The story is based on the experiences of a secret agent for the Woman’s Anti-Slavery Society. His name is Charley. His cover is a Journalist. His photoprapher is his cousin Geroge. Both are at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on April 12, 1864.
In 1836, in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, Francis McIntosh is chained to a huge tree and burned alive.
In 1837, Elijah Lovejoy, the editor investigating the brutal murder of Francis McIntosh is attacked by a mob. Though he escapes, his office is destroyed and parts of his press are thrown into the Mississippi River. Thinking it safer, Elijah moves his family across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois. When his new press is delivered, he is attacked and murdered.
The involvement of the police in the murder and the injustice of the judicial system leads to national outrage. Riverboats refuse to land, people planning to settle in Alton change their minds and go elsewhere, business people planning to invest, refuse to do so. Quickly, Alton goes from being a thriving city, to a small decaying city.
The Hall was built by the Woman’s Anti-Slavery Society. During their meeting, a mob appeared. The Mayor, instead of protecting the rights of the women, advised that they leave. To protect their colored sisters, they walk hand-in-hand down the street. Can you see them? The colored sister is on the inside next to the building and their white sister is on the outside exposed to the rocks being thrown. Only one is seriously injured. Later, she will die from her injuries.
The Major, the fire department that sprayed water on other buildings, but refused to spray water on their hall, and the mob that included men directing them, convinced the women that the acts of terrorism against them, Elijah Lovejoy, and Francis McIntosh, were connected and that a great mystery was behind it.
The woman who died from her injuries had a 14-year-old son, named Charley. He is devastated by her death. Taking him under their wings, they guide his education. He graduates as a Journalist. Not even his cousin George, who serves as his photographer, is aware that Charley serves as a secret agent for the Woman’s Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1863, during Chicago’s first Sanitary Fair, held from October 27 to November 7, a diary belonging to a high ranking member of the Knights of the Golden Circle is forwarded to the Woman’s Anti-Slavery Society. What they discovered, led to their sending Charley to Fort Pillow, Tennessee. On April 12, 1864, both Charley and George witnessed the destruction of the Educational Center and the attack on the fort.
In 1862, the Superintendent of Schools in Toledo, Ohio, John Eaton, joined the Union Army. In 1863 General Grant appointed Eaton Superintendent of the Contraband Camps. Quickly, the camps were being turned into self-supporting Educational Centers. (Fort Pillow was among the 74 schools that he established.) After the war he was appointed the United States Commissioner of Education. Eaton organized Washington, D.C.’s, Board of Education and reorganized the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman, and Abandoned Lands. In the winter of 1863 General Sherman, without orders, destroyed the Educational Center in Corinth, Mississippi. Powerful anti-slavery people in Washington D.C. owned land in Fort Pillow. This made it impossible for General Sherman to order the destruction of what was being built there.