Capsule reviews

A CONFEDERATE ENGLISHMAN: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden. Edited by W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes. University of South Carolina Press. 187 pages. $29.95.

Englishman Henry Wemyss Feilden’s passionate support for the Confederate cause emboldened him to risk running the Union blockade to serve on the side of the South.

The latter part of the voyage from Nassau was fraught with danger, and eventually, after several attempts, stiff upper lip never wavering, he arrived safely in Charleston Harbor.

Soon given the rank of captain and a departmental staff position, he was assigned responsibilities in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, initially on Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s staff. Not content to be desk-bound, he often was involved in the front lines on James Island and wherever else he could find action.

Editors W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes, sifting through Feilden’s personal correspondence (in great part, preserved originals kept at the S.C. Historical Society in Charleston), have provided an engaging and intimate account of the latter years of the Civil War.

It is mainly those letters to fiancee Julia McCord, later to become his wife, that give the reader an up-close view of military planning, especially regarding the defense of the besieged city of Charleston. Feilden not only writes expressively of romance and the mundane, he describes the struggles and fears of and for the Confederacy as the war raged on.

In May 1865, he wrote to McCord, “I feel very sad coming home conquered instead of victorious.”

After the war, now finding it difficult to make a living in the South, he took his bride to England, where he rejoined the British army, eventually retiring to a quieter life in Sussex.

Reviewer Frances Monaco is a writer based in Charleston.

TOUCH & GO. By Lisa Gardner. Dutton. 419 pages. $26.95.

The great thing about some novels is that you just know the bad guys are going to get their just deserts, you can revel in the payback they’re going to suffer for causing pain to people who didn’t deserve it.

Libby Denbe didn’t deserve to have her husband of 18 years, Justin, cheat on her, and their daughter, Ashlyn, didn’t deserve to have a mother who turned to prescription pain pills to take the edge off.

None of the Denbes deserved to be kidnapped and locked up in an unused, state-of-the-art prison in the wilds of New Hampshire by their very capable, very violent captors.

“Touch & Go” is a page-turner, full of thrills, emotional drama and the mystery of figuring out who is behind this terror. And the payback is just delicious.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.