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When young Adam Stoeckel enlists in the Sixth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry to fight alongside the boys of 1861, he never imagines he will meet a shape-shifting fox woman whose friendship will change his life, or that facing the traitor of Company E in the Battle of the Wilderness will forge in fire his own coming of age.


Adam’s new friend Copper falls in love with and marries his best friend Johnny O’Neill.  The fox disguises herself as a drummer boy, joining the regiment to fight at Williamsburg, Yorktown, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness.  Between battles Copper takes Adam, Johnny, and their friend Jonah to magically woven worlds from which Adam emerges with a new perspective.  If he survives to return home to his sweetheart Annie, Adam will not resume his apprenticeship to his immigrant father.  The artist has discovered his gift.


BATTLE FOX portrays each unique battle and life between battles for men with commanders whose names ring through history; Little Napoleon McClellan, Fighting Joe Hooker, and Hancock the Superb.


Adam Stoeckel’s character is based on my great grandfather.  Following his path, I walked in the footsteps of the Sixth New Jersey Volunteers through every battlefield and campsite, down every road and byway, through the tranquil fields which echo still their voices and songs.  The fantasy of BATTLE FOX illuminates their dreams.  Its history gives them life.


BATTLE FOX is the story of a Billy Yank, one of a courageous brotherhood who can march for days, sleep on the ground in any weather, and still sing, laugh, and play knowing that madness and death march alongside them.  These heroes are Adam’s brothers-in-arms, and it is Adam, in the terrible firestorm of the Battle of the Wilderness, who must confront the traitor in their midst before the turncoat destroys them all.



BATTLE FOX developed because I was curious about the enigma who was my great grandfather.  He was the son of immigrants, his father from the Black Forest of Germany, his mother from Alsace.  All who knew him were long gone, leaving behind only a vague sketch of his life and a faded tintype.

Through arduous research into the genealogy and roots of his story, I procured a copy of his Civil War military record from the National Archives and embarked upon a fascinating journey of discovery.  I followed his regiment’s path, walking every battlefield, every campground, and travelling every road and byway in the footsteps of the Sixth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in which he served.  Research began at the Meridian Hill training ground in Washington, D.C., and ended at the site of his last battle, The Wilderness, where he was wounded.  My extensive historical research included combing the shelves of the Library of Congress.


I discovered the story of a heroic young Patriot and the rich history of Civil War contemporaries.  BATTLE FOX is the tale of Adam, a Billy Yank, based upon my great grandfather.  Concurrently, the fantasy element of a fox spirit woman, a shape-shifter named Copper, became a part of young Adam's story.  When I combined his history with Copper’s fantasy, BATTLE FOX came to life. 


When the Civil War is the subject, the entire state of Virginia is the local interest, certainly in the case of BATTLE FOX which describes all of the locations and battles in which the Sixth New Jersey Volunteer Regiment fought.

To visit these battlefields is a fascinating journey.  Each battle was unique, as unique as the changing landscape and the personalities of the commanding officers on both sides.  No part of Virginia was left untouched in the terrible conflict.  You see its affects still, nearly 200 years later, in every town.  Each local family has its colorful stories full of legendary heroes.

Today Meridian Hill is a park in Washington, DC.  It is a quiet spot overlooking the white monuments and buildings of the nation’s capital.  In 1861 this was the training ground for my great grandfather’s regiment, filled with rows of white tents.  Here the Jersey Blues drilled in preparation for seeing the elephant, their first battle.


I wanted to capture what it was like to be a Billy Yank living in the camps and fighting so far from home.  They were called northern aggressors.  Once they marched into Virginia, the local people were as hostile as the punishing heat and the muddy quagmires they called the “sacred soil”.


The boys of 1861 grew up hard and fast.  If you spend time on the peaceful banks of the Shenandoah River as it winds through the lovely green countryside at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the wind in the trees seems to echo their voices.  You may imagine you hear the guns in the distant thunder of an approaching storm.


Other locations featured in BATTLE FOX are Bordentown, New Jersey, Budd’s Ferry and Emmitsburg in Maryland, and a little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.