A Perfect TempestA high and boisterous wind was prevailing from the North and flakes of cotton were flying about in the air and lodging in the limbs of trees, reminding us of a Northern snowstorm.
Major General William Tecumseh Sherman
Journal Entry February 17, 1865
Columbia, South Carolina
The very elements seemed to conspire against us, for the wind blew a perfect tempest.
Columbia, South Carolina newspaper
February 18, 1865
The maelstrom of war sweeps Deborah Wingard, the daughter of an asylum physician, into its vortex and deposits her into the center of a spy ring to help free a captured Union officer. In the swath of the storm, she grieves the deaths of two people dearest to her heart and she discovers an enduring love. Along with an unusual mix of people -- a mulatto housekeeper, a Chinese gardener, a Cherokee Indian scout, a madam from the red-light district, and a female photographer -- Deborah braves the tempest that leaves in its wake shattered lives, broken pride, mangled bodies, and the tattered remnants of a once noble city.
Susan loves history-reading about it and pouring through books and papers in the SC Archives and History Department. Susan once stood in the cupola of the Mills Building and looked out over the State Hospital campus and across the city, she wondered what it must have been like for the people who lived and worked at what, in the 1800's, was called the S.C. Lunatic Asylum.
"Six months prior to General Sherman's occupation of Columbia, several hundred Union officers were imprisoned in Camp Asylum on the hospital campus. I couldn't have asked for a more exciting and intriguing setting-an asylum during the dark days of mental health care with very few medications and treatments available; a prisoner-of-war camp; a metropolis teeming with refugees from a war that crept closer every day; a fire that destroyed nearly three-fourths of the city."
During the years Susan researched for the book, she made sure her historical facts are correct, compiling extensive footnotes and references. Civil War enthusiasts will appreciate this attention to detail in her portrayal of the Battle (Burning) of Columbia from the viewpoint of the citizens who lived in the city.
Craft's delicate, articulate voice captures a unique time in our country's history. She gives us a heroine who shines as a woman of great bravery and substance struggling to do the impossible. Her story offers us romance, drama and heart-stopping suspense as she takes us back to the roots of our democracy.
Carla Damron- author of the Caleb Knowles Mysteries
Susan Craft paints a memorable portrait of Southern life during the tragic days of America's civil war as she weaves her unforgettable tale about the brave and resourceful Deborah Wingard. Her story provides a fresh, new look at the brave women of the Confederacy who lived those awful, war-torn days and watched their world come apart.
Bert Goolsby, author of Harpers Joy.