I shouldn’t say that Soldiers and Martyrs is my favorite story … but it is. There can be no doubt that it is my most ambitious story, to date. It weaves an epic tale of a young man from North Carolina who was always (and I mean … always) in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Walter Billingsley was the next-to-youngest son of James Billingsley, a businessman and Baptist lay preacher who settled in Guilford County, North Carolina. Elder Billingsley was an active member of the Regulator Movement and rebellion in the mid-1760s. The involvement of almost all of his sons in the American Revolution indicates that he passed his avid independency on to his children. His murder at the hands of local Tories in 1776 propelled four of his six sons toward the army and combat.
Walter’s story includes the Waxhaws Massacre, captivity in Camden Prison, the infamous “Race to the Dan River,” and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. It reaches its climax and conclusion in the remote, faraway mountains of what would eventually become Tennessee.
This book has it all … epic battles, a tragic love story, another not-so-tragic love story, and a victorious ending. One young man who has read and reviewed all of my books messaged me and told me that Soldiers and Martyrs is “The Empire Strikes Back” of my series. And he assured me that was a VERY good thing. I think you’ll like it!
Of course, I take plenty of liberties in turning true life into a novel. Good story writing requires it. But, the real Walter Billingsley was one of my 5th great-grandfathers. He died in Bradley County, Tennessee, in the early 1800’s. Local historians located what they believed to be his grave in early 2017. It was my honor to finance a memorial headstone for that grave site and take part of its dedication in November of that same year. It was a horribly cold, rainy, dreary day … but Grandpa Walter was definitely worth it!
You can see all of the pictures from that day by visiting the album on my Facebook page. Please give it a “Like” while you’re there!