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Life was tough in the 1860’s, but the youth of that time had ambitions and dreams!
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Rough Enough is a work of historical non-fiction detailing ten years in the life of Richard McBee’s great grandfather, a teenager who goes off half cocked to fight the Civil War!
Richard Clow, age 17 is caught up in the fervor of the final year of Civil War conflict. Although underage, he goes off to enlist in the Union Army.
He quickly finds that even getting to the battle front can have its own challenges: two weeks in a thug-dominated holding camp followed by the ship voyage from Hell finally gets him from Boston to the front lines of Petersburg Virginia.
Clow’s thirteen letters home to his sisters describe for us his military experiences, bloody battles to take Petersburg, close calls, and the stresses of war. These are mingled with his daily observations of the Virginian countryside, hardships and small joys by a young man who has a flair for description.
The text documents how a young snotty nosed youth looking for fun and action morphs into a blooded infantryman. It describes battle events and beneath the surface we see how the stresses of battle lead Richard Clow towards a “Soldier’s Heart” PTSD type syndrome.
The joys of the end of the war and reunion with family are not lost in the telling, but one must ponder what drives this young man reenlist two years later to join the 13th Infantry fighting in the mountains and plains of Montana and the Dakotas, while living in ill-designed stockades and forts.
As his heart grows weary of battles, Clow shares his dreams of married life with his sister as he describes yet another ambush oo travelers through Indian territory.
Clow’s post military marital bliss is cut short by the specter of disease and death which nearly wipes out his immediate family. With a heavy heart he seeks solace in the wilderness and the cold creeks and gun ruled world of 1877 Deadwood in the heart of the Sioux sacred grounds, the Black Hills and the gold rush.
As he strikes it rich and then goes on to live out his dreams of being a farmer, rancher and Oregon hotelier, we see how perseverance in the face of overwhelming life struggles led to a family and forty more years of productive life on the waning frontier.
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