AMERICA HAS STRUGGLED for its identity since before the Revolution, even as a central theme of freedom has threaded its way through each generation’s vision for our country. The Civil War illuminated our inability to define freedom because it meant different things for slave or master, North or South, and rich or poor. As always, those in power determined the path for the rest, and violence tore apart America and its families. The fog of war and the malevolence of slavery had husbands, their wives and children Trapped in the Crossfire.

As author Gladys Hodge Sherrer so eloquently narrates, the endurance of family is a strength that not only tests us during peace but keeps us together during evil times. The author diligently stitches together the true story of her family, the Williams of South Carolina and then Alabama, based on her research over several years.

This is a haunting tale that reminds us of the dangers of pompous entrenchment and dark reaction to the stresses of change, as true today as it was before our nation’s greatest test. The story also shows how soldiers endured battle and hardship, even as they worried about those they left behind. It is a testament to the vigor of family and the need for pulling together, instead of pushing apart. Only then do we refuse to be Trapped in the Crossfire.