March Toward the Thunder

by Joseph Bruchac

Fifteen-year-old Louis Nolette doesn’t join the Fighting 69th Irish Brigade... read more

Fifteen-year-old Louis Nolette doesn’t join the Fighting 69th Irish Brigade for his dedication to the Union. Louis is Canadian and Indian—the Civil War is not his war by any measure. But he has incentive nonetheless. The money he gets for a signing bonus and the wages he will earn can help his mother buy land. Just as important, Louis is wondering what it would be like—if it would be possible—to be considered an equal among white men. It’s a feeling the Abenaki boy has never known. So he lies about his age and joins the Union Army. Joseph Bruchac’s meticulously detailed and riveting novel of the Civil War follows the fortunes of Louis and the rest of his “mess,” the soldiers with whom he does indeed form a bond of friendship. Over four months during the spring and summer of 1864, Louis knows boredom and battle, fatigue and fear beyond measure as a member of the Fighting 69th on the Virginia campaign. As an Indian, Louis has a distinct outlook on his fellow soldiers and the war, yet he is undeniably one of them as well, part of a group of men (and one woman in disguise) who would die for one another. Louis’s story looks at the war that summer both on and off the battlefield, illuminating the horror of war and the occasional incompetence of its leaders while always keeping the bond that forms among soldiers at the heart of the story. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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