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The Starbuck Chronicles are a series of historical fiction novels by British author Bernard Cornwell set during the American Civil War. They follow the exploits of a young Boston-born Confederate officer, Nathaniel Starbuck.

Four novels have been written; the series is still unfinished due to Cornwell's commitment to other projects, however he has stated on many occasions he wishes to return to the characters story.[1]

  • Rebel (1993)
  • Copperhead (1994)
  • Battle Flag (1995)
  • The Bloody Ground (1996)

Plot overview[]

Rebel begins in Richmond, Virginia after the fall of Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina when Starbuck is trying to visit his friend Adam Faulconer. Starbuck is saved from an attack by Richmond's patriotic residents (who think he is a Yankee spy) by Faulconer's rich landowner father, Washington Faulconer. Faulconer wishes to raise a regiment to fight the Yankees, Starbuck is appointed one of Faulconer's aides with the rank of second lieutenant. He is there by circumstance not for politics. Starbuck is then tasked with recruiting a tough Mexican-American War veteran, Thomas Truslow who lives in the fictional Faulconer County, to the regiment, he succeeds only by dedicating the grave of Truslow's wife and officiating in the marriage of his wayward daughter Sally Truslow. Many other events occur between this and the start of the hostilities and the rather pompously named Faulconer Legion marches off to the First Battle of Bull Run. It is here that Starbuck alienates himself from Faulconer. The next book, Copperhead, follows Starbuck during the period of the Union invasion of the Confederacy by the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan. The third book, Battle Flag, is set in the aftermath of the defeat of McClellan. The fourth book, The Bloody Ground, follows Starbuck as the Confederate army under Robert E. Lee invades the North, culminating in the Battle of Antietam Creek.

A supporting character in the series is Patrick Lassan, the son[2] of Richard Sharpe, the star of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series.

Major characters[]

Nathaniel "Nate" Starbuck - The main protagonist of the novels, Nate is a young Boston-born Yale theology undergraduate who finds himself in Richmond upon the outbreak of the civil war. He is described as tall, handsome and clean shaven with gray eyes and long dark hair.

Washington Faulconer - A wealthy Virginia land owner who uses his own finances to raise the Faulconer Legion which he also commands. He is described as tall and fair with a square cut beard and blue eyes.

Thomas Truslow - A farmer who's past ventures include fighting in the Mexican-American War and various criminal activities. He is pursued by Washington Faulconer to enter the Legion and is persuaded to by Nate Starbuck. He begins life in the legion as the most respected (feared) sergeant and is elevated to the rank of captain after the battle of Cedar Mountain. The novels describe him as squat, tough and bearded.

Sally Truslow - The daughter of Thomas Truslow and after the outbreak of war she becomes a whore at Richmond's most exclusive establishments. She is described as not older than 16 in the first novel and of breathtaking beauty.

Adam Faulconer - The son of Washington Faulconer and best friend of Nate Starbuck. He begins as being described as similar in appearance to his father and despite being an officer in the Legion contains a strong pacifist streak. At the end of Copperhead he leaves the Legion and crosses the lines to fight for the Union.

Belvedere Delaney - A lawyer in Richmond who works in some capacity for the Confederate army but also is a spy for the north. He uses his position to empower and enrich himself and has many business interests including Sally's brothel. He is described as rotund and with a perfect set of teeth. He is the half brother of Ethan Ridley the main antagonist in Rebel.

Patrick Lassan - A French Cavalry colnel who begins the story as an observer in George McClellan's army but crosses the lines with Nate Starbuck and rides with the Confederate cavalry. He is described as tall and dark haired with a scarred face with an eye patch. He is the son of Richard Sharpe and carries his heavy Napoleonic cavalry sword.

Thaddeus "Pecker" Bird - The Faulconer county school master and brother in law of Washington Faulconer. He is described as tall and thin with a long beard and bobs his head back and forth which has earned him the nickname Pecker. Although firstly thought of as an eccentric fool he gains the respect of the legion with his natural battle leadership abilities.

Faulconer Legion[]

The Faulconer Legion is a fictional regiment of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Confederate Army, the central unit of the Starbuck Chronicles.


Shortly after the beginning of the war, Washington Faulconer was determined to set up a regiment free of state government control because he was unimpressed by Robert E. Lee and his lack of support. After returning from Richmond he finds recruitment for the Legion is in full swing, and at least 10 companies have been recruited, along with a squadron of cavalry and two crews of artillery. Faulconer is the regiment's first colonel, his senior officers are Major Pelham, a veteran of the Mexican-American War, and Major 'Pecker' Bird, Faulconer's brother-in-law and a schoolmaster by profession. Major Danson is the Legion's initial surgeon and the local doctor. Shortly after the enlistment of Thomas Truslow and his backhills men, Faulconer leads an attack on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad which fails. It was an unfortunate start to the war for Faulconer and, during the attack he shows a distinct lack of military judgement; although Falcouner thinks of himself as a competent soldier and tactician. Faulconer however puts it behind him and prepares for war.

First Battle of Manassas[]

On the Fourth of July the fully equipped Legion marched to Seven Springs to be sworn into the Confederate army, however Major Pelham suffers a heart attack and dies before the Legion leaves, a great blow to the men as Pelham was a popular leader. The Legion then marched to Roskill railhead, They bundle on to a train to Manassas and are assigned to Colonel Nathan Evans' brigade. Faulconer does not trust Evans' military judgement and seeks out General P.G.T. Beauregard to be moved closer to where he believes the action will be (on the Confederate right). Nathaniel Starbuck, whom Faulconer has dismissed and sent back to the Union lines, has discovered the advancing Union troops under David Hunter and Samuel P. Heintzelman. He informs Evans of their positions and the Legion, under the command of Major Bird, marches to repel the Federal attack. The regiment fights the advancing Union troops well, but Faulconer and his aide Ethan Ridley return and Faulconer is disgusted by both Bird and Starbuck's insubordination. In the renewed Union attack Captain Adam Faulconer is wounded and the Legion collapses, Faulconer tries to rally them but is himself wounded. In the panic Truslow and Bird save the colours. Faulconer claims that Starbuck killed Ethan Ridley, but this is put down to delirium, his claims are true however. After the battle an embittered and wounded Faulconer is promoted to brigadier general and Major Bird takes command of the Legion.


The colors of the Faulconer Legion are composed of the Confederate Battle Flag and the Faulconer coat of arms with the motto "Forever Ardent." They are six feet by six as opposed to the four feet advocated by the War Department.


External links[]

Template:Bernard Cornwell