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Death on the River

208 pages
Set during the last year of the American Civil War, this grim portrayal of the brutality of war through the eyes of a young soldier, Jake Clay as he joins the Union Army in the spring of 1864, determined to make his parents proud. His dreams of glory vanish, however, when he is wounded and taken prisoner in his first battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia, and confined to the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, where 30,000 soldiers face violence, disease and starvation. Frightened and disillusioned, Jake takes up with Billy Sharp, an unscrupulous opportunist who shows him how to survive, no matter what the cost. By the war's end Jake's sleep is haunted by the ghosts of those who have died so he could live. When the camp is liberated, Jake and Billy head north on the Mississippi riverboat Sultana, overcrowded far beyond its capacity. Unknown to Jake, the fateful journey up river will come closer to killing him than Andersonville did, but it will also provide him with his one chance at redemption.
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Text copyright ©2009John Wilson All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Wilson, John ( John Alexander), 1951
Death on the river / written by John Wilson.
ISBN 9781554691111
1. United StatesHistoryCivil War, 18611865Juvenile fiction.
I. Title.
PS8595.I5834D42 2009 jC813’.54 C20099030381
First published in the United States,2009Library of Congress Control Number: 2009928872
Summary: A young soldier survives a Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit. Cover and text design by Teresa Bubela Typesetting by Christine Toller Cover artwork by Luc Normandin Author photo by TK
Orca Book Publishers PO Box 5626, Stn. B Victoria, BC Canada V8R 6S4
Orca Book Publishers PO Box 468 Custer, WA USA 982400468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper. 12 11 10 09 • 4 3 2 1
For Neill, Angus and Iain with thanks for the couch.
June 1865
pull back te tin blanket and swing my legs over te edge of te bed. Wen I stand up, te Itiled floor feels icy cold on my bare feet, but tat’s good—it reminds me tat I’m alive. here’s a pile of clotes on te table by te bed. hey’re not mine; tey were dropped off by a smiling nun wo went round te ward asking if any of us needed anyting. I said I wanted clotes and a pair of soes, and er smile broadened so far tat I tougt er face would split. he guy in te bed beside me said e wanted is legs back, and se urried off to elp someone else. I begin to dress, slowly because my ands are still sore. he legless guy turns is ead. “Were you going?” e asks.