Francois Devol is born into an abusive, alcoholic, desperately poor home in the Louisiana Bayous in the 1820s. Cursed with a club foot and subjected to horrible teasings and tauntings, even suffering humiliations at the hands of a slave girl, Devol grows up hating.
Taking violent and drastic measure to escape his horrors, Devol flees to the New Orleans underworld, where finds the Rev. Makepeace Bliss, a waterfront abortionist and faith healer who is able to correct the abnormality. Grateful, Devol joins the good reverend and doctor in his criminal enterprises, which range from grave robbing to kidnapping.
Physically powerful and enthusiastically violent, but almost completely illiterate and crude, Devol is taken in by the real life slave owning grand dame of New Orleans, Delphine LaLaurie and her maniacal husband. In exchange for supplying the ever more ruthless discipline to her slaves, Mme. LaLaurie gives him lessons in reading, writing, and the ways of old money, aristocratic New Orleans high society. Bright ambitious, and a fast learner, Devol is soon a foreman in a prosperous slave auction business and where he learns slave trading from notorious swindler, forger and importer of illegal slaves, Monroe Edwards.
Devol is also a sexual sadist and cold-blooded murderer. After crossing the Ohio River to commit a horrible crime in the North when the Civil War starts, Devol forms a gang of Confederate bushwhackers and prowls the war ravaged Tennessee countryside to carry out his depravities, By now he is accompanied by his 7-foot-tall personal assassin, Ashok, son of Thug Behram, the real life serial murderer of 927 victims in Colonial India.
With Cage hot on his heels, Devol takes his terrors deeper into the Southern Heartland. There are gun fights and near misses in the guerrilla warfare raging across Tennessee, and a showdown at the Battle of Chickamauga, but with seemingly charmed luck, Devol escapes again and again to continue his reign of terror. By 1864, Devol has left the partisans and risen to the rank of Colonel in General Nathan Bedford Forrest‘s 1st Tennessee Cavalry. In April, when Forrest is injured during a raid, Devol leads the infamous charge into Fort Pillow which would become known as the Fort Pillow Massacre.
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