Travis Ford lives on an Arkansas farm while his father is away in the Civil War, and as his mother tries to protect the family, becomes a witness to the massacre of the First Kansas Colored Volunteers unit by Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Poison Spring in 1864. - (Baker & Taylor)
Thirteen-year-old Travis Ford views the latter days of the Civil War from his impoverished, though relatively safe, farm in Washington County, Arkansas, where his valiant mother holds together the farm and her family of three until Travis' father can return from his posting with the 2nd Arkansas Cavalry. Travis has plenty of chores but likes to retreat to the family's old sawmill, where he dreams of Dumas-like adventures and writes stories in a notebook the proud cotton grower (and slave owner) Miss Mary Frederick gave him. All changes when the war intrudes, and Confederates and Yankees alike vie for nearby Camden and a place called Poison Spring. The Fords lose their mules and chickens, and the family almost dies when a radical Southern preacher turns against Travis' mother, who has abolitionist leanings. But in large part because of Travis' cleverness and bravery, the family survives, until the Kansas Colored Infantry win in Camden, then are driven back and massacred by Texans at Poison Spring. Boggs brings a little-known battle to life, framing it around a moving coming-of-age story. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.