I was recently interviewed by friend and fellow author, Sara Louisa about my books and writing process. Here is the post. I hope you enjoy it! Please check out her website at saralouisaauthor.com. Thank you for the interview, Sara!
Award Winning Author J.D.R Hawkins’ Interview!
Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s author interview!
I was absolutely thrilled to interview author J.D.R Hawkins, and get to know her better!
Hawkins began writing at an early age. Music inspired her to write song lyrics, which developed into poems. From there, she branched out into writing short stories, articles, children’s books, and eventually, novels. Hawkins has also written a non-fiction book!
I’m always interested in how fellow authors choose the names of their characters. For me, the name usually comes to mind straight away when starting a new project. Hawkins has an interesting way of finding her characters and putting a name to the person in mind! Hawkins says:
“I researched names in a baby name book, and chose the ones I felt would most closely fit my characters’ personalities.”
Writing the perfect scene is important to an author; we strive for that ‘wow’ factor, and we all have favourite types of scenes to tackle. I personally enjoy writing romantic scenes, and action sequences. Hawkins told me what her favourite scenes are to write, and why.
“I like writing scenes that have an eerie element to them. Mysterious happenings are always fun to write, as well as scenes that show friction between the characters. I enjoy writing dialogue, because it gives me the opportunity to reveal things about the characters and their backstories.”
Authors get their story ideas literally from anywhere, and everywhere: walking, driving, listening to music, or in complete silence. Hawkins says she gets her greatest ideas when it’s quiet in the early morning, or later at night. She says:
“It’s wonderful when an idea comes to me suddenly, but sometimes, it takes several days for an idea to come to fruition.”
J.D.R Hawkins writes about the civil war in her fantastic collection of novels, which I was quite excited to learn about! Canadian and American history is a huge passion of mine, which brought up my next question for Hawkins: Are these incredible novels based on true events?
“Since my novels are about the Civil War, there are many parts that are true. I have to write realistically and factually, or I will get called out by people who are very knowledgeable about this time in American history. Many of the characters are real as well, including Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, etc. My first novel, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie,” is based on the journal of a Confederate soldier.”
Hawkins’ answer was fasinating to me, because as a writer myself, I could just imagine the hours of research that would need to be done for such a project!
I always enjoy learning where fellow authors are from, and a little bit about their personal life. I learned in our interview that Hawkins is a retired postal carrier living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband. They have two sons, one daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.
“We also have three fur babies: two dachshunds and a Siamese cat. We love to travel and spend time with our family. My husband and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.”
Happy 40th anniversary to you and your husband!
The fourth book in J.D.R. Hawkins’ Renegade Series is due to come out later this year. It is titled “Double-Edged Sword,” and takes up where the last novel, “A Rebel Among Us,” left off.
Huge thank you to J.D.R Hawkins! Congratulations on your up coming release!
You can find J.D.R Hawkins, her books, and information on her website and links! Check out her fantastic book trailer and live interview at: https://jdrhawkins.com/
I love Christmas. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I love the music, the magic, the mystery and of course, Santa Clause! This year is extra special because of the rare Christmas Star.
Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. It gives a glimpse of what life was like in north Alabama during the Civil War. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas to all!
The day of Callie’s Christmas party arrived. Rena and Josie had primped for a week, repeatedly trying on the five dresses they owned between them, until they finally came to a decision. David didn’t give it much thought, since Callie’s charms had worn off with time, but he did carve a beautiful broach for her.
They reached the Copeland’s as dusk was setting in. It was an unseasonably warm evening, and Caroline remarked about how the weather seemed to be cooperating with the party. Pulling into the yard, they saw several other carriages and wagons parked outside. David directed Joe Boy to an open area. He jumped down, tied the draft horse to a shrub, greeted Percy, who was tending the horses, and after assisting his mother and sisters down from the wagon, he escorted them up the steps to the house. The stylings of festive violin music floated through the air. Caroline tapped on the door. Momentarily, Mr. Copeland answered, dressed in a waistcoat with matching black trousers.
“Why, there y’all are!” he greeted them happily. “Please do come in!”
Extending his hand to David, the two shook and followed the ladies into the parlor, which was aglow with glittering lights. Candles flickered on brass candlesticks, reflecting off blown-glass decorations that adorned an enormous pine Christmas tree regally standing in a corner. The women were attired in festive, colorful dresses, and the men wore fine suits. David thought the entire sparkling room was enchanting.
Josie and Rena saw some friends, so they went off to mingle. Mr. Copeland took Caroline’s arm and led her over to his wife, leaving David awkwardly alone. He gazed around for a familiar face, and finally found one. Jake ambled across the room in his direction, with Callie on his arm. She was radiant in a shimmering, bronze-colored, hooped gown. Her golden hair was drawn up and confined within a snood that matched the hue of her dress. Jake appeared similarly attractive in his best suit.
“Glad to see you could make it!” he exclaimed, giving his friend a playful punch on the arm.
“Y’all knew we couldn’t miss this.”
“Well, I should certainly hope not!” exclaimed Callie. “Everyone knows mine is the most extravagant party in the county this season. And we have cause for celebration, this bein’ the first yuletide since the start of the war.” Releasing Jake, she clamped onto David. “Jake, would you be a darlin’ and go fetch me some punch?”
“It would be my pleasure, Miss Callie,” he said with a smile. Giving David a wink, he strolled off into the crowd.
“Now, Mr. Summers, if you please, I would like you to come with me,” she said, giving his arm a tug, so he obediently followed along like a puppy.
The violinist, joined by a pianist, delved into a tender rendition of “Silent Night.” Callie stopped momentarily to listen, so David took his opportunity.
“Miss Callie, I made you a token,” he bashfully admitted. Withdrawing a small wrapped package from his pocket, he handed it to her.
“Well, I do declare! David, darlin’, you shouldn’t have!” She tore open the wrapping and pried open the box, revealing the broach he had painstakingly carved for her. “Why, it’s absolutely breathtakin’.” She pinned it onto the front of her gown. “I shall wear it always.”
Taking his hand, she leaned over to give him a gentle kiss on the cheek, barely missing his mouth.
He shied away, embarrassed. Clearing his throat while his face flushed, he muttered, “What did you want to show me, Miss Callie?”
“I would like to present you to some friends who are out back.”
He followed her to the garden, but immediately wished he hadn’t, for as soon as they were outside, he saw several faces he recognized.
“David, you know Owen Ridgeway, and his brother, Lemuel.”
“Hey, Summers,” said Lemuel in a friendly manner, but his older brother only glared.
“Hey, y’all,” David responded genially, for Callie’s sake.
Jake arrived, and handed Callie a glass filled with sparkling red fluid. Seeing the tension, he said, “Zeke, go on in and git yourself some punch.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, taking his chance to escape the scene. He knew Callie was unaware of the conflict, but he was riled, and he didn’t wish to spoil her party, so he went inside to the food table.
The spread temporarily distracted him from a possible confrontation. Ham, turkey, stuffing, cornbread, pickles, garden vegetables, bread pudding, and assorted pies were displayed on gold leaf china. His mouth watered as he absorbed the sight.
Rena appeared beside him. “Are you enjoyin’ yourself?” she asked, taking a plate.
“I was, till Callie took me outside. That scoundrel Owen Ridgeway is here.”
“Yeah, and so is his brother. I don’t have a quarrel with him, though.”
“Jist avoid him, David,” she advised.
He looked over to see the seriousness in her gaze. “I’ll be on my best behavior for Ma’s sake, but if he tries to make a fuss, well …”
“Jist don’t.” Rena glared insistently at him before moving on.
Once he had filled his plate, he walked across the kitchen, sat at the table, and began eating. Soon, several guests joined him, and struck up a conversation about his father. Isabelle scurried about to accommodate the partygoers, as did the Copeland’s five slaves, and a few others the neighbors had brought along to help support them.
After lingering for half an hour, David excused himself. He walked into the parlor, where he saw Jake and Callie talking to Alice Walker, so he joined them.
“Oh, David, Miss Alice has jist informed us of the most dreadful news!” Callie leaned against Jake for support.
“What is it, Miss Alice?” he asked.
“We’re movin’ to California,” she announced. A broad smile spread across her young porcelain-like face.
“Californee is a right far piece away!” Jake exclaimed with a chuckle.
She nodded. “My pa has an uncle out that way who struck it rich, so we’re fixin’ to go next year sometime. Perhaps after spring thaw.”
David smirked through a flash of jealousy. “I wish I could go out to Californee and strike it rich,” he muttered.
Callie smiled at him. “Perhaps we can all go out for a visit later on,” she suggested hopefully. Turning toward the wall, she decided to change the subject. “David, have you seen the paintin’ my ma jist acquired?”
“No.” He drew closer to have a look.
“Pa bought it for her for Christmas. Ain’t it magnificent?”
“It surely is.” He gazed at the landscape, noticing how the bluish-purple colors of twilight were accurately represented.
“My ma says that it’s right fittin’ and all. She says that this paintin’, Twilight, symbolizes the transitions we’ve all been goin’ through—the
new Confederacy and two new presidents, talk of freein’ the slaves, and the country splittin’ in two. It’s like the dawnin’ of a new day.”
David stared at the painting, reading her description into the swirls left by the artist’s brushstrokes, and reckoned she was right.
Mrs. Copeland’s high-pitched voice cut through the din. “May I have your attention, please?”
Callie’s father tapped on a crystal champagne glass with a piece of silverware, causing it to ring out. The participants grew quiet.
“We would like for all of our guests to please assemble out back in the garden!” she exclaimed, and motioned invitingly, so the partygoers followed her.
As David walked outside, he noticed the entire backyard had been redecorated. Paper lanterns strung across the length of the yard illuminated the setting, and musicians were gathered on a platform near the back. The violinist had transformed himself into a fiddle player. He was joined by a banjo player and a percussionist, who sat poised atop a stool with spoons in his hand.
“For our first song,” the banjo player announced, “we’re playin’ a fine tune by Stephen Foster, called ‘O Lemuel.’”
Owen guffawed at the reference, jabbing his little brother with his elbow. The music started, and the crowd coupled up. Walking out into the center of the straw-covered yard, they began swirling to the music. The chill in the air seemed to dissipate as the dancers moved in synchronized harmony across the makeshift dance floor.
David watched while a schoolmate, Thomas Halsey, escorted Rena. Jake and Callie took to the floor, as did their parents, even though Mr. Kimball’s injured leg prevented him from dancing with much elegance. Like he usually did at gatherings such as these, David partnered with his mother and younger sister, dancing to the lively melodies of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Jim along Josie.” He danced with Alice, and once, timidly, with Callie, who complimented him on his stylish grace. When the music changed to a waltz, she stated that she thought he would easily fit into high society with his fancy footwork.
After the musicians took a break, he strolled into the house for refreshment. Owen followed, confronting him in the kitchen.
“Think you’re quite the rooster, don’t you? Dancin’ with every gal at the party.” He stared provokingly with penetrating green eyes, his blond hair tussled atop his head.
David whirled around to face him. Owen had always been a showoff, and was constantly teasing him because he was left-handed, and trying to outdo him at every opportunity.
“That ain’t none of your concern. Savvy?”
Owen snorted. “You’re worthless. You ain’t nothin’ but a weasel. All you can do is hide behind them skirts!”
Rena entered to see her brother bristle at his adversary. “David …” she warned.
“Not now, Rena,” he growled back.
“Recall what we discussed.” She could see from across the room that her brother’s eyes were darkening from hazel to brown, which to her was a bad indication.
“I want to have a word with you out on the veranda, Ridgeway,” David stated.
He tromped off through the house. Owen grinned, traipsing behind. David heard his mother’s voice as she entered the kitchen.
“What’s goin’ on in here?” she asked.
“Dere’s ‘bout to be trouble out front, Miss Caroline,” Isabelle explained as she gathered a trayful of dirty dishes.
“It’s Owen Ridgeway again, Ma,” added Josie.
Caroline growled, “I’ll put a stop to this.”
“No, Mrs. Summers,” Jake intercepted. “Allow me.” He sauntered through the house as voices outside escalated, and went outside to see David and Owen glaring intensely while throwing verbal spears at each other.
“I know it was you who killed my dog last winter!” David roared. “You did it jist to spite me, because you were jealous!”
“Why would I be jealous of you?” Owen mocked a laugh.
“Because I’m smarter than you, and you know it.”
“You cheated on those school exams so you could graduate! You lied about your pa fightin’ at Manassas, too! You’re spoiled and soft!”
“I’ll have you take that back!”
“Now, boys,” Jake interrupted, “there ain’t no need for—”
Suddenly, Owen lurched at David, who threw a punch into his attacker’s face. They were immediately wrestling on the veranda, tumbling over each other while grunting, cursing, and yelling. Members of the party dashed outside, alarmed by the commotion. Jake managed to break the two apart, and held his friend’s arms behind his back. Lemuel seized his brother in the same manner. The two opponents snorted like bulls, their faces red with vehemence. A trail of scarlet blood trickled from Owen’s nose.
“Take it easy!” Jake hollered.
Mr. Copeland stepped in. “What is the meaning of this?! I will not have you two behave this way at my gatherin’!” He stomped over to Owen and took him by the ear. “I’m throwin’ you out, young man! You’re no longer welcome here!” Leading Owen to the steps, he thrust him toward the yard. Lemuel meekly scurried after his brother. “Off with you now, and don’t come back!”
The brothers staggered toward their wagon, climbed in, and rode off down the lane.
Turning toward David, who was panting to catch his breath, Mr. Copeland sighed. “David, I thought better of you than this.” He walked past him and went inside.
The words stung more than any expulsion could. Frowning, he looked at his startled family, at Jake, who simpered at him, and at Callie, who scowled at him. He knew what he had done, although it was unintentional, and he felt deeply ashamed. He had ruined Callie’s Christmas party.
Soon, the family decided it was best to leave. Barely speaking to each other, they returned home and retired to their bedchambers. The next morning, on their way back from church, Josie broke the silence.
“How come Owen Ridgeway don’t like you?” she asked straightforwardly.
David shrugged. “He never has, and I don’t cotton to him, neither.”
She chuckled faintly. “I reckon you would if he was nice to you.”
He shrugged again. It was a situation he assumed he would likely never know.
On Christmas Eve, he hitched Joe Boy to the wagon before leading him into a thicket. With much consideration, he chose a pine tree that would suit his family, cut it down, tossed it into the wagon bed, and drove down the hill to where the saddlebag house sat nestled in the valley. The sun shone brightly, giving no indication it was a winter’s day, other than the fact that the hardwood trees were bare.
He arrived home, extracted the tree, and struggled to carry it into the house. Wrestling it through the door while it poked him with pine needles, he finally squeezed it through. He set it in the stand he had prepared, and stood back to admire his accomplishment. The tree was glorious. In his eyes, it rivaled Callie’s. Freshly cut pine instantly scented the air.
The family proceeded to decorate it, using what few ornaments they had accumulated over the years, most of which were handmade from wood, as well as strands of dried berries. They placed tiny candles in tin holders on the boughs and lit them. The tree glowed with inviting luminosity.
“I wish your pa was here to see this,” Caroline sighed.
She gathered her clutch into the front room, where she read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible, just like Hiram did every Christmas Eve. As she drew to a close, her voice broke, and she sniffed back tears.
“It’ll be all right, Ma,” David assured her, gently stroking her arm. “Pa’s thinkin’ of us right now, too, I reckon.”
She nodded in agreement. “Well, let’s git to bed. Santa Claus won’t be able to come if y’all are up late.”
The children sniggered. They had been told the truth about Santa years ago, but they played along for their mother’s sake, and promptly went to their rooms. David lit a fire in the fireplace and crawled into bed, but he couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned, staring at the gauze-covered window. Pale moonlight cast an eerie glow, enticing him to investigate. He arose and peeked out into the empty yard, but it was too dark to distinguish anything, so he climbed back into bed, folding himself in the covers. He thought of past Christmases spent with his family, and
imagined what his father must be going through, camped in a tent in the middle of nowhere.
At least Bud is there with him, he thought. Finally, he dozed off.
Here is another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Joanne, for your wonderful review!
I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I did – I didn’t want to put it down.
I have read several books about the Civil War, but written from the side of the North. This novel is written from the point of view of a family from Alabama. J D R Hawkins’ writing style is such that I grew to feel I knew the family who were the principal characters in the book.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the book ended rather abruptly. There are however, two books which apparently continue the story.
All in all – I loved it! I will place J D R Hawkins on my favorite authors list!
Just for fun, and because this is the last week of Confederate Heritage Month, I thought I’d share some teasers that were made up for me by a previous publisher. The book is now out with Westwood Books Publishing, LLC. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think!
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. There is so much electricity in the air. Everyone is excited and friendly. Of course, here in Colorado, people are friendly most all the time, but Christmas is special. What other time of year can you listen to decades, even centuries old songs, and sing along? What other time of year can you see living nativities, Santa Clauses galore, and so many decorations, presents and treats? And what other time of year, other than possibly the Fourth of July, can you see so many colorful lights?
I love Christmas, but most of all, I love what it represents: faith, hope and love. Please keep our military personnel in your prayers, as well as those who have lost loved ones this time of year.
The following is an article written by a Confederate soldier at Christmas. It must have been, and I’m sure, still is, very difficult to be away from home during the holidays.
Diary Of Captain Robert Emory Park, of Twelfth Alabama Regiment
Excerpts from his diary:
“December 25th, Christmas Day — How keenly and vividly home recollections come to my mind today! I see the huge baked turkey, the fat barbecued pig, delicious oysters, pound and fruit cakes, numerous goblets of eggnog and syllabub, etc., etc., on my beloved mother’s hospitable table. My brothers and sisters are sitting around it as of yore, and my dear fond mother, with warmest love and pride beaming from her still handsome blue eyes, now somewhat dimmed by approaching age, sits at one end bountifully helping each plate to a share of the well cooked eatables before her. How happy I would be if I were with them! I can but repeat the words of the familiar song —
“Do they miss me at home, do they miss me?
‘Twould be an assurance most dear
To know that some loved one was saying,
Today I wish he were here.”
Those touching words, too, of “Home, Sweet Home” flash before my memory, and I cannot restrain the tears that rush to my eyes. Over three months have passed since I have heard from home and mother. What changes may have occurred since my capture, the 19th of September! Two of my brothers are members of the First Georgia reserves, now guarding the 30,000 Yankee prisoners at Andersonville — one is major, and the other, a youth of sixteen years, is one of Captain Wirz’s sergeants. These two are no doubt absent from the annual home reunion. Others may be too. I hope and feel that my brothers are civil and kind to the Yankees they are guarding. They are too brave to act otherwise. My poor prison dinner was in sad contrast with my Christmas dinners at home. It consisted of beef soup, a small piece of pickled beef, some rice and a slice of loaf bread. Lastly, to our astonishment, about three mouthsful each of bread pudding, not very sweet, were handed us.
December 26th, 27th and 28th — I am able to get about on my crutches, but still feel the effects of my severe fall. Major Hanvey, who sleeps in a small room above mine, is quite sick. Last night I sat up alone with him until he went to sleep, long after midnight. He was suffering from a high fever and was delirious. His thoughts were of his wife and little daughter, in far off Georgia, and he spoke of them in the tenderest, fondest manner. I fear he will never see his loved ones again.
December 29th, 30th and 31st — The last days of eventful, never to be forgotten 1864. All hope of a speedy exchange is now dying within us. The prospect is exceedingly gloomy. Savannah has been captured by Sherman, and Hood defeated in Tennessee. I am not at all despondent however, and believe the Confederate States will be successful and independent yet. It is rumored we are to be removed in a day or two to Old Capitol Prison, Washington city. Our surgeon confirms the report. Point Lookout will be left with no regrets.
Southern Historical Society Papers
Vol. II. Richmond. Va. November. 1876. No.5
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, December 2019 ed., Volume 43, Issue No. 12)
It’s a shame how our culture has bred so many who think it’s okay to vandalize grave sites because of their political views. I see too frequently where headstones have been broken, statues have been overturned, and monuments have been painted with graffiti. Why have we lost so much respect for the dead?
In my last blog, I talked about the undead, and brought up Frankenstein as an example. Gruesome as it seems, graves were commonly robbed back in the day. Not only were the grave robbers after jewelry and valuables, but some were after body parts!
Here is an excerpt describing such horrific deeds from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. Watch for its re-release, complete with a new book cover, coming soon.
Have a happy, and safe, Halloween!
Hershel awoke near sunset. “Huntsville, go fetch me a pencil and paper.”
David did as he asked, returning shortly with the requested items.
“You write this down,” he said, pointing a wilting finger at him.
David knelt beside him.
The old man continued. “You write to my wife, and tell her I loved her dearly, and tell her I miss her, but I’m fixin’ to go to a better place.”
“Harrison, there ain’t no need to …”
“Now don’t you be tellin’ me there ain’t a need!” he exclaimed.
David drew back, startled by the sudden, unexpected outburst.
“Sorry,” he apologized softly. “Tell her I long to see her and the young’uns once again, but since that’s impossible, tell her that my final thoughts were of them.”
“You go now, Huntsville. Go write that. Savvy? And send it to her in Tupelo. Can you do that?”
“Yessir,” David replied compassionately. He gazed down at the sickly old man momentarily before stepping out of the tent. Overcome with sorrow, he made his way back to the barracks.
The first weekend of February brought a horrendous blizzard,which dumped nearly two feet of snow. The town of Elmira shut down, and the trains ceased to run, as the thermometer plunged into the single digits. When the storm finally passed, David struggled to make his way across Foster’s Pond to check on his bunkmate. Entering the tent, he saw that two of the cots were empty. The sick man lying there alone looked up at him.
“Where’s the feller who was occupyin’ this cot?” David asked him.
The man seemed too weak to respond, but finally uttered, “Dead house.”
Stunned, David quickly walked to the morgue, and entered to see several attendees place frozen bodies into pine coffins. The cadavers’ bones cracked as they were being forced into their eternal chambers. He grimaced, meandering down an aisle until he unwittingly found a coffin with a wooden marker tied to the top of it that read:
Ltn Hershel P Harrison
Standing over the pine box, he stared down at the chiseled lettering. A cart lumbered up, coming to a halt outside the morgue. With a heavy sigh, he departed the cold charnel, barely noticing other inmates who were loading the coffins onto the back of the wagon before transporting them to Woodlawn Cemetery.
One of the attendants noticed him, and said, “No need to fret. John Jones will tend to them proper.”
“Who’s John Jones?” he asked.
“He’s the ex-slave whose markin’ every grave. Doin’ a right thorough job of it, too.”
David watched for a moment, still tying to comprehend that Hershel was truly gone. He slowly shuffled through the deep snow, and dismally wondered if he might soon end up the same way. Suddenly, he remembered what one of the Tarheels had told him about grave robbers. According to Sherwood Richardson, the loathsome ghouls unearthed buried cadavers, and sold them to area doctors so that they could conduct experiments on them. He hoped that such a fate wouldn’t befall Hershel’s body.
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
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
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.”)*
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.
(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)
Of all the written works created during the Civil War, Mary Chesnut’s diaryis one of the most well known. Because of her ability to frankly describe the events that transpired, her diary is considered by historians to be the most important work by a Confederate author, and a true work of art.
Born to Congressman Stephen Decatur Miller and May Boykin on March 31, 1823 at Mount Pleasant plantation near Stateburg, South Carolina, Mary Miller was the eldest of four children. In 1829, her father became governor of South Carolina, and in 1831, he served as a U.S. senator. Mary was educated at home and in Camden schools before she was sent to a French boarding school in Charleston at age 12. She spent her school break at her father’s cotton plantations in Mississippi, but when he died in 1838, she returned to Camden. She met James Chesnut Jr., eight years her senior, in 1836, when he was at the boarding school visiting his niece, and although he began to court her, Mary’s parents opposed it. However, on April 23, 1840, when Mary was 17, the two were married.
For the next twenty years, Mary spent her time between Camden and Mulberry, her husband’s family plantation. James was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1858, so Mary accompanied him to Washington, where she nurtured friendships with many upper-class citizens, including Jefferson and Varina Howell Davis, John Bell Hood, and Wade Hampton III. When talk of war escalated in 1860, James was the first to resign his senate seat on November 10, The Chesnuts returned to South Carolina, where he participated in drafting an ordinance of secession, and served on the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America. From February 1861 through July 1865, Mary recorded her experiences. She was inCharleston when Ft.Sumter was fired upon on Friday, April 12, 1861, and watched the skirmish from a rooftop. In her diary, she described the city’s residents, along with what is now known as The Battery, sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the advent of hostilities.
James subsequently served as an aide to General P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. During the war, Mary accompanied him to Montgomery, Columbia, and Richmond, where she entertained the Confederate elite.
After the war, the Chesnut’s returned to Camden, struggling unsuccessfully to get out of debt. James had inherited two plantations when his father died in 1866: Mulberry and Sandy Field. They were heavily damaged by Federal troops, and slaves who had become freedmen still depended on him. James and Mary’s mother died within a week of each other in January 1885. According to his father’s will, the land was to be passed down to a male heir, and because he and Mary never had children, she lost her claim.
Mary’s writing revealed her strong opinions concerning slavery and women’s rights, as well as criticism for conservative decisions made by Southern leaders, her husband included. She expressed her repulsion for lapses in morality caused by the male-dominated society of the South, using her father-in-law’s liaison with a slave as an example.
In the 1870’s, she edited her diaries in an attempt to publish them, but failed. She tried her hand at fiction, writing three novels, but was also unsuccessful at having them published, so in the 1880’s, she revised her diaries into a book entitled Mary Chesnut’s Civil War. Only a small excerpt was published in the Charleston Weekly News and Courier as “The Arrest of a Spy.” Her final years were spent supplementing her $100-a-year income by selling eggs and butter. She died of a heart attack on November 22, 1886. Historians believe she wasn’t finished with her work. In 1905, and again in 1949, her diaries were published in truncated and heavily edited versions as A Diary from Dixie. In 1981, C. Vann Woodward published a version that included her complete work, and won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1982.
Juliet Opie Hopkins was a pioneer in the advancement of women at a time when most were overlooked for supervisory positions. Her extraordinary abilities awarded her the position of leadership and power that didn’t exist anywhere else.
She was born on May 7, 1818 at her family’s Woodburn Plantation in Jefferson County, Virginia. Her father owned around 2,000 slaves, which established him in elite society. During her childhood, Juliet was home-schooled, and was sent to Miss Ritchie’s private school in Richmond when she reached adolescence. When she was sixteen, however, her mother died, so she left school to return home, where she helped manage Woodburn.
In 1837, Juliet married Commodore Alexander Gordon of the United States Navy. However, Gordon died in 1849, leaving her a young widow. She remarried in 1854, to a widower who was twenty-four years her senior. Arthur Hopkins was a lawyer and prominent businessman who had served as a United States senator and Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. They adopted a niece, and considered the girl to be their daughter.
When the War Between the States broke out, Juliet sold her estates in New York, Virginia, and Alabama. She donated the money to the Confederacy for the establishment of hospitals. The Confederate military system dictated that each state was responsible for the care of its own patients.
In June 1861, she moved to Richmond and began organizing money and supplies that were sent from Alabama. In August, she set up a hospital for Alabama’s soldiers, and by November, had established a larger second hospital as well. During the November session, the Alabama legislature assumed responsibility for supporting the hospitals and appointed Juliet as chief matron. In the spring of 1862, she established a third hospital, and received the help of 92 women’s auxiliary groups in Alabama who made clothing and collected supplies.
During the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862, she was shot twice in the leg while attempting to rescue wounded men from the battlefield. Her injuries required surgery and left her with a permanent limp.
Although her husband was technically named State Hospital Agent, she was the one in charge. Regardless of her tremendous responsibilities, Juliet found time to personally care for soldiers by writing letters, making furlough requests, providing books, and keeping a thorough list of the deceased. She even collected hair samples from the dead to send to their families, which was common practice at the time.
A nurse in the Third Alabama Hospital, Fannie Beers, wrote about her:
“I have never seen a woman better fitted for such work. Energetic, tireless, systematic, loving profoundly the cause and its defenders, she neglected no detail of business or other thing that should afford aid or comfort to the sick and wounded. She kept up a voluminous correspondence, made in person every purchase for her charges, received and accounted for hundreds of boxes sent from Alabama containing clothing and delicacies for the sick and visited the wards of the hospitals every day. If she found any duty neglected by nurse or surgeon or hospital steward, her personal reprimand was certain and very severe. She could not nurse the sick or wounded personally, for her whole time was necessarily devoted to executive duties, but her smile was the sweetest, I believe, that ever lit up a human face, and standing by the bedside of some poor Alabamian, away from home and wretched as well as sick, she must have seemed to him like an angel visitant.”
In March 1863, the Confederate Medical Department assumed control over all hospitals. Many patients were sent to larger facilities, which prompted the closure of 35 units, including two of Juliet’s hospitals. The third hospital was closed in October, so she moved back to Alabama. Finding supplies scarce, she had the carpets in her Mobile home cut up and used for blankets. She continued her work in Tuskagee and Montgomery hospitals. When the state was invaded in April 1865, she and her husband fled to Georgia.
After the war ended, they returned to Mobile, and her humanitarian efforts became more well-known, making her a living legend.
Judge Hopkins died later that year, so Juliet left Alabama to live on property she still owned in New York City. Because she and her husband had lost most of their wealth, she lived the rest of her life in relative poverty. She died on March 9, 1890 while visiting her daughter in Washington D.C. Scores of veterans attended her funeral, including Confederate Generals Joseph Wheeler and Joseph E. Johnston, as well as Union General John Schofield. Members of the Alabama congressional delegation served as pallbearers. She was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in the same gravesite as her son-in-law, Union General Romeyn Beck Ayers.
In 1987, a marker was finally placed on her grave.
It is estimated that Juliet donated between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Southern cause. She was so revered by her peers that her picture was printed on Alabama Confederate paper currency 25-cent and 50-cent bills. She is a member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
On occasion, women became heroines of the Confederate cause purely by accident. Such is the case of Emma Sansom.
Born on June 2, 1847, Emma was a beautiful girl, tall and elegant, with large, deep blue eyes, auburn hair, and a fair complexion. In 1852, she moved with her family from Georgia to Gadsden, Alabama. Six years later, her father died, but the family managed to maintain their farm. Once the Civil War commenced, Emma’s brother, Rufus, enlisted with the 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment while she, her mother, and an older sister ran the farm.
Emma had just returned from shopping one sunny morning when suddenly, she heard the sound of approaching men and horses. Still standing in the yard, holding the reins, she watched as hundreds of Union soldiers arrived.
“We were home on the morning of May 2, 1863, when a company of men wearing blue uniforms and riding mules and horses galloped past the house and went on towards the bridge. Pretty soon a great crowd of them came along and some of them stopped at the gate and asked for some water. One of them asked me where my father was and I told him he was dead.
‘Do you have any brothers?’ asked the Yankee soldier.
‘I have, sir,’ I said.
‘Where are they?’
‘In the Confederate army,’ I told him.
‘Do you think the South will whip us?’
‘What do you think?’
‘I think we will win because God is on our side,’ I said.
‘I think God is on the side with the best artillery,’ said the soldier.”
Emma stubbornly held onto her horse’s reins until another soldier snatched them away from her.
Still, the women refused to panic. The soldiers searched their house for guns and saddles. Discovering Rufus, who was home recuperating from a wound he had received, they took him prisoner. The Yankees proceeded to nearby Black Creek, which was swollen from recent heavy rains, and torched the wooden bridge. The women were standing on the front porch, grieving Rufus, when Nathan Bedford Forrest appeared.
“Can you tell me where I can get across this damn creek?” he asked.
Fifteen-year-old Emma told him that the bridge had been burned, and that there wasn’t another one for two miles. She informed him of a ford two hundred yards away where she had seen cattle cross in low water, and where he and his men could likely cross, despite the raging current. Emma offered to escort him if one of his men would saddle a horse for him.
Forrest replied, “There is no time to saddle a horse; get up here behind me.”
Taking her hand, he pulled her up behind him on his steed, and assured her mother that he would return Emma safely. The duo rode down to the riverbank, but came under enemy fire, so they rode into the foliage and dismounted. Finding the spot she had referred to, they emerged from the cover of trees, and were once again fired upon.
Emma placed herself in front of Forrest. “General,” she said, “stand behind me. They will not dare to shoot me.”
Forrest, being the gallant cavalier that he was, refused. “I’m glad to have you for a pilot, but I’m not going to make breastworks of you.”
He left her under cover behind the roots of a fallen tree. Crawling on his hands and knees, he looked back behind him, and saw that she had followed. With some consternation, he confronted her about going against his wishes.
“Yes, General,” she said, “but I was fearful that you might be wounded; and it’s my purpose to be near you.”
Defiantly, she waved her bonnet in the air. The Union soldiers on the other side realized they had been shooting at a female, so they immediately dropped their weapons and gave three cheers. Emma started for home, but soon came upon General Forrest again. He told her that one of his men, who had been killed, was laid out in her house, and requested that her family bury him in a nearby graveyard. After asking that she send him a lock of her hair, he rode off to later become victorious in the campaigning. By bluffing the Yankees into believing his troops were larger in number, he succeeded in capturing Colonel Abel Streight’s Union forces. He also returned Emma’s brother to her.
Emma could have faced severe retribution for aiding General Forrest. She escaped from her close call unscathed, except for a few bullet holes that had passed through her skirt.
“They have only wounded my crinoline,” she casually remarked.
Forrest was so grateful for Emma’s heroic gesture that he gave her a note of thanks:
Hed Quaters in Sadle
May 2 1863
My highest regardes to miss Emma Sansom for hir Gallant conduct while my posse was skirmishing with the Federals across Black Creek near Gadsden Allabama.
N. B. Forrest
Brig Genl Comding N. Ala
After the war, the state of Alabama awarded Emma with a gold medal, and awarded her a section of public land “as a testimony of the high appreciation of her services by the people of Alabama.”
She married in 1864, moved with her husband to Texas, and had five sons and two daughters. Emma died on August 9, 1900, and is buried in Little Mound Cemetery, twelve miles west of Gilmer, Texas. Her legacy lives on in a poem written by John Trotwood Moore. In 1946, she was featured in a comic book called “Real Heroes.”A monument was erected by the UDC in her honor, and a school is named after her. Both are in Gadsden, Alabama.