[First Dark]…is an impressive feat of historical fiction,…a sprawling work of love and warfare.” — Kirkus Reviews

In “the city that reads,” where Ravens are heroes and the rage, a Baltimore Post-Examiner headline declared: “Gripping Saga of Isaac Rice, a Runaway Slave, is a Hero’s Journey. [Don’t] be surprised if First Dark ends up as a popular movie.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

GEN Lloyd Newton

GEN Lloyd Newton

Imagine riding along a bucolic dirt road on a pleasant spring morning with birds singing among the budding trees.  Then the peace is shattered by rifle fire.  With that opening, Bob Rogers had my full attention and drew me into the lives of nineteenth-century families whose stories he used in First Dark as a contribution to the discussion Americans are having today about how things got this way in our country.  After reading the last line in First Dark, the struggles of lead character Isaac Rice and his young contemporaries continued to fill my mind with questions about our troubled national past and its effect on the future of our country. Opening paragraph from Foreword by Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, General (Ret.), USAF

____________________________________________________________________________________

Synopsis of First Dark: A Buffalo Soldier’s Story

Buy Now Button

“An ambitious and lush tale set during the Civil War and Reconstruction.” — Kirkus Reviews

Isaac Rice, a teenager on a South Carolina rice plantation, traveling alone, follows a treacherous route filled with incredible hardships and danger to escape from slavery.  Too young to be a soldier, the Union Army hires him to shovel coal on a FD Sesq Lo Rez Front Cover - no bordergunboat.  Thus begins Isaac’s westward journey, in which he encounters storms, stampeding buffalo, and the hate of zealous patriots whose causes are antithetical to the nation he is sworn to defend.  Undaunted, he pursues respect and dignity on an odyssey from the middle of the Civil War in South Carolina’s Low Country and the Mississippi Heartland, to the Indian Wars on the Great Plains and deserts of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Isaac’s is an historically correct epic tale of young North Americans coming of age amid the violence of the U.S. Civil War, Indian Wars, Reconstruction, and spillover bloodshed from a Mexican Revolution.  Telling Isaac’s story required extensive research of 19th and 20th century books, official documents, and letters, plus multiple visits to relevant geographic locations over a period of twenty years.

A memorable set of characters revolve around Isaac  – a Confederate guerrilla, a black female activist in a Mississippi Constitutional Convention, a Mescalero Apache warrior, a white Union cavalry sergeant, and a Mexican nurse – who raise their voices and bare their souls as the world they seek constantly changes, bringing tragedy to their lives and danger for Isaac.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cast of Characters

ISAAC RICE is an enslaved sixteen year old blacksmith apprentice on a prosperous South Carolina rice plantation along the South Edisto River.  Bianca, a twenty-three year old widow, chooses the handsome and strong Isaac to be her mate.  In early 1863, two years into the Civil War, Isaac, fed up with the news of Confederate victories, decides to run away and become a Union soldier.  After the war, he joins the new black Tenth U.S. Cavalry – its soldiers are later called Buffalo Soldiers.

CALEB JENKINS, Isaac’s seventeen year old best friend on the same plantation, is an apprentice to weather-and-tides watcher, old Uncle Jacob.  Caleb is also Uncle Jacob’s excellent student of the harmonica, guitar, and violin.  With Isaac, Caleb joins the Tenth.

RACHEL BLACK is enslaved on the Bender Plantation in Jasper County, Mississippi where cotton is the major crop.  The five foot tall dark skinned brown eyed beauty weighs one hundred one and is seventeen years old. She is secretly taught arithmetic and reading as a child by the plantation owner’s daughter playing school.  After the war, Rachel, Isaac’s betrothed, participates in Mississippi’s 1868 Constitutional Convention.

WILLIAM DUKE joins the Thirty-eighth Mississippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment and sees action at Corinth and Vicksburg.  After the Confederate surrender of Vicksburg, Billy forms a band of guerillas that raid Union outposts and Freedmen’s farms in West Central Mississippi until the end of the war.  Billy is an avid fan and disciple of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens.  Billy’s Avengers participate in the white voter revolt of 1875.

ORTEGA, a skinny sixteen year old Mescalero Apache, fears that his people will settle down and become farmers before he can become a warrior.  Eager to join chiefs who are willing to fight the white eye invaders, he bands with the aging famous Chief Cochise and is disappointed when Cochise makes peace.  Ortega and his best friend, Jorge, then join the Chihenne Chief Victorio to fight the white eyes again.

JAMES DARBY is the son of an English immigrant farmer in Illinois when the Civil War starts.  An expert horseman and Union cavalryman, James is captured during a raid in southern Mississippi.  After parole from a Confederate prison in Virginia, he fights again as a cavalryman at Appomattox Court House.  After the war, James serves with the Fourth U.S. Cavalry in the West where he joins forces with Isaac.

ALEJANDRA LUNA plows and plants with her father, a poor sharecropper, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.  Alejandra’s brothers beat her rich unwanted suitor.  Fleeing from certain retribution, she and her older brother escape to the south and a new life starts for Alejandra when she is adopted by a physician and his wife.  A few years later, she becomes an accomplished nurse and midwife.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Non-Fictional Characters

Thomas H Allsup First Sergeant, Co A, !0th Cav
Griffin M. Bender Owner of Bender Plantation
Wash Bender Slave, Bender’s valet during war
William Blackburn COL, Battalion cmdr, 7th Illinois
Levi Bradley SC slave, 10th Cavalry
Cadete Cadete Chief, Mecalero Apache
L.Henry Carpenter Captain, Co H, 10th Cavalry
Peter Clayborn SC slave, 10th Cavalry
Cochise Cochise Chief, Chiricahua Apache
George Crook General, US Army
George A Custer US Army, 7th Cavalry
Jefferson Davis President, Confederate States
Joseph Davis Jeff’s older brother
Charles Dougherty Co A, 10th Cav
Henry O Flipper Lieutenant, Co A, 10th Cavalry
Ulysses S. Grant Gen, US Army, President, US
Alice Grierson Col Grierson’s wife
Benjamin H. Grierson Music teacher, Il Cav, 10th Cav
Charles Jackson Coachman for William Aiken
Henery P Jacobs Natchez City Councilman
Andrew Johnson President, US
Richard Johnson son of William Johnson (the barber of Natchez)
Robert Johnston Co A, 10th Cav
Robert F Joyce Ord Sgt, 10th Cav, Ft Concho
Kaytennae Kaytennae War Leader, Chihenne Apaches
Abraham Lincoln President, US
James Lynch Secretary of State, Mississippi
John R Lynch Congressman, Mississippi
Ranald Mackenzie Colonel, 4th Cavalry
Ben Montgomery Slave, mgr of Davis Plantation
Isaiah Montgomery Slave, Son of Ben Montgomery
Mary Montgomery wife of Ben Montgomery
Nana Nana War Leader, Chihenne Apaches
Nicholas M Nolan Captain, Co A, 10th Cavalry
EOC Ord US Army, General, Civil War, Indian Wars
John C. Pemberton General, CSA Army
Randall Pollard Pastor, Rose Hill Baptist Church, Natchez
Robert Price Slave, 10th Cavalry
William Prince Col, Qmasters, 7th Illinois Cavalry
George Raulston Lieutenant, Co A, 10th Cavalry
Hiram Revels US Senator, Mississippi
Don Jose Rodriguez Carrizal citizen; Torres’ uncle
Santana Santana Chief, Kiowa
Rufus Saxton General, US Army
Philip Sheridan US Army, General, Civil War, Indian Wars
William T. Sherman General, US Army
Richard Surby Sergeant, Scout, 7th Illinois Cav
Victorio Victorio Chief, Chihenne Apaches
Robert Wood Mayor of Natchez, Sheriff Adams County, MS
William Tunnard 3rd Louisanna Infantry Regiment

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Bibliography

____ Buffalo Soldiers Cobblestone Peterborough 1995.
____ FortDavis US National Park Service FortDavis Historic Site  
____ FortMyerBuffalo Soldiers FortMyer Military Community FortMyer  
____ GulfIslands: WestShipIsland US National Park Service Mississippi District  
____ Life Among the Soldiers and Cavalry Time-Life Books New York 1985.
____ Regulations and Notes for the Uniform Government Printing Office Washington 1872.
____ Vicksburg Battlefield and USS Cairo US National Park Service Vicksburg Historic Site
____ Revised United States Army Regulations of 1861 Government Printing Office Washington 1863.
Adams, VirginiaM. On the Alter of Freedom Warner Books New York 1991.
Allen, WilliamFrancis Slave Songs of the United States Applewood Books Bedford 1867.
Ball, Edward Slaves in the Family Farrar, Straus and Giroux New York 1998.
Ball, Eve In the Days of Victorio University of Arizona Press Tucson 1970.
Ball, Eve Indeh: An Apache Odyssey University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1980.
Ball, Eve Letters to C.L.Sonnichsen re: Apaches Collections, University of Texas at El Paso 1966-1973.
Barr, Jennifer Within a Dark Wood Doubleday New York 1979.
Beckles, Hilary A History of Barbados CambridgeUniversity Press New York 1955.
Betzinez, Jason I fought with Geronimo University of Nebraska Press Lincoln 1959.
Black, Lowell D. and SaraH. An Officer and a Gentleman The Lora Company Dayton 1985.
Boyd, Mrs.OremusB. Cavalry Life in Tent & Field University of Nebraska Press Lincoln 1894.
Breuninger, Evelyn, et al. Mescalero Apache Dictionary Mescalero Apache Tribe Mescalero 1982.
Brown, D. Alexander Grierson’s Raid University of Illinois Press Urbana 1954.
Brown, Fern G. Horses and Foals FranklinWatts New York 1986.
Carlson, PaulHoward The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 TexasA&MUniversity Press College Station 2003.
Clinch, Duncan Seed from Madagascar University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill 1937.
Cotton, Gordon A. Vicksburg: Southern Stories of the Siege Office Supply Company Vicksburg 1988.
Cotton, Gordon A. Yankee Bullets, Rebel Rations Keith Printing Company   1982.
Cozzens, Peter Conquering the Southern Plains Stackpole Mechanicsburg 2003.
Cozzens, Peter The Struggle for Apacheria Stackpole Mechanicsburg 2001.
Cremony, JohnC. Life Among the Apaches Indian Head Books New York 1868.
Currie, JamesT. Enclave University of Mississippi Press Jackson 1980.
Davis, Edwin A., et. al. The Barber of Natchez LouisianaStateUniversity Press Baton Rouge 1954.
Drury, George Guide to North American Steam Locomotives Kalmbach Publishing Waukesha 1993.
Dyer, FrederickH. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion The Dyer Publishing Company Des Moines 1908.
Edwards, ElwynHartley The Ultimate Horse Book DK Publishing New York 1991.
Emilio, LuisF. A Brave Black Regiment Da Capo Press New York 1894.
Epstein, Sam and Beryl All About the Desert Random House New York 1957.
Everett, FrankE. Brierfield – Plantation Home of Jeff Davis University of Mississippi Press Jackson 1971.
Farrer, ClaireR. Living Life’s Circle: Mescalero Apache Cosmovision University of New Mexico Press Santa Fe 1991.
Faulk, Charles Whitaker’s Scouts Vicksburg Post-Herald, OldCourthouseMuseum Vicksburg ?
Fischer, PierreC. Common Cati of the Southwest Southwest Parks Tucson 1989.
Flipper, HenryO. Negro Frontiersman TexasWesternCollege Press El Paso 1963.
Forey, Pam Wild Flowers of North America Thunder Bay Press San Diego 1994.
Franklin, JohnHope The Autobiography of JohnRoyLynch The University of Chicago Press Chicago 1970.
Franklin, John Hope Reconstruction after the Civil War The University of Chicago Press Chicago 1961.
Gandy, Joan W., et. al. Natchez Arcadia Publishing Charleston 1999.
Garner, JamesWilford Reconstruction in Mississippi The MacMillan Company London 1902.
Geraty, Virginia Mixson Gulluh fur Oonuh Sandlapper Publishing Co. Orangeburg 1997.
Glass, Major E.N. History of the Tenth Cavalry Acme Printing Company Tucson 1921.
Grierson, AliceKirk An Army Wife’s Cookbook Southwest Parks Tucson 1972.
Hardwick, William Authentic Indian-Mexican Recipes WilliamHardwick FortStockton 1965.
Hermann, JanetS. Pursuit of a Dream OxfordUniversity Press London 1981.
Higginson, ThomasWentworth Army Life in a Black Regiment MichiganStateUniversity Press East Lansing 1960.
Hook, Jason The Apaches Osprey Publishing London 1987.
Hubbard, Fran Animal Friends of the Southwest Awani Press Fredericksburg 1985.
Hurmence, Belinda Slavery Time When I Was Chillun Putnam New York 1997.
Hutchins, JamesS. Horse Equipments and Cavalry Accoutrements Westernlore Press Tucson 1984.
Joyner, Charles Down by the Riverside University of Illinois Press Urbana 1984.
Knapp, Major GeorgeE. Buffalo Soldiers US Army Command and GeneralStaffCollege FortLeavenworth 1991.
Korn, Jerry War on the Mississippi Time-Life Books   1985.
Lanning, MichaelLee The African-American Soldier A Citadel Press Book Secaucus 1997.
Leckie, ShirleyA. The Colonel’s Lady on the Western Frontier University of Nebraska Press Lincoln 1989.
Leckie, WilliamH. The Buffalo Soldiers University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1967.
Leckie, WilliamH. and ShirleyA. Unlikely Warriors University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1984.
Lloyd, BettyRobbinsDavis Vicksburg: The Occupied City Unpublished Manuscript, BettyDavis   1978.
Lowry, Robert, et al. A History of Mississippi R.H. Henry & Company Jackson 1891.
Marcy, Randolph B. The Prairie Traveler Perigee Books New York 1859.
Martin, David The Vicksburg Campaign Combined Books Buchanan 1994.
May, Robin Indians Hawkes Publishing Inc Salt Lake City 1982.
McConnell, H.H. Five Years a Cavalryman University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1989.
McPherson, JamesM. The Negro’s Civil War Vantage New York 2003.
Mellon, James Bullwhip Days Avon Books New York 1988.
Meltzer, Milton The Truth about the Ku Klux Klan FranklinWatts London 1982.
Mississippi Historical Society Slave Census, Bender Plantation, JasperCounty, 1860    
Murphy, Richard The Nation Reunited Time-Life Books New York 1999.
Naggar, Carole, et al. Mexico Norton New York 1996.
National Archives Organizational Returns, Tenth US Cavalry, 1866-86      
National Archives Post Returns, Fort Elliott      
National Archives Post Returns, FortLarned      
Pringle, ElizabethAllston A Woman Rice Planter The MacMillan Company New York 1913.
Quirk, RobertE. Mexico Prentice-Hall New York 1971.
Reedstrom, E. Lisle Apache Wars Sterling Publishing Company New York 1990.
Remington, Frank A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers The Century, V. 37, N. 6, April 1889    
Roberts, David Once They Moved Like the Wind Touchstone Austin 1994.
Robertson, James I. Tenting Tonight Time-Life Books New York 1985.
Roland, Dunbar Encyclopedia of Mississippi History SelwynA.Brant Madison 1907.
Ruiz, RamonEduardo Triumphs and Tragedy: History of the Mexican People Norton New York 1993.
Schubert, Irene and FrankN. On the trail of the Buffalo Soldier Scarecrow Press Lanham 2004.
Soldier, Unknown Personal Papers, 38th Mississippi Infantry OldCourthouseMuseum Vicksburg 1863.
Sonnichsen, C.L. The Mescalero Apaches University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1958.
Stampp, KennethM. Reconstruction: An Anthology of Revisionist Writings LouisianaStateUniversity Press Baton Rouge 1969.
Stampp, KennethM. The Peculiar Institution Vintage Books New York 1956.
Stubbs, MaryLee, and Connor, S.R. Armor-Cavalry US Army Washington 1969.
Sullivan, JerryM. FortMcKavett Texas Parks Lubbock 1981.
Surby, RichardW. Grierson Raids Rounds and James Chicago 1865.
Sweeney, EdwinR. Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1991.
Sweeney, EdwinR. Making Peace with Cochise University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1997.
Sydnor, Charles Slavery in Mississippi LouisianaStateUniversity Press Baton Rouge 1966.
Thornhill, EliW. Personal Papers, Company E, 38th Mississippi Infantry OldCourthouseMuseum Vicksburg 1863.
Thrapp, DanL. Juh: An Incredible Indian Texas Western Press El Paso 1983.
Thrapp, DanL. Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches University of Oklahoma Press Norman 1974.
Utley, RobertM. FortDavis National Park Service Washington 1965.
Vlach, JohnMichael Back of the Big House University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill 1993.
Walker, PeterFranklin Vicksburg Broadfoot Publishing Company Wilmington 1960.
Ward, Geoffrey The West Little, Brown Boston 1996.
Wellman, Paul I. Death in the Desert University of Nebraska Press Lincoln 1935.
Wharton, Vernon Lane The Negro in Mississippi 1865-1890 University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill 1984.
Wheeler, Richard The Siege of Vicksburg Perennial New York 1991.
Wyngaarden, JamesB., MD CecilTextbook of Medicine, E. 18, V 2 Saunders Philadelphia 1988.
Zim, HerbertS. Flowers: A Golden Guide Golden Press New York 1987.
Zinsser, Hans Rats, Lice and History Transaction Publishers Piscataway 2007.
Zogbaum, RufusFairchild Across Country with a Cavalry Column Harper’s Magazine, v. 71, N. 424, September 1885