By JOHN McBRYDE
Franklin author Tamera Alexander went to great lengths to make sure her facts were correct in her newest book set at Carnton during the aftermath of the Battle of Franklin, With This Pledge.
And to a certain extent, she went to great depths as well.
As part of her research for the novel — her 16th overall and first full-length novel in the four-book Carnton series — Alexander thoroughly read and sourced from the 1995 nonfiction book Shrouds of Glory by Winston Groom. His book covered the Civil War’s last campaign from Atlanta to Nashville and included the Battle of Franklin.
“But we’ve unearthed some different information since his book was published,” Alexander explained. “For instance, his book said the breastworks at the Carter House were 5 feet, but really they were more like 3 feet.
“Someone might say, why does that matter? But I just really try hard to make everything historically accurate in my books. If we knew it was that way (3 feet instead of 5), then we want it to be that way in the book.”
With This Pledge, which is being released on Tuesday by Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson, tells the true love story between Confederate Capt. Roland Ward Jones and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston, the governess of the famed McGavock family from Carnton. Clouston opposed the Southern cause in the Civil War, but fell in love with Jones despite their differences in moral standing.
Alexander has written a series of novels based on real-life events from the Belmont Mansion and the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, but said her new book is the first in which all the characters and facts are historically true.
“It’s nice to have this one coming out,” she said Monday morning. “This one was especially difficult. This is my 16th novel but my most difficult to date. … Never before have the primary characters — the male and the female — been real as well. That was especially intimidating, but such an honor to tell their stories.”
Alexander’s extensive research for With This Pledge included working with Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson, Williamson County historian Rick Warwick, and staff from Carnton and Carter House, among others.
But critical to the book’s being written was the connection Alexander was able to make with Capt. Jones’ great-great-great-great grandson, David Doty. He shared all the love letters between Roland and Lizzie, along with the family history.
“David just really opened up that world to me and allowed me to get to know Roland the way I would not have without all those letters,” Alexander said.
Alexander, who is working on the second full novel in the Carnton series (the first book was actually a novella titled Christmas at Carnton published in 2017), said plans are in the works for a book signing soon at Carnton.
For more information on Alexander and her books, visit https://tameraalexander.com.