A Civil War Novel Based on a True Story

Mary Jane’s War by Joe B. Roles is a Civil War novel based upon a true story. Mary Jane’s husband died from wounds received in the Battle of New Market. She took a pair of mules and a wagon 120 miles across a river, across a mountain and among enemy troops during the winter of 1865 to recover her husband’s remains in Lexington, Virginia to bring them home to Monroe County, West Virginia for burial.


I cherish this book. Reason being, my husband and I just purchased some property that used to be part of the main character’s farm. The stories are so interesting because they are factually-based. The author’s family still resides in this area. There is no reason to question his accuracy. Today I spoke with the author, whose contact info was in the front of the book. He is a true gentleman, probably in his 70’s today. He told me where I could find further information about the land and the people there. I enjoyed these stories because they were based on true episodes: I loved hearing things like the Laurel Creek cave was where they used to put the bodies of the deceased to keep them cool in the summer until there could be a proper burial. Little tidbits like these are great. Worth buying just for its quaint stories that will stick in your head.

JVD, Amazon customer

I loved the book. Learned much about local history and very great little details of everyday life in that time. Living in the “Salt” makes every detail in the book very interesting as I know many of the families descendants that are mentioned and some still live on original farms. Ranks among the top of my favorite books

Amazon customer

While yes, many parts of this story have been a bit embellished, the core details remain true. Mary Jane is actually my GGG Grandmother on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. Fact: Ralph joined the military in the midst of the Civil War. Fact: Ralph died during battle. Fact: Ralph is buried in Monroe County in our family’s cemetery, along with Mary Jane, the majority of their children, and several of their elders (the Arnotts). How else would he have made it back to Monroe County? I’m sure several of the details of this story have changed over the years but the overall context has been passed down through the years. Ralph Estil (Mary Jane’s 4th son) is my great grandfather’s father (you want names, I’ll send ’em to ya). Although Ralph Estil was only 6 years old when his mother and brother’s left, Mary Jane lived a nice long life until about 89 years of age, plenty of time to share her story with her children and grandchildren.

It’s amazing to me to now know that the majority of my direct lineage is buried in the same, small family cemetery. A cemetery I visited countless times as a child. Only now do I realize its impact.

goldielox4, Amazon customer

This book is the true story of a friend of mines great-grandmother and she traveled through my town and county during the Civil War which makes it doubly interesting.

wanda, Amazon customer


Storyteller Joe B. Roles was raised in Salt Sulphur Springs, Monroe County, West Virginia where he sat under an apple tree and listened to stories from old timers. Mary Jane’s trip at the end of The Civil War haunted him until he put it in writing and now into a film to share with others. A story of courage and character that will teach our younger generation the Christian principles that has made America great.


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