J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the category “Author”

The Facts Are Alarming

I just read an article written by a former Southern governor, stating that all Confederate monuments were erected to celebrate white supremacy. This is so offensive and off base that I wanted to post the following list in order to show how wrong this attitude is. The fact is, most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes and ward off the advancing enemy. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Thanks again so much for reading my blog!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOWNS BURNED BY THE CONFEDERATE ARMY

1. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1864

Chambersburg

TOWNS BURNED BY THE UNION ARMY

(from the Official Records):

1. Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861

(The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.) *

2. * Platte City, Mo – December 16, 1861 – (“ColonelW. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while thethird is released. ”)

3. Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862

4. Frenchburg, Virginia (later West Virginia), burned, January 5, 1862

5. Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862

6. Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862

(a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground)*

7. Winton, North Carolina, burned, February 20, 1862

8. Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863

(Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog,

surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”)*

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, burned, August 5 & 21, 1862

10. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862

11. Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862

12. Prentiss, Mississippi, burned, September 14, 1862

13. Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862

14. Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862

15. Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

16. Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

17. Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863

18. Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863

19. Clifton, Tennessee, burned, February 20, 1863 20. Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863

(“Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to removepersonal items, and the men then burned every house inthe village.”)*

21. Celina, Tennessee, burned, April 19, 1863

22. Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863

23. Greenville, Mississippi, burned, May 6, 1863

24. Jackson, Mississippi, mostly burned, May 15, 1863

25. Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 23, 1863

(“On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landednear Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the town people out and burned down the

26. Darien, Georgia, burned, June 11, 1863

27. Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863

28. Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863

29. Richmond, Louisiana, burned, June 15, 1863

30. Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863

31. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, destroyed and burned, June 28, 1863

 

32. Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864

33. Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864

34. Campti, Louisiuana, burned, April 16, 1864

35. Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864

36. Grand Ecore, Louisiana, burned, April 21, 1864

37. Cloutierville, Louisiana, burned, April 25, 1864

38. Bolivar, Mississippi, burned, May 5, 1864

39. Alexandria, Louisiana, burned, May 13, 1864

40. Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864

41. Newtown, Virginia, ordered to be burned, ordered May 30, 1864

42. Ripley, Mississippi, burned, July 8, 1864

43. Harrisburg, Mississippi, burned, July 14, 1864

Oxford

44. Oxford, Mississippi, burned, August 22, 1864

45. Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864

(“Union soldiers were told to burn buildings theConfederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M.Battey Jr. called harmless places.”)*

atlanta

46. Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864

47. Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864

48. Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864

49. Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan

(Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign)*

50. Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864

51. Guntersville, Alabama, burned January 15, 1865

52. Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865

53. McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865

54. Lawtonville, South Carolina, burned, February 7, 1865

55. Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865

56. Orangeburg, South Carolina, burned, February 12, 1865

57. Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865

58. Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865

59. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

Thanks to Jim Huffman with The Gainesville Volunteers, Picayune for the above places, dates and actions.

(*) information taken from: https://seekingliberty.org/2018/10/01/ the-benchmark-set-by- union-army-1861-1865/

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars newsletter, vol. 43, issue 9, September 2019)

 

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What You Didn’t Know About the WBTS

I recently came upon this article and wanted to share. So many myths and legends have surfaced in regard to the causes of the American Civil War, especially since the last veterans died around the 1930’s. Within the past few years, emphasis has been placed on the issue of slavery. Just to set the record straight, slavery was not the cause of the war, like so many believe today. Georgia has decided to put markers on all their Civil War monuments and memorials in an attempt to make a connection to slavery. I think this is completely inappropriate and inaccurate. Let me know what you think after you read this article. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

American-Civil-War-Battle-300x213

Why have many schools stopped teaching American history or cut back drastically on the curriculum? Does anyone care? Is this making kids dumber?

We have been taught, thru the previous rewrites of history, that the North was righteous and good, the South was evil, and all owned slaves and beat and raped them all the time…Lincoln was a saint, who lead troops into war to end slavery. I understand the hatred generated…but it was based on LIES. This propaganda was generated to justify what was done and the lives lost on American soil.

Falsehood: The reason for the war was slavery. Truth : It was MONEY! Excessive taxation (Morrell Tariff was the breaking point) had the South paying 96% of the nation’s taxes. Only 6% of the population of the South owned slaves. Some slaves were even owned by black people. According to the 1860 U.S. CENSUS There were MORE FREE BLACKS living in the SOUTH than in the north. There WERE also slaves in the north. (Grant said of the slaves which attended him throughout the war, that they were his wives. Sherman also had slaves.) The offered Crittendon Amendment, stated that slavery could be made PERMANENT INSTITUTION IF THE SOUTH DIDN’T SECEDE…This was preaching to the choir, in that these congressmen and legislators were of that elite group…BUT they still declined!!!! There had been an agreement with the previous administration to not fortify or send munitions and additional troops to Ft Sumpter, which was violated at night, under the guise of darkness but the moonlight and the close proximity of the Charleston Battery, revealed this to those watching in Charleston and shots which could easily target MEN, where instead issued as warning shots harmlessly across the bow. Our military STILL does this, upon occasion as a warning of a violation.

ALso, during the War, BOTH white and black women were robbed and raped by invading Union troops. The food that they had if not taken, was spoilt and they were left to starve. The city of Atlanta, WAS KNOWN not to be occupied by any TROOPS , but ONLY by women, children, and elderly people when it was decided to be burned. Lincoln was NO SAINT. He wanted Blacks deported to Africa, Or nearby Haiti, Cuba, or other tropical islands…and NOT mixing the races TOGETHER. He met with several black ministers during the war to discuss this plan. Slavery was NOT targeted UNTIL the North lost several battles, and in hopes that in asurrection might take place…but it didn’t. (The Emancipation Proclamation DIDN’T FREE ANYONE…as Lincoln didn’t control those territories. It took a Constitutional Amendment to make that happen. Etc.) And the Confederate Battle flag NEVER FLEW OVER EVEN ONE SLAVE SHIP, But Old Glory DID. IF these vandals had not been LIED to, I don’t think they would have done this. 

The emancipation proclamation only freed the slaves in the South. It was a tactic used to make Lincoln appear to have a moral reason for the destruction he caused.

Thanks to Sharolyn Hamilton for this article.

 

Book Spotlight: Likes & Dislikes

I would like to share the second of three beautiful children’s books written by Arundhati Nithiyanandhan, an amazing and very talented 7-year-old. According to Aru:

“Like most kids of my age, I have an imagination that takes me to places and make up stories from my everyday life experiences. Only, I have a father who encourages it very much. In fact, he published three of my stories and these are now available on Amazon & Amazon KU as picture books for toddlers.”

So far, Aru and her father have published three books. Please check out the links below and feel free to write a review.

Likes

About the Book

Arundhati and Tanisha are sisters who are also each other’s best friends and spend most of their time together. They play, sing, dance and a considerable amount of time together after school. Knowing their likes and dislikes with respect to objects and correlating them with the five senses help them understand each other better.

This story is inspired by random conversations between the two sisters playing at the terrace.

About the Author

Arundhati (Aru) is seven years old and lives in Bangalore, India. She got inspired to tell stories after drawing her first storybook in a storytelling workshop conducted by #blrlitfest 2017. She loves telling new stories to her father while they both go for a walk in the evening.

Aru and her father have taken this journey further and have successfully published 3 children storybooks which have captured the imagination of 7 years old and the professionalism of an adult. Aru creates her stories from her day to day incidents and most of them are treasured part of her childhood. She loves to play in the sand and color sketches.

Reading level: 1 – 12 years

Paperback: 26 pages

Publisher: White Falcon Publishing

Published On: 24 October 2018

Language: English

ISBN: 978-9388459136

Price: Kindle $1.42 – Paperback $6.99

https://amzn.to/2yA3Zei

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

https://www.facebook.com/doodlesandtales/videos/1847907522001638/

Another Awesome Review

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion

I received another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Miss Tammy! Here is her review:

Tammy 81
When I was offered this book to review through voracious readers I was intrigued because I love history. This book was harder for me to read than I thought it would be. It’s hard to read, not because it’s poorly written— because it isn’t, simply due to the facts presented in such a graphic way. I’m sure people know that war isn’t glorious or romantic but thinking about a field with thousands of injured soldiers lying dying or men wearing rags because that is all they have due to fighting so long is hard. Many authors skip over the details or hide them in a story line that hints at war but doesn’t talk much about it. This story is in your face and honest, very well written.

 

Book Blitz – Physical by Mari.Reiza

~ Book Blitz ~

Physical by Mari.Reiza

 Women’s Psychological Fiction

 

About the Book:

Physical

A feminist read that won’t disappoint. 

 

In a small town in Italy, Kiki feels worthless and angry when her longtime partner finds a new cool girl to ride on another decade of easy existence. Meanwhile in London, Fátima, the wife of Kiki’s best friend, is losing her selfhood after giving birth to twins and being made redundant. Both heroines are determined to rebuild the passion and impunity of their youth, vitalizing desires that will bring them to risk everything. 

 

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

 

The Setting

A quiet, conservative northern village in Italy where Kiki works as a lawyer in her father’s office. A posh London neighbourhood where Fátima, unexpectedly jobless, is confined to her flat and her baby twins.

 

Meet Kiki 

She’s anarchic with curly black hair and thick-rimmed glasses. Her ex-boyfriend Salvo recently brought shame upon her after throwing ten years of a near marital relationship up in the air for a girl in tight, red leather shorts, with a Honda 500 between her legs; it was the start of Kiki’s vaginal atrophy days. But now something inside her arouses her. A baby. It’s Beppe’s. Suddenly all that interests her is her and Beppe, their frenzied limbs on a bunch of hay at the back of his barn. ‘You haven’t seen your friends for weeks. You even forget to eat!’ her nagging mother. How proud will Kiki make Fátima when she tells! Or will she. 

 

Meet Fátima 

Unlike Kiki, she has always been straightforward, rational and practical, as well as fair-haired and attractive in a sexy-cute kind of way, without being stunning. She was born in Rio blessed with more brains than most, even if it was an easy line-up, and legged it as far away as possible, as soon as possible. Because resenting rich parents was the done thing. She landed in London at twenty-two at a top bank, courtesy probably of some calls by her father despite her opposition, did the career thing then married an intelligent, powerful man, Kiki’s school friend Orso: she had wanted to marry the pants off him. And then there was December 13, 2009. A Sunday. It was very cold, the Big Freeze as stated by the British media. ‘There was no possibility of going for a walk that day,’ she says. Indeed Fátima was otherwise engaged, giving birth to twins at one of London’s poshest clinics. What Kiki doesn’t know is that Fátima has since fallen off the face of this earth.

 

About the Author:

Author

Mari.Reiza was born in Madrid in 1973. She studied at Oxford University and worked as an investment research writer and management consultant for twenty years in London, before becoming an indie fiction writer. Also by her, Inconceivable Tales, Death in Pisa, Sour Pricks, A Pack of Wolves, STUP, Mum, Watch Me Have Fun!, Marmotte’s Journey, West bEgg, Room 11, Triple Bagger, Caro M, Opera, the Retreat, sells sea shells and aberri (homeland), all available on Amazon. 

 

Author Links:

Website * Twitter * Instagram

Banner-5 copy

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Featured on Blog

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion

My award-winning novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is featured on “Karen’s Killer Fixin’s.” Ms. Karen Docter is also an award-winning author who writes romance. She invited me to participate in her blog, and the fun part is that I got to include my favorite recipe. I thought maybe a recipe from the book might be good, such as Cush, but instead, I opted for a recipe from my UDC chapter’s recipe book. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of the Varina Howell Davis Chapter 2559 United Daughters of the Confederacy.

glazed-carrots

Here is the link to Karen’s blog post:

https://wp.me/p4pimt-5lf

Make sure to check it out! It’s your chance to win a paperback signed copy of A Beautiful Glittering Lie, so enter right away! Good luck!

 

A Grand Review

As I stated in my previous blog post, General Lee is one of my favorite personalities of the War Between the States. In this excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, protagonist David Summers, age 18, meets the general for the first time, and is awestruck by his encounter. This event takes place shortly before the Battle of Brandy Station, which took place on June 9, 1863, and was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place in North America.

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

Later that evening, the men were informed that another Review was to be held, because General Lee had been detained from attending the day’s events. The troopers were required to polish their tack and metal two days later for the benefit of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On June 8, the Review was held between Culpeper and Brandy like before, but no civilians were present this time. General Hood’s infantry came to watch the military exercise. While the cavalrymen rode past to take their positions on the open field of the Auburn Estate, the suntanned foot soldiers jeered at them.

“Come down off’n that horse!” one yelled. “I can see your legs a-danglin’!”

“Come out from under that hat!” another hollered. “I can see your ears a-wigglin’!”

“They’re jist jealous of us because we git all the pretty girls’ attention!” Michael yelled over at David and flashed a grin.

The horsemen reached the open field and lined up in columns, their regimental colors rippling above them. Ordered to halt, they sat with all eyes on their commanding officer. 

General Lee rode the two-mile line at a brisk trot. He searched out saddle-sore horses and deficient carbines, mandating corrective actions as he carried out his inspection. He came to a halt in front of Renegade. 

brandy station

“Is this the little horse that won the race I heard tell about?” he asked.

Stunned that the magnificent general was speaking to him, David’s heart leaped. He found it difficult to reply, let alone comprehend that General Lee was actually addressing him. The general, dressed in flawless brass and gray, his white beard and entire appearance immaculate, gazed at him intensely. He didn’t know if he was required to salute, so he just sat there, stupefied.

“Yessir,” was all he could finally manage to say. 

General Lee nodded, glanced over Renegade once more, and spurred his gray steed away. The cavaliers surrounding David turned to gawk at him. He looked at John, who winked at him. 

“Reckon he’s got plans for you!” Michael said, grinning as he raised an eyebrow.

David wondered what those plans were, and couldn’t help cracking a smile. Although he’d given up on his fantasy of becoming a Pony Express rider, he hoped now to be chosen for some dangerous, daring mission on behalf of the Confederacy, since the adventure he and Jake had dreamed about seemed to have eluded him thus far. His utmost desire was to receive a perilous assignment, one that no one else was willing to take, because he was prepared to lay down his life for his beloved country. If that happened, there would be no doubt that he would acquire exoneration for Tom’s death. He wanted to die in honor and glory, just like his father and Jake had done. But he hoped, most of all, that he wouldn’t be sealed in an unmarked grave and forgotten.

Sitting astride Traveller, General Lee watched from the top of a hillock. General Stuart, with his usual flamboyance, wore a long, black ostrich plume in his hat, and his horse, Virginia, was adorned with a wreath of flowers around her neck. Stuart signaled; the bugles blared. Twenty-two cavalry regiments wheeled into columns of four, and three bands commenced to play “The Bonnie Blue Flag” while General Stuart led the parade of prancing horses. The cavaliers walked their mounts down the length of the field before turning into a trot. An immense cloud of dust billowed up from the ground. There was no mock charge against the guns this time, so following the reviewing maneuvers, the men were congratulated and released.

They led their horses back to camp, and celebrated the splendor of their review. The supply and baggage trains had been loaded, awaiting the cavalry’s departure across the Rappahannock with the infantry, which was now encamped on the other side of a hill. Unbeknownst to David and his fellow cavaliers, however, an ominous presence lurked in the shadows. Morning would come much sooner than expected. 

Another Christmas Story

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a joyous, sacred occasion, and has always been a special holiday for me, filled with happiness, celebration, and time to spend with family and friends. But the holiday season can be difficult for so many.

There have been many instances in our nation’s history when the holidays presented sadness and difficulty, along with the unknown perils of what the future might hold. This excerpt, from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, shows just one example of how a rural family from Alabama dealt with such a blow.

ABeckoningHellfire_MED

But what a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world¼My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, December 25, 1862

 

Chapter One

“Here it is! Come quick!”

David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.

“Which one, Josie?” he asked, stifling a snicker.

She planted her feet and pointed to a small yellow pine near a cluster of sweet gum and ash trees. “Right here!” she exclaimed.

Glancing down at the sapling, he gave her a crooked smile. “Well, that’s a mighty fine tree, but ain’t it kinda scrawny?” He estimated the pine to be three feet tall at most.

Josie frowned at her older brother, who had one eyebrow cocked from under his slouch hat. His hands were tucked into his brown trousers, and his linen shirt hung loosely on his tall, lanky frame. “No,” she said, “ it’s jist right. We’ll string some corn on it, hang some nuts and berries on it, and it’ll look right smart in the corner of the front room.”

With a shrug, he said, “All right. If you reckon this is the one.”

She nodded, her bright blue eyes reflecting her elation.

David relished the moment, for he knew Christmas was her favorite holiday. He had only heightened her anticipation on the way out to the woodlot by reminding her what would happen that evening, how Santa would be stopping by later when she was sound asleep. Of course, he had no explanation as to how eight tiny reindeer could pull a sleigh all the way to Alabama. Josie promptly informed him that she wasn’t a child any longer. She was all of thirteen, and didn’t believe in those farfetched stories anymore, but he knew better. She would be lying in her bed tonight, listening and waiting.

“Well, go on now, cut it down!” Josie insisted.

He put his thumb and forefinger to his lips and gave a high, shrill whistle. Noticing how the gray sky was growing darker, he looked over at the edge of the clearing where they stood and saw the underbrush rustle. Suddenly, two hound dogs bounded out of the trees, followed by a gangly young stallion.

“Come on, Renegade. Over here,” he called out to the colt, who responded by cantering to him.

Josie giggled at the sight. “Your dumb horse thinks he’s a dog!”

“He ain’t dumb. I’ll wager he’s a lick smarter than you are, li’l sister,” David teased.

The horse blew and stomped his front hoof.

“Why, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. And not only is he dumb, he looks right silly, too. He can’t decide if he should be spotted or palomino!”

David observed his horse for a moment. Renegade’s face was piebald. His dark chestnut coat was highlighted with white spots and patches concentrating on his underbelly, and his mane and tail were light flaxen. He had white socks up to his knees. His unusual eyes were brownish green. David remembered how he had heard that a horse with strange-colored eyes like Renegade’s was considered sacred and chosen by the Cherokee Indians. Several people had noticed the strange coincidence, and his other sister, Rena, also frequently commented that he and his horse had the same colored eyes.

“I reckon he knows what he is,” David remarked. “Besides, he’s unusual, and that makes him unique.”

“Oh, he’s unique all right,” Josie said, giggling again. She pulled her hair back from her face and replaced her bonnet.

David untied a saw from a leather strap attached to Renegade’s saddle. He knelt down, quickly sawed through the little tree’s trunk, picked it up, and tied it across the saddle’s seat. His two black and tan dogs sniffed around the tree’s sawed off stump. Suddenly, they both lifted their noses into the air with their ears pricked. They bolted across the open clearing, baying at an unseen curiosity as they disappeared into the woods.

“Caleb! Si!” David hollered after the two hounds. “Well, there they go,” he observed wryly. “All right, Renegade, take it on home.” He patted his horse on the shoulder.

Renegade nickered softly, shook his head, and trotted off in the same direction as the two hounds.

Josie gasped. “Look, David! It’s startin’ to snow!” She tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue, trying to catch snowflakes on it.

He chuckled.

“Come on, you do it, too,” she coaxed him.

He obliged his little sister by imitating her.

Josie laughed, spinning around with her arms extended while snow fell silently down around them.

“Oh!” David clasped his hand to his face. “One fell in my eye!”

Josie giggled.

He couldn’t help but smile, although he was careful not to let her see, and snorted to cover up his delight. “Well, I’m right glad you think it’s so funny.” He looked at her, trying to keep a straight face. “Come on, Josie girl. We’d best be gittin’ on back.”

He allowed her to go ahead of him as they started on the bridle path that cut through the woods.

“Let’s sing Christmas carols!” she said. “That new one we heard last year. Jingle Bells!”

“You start,” he prompted.

“Dashin’ through the snow…”

He joined in. Their voices grew stronger in unison.

“In a one-horse open sleigh…”

They came to an empty field, and trudged through, stepping over mud puddles while they continued singing.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”

Their house stood quaintly at the far end of the field. Smoke circled from its two chimneys, dissolving into the gray sky. The sweet smell of burning hickory reached out, inviting them closer. From a distance, the structure appeared to be two separate cabins sitting side by side, but upon closer observation, one could see that they were connected by a covered breezeway. Each section contained two rooms and a fireplace. A wide flat porch on the front of the split log building served as an entryway. The tin roof, which seemed to expel heat in the summertime, also managed to repel snow during winter months.

The cold, damp air encroached upon brother and sister. As they sang, their breath escaped, floated out across the fields, and vanished in phantom gusts.

“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!”

On the last note, Josie’s voice jumped an octave. They laughed at their grand finale and walked around to the front of the house, where Renegade was waiting patiently for the tree to be removed from his saddle. A buckskin horse stood beside him.

“Whose horse is that?” Josie asked.

“It looks like Bud Samuels’ horse.”

David and Josie looked at each other, wide-eyed. “Pa!” they both exclaimed.

Josie sprang onto the porch, burst through the front door, and went inside while David untied the small yellow pine. He set it aside, pulled the saddle from Renegade’s back, and removed his bridle.

“Go on into the barn, Renie,” he said. “Or you’ll be one big ole snowball in a minute.”

The colt blew and trotted around the side of the house.

David carried his tack into the breezeway. He placed it on a horizontal board, which was supported by a plank on each end. Collecting the tree, he heard the sound of Bud’s voice coming from inside.

“I had some trouble gettin’ here,” Bud was saying as he entered. “But I convinced the Home Guard to follow me home so’s I could show them my furlough paper.”

David produced the tiny tree. “I know it’s small,” he said with a grin, “but Josie insisted, and…” The sight that befell him inexplicably filled him with dread. His smile faded. He looked around at the faces before him and let the tree fall onto the wooden floor. Warmth from the fireplace did nothing to relieve the chill that grasped him. “What is it?” he asked.

“Come in, darlin’, and close the door,” his mother said from her high-backed chair, which sat near the empty corner they had readied for the Christmas tree. Her brown skirt encircled her like a puddle. Her dark brown hair, streaked recently with gray, was parted in the middle and contained in a white cotton hair net. She clenched her hands in her lap, and her lips were pursed. The flickering firelight accentuated the grooves on her face, which, for some reason, David had never noticed before. After closing the door behind him, he looked at Rena, who was sitting beside the hearth. She vacantly stared back, her violet eyes welling up with tears.

“Rena?” he asked her.

She looked away and hugged Josie, who had taken the chair beside her.

David walked across the room to their neighbor, Bud.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Samuels,” he said, shaking the man’s hand. “How’s Pa? Is he comin’ home for Christmas, like he wrote?”

“Have a seat, David.” Bud’s eyes filled with concern. He scratched his straggly, graying beard.

Obeying the command, David slowly sank into a chair, keeping his eyes fixed on Bud’s face.

“I’m afraid I have bad news.” Bud cleared his throat, then slowly, deliberately said, “Your father’s been killed at Fredericksburg.” He looked down at the floor. “A little over a week ago. I know he was lookin’ forward to seein’ y’all. I’m…immensely sorry.”

He pulled a folded piece of yellowed paper from his coat pocket. The gray coat was torn and tattered in places, not at all like the beautiful piece of clothing that had been provided to him nearly two years earlier. His trousers and the kepi he held in his hand were weathered, too.

“Miss Carolyn, Hiram wanted me to give you this here letter…in the event of his death.” He solemnly handed her the note.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Carolyn held it to her mouth. Tears streamed down her weathered face. “Thank you, Bud,” she finally said. “You’ve been a good friend to my Hiram. I know he appreciated you dearly.”

Bud nodded. “Please let the missus or me know if there’s anything we can do,” he offered, and walked toward the door.

“I surely will.” Carolyn wearily stood, followed him to the door, and walked him out.

Bud placed his kepi on his head, untied his horse, mounted, and galloped off down the lane. The rhythm of hoof beats faded.

Turning from the doorway, Carolyn somberly gazed at her children. Her two daughters came across the room to hug her. The three of them burst into tears. Carolyn gazed at her son, who was sitting motionless across the room, his handsome young face drained of color, his hazel eyes growing a darker brown.

“David,” she said, her voice filled with the sorrow that had now overtaken the room.

He looked over at her, his face blank with grief-stricken shock.  Finding no comfort in her anguished expression, he glanced up at the ornately-carved mantle clock, the one his father had given to her as a wedding gift. It read ten minutes past five. Beside it sat a framed tintype of his father, adorned in Confederate glory, ready to march off to victory, but now he was never to return. David’s eyes wandered, and he noticed things he’d taken for granted before: the raised oval portrait of his paternal grandmother on the wall, the paintings of flowers his mother liked so well that hung on the opposite wall, the fieldstone fireplace that his father had built, and the pine furniture that had been there ever since he could remember. Somehow, all of it seemed irrelevant.

Moving numbly, he rose and walked across the room to pick up the little tree he had dropped earlier. A tiny pool of water remained where it had fallen. He carried the tree outside, leaving a trail of moisture that splattered onto the floorboards. The cold winter air, uncluttered with snow, barely whispered, its breath deathly quiet and still. Dusk was rapidly approaching.

David hurled the tree as hard as he could. It landed with a rustled thud out in the yard. Without pausing, he walked into the breezeway past his mother and sisters and grabbed a kerosene lantern. He carried it outside, lit it, and threw it at the pine. The glass shattered upon impact. Kerosene trickled out onto the tiny branches and within seconds, flames engulfed the little tree. He stoically watched tongues of fire consume the sapling. Slowly, he turned to face his mother and sisters, who were standing on the porch, watching him while they wept.

“I reckon we won’t be celebratin’ Christmas after all,” he said, his voice raspy with distress.

Impending darkness engulfed his heart. Feeling the need for solitude, he walked around the house toward the barn, vaguely hearing his mother call out to him. The sky opened, releasing icy rain. He stomped past the pigpen and the chicken coop. Upon reaching the old wooden barn, he went inside and blinked several times before his eyes adjusted to his dim surroundings. He caught glimpses of shadows dancing off the walls and up around the rafters. A pungent combination of dry, clean hay and musty wood enveloped him. The rain rattled down upon the barn’s tin roof and sounded like a thousand tiny drums. Three cows studied him with soft brown eyes. One mooed a welcome as he walked past them.

Sidestepping bales of hay stacked near the stall door, David paused to shake off cold drops of moisture that clung to his shirt and ran his hand over the top of his head, wiping the rain from his dark brown hair. A large Percheron, standing in the stall next to Renegade, gazed at David with his ears pricked.

“Hey, Joe Boy,” David said softly to the tall white gelding.

The draft horse sniffled at David’s pockets but seemed to lose interest and shuffled to the other end of his stall when David didn’t offer a treat like he usually did. Renegade looked up from his fodder and nickered softly. David walked over and gently stroked his muzzle. “I’m sorry I put you through all that trouble of bringin’ home a tree.” Anguish and anger welled up inside him. Searing-hot tears streamed down his cheeks. His hatred seethed. His grief was overwhelming, and he could hold it back no longer. Sobs escaped him. He grasped onto his horse’s mane, burying his face in Renegade’s neck. The colt stood quietly, seemingly to console him.

Speaking Engagement at UCCS

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). This event was held in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If you are unfamiliar of this acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held during the month of November. The object of NaNoWriMo is to provoke writers and prospective authors into writing a novel. Authors don’t have to finish their projects. The goal is for them to complete writing a total of several thousand words by the end of the month, and the NaNoWriMo website tracks their progress. Since its start, NaNoWriMo has grown internationally. I have completed the challenge three times. In fact, I even got a t-shirt several years ago to prove it!

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My audience at the Writing Center was very attentive as I told them about my journey as an author and how my writing has evolved over the years. It was fun to see their expressions when I explained how I was originally inspired to write about the Civil War, how I conducted research, chose characters, and constructed plot lines. We talked about my writing process in general, how much time I spend researching each book, and self-publishing vs. traditional.

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Because all the students are participating in NaNoWriMo, I was curious to find out what projects they’ve been working on. I loved their enthusiasm as they told me about their prospective novels. Most are writing fantasy and Sci-Fi, which I found interesting, since they are all in their late teens and early twenties. One attendee said his novel is historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in. He said he heard that all a writer has to do is include a unicorn to make their story a fantasy and then that author doesn’t have to be completely historically accurate. I thought his analogy was amusing! Speaking at UCCS was a great experience, and I’m grateful to have participated. Seeing new writers bud is the best!

The Second Thanksgiving

I recently read this article and found it very interesting so I wanted to share. As all Americans know, the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving, which has become a national holiday. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the fourth Thursday of November would be designated as a national holiday, and it has been celebrated ever since his proclamation in 1863. However, it seems Confederate President Jefferson Davis beat him to the punch. Maybe Lincoln decided to follow suit and declare the holiday after Davis did. Whatever the reason, this is an interesting bit of history, nevertheless.

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JEFFERSON DAVIS’ THANKSGIVING

PROCLAMATION OF 1861

WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, to protect and defend us hitherto in our conflicts with our enemies as to be unto them a shield.

And whereas, with grateful thanks we recognize His hand and acknowledge that not unto us, but unto Him, belongeth the victory, and in humble dependence upon His almighty strength, and trusting in the justness of our purpose, we appeal to Him that He may set at naught the efforts of our enemies, and humble them to confusion and shame.

Now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, in view of impending conflict, do hereby set apart Friday, the 15th day of November, as a day of national humiliation and prayer, and do hereby invite the reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of Almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity.

Given under hand and seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this the 31st day of October, year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty one.
By the President, JEFFERSON DAVIS

discerninghistory.com/2013/11/jefferson-daviss- thanksgiving-proclamation-of-1861/

(Article courtesy of The Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, November 2018 ed.)

www.mississippiscv.org

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