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Fans celebrate the success of the Civil War novel
Marching Through Culpeper
J.E.B. Stuart, IV, is master of ceremonies

Over two hundred fans of the Civil War novel Marching Through Culpeper gathered at the Culpeper, Va. Holiday Inn on November 3, 2002 to celebrate 5000 books sold and honor author, Virginia Morton. Guests and dignitaries came not only from throughout the state, but also from as far away as Ohio and Georgia. To a person they all seemed confident that Marching Through Culpeper is destined to eventually be a national bestseller with the book’s two lovers, Constance and Aaron becoming as famous as Scarlett and Rhett.

Noted historian J.E.B. Stuart, IV, great-grandson of legendary cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart, C.S.A. served as master of ceremonies. According to Stuart, “Marching Through Culpeper is a compelling novel that draws you from beginning to end into the web of human emotions experienced by those who faced war’s tragedy…Virginia Morton has hit a homerun with this fascinating book.”

Speakers focused on the meticulous historical accuracy that Morton coupled with a compelling story by skillfully weaving together real and fictional characters. Several emphasized the economic impact the unique novel has had on the local community. Indeed, hundreds of devoted readers have traveled to Culpeper to take Mrs. Morton’s popular walking and bus tours of the sites mentioned in Marching Through Culpeper.

Thom Faircloth, president and CEO of the Germanna Foundation perhaps best summed up the reasons for the book’s success, “I couldn’t put this book down. It has something for everyone. Women love the romance, men love the battles, and historians love it all.”

Diane Logan, director of Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. and brunch committee chairperson concluded her talk by reading a touching letter from a dear lady who though unable to attend the brunch was there in spirit-Constance Armstrong, the book’s heroine.

Dear Miss Virginia,
I could not let this special day go by without taking pen in hand to express my gratitude to you for keeping my memory alive and for telling the story of Culpeper and its citizens during those four horrible years of conflict. Because of you, our hardships and sacrifices will never be forgotten. Miss Virginia, thank you for telling our story.

Visibly touched by the outpouring of support from her fans, first-time author Virginia Morton said, “Today isn’t about me, it’s about telling Culpeper’s story to the world.”

She recounted that during the five years it took to research and write the book, she often grew discouraged and considered quitting. But when she contemplated the valor and sacrifice displayed by the book’s real characters, she persevered to tell their stories.

Marching Through Culpeper is a story of the human spirit,” she continued, “I believe that same irrepressible spirit is with us today because it pulses through the veins of many of you.”

When she asked for a show of hands of all those related to the book’s characters, hands shot up across the room. Many relatives contributed to the rare display of fascinating family relics and photos, including Robert Beckham’s sword and photos of Frank Stringfellow, that greeted attendees on arrival to the brunch.

Readers were asked to vote for their favorite character in Marching Through Culpeper. One reader said, “This is really hard since I loved so many of them.” The highlight of the event was Stuart’s dramatic announcement of the top five: #5-Granny Ashby, a feisty Yankee hater, #4-the “Gallant” Major John Pelham, #3-the dashing cavalier, J.E.B. Stuart, #2-the book’s heroine, courageous Constance Armstrong. Stuart asked the audience to guess the winner to which the standing-room-only crowd responded, “Frank Stringfellow!” And indeed the daredevil Confederate scout and spy whose true hair raising adventures enthralled readers took top honors.

Angus McDonald Green of Culpeper presented Mrs. Morton with a rare, first-edition copy of Cornelia Peake McDonald’s wartime reminiscences. Mrs. McDonald, the wife of colorful Colonel Angus McDonald, III, of Winchester was Angus Green’s great-great-grandmother. Her stirring diary inspired Mrs. Morton and provided much material for her historically accurate novel.

Stuart concluded the ceremony by congratulating Mrs. Morton for persevering to produce such an outstanding book and rewarded her efforts by presenting her with a beautiful pocket watch containing a likeness of J.E.B. Stuart. His grandson, J.E.B. Stuart, VI, served as aide-de-camp and assisted with the presentation.

“Move over Margaret Mitchell and Michael Shaara…make room for Virginia Morton,” declared David Johnson, General Manager of Strategic Vision, a marketing firm in Atlanta, “This book will succeed.”

Johnson also stated that the book’s sale of 5000 hardbacks is a feat that is considered a major success in the publishing world. And by that account alone the book is a remarkable success.

Additional information on the book may be found at www.marchingthroughculpeper.com. Virginia Morton may be contacted at 540-825-9147, vamorton@comcast.net or morton@edgehillbooks.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .