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Book: Two Hills: A Story of Survival Between the Lines



Cecilia Payne was 15 years old, living with her father on Doctor Wunder’s farm in Alexandria County, Virginia in the shadow of the nation’s Capital when the Civil War landed on their doorstep. What had been a budding and affable community of farmers, war heroes, businessmen, and workmen nestled between two hills was now split with Virginia’s secession and occupation by Federal troops in May 1861. What were once neighbors, almost overnight became either enemies of Virginia, the Federals or both living in constant fear.

Separating those two hills was a wonderful spring that fed a small creek where young boys and girls escaped their parent’s prying eyes. Their little place of refuge paid witness to celebrations, romance, and later marauding scouting parties, skirmishes, and death.

When Alexandria County returned to Virginia in the Retrocession of 1845, it set the stage for its occupation, becoming a key staging point for the war 15 years later. Cecilia and her father struggled to survive by hauling goods to the many Union Army camps that sprung up around them, and they became witnesses to the injustices of war and how to live within a sea of strange men. The war tested her family, friendships, and even her love shared with a young Union Army deserter. Before the last year of the war she would lose nearly everyone she loved and she vowed to leave and never return. Now 7 years after the war, she and her daughter return to settle her family’s affairs with the Southern Claims Commission.  This is a story about a young Cecelia growing up quickly in a suburb of Washington at the start of the Civil War. More importantly, this is a story of real people, experiencing real events in our history.

George Axiotis is an amateur historian who raised his family between the Two Hills where Cecelia and her friends called their own. A desire to know what happened in those early days of the Civil War in Arlington, Virginia sparked interest in writing this book. What he found were wonderful stories of happiness and despair, of friendships and fear during a calamitous time in our history. His meticulously researched book is a historically-based fictional story of real events as seen through the eyes of a young person.

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2015

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