Last month was Confederate Heritage and History month. In honor of this, a special event took place on April 23 at Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Beauvoir is a beautiful mansion with breathtakingly stunning gardens. It is the home where Confederate President Jefferson Davis spent his last years after the Civil War ended. I have visited Beauvoir many times, and it always amazes me how beautiful it is.
Beauvoir was seriously damaged from Hurrican Katrina. But since then, it has been restored to its previous glory.
On the grounds is a Confederate cemetery, and in the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The wreath laying ceremony that took place on April 23 was in honor of the unknown soldier. Solemn ceremonies such as this take place all across the South during April.
Normally I haven’t read this type of novel, but this story grabbed from the beginning and is a page turner. The author painted a picture that placed me into the storyline. Voracious Readers gave me a complimentary copy of the book and I am glad that did. You should read this civil war tale.
Every month, AllAuthor sponsors a book cover contest. This month, the cover for my novel, Double-Edged Sword, is a contender. There are four voting rounds, one for each week of the month.
Cover of the Month
Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction Book Four of the Renegade SeriesHey Everyone, I’m excited to tell you that my book has been nominated for the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor.com. This will help me a lot if I could see some votes coming in, so please remember to vote my book. Vote Now » https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/13313/
Would you please be so kind as to vote for my cover? I would be eternally grateful! Thank you so much in advance.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time last Tuesday to check out my post on the b00k r3vi3w Tourss book tour for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. If you’d like to check out the other bloggers who participated, here is the link:
The last time I checked, there were over 600,000 views! That was last Tuesday, so it’s probably over a million by now.
In other news, the book is now available for free on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon) for a limited time. And if you are interested in writing a review, I’d be more than happy to hear from you! Thanks again for all your support!
Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, returns home to Alabama, taking his new wife, Anna, with him. Upon arrival, he understands how much the war has changed him and has scarred his homeland. Faced with challenges of transition, he learns how to navigate his new world, along with the pain and trauma of his past. He is also forced to confront his foes, including Stephen Montgomery. Their hatred for one another inevitably boils over into a fierce confrontation, whereby David is arrested.
Will the jury believe his side of the story, even though he is an ex-Confederate? Or will he be hung for his crime?
David helped Anna down after tying the mule, and followed her inside. A lanky man who stood behind a counter looked up from the hotel register as they entered. David nodded to the man, led Anna into the dining hall, and sat down beside her at a small round table. Like before, the room was nearly unoccupied. Three Union officers sat in the far corner, drinking whiskey and smoking cigars. Two men stood near the back of the room. One was playing a fiddle while the other attempted to sing a slow ballad in a low, baritone voice. The room was bright with sunlight, and lace curtains hung over the long windows. A thin, balding gentleman with an apron wrapped tightly around his waist appeared, pencil and paper poised in his hands.
“How do,” he said softly. “What would y’all like to order?”
Anna smiled up at him, but he only stared back.
“Well,” she began, “what is your specialty?”
“And more importantly, how much is it?” added David.
The waiter laughed. “More than you can afford, I’ll wager!”
David chuckled. “We have two dollars. Bring us whatever that provides.”
He glanced at his wife, who glared at him.
“It ain’t Confederate currency, is it?” the man asked.
“Silver,” responded David.
The waiter grinned and walked off into the kitchen.
Anna was still glaring. “The money you earned in prison?”
“You should hold on to that, sweetheart. We might need it for something important.”
He smiled. “You’re important,” he answered. “You said you needed to eat, and I’m starvin’. What could be more important than that?”
The musicians began to play another melody, and the couple listened to the lyrics.
“We shall meet but we shall miss him, there will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him, while we breathe our ev’nin’ prayer.
When a year ago we gathered, joy was in his mild blue eye.
But a golden cord is severed. And our hopes in ruin lie.”
David couldn’t help but think of the loss of his best friend. The lyrics saddened him deeply, searing his soul, rekindling the painful remembrance of discovering Jake’s lifeless body on the battlefield. He drew a heavy sigh, and took his beloved’s hand.
“It’ll be all right,” she comforted.
He nodded in confirmation, relieved when the song finally ended and the musicians broke into a lively tune.
About the Author:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an Amazon, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her “Renegade Series” includes “A Beautiful Glittering Lie,” winner of the 2013 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the 2012 B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequel, “A Beckoning Hellfire,” is an Amazon bestseller and winner of the 2022 B.R.A.G. Medallion. “A Rebel Among Us,” the third book in the series, is the recipient of the 2017 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and winner of the 2022 B.R.A.G. Medallion. Double-Edged Sword is the newly-published, fourth book in the series. These books, published by Westwood Books Publishing, LLC, tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins has also published a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, titled “Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses,” with Pelican Publishing. She is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. Ms. Hawkins is also an artist and a singer/songwriter.
I’m very excited about my new book, Double-Edged Sword, and I wanted to share an excerpt from the novel. This is from the first chapter. It will give you an idea of what it must have been like to see the South after the Civil War ended.
Excerpt from Double-Edged Sword
He turned and drove several blocks, trying to recall the direction of the house where he had stayed on his first night away from home. Everything appeared so different, and bluecoats were everywhere, swarming like flies. Down the street, a row of sutlers’ shops had been erected for the benefit of the Union troops. The newlyweds turned a corner and continued on, past structures that were once beautiful homes, but now sat empty, the glass in their windows shattered, their walls crumbling. Tent cities and clapboard structures cluttered vacant lots. Some of the boards were still adorned with wallpaper, an obvious declaration that the walls had been torn from citizens’ private dwellings. David recognized a two-story house, even though the paint was peeling around the window frames and the yard was filled with knee-high weeds.
“This is it?” Anna asked. “It isn’t quite how you described it.”
“It ain’t how I remember it, either,” he said.
He jumped down and tied the mule, then assisted his wife. They climbed the steps together. David tapped on the door. The brass knocker that had been there before was gone; holes from the bolts that had held it in place were all that remained. There came no response, so after a few moments, he tapped again.
“Last time I was here, she had a butler. Tall black feller, name of … Henry.” David nodded as he recalled. “He didn’t take to us much.” He flashed Anna a grin.
“He’s long gone by now, no doubt,” she said.
David tapped once more, but still no response came, so he tried the knob. The door stuck in the jam at first, but then creaked loudly on its hinges.
“Do you think we should go in there?” asked Anna.
He stepped inside. The long hallway was as dark as he remembered, but the lavish paintings that had adorned the walls were missing. Anna followed him down the hall to a large room that was empty except for a solitary wooden stool that squatted in the center. The ornate draperies David remembered had been ripped down, and a transparent gauze sheet had been draped across the broken windows in an attempt to keep insects out. The fireplace stood dark and empty, and the tapestries David remembered seeing were all gone, along with the furniture and knick knacks.
“I don’t think anyone’s here,” Anna whispered.
David walked to the window and looked outside. The back of the house was just as neglected as the front, and the stable doors yawned open with a passing breeze. There was nothing inside. He heard a thump and reeled around to see a small man standing behind Anna. She turned and gasped at the same time before rushing to her husband.
“Can I be of service to y’all?” the man asked feebly.
“Josiah?” David said, taking a step closer. “Is that you?”
The little man held his hand out to him. “That would be me. How may I help y’all?”
“Don’t you remember me?” asked David, trying to keep his voice quiet. “I’m David Summers. I came here with my friend, Jake Kimball. We met on the train from Huntsville, remember?”
The man didn’t seem to recall, so David went on.
“Your wife, Miss Martha, she had us stay the night. And her sister was here. Miss Mattie?”
“When did you say this was?” The old man shuffled to the wooden stool and sat down.
“It was in April of sixty-three. We were on our way to jine up with Jeb Stuart.”
The words seemed to register. Josiah looked up and smiled. “Yes. Yes! I believe I do remember you!” He stood up and vigorously shook David’s hand.
“This here’s Anna, my wife,” he introduced.
She stepped toward him. “Sir,” she said, taking his bony little hand in both of hers.
“Where’s Miss Martha? I’d surely like to see her.” David chuckled. “She made me promise to stop by the next time I was in town.”
The smile vanished from Josiah’s furrowed face. Suddenly, he looked very old. “She’s gone,” he said flatly.
“Where did she go?” Anna inquired.
Josiah sank back down onto the stool. “She left me … when the Yankees came. She got so upset with the occupation that one day, she …” His voice trailed off.
David exchanged glances with his wife. “She what, Josiah?”
He looked up at them, his eyes filled with grief. “She took the pistol out from under the mattress … and put it to her head.”
“Dear God!” exclaimed David.
Anna’s mouth dropped open.
“It was more than the poor darlin’ could bear, havin’ Hooker’s army come in here and take everything we owned. They took the nigger, they took the horses, they even took the rugs out from under our feet. Stripped clean, jist like a plague of locusts.” He paused, the silence overwhelming, then said, “Wilst they were fightin’, there was a lunar eclipse. Do you reckon it was some kind of omen?”
David gulped. “What happened to Miss Mattie?” he asked, afraid to hear the reply. “Where’s Miss Martha’s sister?”
“She’s gone too. Ran off before they got here, and I haven’t seen nor heard from her since.”
“Do you know where she went?” Anna asked, taking her husband’s arm to steady herself.
“No idea. I’m all alone here. Have been for quite some time now.”
David was at a loss, not knowing what to say. “We could take you somewhere. So you ain’t alone,” he suggested.
“And where would that be?” Josiah stood, slowly straightening. “The whole of the South is like this now. And besides, this here’s my home, and I’ll be damned to leave it.”
“Can we do anything for you?” Anna inquired.
“Jist leave me be, young’uns. I can fend for myself. Nice of y’all to stop by, though.” He sashayed into the parlor, or what David remembered to be the parlor, and closed a dark oak door behind him.
“We should go,” suggested Anna.
David glanced at her, unable to speak. He felt helpless, like he should do something, but was at a loss as to what. She took his hand and led him outside, where they boarded the wagon in silence and rode back to the depot. Chattanooga, David understood, had aged tremendously, just like Josiah. The town of two thousand was now overrun with bluecoats who seemed unconcerned with the annihilation they’d caused. What was once an elegant town was now demoralized by Yankees, and the whole city appeared beaten down and ancient.
This book gives a vivid picture of the South after the Civil War. Best of all the author gives us an inside view of the people left to live the horrid post-war situation.
The prime characters are David, a proud Southern who fought in the war, and Anna a determined young girl from Pennsylvania. This book is a continuation of their love story as described in A Rebel Among Us. Anna and David, decide to return to the South to break the bad news of David’s father’s death as well as that of his best friend, Jake. The year is 1865 and David is appalled by the ruins he witnesses as they head for Alabama. He sees firsthand the poverty and desperation of the people.
Although Anna had agreed to accompany David to his hometown, she feels very out of place there. People look at her with anger as they see her as a Northerner responsible for their sorry plight. David too fares no better as they consider him a traitor for having married a Yankee. The young couple has to face many difficult moments but their true love wins out.
The author, while giving us many historical facts, introduces us to interesting characters. Kit, David’s father’s friend proves to be anything but a true friend and causes the family preoccupations as they come to doubt his intentions. Callie, Jake’s girlfriend is convinced that David will marry her but she refuses to accept the fact that David is married to Anna. Ann too has a problem with Stephen, a neighbor in Pennsylvania who wanted Ann for himself and believes David took her away from him.
The plot gets involved and David and Anna are forced to cling to each other for comfort. Will there be a happy ending for them, after all? I invite you to read this intriguing book and find out.
I’m very excited to inform you that my new novel, Double-Edged Sword, is out! This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. The first three books in the series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us, are all award winners. The series centers around a family from Alabama, and what happens to them before, during, and after the Civil War. I’m very proud of this novel, and I hope you get the chance to read it soon! If you’re interested in writing a review, please let me know and I’ll send you a PDF version of the novel. Double-Edged Sword is available through Amazon, Westwood Books Publishing, and my website, jdrhawkins.com.
The following articles were written by a tour guide who works at the Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee. This being the 160th anniversary of the battle (April 6-7, 1862), I thought it only appropriate to share.
SHILOH TREE LINES I re-found this postcard among my many saved pictures. This is of course the 2nd Tennessee Monument, just South of Shiloh Church, and the Louisiana Crescent Regiment monument on the Hamburg-Purdy Road, across from the Davis Wheatfield. I do not know what year this is. I was amazed by how far back the tree lines are here.
The 2nd Tennessee monument today sits in a fairly small field. The Crescent regiment marker has a tree line to within 10 feet of it. I know the tree lines at Shiloh were kept pretty close to correct up to World War II. The war sucked all the men into the army, or into war vital jobs. I understand the Park Service was somewhat gutted until the late 1940’s, and the tree lines at Shiloh were just left to grow, during the war, and up to about 1950 or so.
These look like colorized photos. Perhaps they had slightly, or largely, different backgrounds painted in? The Tennessee monument background looks fairly correct, showing Shiloh Branch back to the left. Starke Miller Miller Civil War Tours
THE LAST CONFEDERATE COUNTER CHARGE AT SHILOH, AND THE UNIVERSITY of MISSISSIPPI ALUMNI WHO LED IT This is straight out of the book, Old Guard in Gray, which is a collection of biographies of Memphis, and Shelby County, Tennessee Confederate Veterans.
Late on the afternoon of April 7, which was the second day of the battle of Shiloh, the Confederate Army had been beaten and was in retreat. The wagons with the wounded were the last to get off the field, just South of the Shiloh church, at a small creek crossing at Shiloh Branch. There was only one small bridge there, and the wagons were bunched up there, trying to get away from the pursuing Union Army.
Confederate General Cheatham, seeing this, ordered the 38th Tennessee Infantry back to the top of the hill, and into the small cemetery around Shiloh Church. Colonel Looney of the 38th told General Cheatham that they could not do much because they averaged only one round of ammunition per man. General Cheatham told Looney to Crescent buy the wagons all the time that he could. The lieutenant colonel of the 38th Tennessee was Hugh D. Greer. He was an 1856 graduate of the University of Mississippi.
Some 3 to 400 hundred brave men of the 38th Tennessee, and several other regiments, spread across the church yard and cemetery, and out into the woods, determined to hold back, at least for a while, the Union pursuit. Those men formed in line of battle in a cemetery, waiting to die there, if need be, in order to save some of their friends. They fixed bayonets and waited.
They let the Union skirmishers practically walk on top of them, until the main Union troops came into sight. Then they raised up, fired one volley, and made a bayonet charge with a Rebel yell on the Union troops! It is said they drove those blue bellies nearly a quarter of a mile back to the crossroads area. Greer’s men were then able to form up, and retreat in good order, all the Confederate wagons having successfully gotten across the bridge to safety.
Hugh D. Greer, in his telling of this charge, stated that the colonel of the regiment, Colonel Looney, sat behind the line of battle on his horse, encouraging the boys the whole time! Lieutenant Colonel Greer apparently led the charge, was wounded in the head, and captured on the field. Greer may have had some feelings about the colonel not participating in the charge.
Colonel Looney was a Shiloh Battlefield Commissioner from 1895 to his death in 1899. Greer said that as a prisoner, Union General Sherman asked him why his men had only fired one round, and then made a bayonet charge. Greer told him the truth, that most of his men only had one round. Greer said Sherman grasped his hand warmly and shook it, congratulating him on being a member of such a gallant command.
Hugh D. Greer was exchanged from the Union prison Camp in the summer of 1862. He later became the colonel of the 38th Tennessee, and he survived the war. He was run over and killed by a train, at what was Buntyn, Tennessee in 1899. Buntyn is now part of Memphis, and is the old train station near the University of Memphis. Greer was one of the 109 University of Mississippi students and alumni who fought at Shiloh, in 20 different southern regiments. I love them all. The University has turned out some brave, fine men.
If you ever go to Shiloh with me, I will stand with you there at Shiloh Church, in the small cemetery, and I will tell you this story, and just a few others. Starke Miller Miller Civil War Tours
(Articles courtesy of The Southern Comfort, publication of the Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans and the President Jefferson Davis chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, volume 46, Issue #4, April 2022 ed.)
I would like to share an excerpt that was printed in the June 1906 edition of the Confederate Veteran. I found it to be an interesting take on Confederate monuments, and I hope you will too. Thank you, Teresa Roane, for this excerpt.
From General Stephen D. Lee’s speech April 1906
There are three things peculiarly left for our concern. One of these is the erection of public monuments to our Confederate dead; not only to our leaders, but, above all, to those private soldiers who made our leaders immortal. We must not overtask posterity by expecting those who come after us to build monuments to heroes whom their own generation were unwilling to commemorate. The South has reached a position of material prosperity which justifies both State and private beneficence to honor the faithful dead.
In all human lot there has nothing better been found for man than to die for his country. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, this fate is to be preferred above all others. We feel it is well with those who have thus fulfilled the highest of all trusts, the duty of a citizen to his native land; and whatever may have been their private faults, their public service on the field of battle has rightly given them a place with the immortals. Theirs was the martyr’s devotion without the martyr’s hope. Their generation and their country imposed upon them this high service. They fulfilled it without flinching. They felt that the issue of the battle was with God; the issue of their duty was with themselves….
I urge monuments to the Confederate soldier first for the sake of the dead, but most for the sake of the living, that in this busy industrial age these stones to the Confederate soldier may stand like great interrogation marks to the soul of each beholder.