THE STAMP OF HEAVEN
By JULIA ROBB
Genre: Historical Fiction / Civil War
Date of Publication: February 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 196
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The Union Army wants former Confederate Army general Beau Kerry for alleged war crimes, but he’s hiding out where the Yankees least expect to find him: in the United States Cavalry. Beau is fighting Apaches out West and praying nobody recognizes his famous face.
But Lieutenant Kerry’s luck changes when he runs into Sergeant Ike Jefferson and says, “The last time I saw you, I had you bent over a barrel and I was whipping you.” Ike is not only Beau’s best friend (or worst enemy, depending on the day), he’s Beau’s former slave — and Ike knows there’s a $5000 price on Beau’s head.
Caroline Dietrich has vengeance on her mind. Married to Colonel Wesley Dietrich, the Union fort commander, Caroline believes the best path to getting revenge against the Yankees, her husband included, is seducing her husband’s officers. Especially Beau.
From the killing fields of the Civil War, to the savagery of the Indian wars, the characters are also battling each other and searching for what it means to be human.
5-STAR PRAISE FOR THE STAMP OF HEAVEN:
“Her characters are vivid, relatable, and endearing. She brings to life the rigors of frontier duty, the harsh beauty of west Texas, and the complexity of war and reconciliation. A must read!”
“Julia Robb creates a masterful tale of friendship, loyalty, cowardice, deceit, and redemption in this fascinating story set in the aftermath of the War Between the States…Not a simple western yarn, this novel will keep you thinking and asking the Big Questions long after you finish reading it.”
We’re A Revival People
By Julia Robb
In The Stamp of Heaven, Beau and his men ride to Fort Stockton, Texas, to gather supplies the War Department has neglected to send them.
The detail then runs into a camp meeting, which was typical for its day.
“Hundreds of people stood under the brush roof supported by cedar poles … It was dusk, but light lingered in the rose pearl sky. Lanterns hung from poles. A black-frocked preacher stood on a bench in front, leading the singing with outflung arms.”
This revival has a pivotal effect on Beau, and that was natural because he was raised in the South.
Southerners are a revival people.
I know, because I’m also Southern and was raised attending revivals on the lower Great Plains of Texas.
We sang Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is calling) and Dad’s voice rose more urgently than it did when he preached on Sunday: “Is there something in your life you’d like to change? Do you have guilt in your heart? Jesus can take that guilt away, right here, tonight.”
“Amen, amen,” floated up from the congregation.
Sometimes people wept. They flocked to the altar while the pianist broke their hearts with Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me….Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Christians are not scarce north of the Mason-Dixon line, but revival in both black and white Southern churches evokes blood memory.
Maybe that’s because the South’s two greatest revivals took place in the middle of tragedy: Confederate camps during the Civil War, and in slave quarters.
More than a quarter of all Confederate soldiers were “converted” around campfires and tents.
Hunkering under a hail of canister and bullets does tend to convert the ungodly to another way of thinking, but the same Christian revival did not take place in northern ranks.
Years after the war, sociologists conducted a survey to find out if the conversions were permanent. Yes, they were.
Southern revivals are still poignant because we have such a bitter history.
We not only lost the war, reconstruction destroyed the South economically. We did not fully recover until World War II. The South was so poor all we could do was sing “Revive Us Again.”
Revivals were also called camp meetings because they were often held outside, under tents, at night services lit by kerosene lanterns. Many a Christian came to Jesus in a circle of light, surrounded by warm darkness, inhaling the smell of grass and red dirt.
This is not the same thing as innocence. Not only did many Southerners keep slaves for 200 years, after freedom, trees hung heavy with “strange fruit,” including around the historic courthouse in Marshall, Texas, where I live.
Guilty cultures need God. Perhaps the stricken have an easier time hearing the call.
At the same time, not only have many white Southerners loved African-Americans (and visa-versa), we in the white churches have adopted many African-American attitudes.
No people worship God with more uninhibited joy than do African-Americans.
When the late Roosevelt Washington’s deep bass voice sang, “Joshua fit de battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, Joshua fit de battle of Jericho, and the walls came a tumbling down,” at some of Marshall’s First United Methodist Church revivals, you could hear the crowd’s gasp of excitement.
We oppressed African-Americans, but somewhere along the way we began resembling them.
Some historians believe most of the African-American revivals were held in the early 19th Century, and again in the 1840s and 1850s.
So black revivals are almost blood calling from the ground because it’s a heritage that saved them as a people. The only thing sustaining many slaves in bondage was their faith in Jesus. You can hear the expression of that in African-American spirituals: “Deep river, my home is over Jordan, deep river Lord, I want to cross over into camp ground.”
Julia Robb is a former journalist who writes novels set in Texas. She’s written Saint of the Burning Heart, Scalp Mountain, Del Norte, The Captive Boy, and The Stamp of Heaven.
Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps.
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