J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

New Review!


I received a new review for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. This book is the sequel to A Beautiful Glittering Lie, and the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Elaine Bertolotti, for your kind words! Here is her review:

After having read a thoroughly engaging Civil War tale in A Beautiful Glittering Lie, I was certainly interested in reading the sequel.

David Summers is heartbroken after hearing the news of his father Hiram’s death in the Battle of Fredericksburg. This motivates him to convince his best friend, Jake, to go with him and enlist in the Confederate army, more to avenge his father than for idealism. As with his father, he and Jake find that the war means nothing more than horror, suffering and cruelty.

Again as in her first book, Hawkins recounts the human side of this tragic war. The young men in the story all too soon are thrown into battle. The author gives the reader a realistic view of the horrors of the battlefield, along with the characters’ reactions to all that happens around them.

Historical facts that mix with a look into how the war is seen from the eyes of a young soldier, this is what makes this book so unique.

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville


This weekend marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville. In commemoration, a reenactment of one of the last major battles of the Civil War took place near Four Oaks, North Carolina. The event also featured lectures, living history displays, sutlers’ tents, and soldier encampments. Thousands attended the event, which was expected to be the largest crowd to attend a Civil War reenactment in North Carolina.

The Battle of Bentonville took place near Four Oaks on March 19-21, 1865. Union General W.T. Sherman, on his rampage across the South, ripped through the state, dividing his army into two as it headed north from Fayetteville to Goldsboro. Confederate General Joseph Johnston tried to stop Sherman’s advance, but was unsuccessful when the two Union forces reunited. The battle led to Sherman’s ability to capture Raleigh on April 13.

Many spectators expressed their appreciation for the event, including Leon Dockery. “I’ve never been to a reenactment and I was curious about how that worked … I wanted (my children) to be exposed to more than what they may hear from me or read in a textbook,” he said.

What’s Old is New (Or Newly Discovered)


The past always has a way of coming back to haunt us. Reminders are constantly sent, and Civil War era relics are no exception. The most recent discovery occurred yesterday in Atlanta.

While packing up a house, movers discovered a cannonball that seemed to be authentic, so they contacted local authorities. Sure enough, the cannonball, with its fuse still attached, was authentic. The bomb squad took it to a former shooting range, where it was detonated at about 6 p.m. As of today, it hadn’t been determined whether the cannonball contained a live round or a dummy round.

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked if what he had found on his father’s property in Mississippi was a cannonball. He had been using it as a doorstop. The Civil War cannonball wasn’t live, but it was definitely authentic. He had no idea what he had discovered, which just goes to show, you never know what you might discover in your own backyard.

Civil War Celts: The Fighting Irish

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Because I’m Irish, I think it is only fitting to pay homage to some of the many Irishmen who fought in the War Between the States. The Irish played an enormous role in both armies during the Civil War, and many famous soldiers were Irish. Nearly everyone has heard of the infamous Irish Brigade, the 69th New York Infantry “Fighting Irish,” which still exists today. The Irish Brigade, led by Thomas Francis Meagher, played a significant role in many major battles, and there have been documented accounts of the Confederates hearing the approaching Irish Brigade chant, “Erin Go Bragh!” as the Irishmen marched toward them with the Union army. The 2,500 Irish soldiers stuck green sprigs in their caps to remind them of the “old sod.”


On the Confederate side, six of the 425 generals were Irish. Patrick Cleburne saw the South’s plight as that of Ireland’s, in that the Union refused to allow secession, just as Britain disallowed Irish independence. General Cleburne, who would be celebrating his birthday today if he was alive, distinguished himself as a brave and innovative leader. Other notable Irish commanders included General Philip Sheridan, General George Armstrong Custer, John Barry, father of the American Navy, and the Reverend Abram Joseph Ryan, who served as a chaplain to Confederate troops and went against Union authorities to do so.



During the course of the War Between the States, approximately 2.2 million men fought for the Union, 150,000 of which were Irish. In comparison, around 900,000 enlisted for the Confederacy, with 20,000 to 40,000 of these men being of Irish decent. The Irish influenced Civil War music as well. A popular song of the time, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” was written by Patrick Gilmore, who was, of course, an Irishman.

New Review

I just received a new review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank so much for the kind words! If you have read the book, please write a review. It will help boost my ratings on Amazon.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art

(Written by Elaine B.)

How does a 16 year old boy react to his father donning the Confederate uniform to leave for war?  David could only wish he were going too and imagines what adventures his father will have.

The truth however, is quite different.  His father has to experience first hand the hardships and horrors of war.

“I never expected to see anything like this..!”

It’s a story that takes us back into the past to relive the feelings and emotions of the honest people who believed in the Confederacy and their desire to protect their families.

Descriptive bulletins accurately detail the war happenings so that the reader is filled in on the historical events as they are occurring.

I find it to be a well documented story of the Confederacy seen through the eyes of  the ordinary people who were forced to live through those terrible years

It is a well written account of a time in the States when history had to run its inevitable course

The Mystery Remains


I have recently developed a profound interest in genealogy. Not just in general, but MY genealogy, to be specific. I guess this started while I was researching my Young Adult historical fiction about my hometown, Sioux City, and my great aunt. She and her husband ran a hotel downtown during Prohibition, and there are many colorful stories surrounding the place. Unfortunately, the hotel was razed in the 1960’s, but that doesn’t deter me from searching out interesting tidbits about my ancestors. It’s amazing what deep, dark secrets I’ve uncovered about my family!

My latest quandary is my great-great grandfather. He divorced Great-Great Grandma, a rare occurrence at the time, and after that, basically fell off the planet. The entire family lost contact and track of him. Some say he went to Texas, but most don’t have a clue. He is the key to my Irish ancestry, since his parents came over, but his story remains elusive for now.

After I wrote my first book about the Civil War titled A Beckoning Hellfire, my husband grew curious about his ancestors. He discovered that his great-great grandfather was a Confederate soldier who served as a Cherokee interpreter for Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Thanks to fellow Sons of Confederate Veterans member Lynn Herron for researching this!) A United Daughters of the Confederacy sister of mine recently posted that she discovered a Civil War ancestor who fought for the Union. She seemed appalled, but I think it is admirable, since men on both sides basically fought with the same valor and enthusiasm. In my opinion, there were no wrong sides in the War Between the States – just wrong governing that lead the country to such a disastrous result.

As I sit here watching a TV show about historic Scotland (my husband is a descendant), I long to find out more about my Irish clan. Maybe, someday, I’ll discover the truth.

Hang ‘Em High!

Today has been designated National Confederate Flag Day by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. If you haven’t done so already, proudly hang your flag high for everyone to see! It can be any flag of the Confederacy: the Bonnie Blue, Stars and Bars, Stainless Banner, or the Confederate Battle flag.

As you can see, my little bloodhound is a true patriot of the South! Truth be told, I’m still unpacking, and it’s the only flag I could find right now, but you get the jist.

So fly your flag high, and tell the world you’re not afraid to show your Southern Pride! Happy Confederate Flag Day!

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