Charles Phillips takes his reader back to the days of the Nueces massacre, an intense and violent conflict between the Confederate soldiers and the German Texans of August of 1862 in his novel The Sharpshooter: 1862-1864.
Like many other first-generation German immigrants living in Kinney County, Texas, Jurian Baecker did not advocate slavery nor support the cause of the Confederate States and their arbitrary conscription of young Texicans to fight against the Union. Jurian’s background establishes the essence of the conflict that follows. He is the son of a Lutheran immigrant pastor who joins other German immigrants to farm the land in central Texas. Julian is doubly at odds with his family. He finds it difficult to accept his father’s faith and has a deep distaste for farming.
After his father’s untimely death, Jurian leaves the farm to his brother, to become a dealer in horses. He crosses the border into Mexico to buy stolen horses, to train them in readiness, to make a profit. Jurian is devastated when the girl he loves rejects him to marry the banker’s son to insure her family’s economic security.
Confederate authorities blatantly declare central Texas to be under martial law. As a result of this act, over 60 local draftees head for Mexico to avoid being drafted. Jurian learns that Confederate cavalrymen are in pursuit of the party. Familiar with the territory, Jurian overtakes the fleeing renegades with the intention of leading them to safety over the Mexican border. They chose not to heed his advice. Only a few of the men escape the massacre that follows.
The events resulting in this shocking bloodbath change Jurian’s life. He joins the Unionist forces as Jake Baker, and becomes a sharpshooter assigned to the Army of the Potomac. Jake seeks revenge for the coldblooded killing of his countrymen.