When I was a young man, my parents took me to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield while we were on vacation in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.
I cannot say that I have ever considered myself a “supernatural” type, but I was spellbound during my visit and felt that I had been in that location before. I still feel that way when visiting that battlefield today!
From that beginning grew my love with the Civil War and everything about it. To me, it still represents the most pivotal moment in our nation’s history, when we all looked across the country at each other and took up arms to determine if we would stay one nation or dissolve the Union. What many people do not realize is how critical that war was to our subsequent history.
Do you realize that if the South had been allowed to secede peacefully or if they had won the war, as many experts confidently expected they would, our entire history as a nation would be rewritten? Our participation in World Wars I and II as a global power never would have occurred, and our growth into the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth could never have have happened. On those cold battlefields of the 1860s, young men took up arms to hold our nation together, and everything that has happened since then is due to their intervention. Perhaps this is why there is a whisper of the past that stirs in my ear every time I visit Gettysburg and think about the incredible sacrifices made on that battlefield.
When Vic approached me to do a book about Aaron Dwight Stevens and the contributions to American history he made, I could not resist, given my background and interests. He and the John Brown raiders truly sparked the fire that lead to the Civil War. Therefore, in order to understand the deeper story of why our country became embroiled in the war that lasted “Across Five Aprils” to change the entire course of modern history, I believe we must take a closer look at the men involved in the early events that sparked the most divisive and costly war our country has ever known.
Sometimes Stories Of Betrayal Make For Far Better Conversation Than Those Of Heroes.
Most people have heard of the infamous Benedict Arnold who was a General during the Revolutionary war and originally fought for Americans before he betrayed us and aligned himself with Great Britain. Why, then, have very few herd of Aaron Dwight Stevens who was an American abolitionist, martyr, and hero prior to the Civil War?
The facts speak for themselves. Both Benedict Arnold and Aaron Dwight Stevens were Connecticut natives. However, Aaron Dwight Stevens died not on the scaffold as a traitor but as a hero, fighting for the rights of African Americans during the Harper’s Ferry raid. Benedict Arnold died an American traitor, despite his impressive military career before he switched sides to sell secrets to the British.
There was more to Dwight Stevens than just fighting at Harper’s Ferry, however. The story of the man who ended up at this pivotal point in history is a fascinating tale of someone who stood up for the oppressed and the underdog. This highly American trait is evident in the life of Aaron Dwight Stevens, and it is time that the world heard the story of the man he was and the hero he became.
In our new book, we seek to give the world that story through the medium of historical fiction. By offering readers a chance to experience the life of Aaron Dwight Stevens through an enjoyable medium of fiction, we hope to shed light on this reclusive hero and show the world the truth about his life and his sacrifices on behalf of our country.
By choosing to write Stevens’s story in a fictional form, we hope that readers will enjoy it even more. We know that history can be a bit dry sometimes, and there are so many things we simply do not know. We have taken the liberty of filling in some of the blanks left by historical research with things that are appropriate to the time period and what we do know of Stevens, his life and his work. By taking these liberties, we hope to have created a story that is exciting and page-turning but also leaves you with the facts that we do know about Stevens and how he made a difference in the lives of so many people right up to present day.
My name is Vic Butsch, and the “story behind the story” of how I came to be involved in the writing of our book about Dwight Stevens is an interesting tale in its own right.
More than 12 years ago, I was introduced to Stevens by Norwich City Historian Dale Plummer. I learned about the fascinating history of this man and knew that I wanted to tell his story. Until the end of 2010, however, I could not see how I would be able to do this until I spoke with Tommy Coletti. I had tons of research but very little way to develop the character. Once Tommy came on board, we were ready to begin telling this incredible tale.
I had known Tommy for many years. We first met 30 years ago when we were both assigned to the SEAWOLF Class submarine planning, design and construction contract at Electrical Boat Division of General Dynamics. We became friends and, when I read his first book, I asked him to consider writing about Aaron Dwight Stevens. Tommy had never heard of him, even though he was a native of Norwich, CT!
Sadly, this is the case for most people. John Brown dominates most history books about abolitionists, and every school child has at least heard of the story of the Harper Ferry raid. However, few people have ever heard of Aaron Dwight Stevens, although he played a pivotal role in the raid and in changing the reality of slavery in the United States. I knew this story had to be told immediately, and I knew that Tommy was the man to write it. I knew that we could work together to tell “the rest of the story” of a man who played such an important part in our nation’s history.
Over the course of the next two years, Tommy and I would become closer friends as we journeyed through the facts about Dwight and found a way to give a voice to his contributions to American history. Although our book is historical fiction, we believe it embodies the very best of truth and fact interwoven with how things might have been in the life of this incredible man.