The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney
Book Review

Publication Date: March 15, 2021
Publisher: Brigid's Fire Press
Format: Paperback & eBook; 399 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, American Civil War


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.

My Thoughts

Glen Craney is an author I've had the pleasure of reading before. I enjoyed The Virgin of the Wind Rose and always intended to follow this up with more of his historical novels, but never got around to it. When the invitation arrived to join a blog tour for his latest release, I just couldn't resist. The Cotillion Brigade is based on the true story of the Nancy Hart Rifles - a group of Southern women who took up arms to defend their town during the American Civil War.

The novel spans the years 1856 to 1865 as it follows the lives of Nancy, a Southern belle, and Hugh LaGrange, a Northern abolitionist. Their stories unfold via alternating chapters, with Nancy's based in the town of LaGrange, Georgia, as she and its inhabitants cope with the changes due to the war, and Hugh's as he rises through the ranks to become a Colonel in the Union Army, to finally converge in LaGrange at the end of the war.

The tone of the book is set when sixteen year old Nancy is introduced as a student of the LaGrange Female College where her much older and irritable cousin, Gus Ware, who is also the town's doctor, is a substitute teacher for the day. The verbal sparring between Nancy and Gus is delightful and continues throughout the novel as they plot to bring each other down a peg or two. Nancy's rivalry with Sallie Fannie Reid, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner from a neighbouring town, for the affections of the very eligible young lawyer, Brown Morgan, also adds a dash of humour.

When war is declared and the only men left in LaGrange are the infirm and the elderly, Nancy worries that the town is now undefended and fears that the slaves may also rebel as the Union Army approaches. She gathers together forty women of the town and with Gus's reluctant assistance, drills and trains them as a military unit. At first the rest of the town think it is a wild scheme, but when they see the results, find a new respect for Nancy and the women of her brigade. For four long years, Nancy keeps her brigade battle ready, but it is not until the April of 1865 when Hugh LaGrange arrives with orders to torch the town that they finally prove their worth.

I loved this book. Despite being set during the American Civil War with all its associated horrors, I found it an uplifting read.

There are plenty of emotional moments. Two in particular tugged at my heartstrings: a drummer boy destroying his beloved drum so that it wouldn't fall into the hands of the enemy, the pieces of which Hugh later retrieves, and Hugh, after a conversation with Nancy, realising that there is someone who has touched his life and his subsequent actions.

While there are the expected battle scenes, death and destruction, these did not linger in my mind. What did is the cast of vibrant characters, fictional and historical, that Craney has portrayed so well here.

The Cotillion Brigade is a wonderful homage to the lives of two very heroic people.

Where to Purchase

Amazon AU | Amazon US | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Meet the Author

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.

Connect with Glen : Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 19
Feature at Cover Lover Book Review

Tuesday, April 20
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 21
Feature at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, April 22
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 23
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, April 26
Guest Post at Pamela Stephen

Wednesday, April 28
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, April 29
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Friday, April 30
Feature at Bookworlder

Monday, May 3
Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Tuesday, May 4
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, May 5
Review at Novels Alive

Thursday, May 6
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Friday, May 7
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, May 8
Feature at I'm Into Books

Monday, May 10
Review at Girl Who Reads
Review at A Darn Good Read

Friday, May 14
Review at The Enchanted Shelf
Interview at American Historical Novels


  1. Thank you for this great review!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. Thanks for the wonderful review, Yvonne!