J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Civil War”

Desecrating the Dead

Not only are the politically correct going after monuments, but now they are attacking cemeteries. What’s next? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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WISCONSIN GRAVES TO REMAIN VIOLATED

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Madison City Council continued with their discussion of the plan to remove the marker for Confederate graves in the Forest Hill cemetery.

The decision was made at a meeting on April 10, and was then moved for reconsideration for the following meeting. The reconsideration was not passed on Tuesday night, and the decision will remain the same.

To open the issue, members of the public spoke on their positions. Wisconsin citizen James Reiff believes the dead should be left alone. “These men too were Americans and fought for what was important for them. We owe it to them to keep that cemetery in good orders and keep the monuments that were there,” Reiff said. “Don’t make war on the dead.”

Following public comments, the decision was opened to council members, where Alder Paul Skidmore, District 9, asked for reconsideration so the cenotaph can remain where it is.

Skidmore said he has heard from many citizens who believe the cenotaph should remain in place, and he agrees. “I spoke about my support to keep the cenotaph, but I also support the discussion that we are not here to celebrate or honor the Confederacy or its cause,” Skidmore said. “The effort you are hearing is to honor the dead and allow for forgiveness and reconciliation with history.”

Skidmore emphasized that this is not an issue of racism. He said the memorials do not promote racism or the Confederacy, but are meant to be the final resting place of 140 people who were prisoners of the war.

However, Alder Mark Clear said he has not seen anything to make him believe the council should take the issue up again, as the vote was unanimous at the April meeting.

Alder David Ahrens sided with Skidmore, saying there should be an addition of a sign to explain the monuments. “The act of remembrance is important to all parties and by remembering the dead, we are not revering the actions, but there would need to be an explanation to the monuments,” Ahrens said.

After discussion, the council voted for there to be no reconsideration of the decision previously made. The vote was 14-4 to keep the April 10 decision.

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, May 4, 2018 ed.)
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Another Five-Star Review for Horses in Gray

Horses in Gray Cover

I just received another five-star review for my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. The review is as follows:

“Excellent book, particularly if you love history and pet love (horses).”

Short but sweet! Thank you, Russell C., for your kind review!

Here is another excerpt from the book. Hope you enjoy it!

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Crucial to the infantry, cavalry soldiers served a special purpose, as they were the eyes of the army. Cavalry units could easily cover thirty to seventy miles a day, and scouting units could travel as much as one hundred miles a day.

Throughout the course of the war, the Confederacy raised an estimated 137 mounted regiments; the North, nearly twice that many. The US Army supplied mounts to their cavalry, while Confederate soldiers provided their own.

The Confederate cavalry consisted of regiments containing eight hundred to one thousand men. Regiments were made up of ten brigades of one hundred men each and were commanded by a colonel, a lieutenant colonel, three majors, and a lieutenant. Regiments also included a surgeon and his assistant, a quartermaster sergeant, a commissary sergeant, a saddler sergeant, a blacksmith, a wagoner, hospital stewards, and musicians.

Equipment used by officers was usually non-regulation. Saddles were flat or English style, and Confederates of all ranks often used imported types, as well as McClellan and Jennifer saddles. A cavalryman’s gear also included iron stirrups, breast and crupper straps, a running martingale, a bridoon or snaffle bit, and a curb bit. Saddlebags had straps attached for tying on bedrolls, cooking utensils, ponchos, and other necessities.

When a horse threw a shoe, blacksmiths, or farriers, as they later came to be known, were called upon to remedy the situation. But sometimes the farriers were inaccessible. In these instances, the trooper had to shoe his own horse by nailing on one of the two spares he carried in his saddlebags. The South had much less iron than the North, so when shoes became scarce, cavalrymen were compelled to wrench shoes from dead horses.13

For the first two years of the war, the Confederate cavalry was far superior to its Northern counterpart. This was because Southern soldiers came from rural upbringings, and their horses were generally more agile compared to the draft horses used up north. Many Confederate officers were experienced foxhunters, so they were well-versed in jumping ditches and fences and galloping through woods.

Some soldiers who were not as learned around horses were taught tricks by their seasoned comrades. Lt. Col. William Willis Blackford, Stuart’s aide-de-camp, wrote in his memoirs: “I recollected a thing Von Borcke14 had once told me. He was taught in the Prussian Cavalry schools for this very emergency, and I made a courier twist the horse’s ear severely and keep it twisted while he led the horse off the field with Von Borcke on him, the horse becoming perfectly quiet immediately.”15

Tactics during the war changed. Instead of staging direct attacks, cavalry officers learned to use their horses for swift mobility to bring soldiers closer to the enemy. Once the soldiers reached a close proximity, the horsemen dismounted and fought on the ground, with one man in each group of four holding the reins of his comrades’ horses.

Horses were valuable, sacred commodities. Blackford explained it this way: “To a cavalry officer in active service, his horse is his second self, his companion and friend, upon whom his very life may depend.”16 Because of this, cavalrymen put the needs of their horses before their own.

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Horse killed with its owner, Col. Henry B. Strong, 6th Louisiana, at the Battle of Antietam, September 1862 

As the war progressed, Southern cavalrymen found it more challenging to replace their mounts. In the summer of 1862, the Union army captured and cut off the great horse-breeding states of Kentucky, Missouri, parts of Tennessee, and western Virginia. This forced Gen. Robert E. Lee’s men to scour the South, where remounts became more and more scarce. There were plenty of mustangs in Texas, but most of them were too small for military service.17

Whereas Confederate infantrymen were paid eleven dollars per month, cavalrymen were paid forty cents per day, or thirteen dollars a month; the two extra dollars could be used to provide for their horses. The men were also given horseshoes when they were available. If a horse was killed in the line of duty, the government compensated the trooper for his loss. But if the horse was captured, disabled, or lost, the trooper was not paid anything. In either case, the cavalryman was required to replace the mount himself. This could be a difficult task, as by the end of 1863, horses in the South were selling for $2,000 to $3,000 each.18

While on furlough to find a horse, a trooper was considered to be on “horse detail.”19 Horseless soldiers were said to belong to Company Q, a nonexistent company composed “not only of good soldiers, but no-goods, malingerers, and inefficients as well.”20 Blackford wrote about a flaw of this arrangement: “We now felt the bad effects of our system of requiring the men to furnish their own horses. The most dashing trooper was the one whose horse was the most apt to be shot, and when this man was unable to remount himself, he had to go to the infantry service and was lost to the cavalry. Such a penalty for gallantry was terribly demoralizing.”21

When soldiers were riding Shanks’ Mare, it meant that they were on foot. This was the most common means of transportation used for getting home after the war. “You place your feet on the ground and move,” one Tennessean described. “Walk in the direction you are going. You are now riding Shanks’ Mare.”22

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524634560&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

New Review for Horses in Gray

Horses in Gray Cover

I received a very flattering review for my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. Thank you so much, Mr. Greg Seeley, for your wonderful five-star review!

Horses in Gray – A Gem Not to be Missed

J.D.R. Hawkins’ latest work is like a rare gem – something that doesn’t come along often but to be prized when discovered. The work’s rarity derives from its unique subject matter, its detailed research, and its reader-friendly storytelling.

Notable throughout the entire book is Hawkins’ reverence and passion for horses. She covers in this book a subject I have never before seen in my readings of the American Civil War. Many stories have been told, some true and some not-so-much, of the exploits of Civil War generals. Largely forgotten, except in a few obscure cases, have been the exploits of the horses who made their heroics possible.

Horses in Gray is so well documented that it could easily pass as a Master’s Degree thesis. However, the author never lets the documentation get in the way of providing a fascinating read. One becomes keenly aware of the strong bond between horse and rider that is never weakened by long marches, harsh weather, or the noise of battle. She presents the horses as loyal servants with personalities as unique and varied as those of the men who rode them, and the masters as caring owners who treat them as faithful companions, not mere tools of battle.

Interwoven into the stories of the Confederate war horses and their riders are insightful vignettes of the actions they shared. Some of the actions were major ones such as the battles of Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Pittsburgh Landing, others largely forgotten except among military scholars and Civil War buffs – notably raids by John Mosby and Turner Ashby. As a student of the war, I was never before aware of the extent to which horses “changed sides” as the result of being captured or that General Grant, himself, rode a captured horse named Jeff Davis.

The author of Civil War novels such as A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us does not disappoint with her foray into non-fiction. If you consider yourself even a casual student of the Civil War, or if you are a more serious scholar, Horses in Gray is a must read.  I rate it five stars and look forward to more of Hawkins’ work.

Greg Seeley – Goodreads author, Henry’s Pride.

Civil War Gold Found?

I’m always fascinated to learn about long-lost items from the Civil War that have been discovered. When I lived in Mississippi, it was fun to see what some of my WBTS enthusiast friends found with their metal detectors – from coins to belt buckles to buttons. The most interesting find was a Confederate sabre that a friend found buried on his farm. There are lots of theories about what happened to the Confederate gold, and now, some say they have found Union gold. I hope you find this article as fascinating as I do!

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RUMORED SITE OF $55M IN CIVIL WAR-ERA GOLD DRAWS FBI’S ATTENTION, REPORTS SAY

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President Abraham Lincoln reportedly ordered the shipment to help pay Union Army soldiers, Dennis Parada, owner of local treasure-hunting group Finders Keepers, told WJAC-TV.

“I’m not going to quit until it’s dug up,” Parada told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “and if I die, my kid’s going to be around and make sure it’s going to be dug up.

Dozens of FBI agents, Pennsylvania state officials and members of a treasure-hunting group dug in a remote Pennsylvania site earlier this week, on rumors of Civil War-era gold being buried there.

A 155-year-old legend has it that a Civil War-era gold shipment bound for a U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was either lost or hidden northeast of Pittsburgh around the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

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“There’s something in there and I’m not giving up.”

Based on different stories, the shipment was composed of either 26 or 52 gold bars, each weighing 50 pounds, meaning it would be worth $27 million to $55 million today.

Local lore that the federal gold might be buried at the Dents Run site in Benezette Township, Pa., about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, caught the FBI’s attention.

So earlier this week agents from the bureau and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) set up a search area off Route 555, the Courier-Express reported.

The site is west of Driftwood, where a crew delivering the gold was attacked in an ambush, lone survivor Sgt. Jim Connors reportedly told his Army superiors at the time, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. But the Army reportedly doubted his story and Connors died in a “western outpost,” leaving the loot unfound. 

This week the FBI wouldn’t say why it was at the site, revealing only that it was conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

Historians have cast doubt that the shipment of gold was lost on its way to Philadelphia. Finders Keepers also said Pennsylvania’s Historical and Museum Commission claims the legend of the lost gold is a myth, the Inquirer reported.

But the lost treasure recovery group has insisted for years that it discovered buried gold in a state forest at Dents Run (within the township) using a high-powered metal detector, but federal law wouldn’t allow it to conduct a dig in search of more, the Courier-Express reported.

A spokesman from the Pennsylvania DCNR said that the group previously asked to excavate the site, but elected not to pay a required $15,000 bond.

The spokesman also referred questions on Tuesday’s activity to the FBI, and Parada said he was under FBI orders not to discuss the site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/rumored-site-of-dollar55m-in-civil-war-era-gold-draws-fbis-attention-reports-say/ar-BBKk5dO?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452,  Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 42, Issue No. 4, April 2018)

      

Happy Easter!

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Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays, not only because I’m a Christian, but because, to me, it signifies that Spring is finally here. My old church used to obtain butterfly chrysalises for the Sunday school classes, and on Easter, they set all the new butterflies free. I loved the analogy between birth and rebirth, and how it signified the risen Christ. We have had our share of baby bunnies, baby chicks, chocolate eggs and Easter egg hunts, but to me, butterflies being set free is the most special memory.

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, which describes how two young men who are new soldiers experience Easter Sunday, 1863. Enjoy, and have a happy Easter!

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They listened to an owl hoot somewhere off in the distance. As moonbeams shone down on the two young soldiers, they fell asleep. Early the next morning, they woke up and sauntered over to the depot, which remained dark.

“Where is everybody?” Jake asked. Looking around, he scratched his head. No one was in sight.

“Let’s go over to the livery and find out,” David suggested. They walked a few blocks and entered the building.

Upon being asked, the stable owner laughed. “You boys don’t know what day this is?” They responded by shaking their heads. “It’s Easter! No trains are runnin’ today.” He looked at one, then the other. They looked at each other, and then back at him. “Do y’all have anywhere else to go?” The troopers shook their heads again. “Well, feel free to bed down in here if y’all want, but I reckon it’ll be a long day, since nothin’s open.” He quickly walked out of the barn toward a little house across the yard.

“I knew today was Easter. I jist forgot is all,” Jake said.

“Me, too,” David said. “I’m hungry.” He surprised himself with the comment, for he usually didn’t feel empty until midmorning.

Jake looked at him. “Well, there are some oats. That’s all we’re likely to find, since everything’s closed up.”

They sat on a bale of hay, pondering their situation, but came to no resolution, so they decided to take a walk around. It was a futile effort, however, because they only saw a few people on the street, who disappeared into doorways once they approached. With no other recourse, they decided to return to the livery.

Suddenly, David stopped. “I know!” he exclaimed.

Jake followed his gaze across the street to a small white chapel that stood like a beacon, its tall ivory steeple pointing up to the heavens.

“Let’s go inside,” he said, walking so quickly that Jake had to sprint to catch up.

They entered the little church. Some members of the congregation turned to see who the late arrivals were. Removing their hats, the boys slid into a back pew.

The pastor was telling the story of Jesus’ resurrection, the same story they all told on Easter, but this time it seemed more poignant. David equated it to the plight of the grand old Southland for which they were fighting, and for which his father gave his life. The Southerners had been persecuted and exiled, but now they would gain the freedom to rejoice in the reincarnation of their own country, even though some would die for the sins of others.

A pianist cued the congregation, so they stood to sing “Rock of Ages.” After the hymn ended, the pastor dismissed everyone with a “Happy Easter.” He walked from the pulpit to the front doors, and greeted each person as they exited. David and Jake waited, smiling politely while the older people, women, and children filed out, and then they took their turn greeting the pastor.

“What do we have here?” the Godly man asked. He wore a fine, graying beard and a long black robe. “I’m so glad y’all could come to our service. Happy Easter!”

“Happy Easter,” the boys responded.

“Sir, we’re only here for today,” said Jake. “Our train’s been delayed due to the holiday, and we were wonderin’…”

The pastor interrupted. “Are y’all in need of lodgin’?” he asked, his dark blue eyes filling with concern.

“No,” Jake said. “We were wonderin’ if you might know where we could gitsomethin’ to eat. We didn’t bring enough money, and we forgot about allowin’ ourselves an extra day’s worth of vittles.”

“Of course.” The pastor smiled. “Jist give me a minute.” He went to the back of the church, but soon reappeared, dressed in a dark suit. He closed the front door. “Come with me,” he said.

They followed him down the street to a little white house surrounded by a whitewashed picket fence, and went inside. The smell of baked ham encouraged them. They looked at each other and grinned.

“Wait here, boys,” the pastor said kindly.

He walked into another room. David and Jake could hear him talking to someone. Pots clanked and plates chinked. Moments later, the pastor emerged with two heaping plates of food.

“Come on in here,” he said.

The soldiers followed him to a small wooden table.

“We shall praise the Lord for this blessed day,” the holy man said happily. He set their plates on the table and delved into prayer.

David’s stomach growled, but he did his best to contain his hunger.

Finally, the pastor finished and told them to eat. “I don’t mean to be rude, but my wife and I won’t be jinin’ y’all. We’ve been invited to her cousin’s house, and we’re fixin’ to bring the food along with us,” he explained.

Gesturing for them to take a seat, he walked out of the room, leaving David and Jake alone to consume their dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, and okra. Once they finished, the kind pastor returned, giving them each some morsels to save for supper. They thanked him, bid him a happy Easter, and returned to the livery, where they promptly fell asleep. When they awoke, the barn was dark. Rain clattered down on the tin roof. Jake arose, went outside, and returned a few minutes later.

“I instructed the livery man to wake us at five-thirty,” he said, shaking moisture from his hat. He looked down at the grease-stained, brown paper-wrapped package the pastor had given him. “I’m savin’ mine for tomorrow.”

“Me, too,” said David. He rolled over and soon fell back to sleep.

The Olympics

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The 2018 Winter Olympic games commenced today in PyeongChang. South Korea. The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece on April 6, 1896. Olympic games were held in Olympia, Greece 1503 years prior to this, from 776 BC through 393 AD.

Soldiers who fought in the Civil War had a lot of time to kill between battles, so they invented their own games to compete in, from baseball to “throwing papers,” otherwise known as gambling, to horseracing. But the most interesting winter “sport” they participated in was snowball fighting. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, describing the snowball fight that took place prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg.

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Hiram glanced around at his comrades, who were entrenched on either side of him, waiting for another Yankee advance. With time to reflect, he thought back to the previous month’s events. The 4th Alabama had abandoned their encampment and moved to Culpeper Court House. They remained there until November 22, when Lee discovered Burnside was headed north from Richmond, so he assembled his troops near the quaint town of Fredericksburg. The Confederate army swelled to almost twice its size, due to returning soldiers who had become ill prior to their march into Maryland. Remaining on the south side of the icy Rappahannock River, the Rebels gazed at the church spires that rose up from the town like bony, skeletal fingers, reaching to the heavens for sanctuary.

They waited for Burnside to pounce, but their wait was long-lived, for he hesitated. Since the men were required only to attend dress parade and roll call, they idled away their time by staging snowball fights, some so zealous that several soldiers were wounded, and a few were killed.

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They also spent time exploring the town, as well as the terrain north of camp. Fredericksburg had been nearly evacuated, except for a few citizens who still remained, because their only other option was to camp in the snowy woods until danger passed. On a few rare occasions, the 4th Alabama was detailed to picket duty in town, where they stayed inside deserted homes that housed fine paintings, extensive libraries, and lovely furniture, or they stood guard outside on the piazzas, and in the immaculate sculptured gardens, gazing across the river at the Union soldiers’ tents. They noticed how finely outfitted the Yankees were in their splendid blue uniforms, but the Confederates, in contrast, were clothed in ragged, tattered, dingy butternut.

Some of the Rebels managed to converse with the enemy, even though it was strictly forbidden, and exchange their tobacco for much-desired coffee and sugar. After a while, though, a treaty was established, and the Southerners sent across a plank, with a mast made from a current Richmond newspaper. The Federals sent their “boat” to the Southern port, using a mast constructed from a Northern newspaper. Thus, the two sides stayed abreast of what the media was saying.

On several occasions, Hiram heard music float across the river. The Yankee bands played new songs he had never heard before. One sounded like “John Brown’s Body,” but the words had been changed. This, he learned, was the Union army’s new anthem, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He didn’t appreciate the lyrics, since they equated the Confederates to devils, but listened with interest, nonetheless. Another Yankee song they played repetitively was called the “Battle Cry of Freedom.” He liked that one better, but it still didn’t make his spirit soar like “Dixie” did. The Federals played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hail Columbia,” songs the Southerners once held dear, and waited for Confederate bands to reply, but no reprisal came. As if reading Hiram’s mind, the Yankees rambunctiously played “Dixie’s Land.” Men on both sides of the river burst into cheers, which fell away to mutual laughter.

 

Life is Short

Over the past week, I have been faced with a personal situation that has left me thinking about my own mortality and about how fragile life is. Since I am a Civil War author, I have read and written about death a lot, and have incorporated many soldiers’ journal entries into my writing.

Here is an example from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, of one faithful steed who served during the Civil War. Roderick was a war hero who gave his life for his beloved commander, General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Horses in Gray Cover

On the morning of March 5, Union general John Coburn’s troops approached Confederate forces stationed near Thompson’s Station, a small train depot nine miles south of Franklin, Tennessee. Skirmishing continued all day. At 10:00 a.m. the following morning, Confederate guns announced the opening of the battle. Coburn ordered a charge, but the Confederates drove them back.

            Forrest led a frontal attack while mounted on his favorite war horse, Roderick. The dark chestnut Saddler had a reputation among Forrest’s men as being an unusually loyal horse and reportedly had often trotted after Forrest in camp like a hunting dog.27 Roderick even tried to come into Forrest’s tent on occasion.

The devoted steed was hit three times by enemy fire, but despite his suffering he valiantly struggled forward. Realizing the severity of Roderick’s wounds, Forrest rode to the rear. He handed Roderick over to Willie before returning to the front on a fresh mount.

Roderick was attracted to the sounds of battle. He broke away and galloped across the battlefield in search of Forrest. The brave war horse leapt three fences on his way. Just before reaching Forrest, he received his fourth and fatal wound. He died at Forrest’s side.

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With tears streaming down his cheeks, Forrest left Roderick and returned to the battle. Roderick was buried not far from where he fell, near the small Buford family plot, although the exact location of his grave was never marked.28

New Outlets for New Book

Horses in Gray Cover

I was notified by my publisher, Pelican Publishing, that my new nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, has been accepted and will be sold in several venues. This is very exciting, and is an extreme honor. The list is as follows:

1.       One Eastern National site picked up the book, Parker Crossroads, TN

2.       Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, TX

3.       Rum Creek Sutler in Georgia

4.       Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, SC

5.       United Daughters of the Confederacy in VA

6.       Kent Plantation House in Louisiana

7.       Books of the South on Birmingham, AL

8.       Brice’s Crossroads Bookstore in Mississippi

I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has decided to pick up my book! Thank you so much for your support.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in carrying the book, please let me know! I’m hoping to get it into more national parks, as well as more Civil War museums and the like.

Here is another exerpt from Horses in Gray. I hope you enjoy it!

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As the war progressed, Southern cavalrymen found it more challenging to replace their mounts. In the summer of 1862, the Union army captured and cut off the great horse-breeding states of Kentucky, Missouri, parts of Tennessee, and western Virginia. This forced Gen. Robert E. Lee’s men to scour the South, where remounts became more and more scarce. There were plenty of mustangs in Texas, but most of them were too small for military service.17

Whereas Confederate infantrymen were paid eleven dollars per month, cavalrymen were paid forty cents per day, or thirteen dollars a month; the two extra dollars could be used to provide for their horses. The men were also given horseshoes when they were available. If a horse was killed in the line of duty, the government compensated the trooper for his loss. But if the horse was captured, disabled, or lost, the trooper was not paid anything. In either case, the cavalryman was required to replace the mount himself. This could be a difficult task, as by the end of 1863, horses in the South were selling for $2,000 to $3,000 each.18

While on furlough to find a horse, a trooper was considered to be on “horse detail.”19 Horseless soldiers were said to belong to Company Q, a nonexistent company composed “not only of good soldiers, but no-goods, malingerers, and inefficients as well.”20 Blackford wrote about a flaw of this arrangement: “We now felt the bad effects of our system of requiring the men to furnish their own horses. The most dashing trooper was the one whose horse was the most apt to be shot, and when this man was unable to remount himself, he had to go to the infantry service and was lost to the cavalry. Such a penalty for gallantry was terribly demoralizing.”21

When soldiers were riding Shanks’ Mare, it meant that they were on foot. This was the most common means of transportation used for getting home after the war. “You place your feet on the ground and move,” one Tennessean described. “Walk in the direction you are going. You are now riding Shanks’ Mare.”22

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516772704&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

The University Greys

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Following South Carolina’s secession from the Union, Mississippi seceded on January 9, 1861. Fervor about the impending war grew, with most thinking it would be little more than a skirmish that would last no more than ninety days. (If only they had been right.) Young men across the South gathered in preparation and formed militia-type military units. Once Ft. Sumter was fired upon in April, newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve as “the militia of the several States of the Union…in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.” His actions only spurned more aggression, and Southerners felt they were left with no choice but to retaliate.

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On May 4, 1861, male students attending the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), as well as many professors, joined the fight. Known as the University Greys, 135 young men enlisted in the Confederate Army as Company A of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. This was nearly all of the student body. In fact, only four students showed up for class the following fall, so the University closed for a time.

The University Greys fought in nearly every engagement of the Civil War, and participated in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, where they sustained a 100% casualty rate, in that everyone was either killed or wounded. Following Gettysburg, what was left of the University Grays merged with Company G, the Lamar Rifles, and fought until the end of the war.

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A special cemetery was set aside on campus for the fallen University Greys. Each grave was designated by a wooden marker. However, according to local legend, one day, a groundskeeper decided it would be easier to mow the grass if he removed all the markers. Unfortunately, once he was done with his chore, he couldn’t remember where the markers were supposed to go, so he stored them in a shed, where they were kept for years.

Although no one knows exactly where each soldier is buried, a large monument designates the sacred area and speaks of the sacrifices these admirable young men suffered. Every May, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other historical groups gather to pay their respects for the University Greys by holding a special service in honor of them.

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It’s a shame Ole Miss is consistent in forgetting how its students fought for what they deemed a worthy cause at the time. In recent years, the university has done away with its mascot, Colonel Reb, and has refused to fly the state flag. They have discussed removal of statues on campus as well as changing various street names honoring their brave warriors. Political correctness has taken precedence over historical remembrance. I certainly hope Ole Miss retains some of its amazing artwork, instead of caving in to political correctness and to those who wrongly deem all Confederate images as racist.

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https://civilwartalk.com/threads/memorial-window-to-the-university-grays-co-a-11th-mississippi.91879/

New Podcast and Award

Last week, I was invited to participate in a podcast courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter. It was great fun talking to Dr. Ed about my books, my future plans, and my beliefs in Southern heritage. Here is the interview:

And in other news, my novel, A Rebel Among Us, has made it to the short list (i.e., it is a semi-finalist) for the Laramie Book Awards for Western, Civil War, and Prairie Fiction. The Laramie Book Awards are a division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards, so this is an amazing honor. The book will now go on to the final rounds of judging, so wish me luck!

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https://www.chantireviews.com/2017/11/28/short-listers-for-the-laramie-2017-book-awards-for-western-civil-war-and-prairie-fiction/

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