When Robey Childs's mother has a premonition about her husband, a soldier fighting in the Civil War, she does the unthinkable: she sends her only child to find his father on the battlefield and bring him home.
At fourteen, wearing the coat his mother sewed to ensure his safety—blue on one side, gray on the other— Robey thinks he's off on a great adventure. But not far from home, his horse falters and he realizes the enormity of his task. It takes the gift of a powerful and noble coal black horse to show him how to undertake the most important journey of his life: with boldness, bravery, and self-posession.
Coal Black Horse joins the pantheon of great war novels—All Quiet on the Western Front, The Red Badge of Courage, The Naked and the Dead.
Olmstead's new work (after Stay Here with Me) is a convulsive, bloody Civil War tale that tracks a boy's search for his father on the battlefield at Gettysburg. At 14, Robey Childs is on the cusp of manhood when he sets off from the family farm at his mother's behest to find his soldier father and bring him home. A sympathetic farmer loans Robey an uncommonly beautiful and sturdy black horse. On the road, Robey passes carts carrying the maimed and dead, and bands of Native Americans and runaway slaves. A chain of horrific trials begins for Robey when a man dressed as a woman shoots him and steals the horse. He's taken prisoner as a suspected spy, witnesses a girl's rape and is caught up in a carnage-drenched raid. However, he survives the attack, is reunited with the stolen horse and sets out again, days later finding his father on the battlefield, mortally wounded. Robey can't save his father, but he can try to save the raped girl, Rachel, from further violence. His return home and his testimony to what he saw forms a powerful, redemptive narrative.
Coal black horse
This book is so very sad. I would get almost physically sick in parts. The hellish cruel way men were to each other and the horses. What a crap time in our history.