Book depicts Civil War’s impact on Southern culture ... through the experience of a young physician turned warrior
by Special to the Banner
Oct 16, 2013 | 1596 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Broken Circle
David P. Bridges
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Professor and historian David P. Bridges brings the story of Breathed, the author’s great great-uncle, to life in a historical novel, “The Broken Circle.” More than a report on one man’s heroism, personal conflict and survival, it depicts the impact of the war on the agrarian culture of the South and its bedrock principles of faith in God, family values, hard work, community, self-government and ethics.

When the American Civil War broke out, a young Maryland physician named James Breathed was forced to choose between healing the sick to prolong life and supporting the South as a soldier in the Confederate Army. He made the difficult decision to fight. He served in the horse artillery and fought in many battles under the command of J.E.B. Stuart.

The battles, locations and dates in “The Broken Circle” are all historically accurate. Bridges accurately incorporates the details of the weapons, culture, language, clothes, food and even the furniture of the Civil War period. The characters and their dedication to the South are based on real people, including Mollie Macgill, a woman romantically involved with Breathed. She becomes a daring spy for the South.

The author, raised and educated in Chicago, was inspired by his Southern lineage to write “The Broken Circle” along with several nonfiction books about his prominent ancestors and their way of life. Breathed exemplified the South’s efforts to preserve and fight for a cause they felt was just, and the principles they believed America was founded on.

“My intention is to shed some light on what was really happening to the South during this important period in American history,” says Bridges. “The aristocracy was destroyed along with the prosperity, spirituality and much of the charm of the old South.”

After the war, Breathed returned to his medical practice and, before his death at age 32, treated all patients regardless of which side they supported during the conflict. Just this year, he was posthumously awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor for his achievements.

Bridges, theologian, historian, biographer, outdoorsman and horseman, began writing about the Civil War period after nearly two decades of serving as an ordained Presbyterian minister. His undergraduate bachelor of science degree in economics was received from The University of Kentucky. He furthered his academic experience and studied theology and history at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and The University of Chicago, Divinity School.

In order to further enhance his writing, he learned how to be part of a cannon crew and fight as dismounted cavalry so that he could participate in Civil War re-enactments with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry & Stuart Horse Artillery, based in Roanoke, Va.

Bridges’ area of expertise is 1850-1950 American history. His first nonfictional historical book is about the Best family, coal industrialists and philanthropists who historically impacted Chicago’s history. His second book chronicles the Bridges family in Western Maryland. It shows how industry, politics and conservation worked together to preserve the Woodmont Rod and Gun Club, Hancock, Md.

His latest book chronicles the life and Civil War trials and tribulations of Major James Breathed, Stuart Horse Artillery, C.S.A, in the novel forthcoming, “War, Love & Redemption: A Novel Of The War For Southern Independence.”

“The Broken Circle” is published by Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers and is available online and wherever books are sold.