J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Civil War”

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.

 

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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.

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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

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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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The Slaves of General Forrest

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There has been a lot of controversery surrounding General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Some say he started the Ku Klux Klan, which is untrue. In fact, General Forrest called for the KKK to disband after the group became too violent. Another false assumption is that he was a cruel slave owner. He was a product of his time, and although he owned slaves, he never abused them or split up families. In fact, his slaves adored him so much that they fought with him during the Civil War. They even stayed with him after the war and mourned his death. General Forrest strived to bring the races together after the war ended.

Here a few excerpts from my book, Horses in Gray, which describe how General Forrest treated his slaves.

Horses in Gray Cover

Chapter 4

The Thirty Horses of Forrest

 

Those hoof beats die not upon fame’s crimson sod,

But will ring through her song and her story;

He fought like a Titan and struck like a god,

And his dust is our ashes of glory.1

 

Nathan Bedford Forrest often stated that he was “a horse ahead”2 at the end, meaning that he had thirty horses shot out from under him and killed twenty-nine men during the course of the war. It is virtually impossible to trace all thirty horses, since at times Forrest appropriated a horse on the spot. On one occasion, he ordered a Union officer to dismount, got on the officer’s horse, and rode away.

On June 14, 1861, Forrest, who had remained silent on the issue of secession, walked into the headquarters of Capt. Josiah White’s Tennessee Mounted Rifles and enlisted as a private. His brother, Jeffrey, and son, Willie, enlisted with him. The Forrests were ordered to Camp Yellow Jacket, a training camp sixty-five miles north of Memphis. These troopers in training would become the famous Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, which fought until the end of the war under Forrest’s leadership.

John Milton Hubbard was a private in Hardeman’s Avengers, which would later be attached to the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry. He was stationed at Camp Yellow Jacket and remembered meeting Forrest: “Two cavalry companies from Memphis were in camp near us—Logwood’s and White’s. In riding near these one day, I met a soldier speeding a magnificent black horse along a country road as if for exercise and the pleasure of being astride of so fine an animal. On closer inspection, I saw it was Bedford Forrest, only a private like myself, whom I had known ten years before down in Mississippi. I had occasion afterward to see a good deal of him.”3

            In October, Forrest was given command of a regiment and named it Forrest’s Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. He posted advertisements in the Memphis Appeal, calling for “five hundred able-bodied men, mounted and equipped with such arms as they can procure (shotguns and pistols preferable), suitable to the service. Those who cannot entirely equip themselves will be furnished arms by the State.”4

In its editorial columns, the Memphis Appeal supported the notice: “To Arms! We invite attention to the call of Col. N.B. Forrest in today’s paper. There are still hundreds of young men in the country anxious to engage in the military service. Those whose fancy inclines them to the cavalry service will find no better opportunity to enlist under a bold, capable and efficient commander. Now is the time.”5

            Part of Forrest’s command included an escort company of between forty and ninety men, which Forrest referred to as his Special Forces. Among these troopers, who were the finest, most elite soldiers in his cavalry, were eight of Forrest’s slaves.

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And in another excerpt:

After the war, Forrest set up housekeeping with his wife, Mary Ann, near Memphis. In August 1866, Federal cavalrymen rode past Forrest’s house. King Philip, who was grazing in the front yard, saw the blue coats and instantly recognized them as the enemy. Watching the men dismount and start toward the house, King Philip charged at them with teeth bared, head and tail raised, and front feet flailing. He did not stop until he had chased every Federal soldier from the lot. One of the cavalrymen who had been injured by the horse declared that he would kill King Philip, but Jerry (Forrest’s previous body servant) rushed to the horse’s defense. “The Gin’ral,”58 as Jerry called him, emerged from the house, took control of King Philip, and had Jerry lead the spirited steed off to the stable.

“General,” the Federal captain in charge said, “now I can account for your success. Your Negroes fight for you, and your horses fight for you.”59 

Sadly, King Philip died of colic later that year.

Forrest passed away on October 29, 1877. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, but in 1904 his remains were interred in Memphis’s Forrest Park. All of the sidewalks in the park were named after officers who served under him—except for one, which was named for his war horse King Philip.

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(The statue of General Forrest mounted on King Philip was illegally removed by the city of Memphis last month. Stay tuned for more details.)

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515730595&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

The Hunt for Confederate Gold

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Myths surround what happened to the Confederate gold. After President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond at the end of the Civil War, the gold from the Confederate capital’s treasury disappeared. Some say it was buried somewhere in Georgia, where Davis was captured. Others say it was distributed throughout various southern states and is still being guarded by descendants today. And a third theory is that Michigan cavalry, who captured Davis, took the gold and hid it in a boxcar sunk at the bottom of Lake Erie. All of these hypotheses are interesting, to say the least.

Now the History Channel has been attracted to the century-old mystery. Here is an article about the History Channel’s coverage regarding the missing Confederate gold.

History Channel exploring Confederate Gold in Michigan

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A theory involving Confederate Gold and Muskegon’s most well-known philanthropist might be featured on The History Channel.

A television crew visited the Hackley Administration Building on Oct. 27, under the guise of interest in its bell tower’s architecture.

“We had The History Channel here,” said John Snyder, Muskegon Public Schools facilities and transportation supervisor, at a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 14. “It had to do with Charles Hackley and the Masons and Confederate Gold.”

The visit wasn’t what he was expecting, but was “interesting,” he said. Snyder was told the show would air during April.

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“I thought it was about the historical architecture and the clock tower,” Snyder said in a follow-up email. “They tied it into Confederate gold, the Masonic Temple masons (and) how Hackley was getting richer while other lumbermen were losing money. A lot tied in with a previous MLive article about Hackley Park looking like a Confederate flag/bible.”

The theory is that Charles Hackley paid tribute to the Confederacy with park’s layout.

Prometheus Studios of Los Angeles emailed MLive on Dec. 6 to ask permission to use content from a series of stories on the theory that were published in March.

Programs produced by Prometheus Studios include “Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color” and “America’s Book of Secrets,” according to its website. It’s clients include The History Channel and H2.

Associate Producer Rick George did not immediately return a call for comment.

Dykstra – one of two researchers behind the Muskegon-Confederate Gold theory – couldn’t say much.

“That grew some very long legs – very long legs,” he said of MLive’s coverage of his theory. “It got the interest in moving things along. … There’s an exciting project going on.”

Dykstra and research partner Brad Richards theorize that Hackley was part of a plot to hide and transport the Confederate Treasury – $10 million-worth of gold and silver – from Irwinville, Ga., to Muskegon, Mich., after the Union Army’s Michigan 4th Cavalry captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1865.

They further theorize that Hackley used his share of the take to donate numerous buildings and endowments to the Muskegon community, including Hackley Park, Hackley Administration Building, Hackley Public Library, Hackley Art Gallery and Hackley Hospital.

“It’s farfetched,” said Annoesjka Soler, executive director of the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon in a previous interview after hearing Dykstra and Richards present their theory.

“We don’t feel there are a lot of facts in there cited from primary literature,” she said. “They’re going to have fun with it … I’m sure it will bring up a lot of interest. It’s very speculative, a lot of conjecture tying a lot of loose pieces together.”

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Many historians have called the theory into question, especially because they say it was disproven that Davis had the treasury with him when he was captured.

(Courtesy Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Dec. 29, 2017 ed.)

New Book Trailer

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The book trailer for the first two books in the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, has been updated to include the first two books’ new covers. The artwork was done by the amazingly talented Dawne Dominique for my publisher, Foundations, LLC.

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She also created the cover for the third book in the series, A Rebel Among Us.

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The book trailer for the first two books in the series was created by Buzzbomb Studios and my good friend, Dana Burgess. Thank you for doing an amazing job!

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All three books are available through Amazon and Smashwords.

https://www.amazon.com/Renegade-J-D-R-Hawkins-ebook/dp/B077QXB6YH/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511698347&sr=1-1&keywords=j.d.r.+@Julie Hawkins

 

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you a very happy New Year. May all your hopes and dreams come true in 2018.

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. It is New Year’s Eve, 1863, and the antagonist, David, finds himself in a predicament he never could have imagined. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the past.

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That evening, the family and their friends gathered in the parlor for a New Year’s Eve celebration, but David kept to a corner, avoiding the others. Anna had given him some wine, so he sat alone, contentedly sipping, and gazed at the two Currier and Ives paintings. Claudia and Abigail amused themselves with their stereographs and the carousels he had made for them. Anna and Maggie talked happily while Sarah and Grace conversed in the opposite corner. At midnight, they all gathered in the center of the room. Anna stood close to him as the mantle clock chimed twelve times.

“Happy New Year!” the ladies exclaimed, raising their glasses.

They clanked their crystals together, and everyone took a sip of wine. David glanced over at the doorway where a strand of mistletoe had been hung. He wished he was standing beneath it with Anna, so he would have an excuse to kiss her. Claudia and Abigail went around the room hugging everyone before they went up to bed. Once David had finished his glass, he excused himself and retired to his room.

He lit the fire, undressed, heated a bed warmer in the embers of the fireplace, and set it on the bed. While he waited for it to warm the flannel sheets, he checked on his Colt .44 and saw that it was just as he’d left it. Returning the warmer to its place near the hearth, he climbed into bed and shivered slightly, his breath barely visible in the firelight.

Closing his eyes, he thought of everything that had taken place the previous year: how he had traveled to Virginia and fought with so many fearless commanders and comrades, and how he had lost Jake and had ended up at the Brady farm. His mind wandered to home. He wondered how his mother and sisters were getting along and whether the Yankees had taken over their land. He hoped 1864 would see an end to the terrible war, but he also wished the South would be triumphant somehow. He thought of his hospitable hostesses and how they had saved him: Miss Maggie, who obviously loathed him; Miss Sarah, who tolerated him; and Anna, lovely Anna. If the war ended, she might be interested in him for some other reason than to provide her with an alibi. It seemed the only people who really liked him for who he was were the two little girls.

Thank God for their innocence, he thought.

His mind drifted back to Anna and her amazing smile. What this year held in store for them, he hadn’t a clue. Perhaps he would be able to return to Alabama soon, after all. It would be a welcome escape from the predicament he now found himself in. Anna was too close, too personal. He knew he was falling further with each passing day. His portentous, precarious situation reminded him of soldiers he’d seen walking enemy lines. He knew sparks could never fly between the two of them. It was the worst forbidden, foreboding situation he could have ever imagined. His affections toward her might potentially place Anna in horrific danger. The Yankees could blame her for treason. She would stand to lose her farm, or even worse, her life. Where would that leave her younger sisters? Guilt washed over him. He couldn’t restrain his feelings, yet he knew he had to. His only choice was to submit to his present condition: the most challenging, heart-wrenching situation he had yet to endure. He knew his family missed him and Callie needed him, but in his heart he wasn’t ready to go home.

A Christmas Disaster

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Some people just don’t know how to be gracious, and Maggie is one of them. Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. Enjoy!

The little girls were up before dawn, pounding on doors, rousing everyone awake, and gleefully yelling “Merry Christmas!”

David groggily sat up. He heard Maggie’s voice on the other side of the door.

“Where’s the fire?” she asked.

“There’s no fire. Santa’s been here,” squeaked Claudia.

He heard Anna say something and pulled himself out of bed. The group had already gone downstairs, so he followed after them and entered the parlor. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he saw Sarah lighting a fire.

“What time is it?” he yawned.

“Fifteen minutes past five,” said Grace. She tightened her robe around herself. “Oh! It looks as though Santa has been here, all right.”

The girls ran to the fireplace, yanked down their stockings, and dumped the contents out onto the rug, gasping at the sight of their bounty. Each one had received two peppermints, a gold coin, and a licorice.

Maggie had already started distributing gifts from under the tree. She called out the name on each package while Claudia and Abigail took turns delivering them to their recipients. Handing her aunt the last remaining present, she seated herself beside the fireplace. Everyone began opening gifts.

With a smile on his face, David watched the sisters, Grace, and Claudia exchange gifts with each other.

“Go on, David. Open yours,” Sarah coaxed him.

He drew the boxes toward him and eagerly tore into them. A package from Maggie and Abigail contained new boots. Amazed, he humbly thanked them. Another gift contained everyday clothes Sarah had sewn for him, and still another held a new pair of calf-skin gloves from Claudia and her mother. Anna gave him a book and several pair of socks.

She opened his gift. David held his breath, hoping she would be impressed by his handiwork. He had specially crafted for her a comb and hand-held looking glass made of Cherrywood with intricately carved angels on them.

“Oh, David,” she gasped. “I don’t know what to say.”

He didn’t either, so he nervously waited for her to continue.

“They’re absolutely breathtaking!” She dragged the comb through her long blonde hair, gazing at her likeness in the mirror.

David thought he could watch her do that for hours on end and smiled at his accomplishment. He had managed to impress her. His heart soared.

“Oh, it’s lovely.” Sarah smiled. She held up the broach he’d carved for her. Tiny birds adorned the front of it.

“Glad you like it, Miss Sarah,” he replied with a shy grin.

He gave a similar one to Grace. Abigail and Claudia opened their gifts from him: miniature carousels with interchangeable animals. They happily thanked him and traded animals, seeing if one would fit into the other’s carousel.

Maggie opened the gift he had created for her to reveal a three-dimensional wooden carving of a girl sitting in a chair with a cat curled around her feet. “It’s a girl with a cat,” she flatly remarked.

“It’s beautiful,” Anna breathed, smiling at him.

He grinned back at her.

Maggie turned the wooden carving in her hands for a moment. Glaring at David, she threw it into the fire.

Sarah gasped.

David watched in shock. His jaw dropped in disbelief, and his eyes grew wide. The carving he had spent hours on, created especially for her, was quickly consumed by flames.

“Maggie, how could you?” Anna scolded.

He gaped at her, stunned. Maggie glared back at him. Coming to his senses, he scowled and jumped to his feet. Hurt and anger flared up inside him.

“Pardon me, ladies,” he said, quickly walking toward the kitchen.

He heard Anna holler at her sister. The screen door slammed behind him. Dawn was just beginning to illuminate the yard. Anxious to distance himself, he sprinted toward the barn.

“David,” Anna yelled as she ran after him. “David, wait!”

She screamed. He turned to see she had fallen onto the cold, snow-covered ground. His heart lurched.

“Anna!”

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