BOOKS: 9th book in horse diary series tells story of Civil War mount, RosieWhen Tennessee Rose begins her life on an Alabama plantation, she has no idea what her life will bring.
By: Jean Patrick, Republic Book Columnist
When Tennessee Rose begins her life on an Alabama plantation, she has no idea what her life will bring.
“Tennessee Rose,” the ninth book of the Horse Diaries series, follows Rosie from her birth to her selection as Captain Randall’s personal mount.
As Rosie rides with Captain Randall on her back, her eyes are opened. She sees tiny cabins where the slaves live and the truth about the sharp bolls of the cotton field. She also sees him unjustly beating her beloved groom, Levi.
Rosie’s life begins to change in other ways, too. After the Confederates capture Fort Sumter, Captain Randall joins the Fourth Alabama Infantry and chooses Rosie to accompany him.
Their first battle will be at Manassas (the southern name for Bull Run). Although the battle is won by the Confederates, Rosie’s reaction is not one of victory, but of opportunity.
In addition to being a beautifully-told horse story, “Tennessee Rose” offers readers multiple details about the Civil War, such as descriptions of the encampments and the soldiers’ families, the shout of Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate yell.
Within this scene, author Jane Kendall insightfully provides the horse’s point of view.
Rosie explains: “It was on that day that I realized an awful truth: Men choose to go to war. Horses have no choice. We go where we are ridden, and I was being ridden into a nightmare.”
But not all is horror. One of the most interesting parts of the book is when Rosie tells of learning the “fifth gait, the diagonal running walk that is unique to the Tennessee Walker.” When Rosie first breaks into the swift walk without reaching a trot, her excitement is like a kid who has finally learned to ride a bike.
“Tennessee Rose” also has helpful endnotes with information about the history of the Tennessee Walker and details about the Civil War and “King Cotton.”
“Tennessee Rose. Horse Diaries No. 9.” By Jane Kendall. Illustrated by Astrid Sheckels. Random House, 2012, 160 pp.