Silk Flags and Cold Steel

Silk Flags and Cold Steel


The Piedmont

William R. Trotter

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Silk Flags and Cold Steel recalls the events that took place in the Piedmont region of North Carolina between late 1860 and mid-1865. Though the skirmishes in the Piedmont were more strategic than tactical, they were important to the health of the Southern cause. As long as the railways of North Carolina were operating freely and the state's farms were producing to capacity, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia could move, eat, fight, and replenish itself. North Carolina's relations with the Confederate government of Jefferson Davis were complex, touchy, and often antagonistic, for the state had been reluctant to secede and there was strong Unionist sentiment throughout the state. President Davis never particularly trusted North Carolina, a fact that blinded him to the state's strategic value. Paradoxically, no state contributed more to the Confederate cause in terms of manpower and resources than did North Carolina. .Along with discussion of the political climate, the book presents accounts of the Salisbury prison, Sherman's march through the Carolinas, confrontations at Bentonville, Raleigh, and Greensboro, and Joe Johnston's surrender at Bennett's Farm.

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.