An epic story following the life of Charlotte, known as Charley, from childhood to old age as she struggles to make a life for herself and to find freedom in a land that is still, at times, overtly racist. The story covers the lives of slaves on plantations, the effect of the US Civil War on the South and on slaves, the battles between the Indians and the US settlers, the role of the army and the treatment of blacks in the army and by society as a whole.
Charlotte is born a slave on a Southern plantation. Life is hard and when she and her fellow slaves hear that the US Civil War might result in their freedom they feel hope. However the reality is that victory for the North against the Confederates leaves slaves like Charlotte without a way of life, without food and without a home. Charlotte teams up with Cookie and her husband Amos in an effort to make a new life for themselves but when they are lynched she finds herself all alone with no means of survival.
The powerful story is told by Charlotte in a clear and engaging voice and there is much for the reader to learn and think about between the covers of this book. The book was inspired by Cathy Williams, a black woman, who joined the US army after the civil war disguied as a man and Buffalo Soldiers was the name given by Native Americans to the African-American Cavalry they fought against during the 1860’s