The Great Southern Circus: From the Big Top to Gettysburg


The Great Southern Circus, 2018 Digital Edition, is a riveting e-book of historic fiction by Nick West, that incorporates, expands, and updates the previous work, and its sequal, The Long Road Home: The Death and Birth of America.

It is set in the past and explores the manner, social conditions, major events, and other history of the period depicted. The author explores notable historical figures to allow readers to better understand how these individuals responded to the events and changes taking place in their environments.

The Great Southern Circus is based on true historical events, set in historical context and time. Although this story deals with real people and actual events, this is a work of historical fiction. The events chronicled here did happen, and the characters are all based on real people, but the author extrapolates from factual information derived from multiple sources to bring his characters to life.

In the early summer of 1859, an Alabama farm boy named James Johnston had no idea that his life was about to change forever. The clouds of civil war were gathering when he met Miranda “Randi” Madderra, a beautiful young bareback rider with a small traveling circus.

In The Great Southern Circus, you will ride with the performers as they traverse the southeastern United States during these uncertain times. In a little over two years, the circus traveled miles equal to a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back through frontier country where there were no paved roads, few bridges, and poor directions between towns.

They braved bad weather, illness, outlaws, accidents, and fire with every day presenting a new challenge.  Despite these difficulties, from 1859-1861, Orton and Older’s Great Southern Circus completed an extended tour that began in Portage, Wisconsin, and traveled south through eighteen states, crossing state lines thirty-seven times in one hundred and twenty-three weeks. In horse-drawn wagons, they would traverse the Great Smoky, Appalachian, and Blue Ridge Mountains twice.

The Great Southern Circus tells the true story of one circus family who made that tour.Now, you will follow their lives through the dark years of the American Civil War, as well, and with the convenience and economy of a BelleAire Press E-publication.
As the Civil War closed in on so many lives, half the circus troupe left to join the Union Army and the other half, including Miranda’s future husband James, rode south to fight for the Confederacy.

Nick had heard these stories to,o but chose not to concentrate on the War. He was surprised when the book went into wide spread publication and he was besieged with questions from readers all over the country demanding to know what happened to the characters that they had fallen in love with through the reading of “The Great Southern Circus.”

In response to those requests, he wrote the second book, “The Long Road Home.”
This work followed members of the circus as they were swept through the terrible conflagration of war.

During his research while writing the second book he realized that “The Great Southern Circus” was a perfect metaphor for the entire experience of the war from a southern viewpoint. Hindsight told him that these books should have been combined under the same title.

“The Great Southern Circus; From the Big Top to Gettysburg” is that combination, including additional research, perspectives, images, and hyperlinks that enable readers to connect quickly with other important resources.

We begin with the innocence of youth as a young Alabama farm boy leaves home to join the circus to be with the girl he loves. During the years with the circus, James and Miranda fall more deeply in love and James’ becomes close friends with fellow performers. Men and women from the North and the South, both white and black become one circus family. As war clouds gather on the horizon, he and his new friends share disbelief that one day soon might find them of opposite sides of a terrible conflict. When their worst fears are realized, they are driven apart by war.

In the terrible years that follow, youth and innocence will be lost forever, but will the friends survive the horror of war?



Nick West was born in Gainesville, Florida and grew up on a family farm near Archer, Florida. He attended Gainesville High School and the University of Florida. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, and together with his family, has owned and operated a landscape business in the area for over forty years.

Nick and his wife, Kay, and their children, Tammy, John and Christy, along with their families all live on the farm where he grew up near Archer.

He began his writing career in 2010 when his first novel, “The Great Southern Circus” was published. His books include :

The Great Southern Circus: From the Big Top to Gettysburg
The Great Southern Circus
The Long Road Home
The Sandspur Special
To Light A New Fire