J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Banned Books Week

This week, schools and libraries across the nation took part in “Banned Books Read-out.” Everyone was asked to participate by acknowledging their favorite banned books, what it means to observe and uphold the First Amendment, and how banned books have impacted our lives. As an author, I can appreciate the importance of this event.

Many famous books have been banned in the past. Some examples are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Black Beauty,” and the Harry Potter books. The list is immense, and some books have been banned for obscure reasons.

Book censorship has been a problem since the beginning. The Bible and the Quran have also been banned at some point. Any book deemed too radical or politically incorrect is at risk of being banned. Although viewpoints have changed over the course of history, it is still unacceptable, in this author’s opinion, to ban the written word simply because certain groups don’t agree. I urge everyone to read a banned book and expand your appreciation of these works, as well as our freedom.

And Yet Again

A woman in Summerville, South Carolina has had to endure racism and terrorist attacks after she displayed the Southern Cross from a flagpole in her yard. Ten years ago, Annie Chambers Caddell, who is white, moved into a “traditionally” black neighborhood and hoisted the flag. The neighbors assumed that she was racist, so they harassed her continuously, and marched in protest. When a rock flew through her front window, she decided to put up lattice. Her neighbors suddenly erected eight-foot-high fences to block the view of the flag. Apparently, this sparked Ms. Caddell’s ire, so she got a taller flagpole. Her black neighbor got one as well, displaying the American flag over the top of the fence. (So take down the fence!)

This has caused controversy and media attention, although the entire thing, in this writer’s opinion, seems trite. What happened to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc.? Freedom of expression vs. politically correct? Now we’re getting into trouble.

This display of intolerance, or ignorance, is getting tiresome. I have to admit, I used to think that displaying the Southern Cross (which is taken from Scotland’s St. Andrews Cross) was racist, until I did my homework. Now I understand what Confederate soldiers sacrificed, and not because they wanted slavery. Only about 4% of Southerners owned slaves. Some were black themselves. The soldiers fought to defend their homeland, and many freed slaves did as well. Over the course of time, the flag has been distorted to represent the KKK, but that isn’t why people like Ms. Caddell proudly display it. If they did, don’t you think they would do it in secret, just like the Klan met in secret? It seems to me that the people who cry wolf are bigger wolves themselves.

To read more about this breaking story, check out:


Confederate Flag Banned (Here We Go Again)

Last week,  attorneys representing seven Lawrence County high school students filed a lawsuit against the district after they were suspended in October for displaying the Confederate flag at the homecoming parade. Most of them were wearing T-shirts adorned with the flag. Several black students complained.

“Don’t hate me because I’m black. I won’t hate you because you’re white. We ought to be able to get along and that is digging in old wounds, making people upset,” said African-American Barry Brackins.

The school superintendent was quoted as saying, “I hope that in the future we can help them understand what this means and use this as a learning experience, that this is not just a flag. That it is hurtful to some of those around them.”

This story seems typical of the ignorance displayed by today’s politically correct, except that this time, the students are fighting back by suing the school district. Because some of them are of Cherokee heritage, they are receiving attention by filing a lawsuit to remove the Confederate flag ban from Lawrence County schools. The plaintiffs claim that the school district is violating their civil and constitutional rights, and that the “X” on the Confederate flag is a religious symbol, used on the St. Andrews Cross. Therefore, the school district is denying them of their religious beliefs.

To learn more about this interesting event, visit:


Battle of Antietam

Saturday marked the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg. On September 17, 1862, the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee confronted General George B. McClellan’s Union troops near Sharpsburg, Maryland. It was the first major battle of the Civil War to take place on northern soil, and ended up being the bloodiest single day of the War Between the States.

Major fighting took place across Millers cornfield, at Dunker Church, the Sunken Road, where the Yankees broke the Rebel center but failed to follow up the assault, and at a bridge spanning Antietam Creek. Charges and counter-charges over the bridge resulted in men piling up on one another so deep that advancing soldiers couldn’t get across. The river turned red with their blood. The bridge later became known as Burnside Bridge.

Although Lee was outnumbered two to one, he managed to hold off the Yankees and retreat back to Virginia. McClellan failed to pursue, and the battle ended up being a draw. However, President Lincoln considered it enough of a victory to use it as a springboard in launching his Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect January 1, 1863, freeing only slaves in Confederate states.

Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross after the war, was at Antietam tending to the wounded, where she acquired the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.” She came close to death herself when a bullet shot through the skirt of her dress, but she escaped unscathed.

Pictures of Pea Ridge

Last week, I posted a blog about Pea Ridge Battlefield in Arkansas. This was a pivotal battle in the Civil War, because the Confederate loss secured the state of Missouri for the Union army later on. As promised, I am posting pictures of the battlefield, including the Elkhorn Tavern, where major fighting took place on March 8, 1862. Enjoy!

The Perils of Reenacting

As many a Civil War reenactor can attest, living history can be just that. Setting aside a weekend, away from offices, traffic, strip malls, and convenience stores, to camp out like soldiers did back in the 1860’s, can be a rude awakening for some.

On many occasions, weekend warriors have had to endure elements out of their element. In other words, they’ve had to leave the air conditioning to suffer through 105 degree heat while reenacting battles in wool uniforms. Most guys today just aren’t equipped to deal with marching 20 miles a day to take on the enemy in a twelve-hour battle like they did during the Civil War. It isn’t unusual for battle reenactments to take a break in order to bus out an ambulance and rescue some poor guy who has passed out from heat exhaustion.

Recently, another natural element effected the reenactors at Gettysburg. In July, five reenactors, including a pregnant woman, were taken to a local hospital. They weren’t hit by minie balls, shot, or shrapnel, but by lightning. The tent they were staying in was hit, and one of the occupants suffered second-degree burns. Fortunately, everyone was treated and released within a day, and the unborn baby was unharmed. All those involved say the event won’t deter them from participating in further reenactments. Now that’s dedication!

Battle of Pea Ridge

Over the weekend, my husband and I traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This happened after we had to change our plans. Our original destination was Destin, Florida, but because of the tropical storm, we wisely decided that going north would be more fun. In the process, we discovered a Civil War battlefield that we hadn’t seen before.

The Battle of Pea Ridge took place early on in the war, March 7-8, 1862, and was instigated by Union General Samuel Curtis, who thought that waging a winter battle would disable the Confederates. The battle was one of the few where Confederate forces outnumbered Union troops, and where Cherokee Indians fought (on the Rebel side). Fortunately for Curtis, his opponent was General Earl Van Dorn, who was more concerned with glorifying himself than looking after his soldiers. Van Dorn had his troops leave behind essential food, water, and ammunition, and march 60 miles, in three days, in the cold, which most were unaccustomed to. In an attempt to flank the Yankees, Van Dorn was surprised when another division of artillery attacked. He was forced to retreat. This resulted in a Union victory, and allowed the Yankees to secure Missouri. Van Dorn lost 3000 on the march, and 1400 in the battle.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the battle, and the National Park Service is preparing for the event. Normally, Pea Ridge reenactments attract about 200 participants, but next year promises to be much larger. The battlefield is beautifully maintained, and the highlight is the Elkhorn Tavern. Even though the present building is a reproduction of the original, it is attached to the original chimneys, and stands on the original foundation. The battlefield is located near Garfield, Arkansas.

(Photos to Follow)

Confederates Receive Honor in England with Grave Markers

Although places in America are protesting the public display of Confederate markers, flags, etc., the exact opposite seems to be happening in Great Britain. According to an issue of Confederate Veteran magazine, a senior Sons of Confederate Veterans member visited Britain only to discover that the country had honored fallen soldiers by placing Confederate flags on their graves. There are several thousand Confederate veterans buried in Britain, as well as in nearly every other country throughout the world.

During the War Between the States, there was a profound connection between England and the South of which we will probably never know the exact proportion. It is estimated that 200,000 British-born soldiers fought on both sides, and that 141,000 of the South’s citizens were born in the British Isles.

There are over 1,000 Confederate reenactors and two SCV camps existing in Britain at present. It seems British officials are far more supportive about Confederate events and activities, and recently flew a Confederate flag over a government building: the first time since 1865. This is in sharp contrast to what the U.S. is experiencing. In Richmond last year, an article ran that blatantly proclaimed Southern ancestors who fought for the Confederacy to be “terrorists.” Unfortunately, nary an SCV member complained, but members in England did voice their protest. In Great Britain, it is considered a privilege to honor those brave ancestors who fought for Southern independence.

Confederacy Reflected on Six States’ Flags

Following the Civil War, it was decided that each state should have a flag to represent itself, so in the late 1880’s the process began. Not surprisingly, many southern states chose to represent themselves with replicas of their beloved, albeit lost, Confederacy. Over the course of time, criticism and controversy have surrounded these states’ decisions, claiming that they are racist. The motto “Heritage Not Hate,” has received skepticism as to its sincerity, and whether it is a cover-up for racism underneath.

Alabama’s state flag is white with a red saltire cross, similar in design to the most recognizable flag of the Confederacy, the St. Andrews cross, otherwise known as the Southern Cross. Florida also has a red saltire cross on its state flag. Mississippi has the only state flag that still bears the true replica of the Southern Cross. This design is in the upper left-hand corner, with the rest of the flag resembling the Stars and Bars. North Carolina also has a state flag that resembles the Stars and Bars, as does Texas, and Tennessee’s flag replicates the battle flag by its color scheme and design with a vertical bar on the fly that is reminiscent of the Stainless Banner. Two other states use similar colors in their flag designs: Arkansas and Missouri. Georgia received so much flack that it underwent numerous changes until finally deciding on a design that displays previous state flags.

It is fascinating to see how some state’s flags transformed over the years. Texas and Florida both started out with the Bonnie Blue Flag. Interestingly, California also had a lone star flag, although it was considered to be a part of the Union during the War Between the States.

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