|Reviews for River of Blood|
| bhoney chapter 14 . 9/8/2009
Wow. Just...wow. I was moved to tears reading this, to read the first-hand accounts of men who were there during the battle, to think of those men who left their own camps and went searching for their fallen brothers in the night-with so many wounded and dead, what must the odds have been of finding them? And yet they went.
It's amazing that you based this story on your own family history. What a lovely tribute, and legacy, to have the core of that story written down for future generations. And the song was really heartbreaking, too.
It occurred to me that, in your story, in some ways Leamon died for his brother. Because he ultimately went to war to protect his brother's relationship with Betsy and not harm it by his own love for her. And that's really touching, too.
And it's just amazing that Lew really did go looking for Leamon and bring him back. Isn't that what we all want? To believe that someone loves us that much, that they'd go to incredible risk to come find us and bring us home when we can't make it back ourselves?
This is one of those stories that you feel certain has changed you in some way, has reached into your heart and left an imprint there. Thank you for writing it. And for pouring in so much real-life detail.
Well done. A story like this is a really impressive achievement.
| bhoney chapter 13 . 9/8/2009
Loved this little glimpse back at their childhood: "They speak in tandem. Synchronized. Like when they were kids and Dad came home to find the place trashed and demanded, “Who –". They’d always spoken as one, pointing fingers. “He did it.” This time, they did it together. To be honest, it was usually both of them all those other times, too." LOL
"Sam nods. He gets it. He knows if he was reported missing and presumed dead, nothing would stop Dean from searching for him. Not even death." Aw...so true. *sniffle*
“The Butterfly Effect? Dude, tell me we didn’t somehow prevent Metallica from getting together.” This made me laugh, but I was really glad you addressed this issue. And of course, Dean would be most concerned about an effect on Metallica. *snort*
"There’s this theory called the Novikov Consistency Principle. Basically, Novikov conjectured that if time travel were really possible, the odds of being able to succeed at any action that would change the future would be zero. It’s only possible to take actions that are basically inconsequential.” That's fascinating. I hadn't heard of that before.
"They had over 13,0 wounded of their own, and not enough supplies to care for their wounded, much less their prisoners. Some prisoners got no medical treatment for 11 days." Oh my gosh, that's appalling. Such a sad chapter in our country's history. You did a wonderful job of blending fact and fiction to produce a story both moving, compelling, and educational. *feels the need to do some research to find out more about Chickamauga because yes, I am just that geeky ;)*
This left me with a huge lump in my throat: "Leamon didn’t live long enough to have a wife and children; in the grand scheme of things, Leamon didn’t matter. The fact that he survived didn’t really change history. Lew’s action had merely bought them a few more months together. But they were months filled with Leamon’s pain and suffering. If Leamon had been given a choice, would he have chosen to die quietly in the night, to fall asleep and not wake up? Or would he have chosen to be captured, to lie on the ground without medical attention for 11 days, and spend his last year disabled and in pain? Just for a few extra months with his family? Dean has to believe that Leamon would have chosen more time, even at that cost. He knows Sam would have; Dean’s throat hurts at the thought of the price Sam was prepared to pay a few hours ago." *sniffle* Really bittersweet, but I'm glad that Leamon lived, I wasn't expecting that at all. I'm glad he got more time with his family, time to make up with Lew for real.
"There’s a bag of marshmallows inside. And there’s graham crackers and chocolate bars, too. It rings a bell with Sam, something on the fringe of memory, but he can’t pin it down. Maybe Dean will know." I was surprised Sam had forgotten this, but it's sweet to think of his reaction when Dean tells him the story again, and even more so that Dean thought to buy that stuff.
I liked the use of the memory of the snowstorm and how it tied into when they went into the past and came out, that same memory surfaced. Nice bookends. And I'm still hoping to make it to Mrs. Wick's someday! ;)
This was a really wonderful story. Extraordinarily well-researched, very well-written, suspenseful, emotionally gripping, heartbreaking, nice brotherly moments, great characterization, some humor-all wonderful. But the best thing about it was how it totally left you feeling immersed in the experience. You painted such a vivid picture, down to the minute details, of the past and of this battle, that I really felt I'd been there. Seriously, one of the most impactful and best-executed fics I've read in a long while. I'm favoriting this.
| bhoney chapter 12 . 9/8/2009
I want to say that you did a great job with the on-the-spot emergency medical stuff. Using the ramrods as a splint, the idea of jackets to make a stretcher-all very clever. Nice job! Did they really do that back then, or was that all you?
This really struck me, because I recently wrote a story about Dean and his relationship with fire: "Dean knew fire. Knew the smell of a house on fire. It was different than the kindling-and-pinecone scent when they used to fall asleep in front of a fireplace as kids, savoring the only heat they had. Later, he’d learned the smell of old, dry bones set ablaze in the bottom of a grave. He wished he could forget the creepy, hillbilly Bender family that had taught Dean the smell of human flesh being charred to the bone." Nice, visceral details.
”When we get back home, I’ll listen to your side. And if I don’t like it, I’ll break your nose.” Such a brotherly thing to say. I could hear Dean saying something like this to Sam.
Lovely brotherly moment, and again I could see Sam reacting this way with Dean. Lew and Leamon are a terrific foil for the boys: "A look of peace smoothed the pain lines in his face, like a child settling in his parent’s arms." And so heartbreaking, to see the Griffith brothers torn apart by circumstances.
This was a nice bit of humor, and showed the differences between Sam and Dean, but also the type of relationship they have: "If Sam were here, Dean could accuse Sam of knowing all the emo words to ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. And Sam would accuse Dean of knowing all the lyrics to Weird Al Yankovic’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Hamster.”"
This was a rather grisly detail: "Congealed blood had pooled around Sam’s knee and frozen there. Dean tugged gently but the ground wouldn’t relinquish its icy hold on Sam." It's really appalling to think that might've really happened to the wounded back then. The stuff with the brushfire, too. So heartbreaking. And this was pretty grisly too: "Under the window of the church, Dean saw a massive pile of amputated limbs, stacked like cords of wood." *shudders at the image* And the wild boar? Really disturbing.
Something else you did really well was onomatopoeia. Like this: "Suddenly, they heard the sharp ~crack-thew~of a rifle and the lantern shattered in a shower of glass and sparks." Great sound effects, very helpful in getting an auditory sense of the story. I love sensory details like this that help the reader get immersed in the story.
"“You shoplifted those marshmallows, Dean.” Sam sounded pleasantly drunk, which was not a good sign. But at least he was conscious.
“Heh! I did.” Dean also remembered teaching Sammy how to pick the best sticks for roasting. He’d thought they’d be finished and the evidence consumed before Dad came back, but he was early! ”Man, I thought Dad was gonna be so pissed when he caught us!”
“Dad found out?” Sam asked. “I don’t remember. What’d he do?”
“He went back to the trunk and rummaged through our grocery bags. Came back with a box of graham crackers. That was a staple, remember?” Dean checked Sam’s splint, made sure it hadn’t come loose in the fall. “Then Dad reached in his pocket and took out a Hershey bar. You really don’t remember this?”
Sam sucked air between his teeth as Dean tightened the splint, then shook his head slowly.
“Dad taught us how to make s’mores that trip, Sammy!”
Sam’s dimples flashed. “I like that story,” he said, as pleased as a six year old." I love this story and Sam's reaction, so sweet. Also loved John's reaction to catching them roasting the marshmallows.
This was really sad: "Thinking, as they stumbled along, how many memories he had with Mom, with Dad, that Sammy was just too young to really remember. Those memories, those stories would be lost soon, and they were things Sammy needed to have."
I loved this: “Whatever happens,'' Lew whispered, “he knows I came back for him.” Really bittersweet.
And this-just heartbreaking: "“You could go to Wyoming, Dean. I always pictured you a cowboy.”
“Sam.” Dean clutched him tighter. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you’re not really in shape to slip away to Wyoming right now.”
“You go,” Sam explained. “I’ll find you. After.”
“After?” Dean pulled back, grabbed Sam’s shoulder to turn him so Sam could see his face. “After – what? After they take off your leg?”
“You do realize, don’t you, that the South is gonna win this battle today? They’re gonna capture all the field hospitals? If you stay, you could end up in a prison camp till the end of the war? If you even survive?”
Sam’s eyes held his, steady and fever-bright. “I just – I don’t know any other way to save you, Dean.”" I love that Sam's willing to make that kind of sacrifice to save Dean. It shows how desperate he is, though. And I can't believe he'd believe that Dean would let him do it. Does explain why he hid the key though.
"All I remember was seeing the bloodstains they couldn’t get out of the floor, even after 120 years. And seeing lead bullets with teeth marks in them, because the surgeons amputating arms and legs ran out of chloroform.” Wow, that's really disturbing.
This made me smile. So sweet and true: "“You could always find me. You think I didn’t learn from you?” Sam actually cracked a smile. “I found you tonight, didn’t I?”
Dean scoffed. Forced the words out of his tight throat. ”Dude. I found you.”
“I saw you first!”"
And this was really moving, knowing what Dean really meant: “Sam, if you think. If you think I’m going spend the rest of my days out West, without - without the Impala, then you just don’t know me as well as you think.” *sniffle* Great brotherly moment.
I liked the mini-flashback at the end. I'd love to see the whole story to that memory of the snowstorm. I love stories like that.
I think this is my favorite chapter of all. Lots of nice brotherly moments. I really felt for Lew and Leamon, though, since we knew Leamon was going to die. *tear* I wanted them to get to have some nice last moments together, but I guess what they got was enough. At least Leamon knew Lew'd come back for him, to get him out. And wasn't mad anymore-or that he loved him more than he was mad.
Great, great chapter.
| bhoney chapter 11 . 9/8/2009
"Somehow, in his fuddled thinking, saving Leamon from burning here got mixed up with saving Dean from burning in hell, and that kept him from letting go." Oh, Sam.
LOVED this: "When he couldn’t stay upright any more, he crawled. Even if he couldn’t save Dean, they still had a few more months together. He wasn’t going to give those up."
Also liked when he was telling Leamon that Dean got cranky when he was late, and that Dean would find him. I felt bad for Leamon, especially about the Betsy thing. Sad that his brother's so mad at him for enlisting, but he did it to keep himself from hurting his brother by going after his wife.
Uh, why did Sam leave that key behind? Don't they need that to get home or for protection or something?
| bhoney chapter 10 . 9/7/2009
Holy crap, this is getting intense! Even though I've read it before, re-reading it hasn't dulled the suspense.
I suspect something supernatural is behind both Lew and Dean almost getting shot but not at the same time. Plus the black eyes. So I'm guessing they're bound together in some way, because of the ritual.
And of COURSE Dean's going after Sam. Glad he talked Lew into going after Leamon.
| bhoney chapter 9 . 9/7/2009
Grr. If ffnet would quit eating my storymarks, I'd remember to come back and finish reviewing this. Sorry about that.
Another good chapter. Excellent attention to detail really sets the scene and lets the reader feel totally immersed in the action.
"What was startling here was the sight of butterflies dancing in the cedar glade where what remained of the regiment was now recovering...Sunlight spilled through the trees like a waterfall of pale yellow gauze. It was strangely peaceful." A really nice contrast here between the peaceful beauty of the land and the terrible tragedy that's being waged in it.
I couldn't believe Sam had to go into battle without Dean there. Big brother is NOT going to be pleased about that!
This was really powerful: "This wasn’t a battle of strategy by generals. This was a battle of foot soldiers, a battle to see who would run. Who would stand. Who would fall. Who would endure."
I hope the boys find their way back to each other soon, especially now that Sam's hurt.
| badaiwind chapter 13 . 8/29/2009
Read it and forgot to review. Sorry. :")
Love every part of the story.
Awesome that you manage to merge the facts into the fics.
| Samantha V chapter 2 . 8/19/2009
Really good story! Very imaginative. I have only one tiny little quibble, and I may be completely wrong, but didn't they use rifles instead of muskets by the civil war?
| gapdragon1 chapter 13 . 6/9/2009
I know I reviewed this when I first read it, but I'm having a self indulgent wallow in all my favourites and I again feel compelled to write and thank you. My daughter who turned 18 on Sunday is named Jemima, silly I know but its nice to make a connection.
| bhoney chapter 8 . 5/5/2009
"The Dean in Sam’s mind was smart. Knew stuff Dean didn’t think he would really remember. Could figure out whatever he didn’t know. Somehow Sam had faith that Dean could recognize bugle calls and figure out how to use a musket and find his way around a forest he hadn’t been in since he was eight years old...But deep down, it seemed that Sam really did know that Dean was smart, too, just in different ways." I think all those things are true of Dean. How sad, and how like him, that he attributes all of his strengths in the current situation to Sam's view of him, rather than to his own abilities. But he was making my head hurt a little here, LOL, with his "Dean inside Sam's fevered dream" scenario and all of his analyzing.
This made me giggle, Dean getting caught red-handed: "He was just sinking his teeth into a still-warm strip of bacon when he felt eyes on him." *snort* Glad the guy was nice about it.
And I thought this was sad somehow. That, after having been in battle all night, and nearly dying, he thinks his dad would've been most concerned with him slouching and stealing bacon. And I'm not sure he's wrong. But still, sad: "His dad would have court-martialed him if he could see him treating his commanding officer with such disrespect."
This made me laugh: "he was amused to discover the author was a better artist than John Winchester, master of the stick figure Wendigo". Nice detail about John. LOL
And it was SO smart of Dean to figure out that all the spells were binding spells and who's really behind the haunting. I love when authors portray Dean that way, cuz I think he is smart. I also think he's going to have some things to say to Sam when he catches up to him...
| bhoney chapter 7 . 5/5/2009
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to make it back to this story. I'll confess-I did finish reading it. I just couldn't stop, the suspense was killing me. But I'm trying to be good now and come back to review. :)
"We – we haven’t talked in a year. But I have to believe he’d come for me. Wouldn’t just leave me here to be rolled into a mass grave.” And that-that's the essence of brotherhood, right there. No matter how at odds you are, how much you argue and fuss, you're there for each other when it counts. Nice writing.
"His brother was just one of hundreds of men in Union blue uniforms, but Sam found him easily, always would recognize him, even in a crowd." Aw...*sniffle*
"It was a small thing, but it was something Sam could spare him, and Sam did it without thinking"-love the little things you put in here that let us know how much the boys mean to each other, the ways they take care of each other.
Wow, wonderful insight into Dean's character and motives. So true: "Sam glanced at Dean and thought. Dean’s been a soldier his whole life. Since he was four years old. And it was never about adventure or even honor for him. It was about family."
"He remembered that the ink and script had changed again after this ritual, and Sam wondered, belatedly, if the owner had attempted the spell and disappeared. If he’d never returned." Yeah, that's a disturbing thought. And the twin wounds on Leamon and Sam worry me too. And the boys splitting up...
| bhoney chapter 6 . 3/23/2009
Holy cow. I thought I was gonna have a heart attack when that Rebel soldier was about to skewer Dean and he had no weapon. I wanted to cheer when Sam showed up and tackled the guy just in the nick of time.
And the brushfire thing, where the wounded ended up getting burned before they could get away? That really happened? How terrible! And Dean nearly got mowed down-several times-by his own side, during the retreat. Man. I was SO scared that he wouldn't be able to find Sam, or that you were going to split them up. Glad you didn't. Don't know if my heart can handle that kind of suspense. LOL
LOVED this: “Your whole life, you watch out for me. You still don’t get that it works both ways.” Sam pulled away, ran a shaking hand through his hair. “My job, my ‘job’ is to keep you safe too. At least – in the time we have left. This ‘other job’, the hunt, the case… it doesn’t mean anything if I lose you.” Aw...well said, Sam!
| bhoney chapter 5 . 3/23/2009
Oh crap. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Uh...did I mention that you're doing an excellent job with the descriptions and stuff? I feel like I've just been at war.
Loved the image of Dean coming over to the two little brothers at the tree, giving tactical advice to Leamon "as if he was a big-brother-substitute for Lew". I think Dean is really good with battle strategy and I was happy to see that showcased.
The whole section where Leamon is loading his musket, going through the 9 steps and you have things in there like flinch when bullet strikes nearby, in amongst the steps was really well done. The way you interspersed the second person POV in there really brought the reader into the action and let them feel how that moment would be. Very suspenseful.
This was a powerful description: "The pale gray smoke didn’t float away; it seemed to hover over the battlefield, like a curse in the air. Some soldiers buckled under the weight of it, hands to knees and gulping for air. Others tried to raise their arms over their heads in triumph but lacked the strength." Wow. Intense image of the aftermath of the battle.
And then Dean's panic as he dug Sam out from under the tree was cool too. Love to see the boys worried about each other.
And can I just say-I LOVED the image of Dean laying behind the hollow log, giving covering fire, rolling onto his back to re-load his musket-which he'd only watched someone else do once and picked up, even though it's 9 steps!-gave me chills. Dean is good at this. He's a good soldier, a good strategist, cool under fire, and deadly with a weapon. That's our boy! :)
Loved that he took down the guy trying to shoot Sam at the beginning of the chapter. Oh, and loved Sam checking him out after that, making sure the blood on his face wasn't his own, while Dean was reloading. Nice brotherly moment.
| bhoney chapter 4 . 3/23/2009
Loved this glimpse of them as just a normal family: "But he remembered walking the trails that still wove through the National Battlefield Park, remembered holding his little brother’s hand as they trotted beside their father. He remembered Sammy’s delight at seeing his first deer at dusk in an open glade. Dean remembered the stories their father told over a campfire that trip, not just about monsters but American history, too." So sweet.
But holy crap! That battle scene made me super nervous. I can't imagine having to form a line like that and hold it with weapons that take so long to reload-let alone for the boys, who don't plan to use theirs at all. To just stand or kneel there, in the heat of battle, virtually defenseless except for one bullet a piece. Man. That takes guts. And I could feel Dean's dismay at having chosen the spot in front of Sam, which he naturally would, and figuring out it was the wrong choice, left Sam a big target. I did kinda wonder why they didn't try to hide out somewhere nearby until the battle was over, and then check to see if Leamon had made it through. I mean, people are SHOOTING at them, and they only have ONE BULLET a piece! *whimpers*
| bhoney chapter 3 . 3/23/2009
This was a fantastic simile, very period-appropriate: "hunger gnawed at his belly like rats gnawing on a bag of feed". You did a great job with the description of what the rations would've been like, and the gear. Very realistic. I had to giggle at Sam and Dean's reaction to the hardtack. I think I'd have passed too. LOL
Loved Leamon's reaction here: "Get the memo?" LOL Nice bit of reminder that they're in a different time and place and some of the phrases that would habitually come to their lips would be foreign to those they meet.