Title: Road to Antietam
Author: Tom E. Hicklin
Genre: Historical Fiction
The Galloway brothers leave behind their family and the quiet lives they’ve always led in Ohio to join the Federal Army in what is expected to be a quick routing of the Southern rebel forces during the Civil War. Daniel joins the Army to prove his worth to the father of the woman he wants to marry, while his younger brother Christopher hopes to find glory. Both are gravely unprepared for the horrors they’ll face when they finally enter the battlefield.
Road to Antietam is an impressive work of historical fiction, and fans of war stories will not be disappointed by the depth of Tom E. Hicklin’s knowledge of the Civil War. Hicklin is a skillful writer, transporting us back to that era in history by seamlessly integrating realistic dialogue between characters and details that engage all the senses. We see, smell, and feel every single painful step the Galloway brothers take in battle—almost as if we are right there with them.
Road to Antietam has all the elements of an exceptional novel—thorough background research, interesting plot lines, descriptive writing, and engaging dialogue—but what makes this novel most memorable is its characters. The Galloway brothers are representative of so many of the men who sign up for the war: young, hopeful, eager for battle, but lacking in experience. Their stories make the realities of the Civil War that much more devastating.
While Road to Antietam is the story of Daniel and Christopher’s time as soldiers, it speaks of the deep bond between the brothers. Daniel wants to impress his commanding officers with his conduct as as soldier, but he keeps on having to rescue his younger brother from trouble. Christopher, having always been smaller and in his older brother’s shadow, falls into drinking and lands himself into situations more difficult than he could have ever imagined, when he, too, just wants to be hailed as brave and make his family proud.
Readers who are not as familiar with war novels may find some of the military terminology unfamiliar, and the details about the Civil War can be overwhelming. More clarity on how much time passes between events and where the characters travel during that period would make the plot easier to follow.