In the tradition of The Killer Angels

& Gods and Generals--




December 30, 1862, outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  The 43,000 men of General William Starke Roscecrans's Army of the Cumberland face the 38,000 Confederate soldiers of General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. It has been a dismal month for the Union. In the east, the Army of the Potomac has suffered a terrible defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia; in the west, Grant has failed yet again to breach the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Emancipation Proclamation will go into effect on New Year's Day, but after the disasters of December, Lincoln's decree seems less the assertion of a great moral imperative than a desperate attempt to shore up a crumbling cause. Rosecrans must engage Bragg and win. That evening, while the bands of both armies play, 80,000 soldiers join in singing Home Sweet Home. At dawn, they will set about killing each other.


At the Battle of Stones River, thousands fall in three days of savage fighting across the fields and woods of middle Tennessee. The carnage awakens the best in some men — courage, sacrifice, and honor; the worst in others — cruelty, cowardice, and depravity. In arenas dubbed "the Slaughter Pen" and "Hell's Half Acre," Blue and Gray collide.


A meticulous and sweeping re-creation of this pivotal confrontation, Bright Starry Banner does for the Civil War what The Naked and the Dead did for World War II.


Alden R. Carter's ten novels and twenty-six nonfiction titles have won numerous honors, including six ALA Best Book awards. Please visit his web site at


Praise for Bright Starry Banner


"[Bright Starry Banner] is the fascinating story of a ferocious three-day battle, among the bloodiest ever fought on US soil. No, not Gettysburg ... Stones River. Carter's theme — war is hell — is familiar enough, yet ever fresh when rendered, as it is here, with the kind of creative force that amounts to a sense of mission."

          Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"Carter's stirring fictional account of the pivotal Battle of Stones River crackles with action, suspense, and drama. The prominent historical characters fairly leap off the pages, and the common soldiers resonate with a potent humanity as they engage in acts of heroism, cowardice, and simple faith on an incredibly bloody battlefield. A must-read for Civil War buffs and fans of realistic historical fiction."



"Alden R. Carter brings not only Stones River, but also all Civil War conflict to life in a manner that no novelist since Joseph Pennell has done. Instead of parading one-dimensional generals calmly pontificating or spewing empty clichés, as if they were addressing a Boston lyceum rather than under fire, he puts real language in the mouths of real human beings . . . It's a wonderful book all the way around."

          —Peter Cozzens, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State, author of No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River


"Bright Starry Banner transports me into the thick of the Stones River campaign and enables me to see the tragic battle and its personalities in a new dramatic way. Bravo!"

          —David J. Eicher, author of The Longest Night


"Reads like a Civil War '24' . . . Alden R. Carter has created a Civil War universe full of very human characters who scheme, dream, aspire, battle themselves and the enemy, all too often dying for their cause."

          —Robin Young, author of For Love and Liberty


“A complex and fascinating mosaic.  A ‘must-read’ for history buffs -- a ‘should-read’ for everyone.”

          —Lois Duncan, author of Who Killed My Daughter?  and I Know             What You did Last Summer


“A tour de force of research and narrative… providing a wealth of details about individual participants from commander to private.”

             --Bob Redmon, Civil War essayist and creator of the Army of the Cumberland and George Thomas Source Page at



Bright Starry Banner


Coming in Mar. 2004 from Soho Press


853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

212-260-1900 ---




Author's background.


            Alden R. Carter is one of America's most respected authors of books for children and young adults.  A former naval officer and teacher, he has been a professional writer since 1980, publishing numerous short stories and thirty-six books.  His gritty, often controversial novels for young adults have garnered dozens of awards, including six American Library Association Best Book awards; the Heartland Award (for Bull Catcher); and the Society of Midland Authors Juvenile Fiction Award (for RoboDad).  A lifelong student of the Civil War, this is his first novel for adults.  His credit list is attached as Appendix 1.


Alden Carter comments on why he wrote Bright Starry Banner:


I think I know my Civil War history pretty well, but I was almost entirely ignorant of the battle of Stones River before a visit to Middle Tennessee a few years ago.   Stones River (or Murfreesboro as it was called in the South) is probably the least appreciated of the Civil War's major battles.  This is a puzzle since the ferocious fighting across the sodden fields and forest northwest of Murfreesboro opened the North's invasion of the "Cotton South" and marked the South's best hope of turning aside the thrust that would tear through the vitals of the Confederacy.