Gabriel: A Novel of the American Civil War by Matthew J. Watros is a piece of historical fiction that follows the story of the author’s ancestor, Gabriel Ballard, and his experiences in the Union Army. Ballard, who lived in Dryden, New York with his family, enlisted in the army at the age of 19 in 1862. From there, he travelled south with his infantry to Georgia where he participated in the Atlanta Campaign in the spring of 1864, but not without making many stops along the way. Watros, basing his book off family letters, Gabriel’s personal diary entries, and other primary sources, creates a narrative that details everything from family life, love, war, trauma, death, and social issues during the Civil War. He forms topics of slavery and the true causes of the war into personal stories, never shying away from the uncomfortable sides of history. Being a veteran himself, Watros creates a layer of intensity and emotion surrounding the war that can only be explained by those with personal experience. He also includes visualizations to help the reader create a better picture of Ballard’s experiences - with maps and charts to clarify where Ballard travelled. Gabriel is sure to captivate any reader who is interested in seeing the Civil War from a more personal viewpoint, and it is a great reminder that both sides of the war had moral downfalls through today’s lens.
Author Matthew J. Watros served four years as a rifleman in the United States Marine Corps, where he did a tour of duty in Iraq and spent three months on a Navy ship in the Caribbean. He was honorably discharged as a corporal in 2010 and now happily lives back home in upstate New York with his wife and three children. He makes his living as a career firefighter.
published in 2020 by The Troy Book Makers