A Novel by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier’s letters home.

A tribute to the more than two hundred documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.


A girl as tough as Katniss Everdeen. A romance out of Twilight. A historical backdrop as strong as Cold Mountain. These things combine in the extraordinary story of Rosetta Wakefield, a young woman from rural New York who follows her childhood sweetheart, Jeremiah, into the Civil War. Rosetta grows up preferring to haul hay with her father over mending socks with her mother and sister. Often teased for her tomboy ways, Rosetta has a constant defender in Jeremiah–and eventually a lover and husband. When he enlists in the Union army to earn money for their future, she finds she can’t sit at home, bearing the hostility of her new mother-in-law and the oppressive domesticity. Dressing in men’s clothes, she takes the name of Ross Stone and enlists. Together the two young people face the everyday challenges of army life–cold nights, drunk tent mates, uncertainty–and the horrors of war, culminating in the terrible battle of Antietam. Author McCabe makes every sentence count, with a narrative full of authentic dialog, historical realism, and great feeling. Loosely based on true events, including the letters of the more than 200 women who are known to have served as men in the Civil War, this beautiful novel is literary but will have crossover appeal for more sophisticated YA readers as well, who will find Rosetta an unforgettable heroine.”
Booklist, (★ starred review)

“Sketching a hardscrabble portrait of subsistence farm life, McCabe portrays Rosetta brilliantly—think True Grit’s Mattie Ross—as she narrates her story with energy, self-perception, courage and unremitting love for Jeremiah. McCabe’s thorough research lends verisimilitude to army life, all cook fires, salt pork, hardtack, thin blankets and marches into terror. McCabe’s descriptions of battle’s chaos and mayhem—”I just want to walk into that water, any water, and wash myself clean, my clothes and all, letting the blood and everything swirl away”—is reminiscent of Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Rosetta echoes the period perfectly, playing off against gender expectations in letters home and in conversations with the company commander’s wife, the first to suspect her disguise, and with Will, a gentle, religious boy confused about his sexuality. Based on often overlooked history, McCabe offers an extraordinary novel, one creating a memorable character through which we relive our national cataclysm.
Kirkus, (★ starred review)


Compellingly authentic.”

A real gem…In the long, distinguished history of Civil War fiction, Erin Lindsay McCabe has presented us a book that might be for the ages. Her novel, I Shall Be Near To You, tells a passionate love story that moved me as much as I’ve been moved in years. Her heroine, Rosetta Wakefield, is as compelling a warrior as any that appears in Michael Shaara’s great novel about Gettysburg, The Killer Angels. Rosetta is a magnificent creation and lets us know that the people of the North had the same attachment to their land as any Southerner ever did. If you don’t like this book, you don’t like to read.”
Pat Conroy, New York Times Bestselling author of The Prince Of Tides and The Death Of Santini

“Erin Lindsay McCabe has given us an unforgettable tale of the power of love and commitment over war and all that comes with it. She breathes life and heart into Rosetta, a young bride who struggles to find her own footing in a marriage too new to have much of a footing at all, as Rosetta chooses to follow Jeremiah into war and the horror and the richness of a life lived in the fullest.”
Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country

I Shall Be Near To You marks the impressive debut of a truly gifted author. Erin Lindsay McCabe’s riveting story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to follow her husband into the Union army enthralls even as it wrenches the heart.”
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and The Spymistress

“Erin McCabe’s I Shall Be Near To You is a beautiful book, a historical novel inspired by the more than 200 women who disguised themselves as men to serve in the Civil War. It is a touching, emotional story that reminds us that in different times and entirely different circumstances, we are all fighting for the same things.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers

“Told in the unforgettable voice of Rosetta Wakefield, I Shall Be Near To You is one of those wonderful stay-up-late-to-devour-another-chapter novels. Erin Lindsay McCabe strikes the perfect balance of historical research and lyrically crafted prose. Through Rosetta’s eyes, readers experience the horror and the humanity of daily life during the Civil War. This is a book you’ll definitely want to read– and tell your best friend to read, too.”
Lois Leveen, author of Target Book Club pick The Secrets of Mary Bowser

“The spirited voice of McCabe’s indelible Rosetta demands your attention from page 1 and captures your heart with her remarkable story. I fell hard for this courageous character and readers will too! Driven by fierce love, Rosetta exemplifies the timeless fighting spirit of womanhood. McCabe has done her homework well, mining Civil War secrets for this historical golden nugget. I laughed. I wept. I learned and will treasure always.”
Sarah McCoy, author of international bestseller and 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee The Baker’s Daughter

Inspired by the actual letters of a woman who fought in the Civil War, McCabe’s debut imagines the challenges faced by newlyweds Rosetta and Jeremiah Wakefield when she decides to join him in battle. Feisty Rosetta was never at home doing women’s chores, preferring to help her father run the family farm. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when Jeremiah says he will join the Union Army, she proposes to him so they can be wed before his departure—and then she decides to join him in training, cutting her hair, binding her breasts, putting on men’s clothes, and enlisting as “Ross Stone.” Though she promises to go home when the real fighting starts, there are numerous reasons for Rosetta to stay put with her husband and the group of local boys who are in on the secret. McCabe successfully recreates the tedium of prebattle training, the rigors of marching from one destination to the next, the exhaustion of battles and retreats, and the massive destruction that occurred during the war. An author’s note states that hundreds of women fought on both sides during the Civil War, and without being preachy or having an agenda, McCabe offers a feminine perspective on a dark time in U.S. history.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Ms. McCabe has given us a memorable tale of love in the midst of war, loyalty and faith in the maelstrom of our nation’s greatest tragedy.”
Howard Bahr, author of The Black Flower and winner of the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction