A novel inspired by the true story of a Pembrokeshire farmer’s son who fought at the Battle of the Little Bighorn under General Custer has been donated to the county's libraries by Aberporth author Mike Lewis.

Published by Victorina Press, ‘If God Will Spare My Life’ (IGWSML) is a re-imagining of events which led William Batine James, of Dinas Cross, to emigrate to the United States and enlist in the US Seventh Cavalry.

In June 1876 James was the sole Welshman to fight at Custer’s Last Stand when 210 US soldiers were massacred by huge numbers of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by Chief Sitting Bull.

The book – shortlisted at the Eyelands International Book Awards – is being adapted into the play ‘Ghost Rider’ which will be performed at Fishguard’s Theatr Gwaun at the town’s On Land’s Edge Festival next September.

Mike, a former reporter for the Tivyside, wrote the novel after discovering five letters William James wrote home in which he complains constantly about a lack of news from home.

“They represent a very human side to a newly-arrived immigrant struggling to survive in a strange land,” said Mike.

“IGWSML is a re-imagining of what prompted Will’s journey from Dinas Mountain all the way to Last Stand Hill in Montana – in his own voice.

“We will never know for sure, but those letters contain a tangible darkness.”

Tivyside Advertiser: Could this unidentified US Seventh Cavalry trooper be William James? Author Mike Lewis continues his quest for a photo.Could this unidentified US Seventh Cavalry trooper be William James? Author Mike Lewis continues his quest for a photo. (Image: Pembrokeshire County Council)

Mike stumbled across the story of William James, who served as a sergeant in the US Seventh Cavalry, twenty years ago.

He subsequently traced five previously-unknown letters the mysterious James had dispatched home to his younger brother which form the framework of the novel.

The novel has been praised for its meticulous research, but a photo of William James remains elusive, although he did send one home.

Mike presented copies of the book to Fishguard Library Manager Tracey Johnson.

Tracey said: “We are very grateful to Mr Lewis for providing copies of his book to Pembrokeshire Libraries.

“Books with a local connection to Pembrokeshire are always popular and I’m sure many readers are looking forward to enjoying this novel which links the West of Wales to The Wild West.”

Tivyside Advertiser: Mike Lewis’ book If God Will Spare My LifeMike Lewis’ book If God Will Spare My Life (Image: Pembrokeshire County Council)

You can find out more information about Pembrokeshire Libraries on the Council’s website.