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Silent We Stood

Texas Tech University Press (2013)

ISBN 978-0-89672-833-2 - $29.95 (Hardcover)

On July 8, 1860, Dallas, Texas burned. Three slaves were accused of arson and hanged without a trial. Today, most historians attribute the fire to carelessness. Texas was the darkest corner of the Old South, too remote and violent for even the bravest abolitionists.

Yet North Texas newspapers commonly reported runaway slaves, and travelers in South Texas wrote of fugitives heading to Mexico.

Perhaps a few prominent people were all too happy to call the fire an accident.

Silent We Stood weaves the tale of a small band of abolitionists working in secrecy within Dallas’s close-knit society. There’s Joseph Shaw, an undertaker and underground railroad veteran with a shameful secret; Ig Bodeker, a charismatic, melancholic preacher; Rachel Bodeker, a fierce abolitionist, Ig’s wife, and Joseph Shaw’s lover; Rebekah, a freed slave who’ll sacrifice everything for the cause; Samuel Smith, a crypto-freedman whose love for Rebekah exacts a terrible cost; and, towering above them all, a near-mythical one-armed runaway who haunts area slavers and brings hope to those dreaming of freedom.

With war looming and lives hanging in the balance, ideals must be weighed against friendship and love, and brutal decisions yield secrets that must be taken to the grave.

"I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read"

  • David Madden, Civil War Book Review
  • "Filled with suspense and human drama, this novel could become a classic work of pre-Civil War America... [Silent We Stood] has all the breathtaking cruelties and valor a lover of historical novels can hope for. Highly recommended."

  • Historical Novel Society

  • "Henry Chappell’s recent third novel, Silent We Stood, paints an engrossing, fact-based and frequently tense portrait of slavery and anti-slavery sentiments in North Texas in 1860."

  • Si Dunn, The Dallas Morning News

  • "Using as his background the political turbulence preceding and following the disastrous Dallas fire of 1860, Henry Chappell has blended real and imaginary events and characters to craft a suspenseful novel."

  • Donald E. Reynolds, author of Texas Terror: The Slave Insurrection Panic of 1860 and the Secession of the Lower South


    H.C. discusses Silent We Stood with Maggie Martin of Houston Matters



    H.C. discusses Silent We Stood and the writing process on “Writing on the Air,” 7/9/14