Hell at the Breech|Tom Franklin
Hell at the Breech
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In 1897, an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered in the rural area of Alabama known as Mitcham Beat. His outraged friends -- --mostly poor cotton farmers -- form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe responsible. The hooded members wage a bloody year-long campaign of terror that culminates in a massacre where the innocent suffer alongside the guilty. Caught in the maelstrom of the Mitcham war are four people: the aging sheriff sympathetic to both sides; the widowed midwife who delivered nearly every member of Hell-at-the-Breech; a ruthless detective who wages his own war against the gang; and a young store clerk who harbors a terrible secret.

Based on incidents that occurred a few miles from the author's childhood home, Hell at the Breech chronicles the events of dark days that led the people involved to discover their capacity for good, evil, or for both.


  • ISBN-13: 9780060566760
  • ISBN-10: 0060566760
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: December 2003
  • Dimensions: 8.12 x 6.16 x 0.91 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds
  • Page Count: 368

Hell at the Breech

Based on true events that took place near the author's childhood home in Alabama, this spirited historical novel, set in the 1890s, follows a group of poor white sharecroppers who wage war on upperclass landowners. The accidental shooting of politician Arch Bedsole causes his cousin Quincy, a poor cotton farmer, to seek revenge. Taking justice into his own hands, Quincy establishes the Hell-at-the-Breech gang and proceeds to harass the county, victimizing those he believes committed the murder and demanding money from dishonest landowners. The gang's violent crusade results in an all-out massacre, affecting everyone in the county—especially Sheriff Billy Waite, who struggles to uphold the law. Recounting this unforgettable chapter in the annals of Alabama history, Franklin mixes fact and fiction to create a provocative and distinctly Southern tale. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.