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Mary Townsend's first career was in nursing administration, but she has long been interested in the Civil War, given her rich family history on both sides of the conflict. In 2011 the University of Missouri Press published Yankee Warhorse, her biography of her great-great grandfather, a German-born major general in the Union Army who played a major role in Sherman's march through Georgia. Her new novel, Toward a Distant Shore, is based on the diaries of another great-great grandfather, George Wilson, who was a Southerner through and through, son of a Virginia plantation owner. The diaries provided a rich picture of Virginians' struggles during this harrowing time.
The author lives with her husband Mike and dog Gina in Southern California.