The Sergeant's Lady

The Sergeant's Lady

by Miles Hood Swarthout
The Sergeant's Lady

The Sergeant's Lady

by Miles Hood Swarthout

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Overview

The Sergeant's Lady won the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America as the best first Western novel of 2004.

The Sergeant's Lady is based upon a Saturday Evening Post short story published in 1959, "Attack On The Mountain." by my late father, Glendon Swarthout. It is a frontier love story between an aging Army Sergeant of Scouts and a rancher's middle-aged divorcee sister, set against the backdrop of the very last raid into Arizona by renegades under Chiricahua Chief Naiche's (Cochise's second son) leadership at the tail-end of the twenty-six year war with these fierce Apaches in the spring/summer of 1886. Historically then, General Nelson A. Miles had just taken over command from disgraced General George Crook, who had lost Geronimo and some of his recalcitrant warriors after they'd first surrendered and started back under Army escort to Fort Bowie, then changed their minds after an all-night drunk and fled back across the border to their trackless sanctuary in Mexico's vast Sierra Madres, soon to terrorize Americans again.
To secure his military communications, Brigadier General Nelson Miles organized a system of heliographs, a newly tested system of sun-flashing devices utilizing Morse Code, which were soon set up on 33 mountaintops across that huge southwestern territory in areas the Apaches were known to frequent, to watch out for them on high, and to facilitate the movement of Army patrols and supplies between forts, as the massive manhunt, involving one quarter of the entire United States Army, went on for these few renegades that blazingly hot summer of 1886.

This is the story of four soldiers and their leader, Sergeant Ammon Swing, temporarily sidelined with a leg wound, running one of these mountaintop heliograph/observation posts, and their friendship with two homesteaders who live on the ranch below their mountain, where the Army men go down several times a week to pick up water and supplies. Interestingly, the Lady of this tale happens to be the best shooter, better with her rifle than these soldiers she befriends, and it is she who ends up saving her boyfriend's bacon in the fierce climax, "the attack on the mountain" of the original short story. Unmarried, opinionated, a herbalist and a crack shot, Martha Cox is a memorable character quite the match for her tough "lifer" Sergeant and all the men, both Indian and white, she comes in contact with in that harsh, violent land.
It is also the grueling story of who else was out there that long, hot summer, and what (and why) the Apaches are attempting to do. This is also the first Western story ever set against the backdrop of the Army's heliograph commmunications system, General Miles' pride and joy, which has largely been forgotten in the extensive writing about this last major campaign against the very last fighting Indians of the American Southwest.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012545251
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 12/03/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Sales rank: 349,468
File size: 357 KB

About the Author

Miles Swarthout is the only son of the best-selling American novelist Glendon Swarthout, and has been involved in adapting a number of his dad's novels into screenplays. Such as The Shootist, which became John Wayne's final film in 1976 and which is now recognized as one of Duke's best Westerns. Miles received a Writers Guild nomination for Best Adaptation that same year for The Shootist. Swarthout also adapted Glendon's A Christmas Gift, which became a TV-Movie for CBS in 1978 under a different title, called A Christmas To Remember, and starring Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards and Eva Marie Saint. Besides original screenplays of his own which have been optioned, Miles has sold scripts to Paul Newman which weren't able to get financing, The Tin Lizzie Troop in 1977 and The Homesman in 1988, both from novels by Glendon. Miles adapted and directed a short comedy film in 1997, Mulligans!, which went on to play at 42 film festivals and win 8 prizes at festivals around the world, as well as air 50 times on the WE network national cable TV channel. Miles' own Western novel, The Sergeant's Lady, won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America in 2004, and he is currently trying to get his 2nd novel published, a sequel to his late father's famous Western, The Shootist. Swarthout also has a story in the Western Writers' new short story anthology, Roundup!, out in the summer of 2010. Miles is single and lives near the ocean in Playa del Rey, California near LAX, and enjoys tennis, ocean surfing, movies, and occasionally riding horses. He has written free-lance articles for many U.S. magazines and newspapers.
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