclads and Columbiads recounts the exciting battles and events that shook the coast of North Carolina during America's bloodiest war. Throughout the Civil War, North Carolina's coast was of great strategic importance to the Confederacy. Its well-protected coastline offered a perfect refuge for privateers who sallied forth and captured so many Union merchant vessels in the early days of the war that maritime insurance companies in the North went into a panic, forcing the government to mount an expedition against Cape Hatteras. North Carolina's coastal counties and the state's coastal railroad system were vital to the feeding and resupply of Robert E. Lee's army. And even after the tightening blockade and powerful Federal assaults closed off the ports of Charleston, New Orleans, and Mobile, Wilmington continued to provide a haven for blockade runners. That city eventually became the most strategically important location in the entire Confederacy. To subdue Fort Fisher, which stoutly defended Wilmington, the Union was forced to assemble what was then the largest naval and amphibious landing force in American history.

William R. (Bill) Trotter wrote his first novel at the age of 14. It was not publishable, of course, but a senior editor at Viking Press liked it well enough to become a valued mentor over the next ten years. Since that time, he hasn’t looked back in forty-five years. Trotter eschewed the traditional graduate-school MFA route to literary respectability (and job security), choosing instead the goal of actually supporting his family entirely by writing. For a long time, he was only partially successful at this, but he finally said farewell to part-time “real jobs” in 1983 and has, in fact, earned his entire living by the sweat of his keyboard ever since. Trotter told an interviewer back in 1994: “I’ve worked in some of the grubbiest neighborhoods of the scribbler’s trade and deployed all my skills and obscene amounts of my time in projects that meant nothing at all to me personally and that most proper Literary Authors would consider demeaning. But my reasoning was this: I would approach every freelance job, no matter how unglamorous it was, with the idea that I could learn something from the work that I could apply, later, to the projects that were personally important; and that I would never submit work-for-hire that I would be ashamed to have my by-line attached to.” That ’s one reason why Trotter has been able to leap successfully from one genre to another. (That’s also the reason why his agent once told him: “You have the most interesting resume in the business, Bill, but that doesn’t necessarily make you marketable!”) To thousands of computer game addicts, he is “The Colonel”, the Senior Writer for “PC Gamer” magazine, whose monthly column about war and strategy games (“The Desktop General”) has run continuously for fifteen years. To fans of the horror and fantasy genres, he’s the respected author of compelling short stories and novellas, whose work has twice been nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. To aficionados of military history, he’s the author of the best-selling trilogy The Civil War in North Carolina and the definitive English-language history of the Russo-Finnish “Winter War”, A Frozen Hell. To music lovers, professional orchestra players, record collectors, and no small number of well-known conductors, he’s the author of a world-renowned biographer of the great Dimitri Mitropoulos, Priest of Music. To readers of mainstream literature, he’s a witty essayist, a respected book reviewer, and the author of four critically acclaimed novels, one of which has been optioned for a major motion picture. In early 2004, the North Carolina English Teachers’ Association chose him to be the first recipient of a special “Lifetime Achievement Award.” He lives in Greensboro, NC.