Dark Thicket

By Elmer Kelton

Afterword by Laurie Champion

978-0-87565-207-8 Cloth
6 x 9. 200 pp.
Pub Date: 08/01/1999
Available

In this novel, first published by Doubleday in 1985, Texas novelist Elmer Kelton returns to the Civil War period, once again examining, as he first did in Texas Rifles, the effect of the war on Texans at home. Even while the conflict raged to the east, several groups of Texan Union loyalists hid out across the state, trying to avoid the anger and violence of the confederate-sympathizing “home guard.”

Kelton bases this story on a group who lived in a then-huge thicket on the Colorado River near present-day Columbus, although the characters, incidents and town of the book are of Kelton’s invention. As he always says, fiction writers are liars and thieves. Owen Danforth, a wounded Confederate soldier, comes home to Texas to recover, intending to return to his regiment. His family is torn apart by the war—two brothers dead, one uncle, a Union sympathizer, shot in the back by the home guard. His father—also a Unionist—hides out in the thicket with his remaining family because the home guard, led by “Captain” Phineas Shattuck, has sworn revenge on the Danforth clan. Torn between duty and family loyalty, Owen Danforth faces difficult decisions until a violent encounter leaves him only one choice.

Texas Tradition Series

Published by Texas Christian University Press