The Perilous Road by William O. Steele is the story of young Chris Brabson, a boy living in Tennessee at the time of the Civil War. Chris hates the Yankees and can't understand why his brother Jethro decides to fight on the Union side. Eventually, Chris spies for the Confederates only to later find out Jethro is a part of the wagon train that's going to be ambushed. The story takes a major turn when Chris tries to find Jethro and warn him of the upcoming raid, hoping to save his life. Chris gets caught in a horrific battle and soon realizes that nothing is clear cut in war.
Steele's coming of age story was a hit here on the home front. Ruben was begging for more. The Perilous Road was the second book we read for our Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study, following Across Five Aprils. It is also on the Sonlight and TruthQuest History list.
Below is Ruben's essay on how Chris's attitude changed toward the Yankees over the course of the story...
The Perilous Road
October 5, 2015
Chris hated the Yankees because he thought they were arrogant and snotty. The Yankees took Chris’ buckskin shirt and stole the food that he worked hard for. His brother Jethro joined up with the Yankees and Chris didn’t like that.
Chris told his friend, Silas, to get the Rebs. The Feds were camped in the valley. Chris was feeling bad that his brother may get killed in the valley because he was a wagoneer. He didn’t know his brother was still in training for a few months. So, he was going to go to the valley where the Feds were camped to find Jethro and tell him that the Rebs were coming so that he could escape.
When Chris went to the Fed’s camp, he met some guys that were talking around the campfire and singing. One of them bought him some gingersnaps. One of them gave him an apple. Chris fell asleep and one of the wagoneers laid him in his wagon.
Then the Rebs came and the wagoneer tried to escape, but the wagon he was in tipped over because he was going too fast across a rutted and bumpy field. Chris escaped into the woods. He tripped over the leg of the soldier that had bought him the gingersnaps. The soldier was now dead, lying in the weeds. He found the soldier that gave him the apple with a wound in his chest. Chris asked him if he needed anything and he said he wanted water. Chris found an empty coffee pot and he went to a spring and filled it with water. He took it to the soldier.
Through it all, Chris realized that a lot of the Yankees were just like him. They liked to hunt and farm. They had families.Chris eventually got back to his cabin. His dad and Silas had been looking for him. Chris told his father everything he had done. Chris was relieved to hear that his brother was safe and the battle had nothing to do with him. Chris no longer hated the Yankees.