East Tennessee, Winter 1862


Two weeks—join the Confederate forces or be hanged as a traitor. Two weeks. Not much time, but it was all he was going to get. He shivered, chilled by more than the cold cutting through his woolen breeches. The red mare snorted. Andrew Fondren shifted carefully in his saddle. He watched as puffs of white steam blew out her nostrils and hung in the air. Her curved ears pointed forward and flicked lightly, seeking sounds of danger, he thought—maybe real, maybe imagined. She placed one foot forward to test the frozen ground. There was a clink of metal on rock as her hoof lost its grip, and she began to slide backward. Her eyes rimmed white when her hind leg broke through the icy crust. She stood trembling; flanks turning dark with sweat.

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