One Came Back- A Franco-American Civil War Novel

A Book Review by Juliana L’Heureux

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Impressive granite American Civil War monuments proudly adorn nearly every York County community square, but little is written about Franco-American contributions to the success of this landmark historic event, until now. It turns out, Remi Tremblay (1847-1926), was a French-Canadian journalist who wrote a popular serialized epic about the war, published in 1889 in New England’s French language newspapers. This enjoyable novel is now translated into English and re-published in book form.

It’s appropriate, in April, to have a newly translated up close and personal account of the horrible 19th century American Civil War written from a Franco-American’s point of view. After all, April is the month when the American Civil War ended in 1865, with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia. “One Came Back (Un Revenant): A Franco-American Civil War Novel”, by journalist Remi Tremblay translated by Margaret S. Langord with Claire Quintal, is a historic narrative that’s likely to please both students and scholars of Civil War history, culture, American immigration and adventure stories. In fact, readers who enjoy romance will find a couple of good love stories woven into the Civil War strife, as well. 

Tremblay surely knew how to package his compelling story to an 1889 audience, who were likely weary from hearing about Civil War misery from returning veterans. Actually, the soul of “One Came Back” is a desperate semi-autobiographical account drawn from the journalist’s personal experiences fighting in the Civil War, but camouflaged with the aura of an enjoyable adventure story. 

Franco-Americans should take pleasure and pride in the re-publication of Tremblay’s novel. Quite simply, “One Came Back” is a rare cultural pearl.  Somewhere in Tremblay’s melodramatic French language newspaper serial, translators Langford and Quintal discovered a believable story about ethnic pride, patriotism for the United States and youthful invincibility told through the eyes of two young Franco-American men.

One Came Back : A Franco-American Civil War Novel by Remi Tremblay, Margaret S. Langford (Translator) is available new and used at

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Review published in 2002
Copyright 2002, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine and Juliana L'Heureux