Undaunted Heart


2010 Silver IPPY award-winner

Best Regional Non-Fiction








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When a brigade of General Sherman’s victorious army marched into Chapel Hill the day after Easter 1865, the Civil War had just ended and President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. Citizens of the picturesque North Carolina college town had endured years of hardship and sacrifice, and now the Union army was patrolling its streets. One of Sherman’s young generals paid a visit to the stately home of David Swain, president of the University of North Carolina and a former governor of the state, to inform him that the town was now under Union occupation.

Against this unlikely backdrop began a passionate and controversial love story still vivid in town lore. When President Swain’s daughter Ella met the Union general, life for these two young people who had spent the war on opposite sides was forever altered.

General Smith Atkins of Illinois abhorred slavery and greatly admired Abraham Lincoln. Spirited young Ella Swain had been raised in a slave-owning family and had spent the war years gathering supplies to send to Confederate soldiers.

But, as a close friend of the Swains wrote, when Atkins met Ella, the two “‘changed eyes’ at first sight and a wooing followed.”

The reaction of the Swains and fellow North Carolinians to this North-South love affair was swift and often unforgiving.

In Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General, author Suzy Barile, a great-great-granddaughter of Ella Swain and Smith Atkins, tells their story, separating facts from the elaborate embellishments the famous courtship and marriage have taken on over the generations. Interwoven throughout Undaunted Heart are excerpts from Ella’s never-before-published letters to her parents that reveal a loving marriage that transcended differences and scandal.

Undaunted Heart

The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General

by Suzy Barile

   Eno Publishers  POBox 158  Hillsborough NC 27278  919.632.6893

“Finally, the book I’ve been waiting to read! Ella’s is a great love story in every sense, from initial overwhelming passion through years of tragedy and loss—not so much from the War, surprisingly, as from the deaths of her beloved children and family, one after another. Her brilliance and beauty bound by her biology, Ella’s life proved Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 
“As soon as there is life, there is danger.” Her regard for her “best-loved and loving husband” remained undiminished as Ella springs from history
to testify in this passionate, moving love story.”
                                                                                    —Lee Smith, Author

    click here to read some reviewsUndaunted_Heart_reviews.htmlUndaunted_Heart_reviews.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0
Listen to Suzy Barile on D.G. Martin’s “Look who’s Talking” radio interviewhttp://wchl1360.com/mp3/dgpodcast/WhosTalking042110.mp3
Listen to Suzy Barile’s interview on WUNC’s “The State of Thingshttp://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot1217b09.mp3/viewhttp://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot1217b09.mp3/viewshapeimage_3_link_0
watch Suzy Barile on nc Bookwatch with D.g. Martin! http://podcast.unctv.org/ncbkw/1300/ncbw1311_suzybarile.m4v