J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Confederate”

Interview By Sara Louisa

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.

Hawkins says:

“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/

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Website: http://jdrhawkins.com

“Known But To God”

On route 80, bordering the boundaries of Breaks Interstate Park, as you begin the ascension up the beautiful mountains of Appalachia from Kentucky into Virginia, rests a soldier only known to God. The plaque reads:


“Known But To God”
“Here rests the body of a soldier of the Confederacy, struck down by an unknown assassin in May of 1865-apparently on way to home in the South. He was buried in a coffin made of boards rived from a great oak by four men of this community. After the turn of the century, a rose bush marked this final resting-place of a soldier who is “Known but to God”.”


When I initially encountered the roadside marker, my Confederate American blood became saddened with a longing that I have rarely encountered. I wondered who was this individual that now walks upon the wind? I imagined the families’ broken heart as the mother sat on the porch every evening looking for her son. I could feel her anxiety whenever a person was seen walking over the horizon, as she wondered was that her boy or the bearer of tragic news. I heard the last words of the pitiful little mother and forlorn father as they wondered where their son had fallen. But I could have sworn I heard on the whisper of the wind the joy of the reunion across the shore of that great river between this world and that one that knows no sorrow. My longing has compelled my search in finding more about this man and his family in hopes that closure will be afforded one soldier “known but to God”.


The families of Richard Potter, Henry Potter, George Potter, Zeke Counts and Lazarus Hunt have preserved and passed down the story of this unknown Confederate on his way home. The families were the descendants of the original settlers in the area and possessed a deep pride in their beloved Kentucky and Virginia. The story portrayed a lonely soldier in May of 1865 that stopped at the home of Richard Potter and asked for a drink of water. Mr. Potter obliged the man, as was (and still is) the custom of hospitality in Appalachia. As they talked for a few moments it was revealed that he was making his way home to Carolina (whether North or South Carolina has been lost over the years). After a period of time, the man thanked Mr. Potter and continued on his journey. Shortly George Potter, Henry Potter, Lazarus Hunt and Zeke Counts came to Richard Potter’s home stating that a Confederate soldier had been bushwhacked down the road apiece.


As was the custom of the day the body was brought to someone’s home and the ladies cleansed and prepared the corpse for burial. A watch, cap and a handkerchief were all of the man’s earthly possessions and a kindly old lady was entrusted with the watch in hopes that, “One day his family will come and you are to give them his watch when they do.” One of the misfortunes of the time was that upon the kindly grandmother’s death, vandals entered her cabin looking for loot and then burnt it to the ground. Ironically the path of this heroic lady crossed the same level of low life that assassinated the unfortunate soldier trying to make it home. The sainted ladies washed his shirt as the good Samaritans felled an oak tree to make the planks for the unfortunate man’s coffin. The funeral was attended by those that not only mourned the passing of an unknown man but the passing of the South. “The families that lived in the Flats were the mourners for this unfortunate son of the South. It is for this reason that he became one of our own. He was entrusted to us for the care and maintenance of his memory.”

The care of the gravesite has been passed down from generation to generation. In 1900 Harve, the son of Henry Potter planted a rose bush as a memorial to the unknown soul. On every visit that I have made to that beautiful area, I have noted that a memorial wreath, flower or flag has been placed at the location. To me this is not only a tribute to that unknown man of the South but also one to the family and descendants of those brave men and women that offered a lasting mark of respect of their character as true Confederate Americans. Lest we forget, we must honor all of the brave men and women of yesteryear. Their names and memories must be preserved.


We will never know where he served or with whom. We can only imagine that he served bravely with his partners and was returning to the sanctuary of his home with dignity and honor. Such a tragedy to have endured the horrors of war only to be struck down by the vultures of society as he tried to make it home to his loved ones.

During the perilous times of today we must also reflect upon the sacrifices of yesterday’s warriors. We are duty bound to pause for a moment and remember those that have gone before. As we pray for today’s warriors on a foreign battlefield, we honor each one of those brave hearts by honoring the graves of those of yesteryear. Let us rally around the sacred ground of this soldier in remembrance of those that did not make it home.
Defending the Heritage

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Vol. 45, Issue #10, October 2021 ed.)

In Your Face, Northam!

This is such exciting news that I just had to share. Last week, I wrote about the reinternment of General Forrest and his wife to the new National Confederate Museum in Elm Springs, Tennessee. Now the Sons of Confederate Veterans are raising funds to recreate what was destroyed a few weeks ago by Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam. This is the guy who, by the way, posed in black face in his college yearbook photo. Anyway, Northam, along with Richmond’s Mayor Levar Stoney, have taken it upon themselves to utterly destroy Richmond’s beautiful Monument Avenue. The last monument to go was that of General Robert E. Lee. But it seems the South, or at least the Confederacy, shall rise again.

It looks like, no matter how hard they try, Memphis and Richmond politicians just can’t get rid of reminders of their past, and they never will. Here’s a lesson to all the folks out there who are trying to erase our history: you can’t and you won’t! You never will.

This was taken from a Facebook post by the Gordonsville Grays SCV Camp #2301.

“After dropping some hints in the last few weeks, we’re excited to announce that we’re commissioning a new Lee equestrian monument. Location has yet to be determined. We have open offers in our area but if a position in a more prominent location became available we’d consider it.

***Now accepting donations via PayPal to GordonsvilleGrays@gmail.com.”

King Philip

In honor of the reinternments of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife last weekend, I wanted to feature this story about the general’s beloved horse, King Philip. This horse is represented in the equestrian statue that was removed from Forrest Park in Memphis and will soon be relocated atop the general’s grave. I wrote about King Philip in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

ASK RUFUS: KING PHILIP, NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE
By: Rufus Ward
There were many famous generals and horses that came out of the Civil War. Among the most noted was Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his favorite horse, King Philip. In their 1866 history of Forrest’s campaigns, General Thomas Jordan and J. P. Pryor wrote of King Philip this; “conspicuous iron gray gelding…(was)…sluggish on ordinary occasions, became superbly excited in battle, and was as quick to detect the presence of a blue coat as any Confederate soldier, and was as ready to make battle, which he did, by laying back his ears and rushing at the offending object with open mouth.”

Painting by Michael Gnatek


Growing up off of Military Road in Columbus, my grandmother told me that the horseshoes I would occasionally find were from the stables that had been located behind the old Col. T.C. Billups home which had burned during the 1880s. Little then did I realize whose shoes they might have been. One of the more famous warhorses in American history was General Forrest’s King Philip. Few, though, realize that King Philip was a Columbus horse.

The earliest account of where Forrest got King Philip stated that the horse was a veteran of the Vicksburg campaign and a gift from the citizens of Columbus. As a child, I recall my uncle T. C. Billups IV telling me the story of how Forrest got the horse. He related that after being wounded on one occasion, Forrest was recovering at the Billups house in Columbus. While there “Forrest admired a fine saddle horse and asked to purchase the horse, ‘King Philip”.

Billups replied, “General, I could not sell him at any cost.”

On the day he was leaving to rejoin his troops, Forrest called for his horse to be brought around. Instead, it was King Philip, the horse he had admired, that was led to him. Col. Billups presented the horse to Forrest as a gift. When he departed, Forrest left his crutch with his name carved in the side at the Billups home.


As my interest in history developed, I began to track the origin of many of the stories I had heard as a child. The story of King Philip was one of them. The family still had Forrest’s crutch, however, I wondered about the story as Col. Billups had been in his late 50s during the Civil War and did not serve in the military. That raised a question about the Vicksburg Campaign connection with the horse. I soon found the answer.


One of Billups’ sons, T. C., was a lieutenant in the 6th Mississippi Cavalry and served under Forrest. Another son, John, was Captain in the 43rd Mississippi Regiment and had been captured at Vicksburg and paroled back to Columbus in July 1863. The earliest mention of Forrest riding King Philip into battle that I found was in February 1864. That answered the Vicksburg question. I then sought the earliest family account of the story. I found it being told by Mary Billups, John’s daughter, who was born in 1874 and recalled the story in 1936 that she would have heard from her father. Her account was the story I had been told by my uncle.

In addition, I learned that at the suggestion of Forrest, the Billups family had commissioned an artist friend of Forrest, Nicola Marschall, to come to Columbus and paint portraits in the mid-1870s. Marschall painted at least nine Billups portraits while in Columbus. Growing up, I never realized that the horseshoes I found came from the stables that had once been the home of a big gelding, iron gray horse that became one of America’s most famous warhorses.
Danyon McCarroll

(Article courtesy of the Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 23, issue no. 8, August 2021)

The Reinterment of General Forrest

Last Saturday, September 18, the remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest, were relocated to the National Confederate Museum in Elm Springs, Tennessee. This location is less than 30 miles from General Forrest’s birthplace.

The relocation came after a long battle with the city of Memphis, Tennessee, after they decided they didn’t want the general and his wife buried in one of their parks anymore. The park was known for years as Forrest Park, until the corrupt city government decided to rename the park and pressure General Forrest’s descendants into moving the remains. It’s pathetic and shameful that this was allowed to happen. Apparently, Memphians don’t seem to recall all the wonderful things Forrest did for their city. But it’s for the best that the remains have been relocated to a place where they will be honored forever.

It wasn’t the first time that General Forrest and his wife have been moved. Originally, they were buried in Memphis’ beautiful Elmwood Cemetery, but the people of Memphis wanted to honor the general in a much bigger way, so they dedicated a park to him and moved his and his wife’s remains to Forrest Park.

According to tennessee-scv.org/ForrestHistSociety/equestrian.html, “the bodies of Gen. Forrest and his wife were re-interred from the Forrest family plot at Elmwood Cemetery to Forrest Park on November 11, 1904. The dedication ceremony took place on May 16, 1905 beginning at 2:30 p.m., with 30,000 Southerners from seven States attending.”

Many reenactors were on hand for the reinterment, as well as spectators who wanted to take in the once-in-a-lifetime event. The solemn occasion was also attended by the Forrest family, and members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC).

Now that the general and his wife have been permanently laid to rest, plans are in the making for relocating the beautiful equestrian statue of Forrest and King Philip on top of the gravesite. According to SCV Commander-in-Chief Larry McCluney, Jr., “This will not be easy nor quick. Much more work lies ahead of us, however, be certain we will rededicate this plaza to honor the general and his family.”

(Photos courtesy of Clay Pruett)

Two More Awesome Reviews!

I recently received two more amazing reviews for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you, Paula and Kaye!

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Extremely interesting

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 September 2021

This was my first time reading any of this author’s work. My knowledge of American history would be fairly scanty but I did find this an excellent read and I will be recommending her books to friends and family, and look forward to more of her books in the future.

4.0 out of 5 stars 

good read

Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2021

I have always been a fan of books revolving around the Civil War. This is no exception. Recommend without hesitation.

A Sad Day For Richmond

Yesterday was a very sad day for Richmond, Virginia, whether they realize it or not. The last monument remaining on Monument Avenue, that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was removed and cut into pieces. People were actually cheering when the statue came down. How ignorant! It’s a shame they bought into the woke mentality. Those monuments were erected to memorialize some of the greatest military men this country has ever produced. They were not erected during the Jim Crow era to demoralize and intimidate black people. Anyone can research history and learn this, but the people who have bought into that falsehood are either too lazy or too stupid to do the research themselves. Now, another important piece of history is lost forever.

President Trump released a statement denouncing the removal of the monument. He called Lee a “unifying force.” Maybe that’s why the statue was removed. Because they are trying to divide us by race.

General Lee was deeply devoted to his home state of Virginia, and they have repayed that devotion with disrespect. “If Virginia stands by the old Union,” Lee told a friend, “so will I. But if she secedes (though I do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution), then I will follow my native State with my sword, and, if need be, with my life.”

When Lee read the news that Virginia had joined the Confederacy, he told his wife, “Well, Mary, the question is settled.” He resigned the U.S. Army commission he had held for 32 years.

The Lee Monument was a remarkable work of art, and the largest monument in the country. What the people of Richmond, and all of Virginia for that matter, don’t realize is how this will hurt them in the long run through tourism, destruction of their history, and by allowing history to repeat itself. Their ignorance is apparent and appalling.

General Lee couldn’t have said it better himself:

“The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that proceeded it.”

Deo Vindice, General Lee. Your memory will live on, and they can’t destroy that.

“I have been ashamed of many things in my life, but the recollection of my course as a Confederate soldier has been for forty years, my chief joy and pride! If ever I was fit to live or willing to die, if ever I was worthy of my father’s name or my mother’s blood, if ever I was pleased with my place, suited to my rank, or satisfied with my sinful self—it must have been whilst I was marching under that white-starred cross upon that blood-red banner against the invaders of my native Southland. For that I want no forgiveness in this world or the next. I can adopt the saying of my great Commander, General Lee: “If all were to be done over again, I should act in precisely the same manner; I could have taken no other course without dishonor.”  — James Richard Deering

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. 

“From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.”

— President Dwight D. Eisenhower (former General of the Army – 5-star General – and Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces Europe in WW II)

“Lee was the noblest American who had ever lived and one of the greatest commanders known to the annals of war.”

— British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Such a Sad State of Affairs

It seems that nothing is sacred. Statues that were once renowned as cherished artifacts from the past aren’t even safe in cemeteries anymore. It makes me sick that people have no respect for the dead, or for others’ ancestors. Here’s one example.

Atlanta Council members passed a resolution a week ago Monday night declaring that the city should remove the Lion of the Confederacy statue, which has been vandalized, and place it in temporary storage.


The 127-year-old Lion of the Confederacy statue, built by T.M. Brady and dedicated on Confederate Memorial Day in 1894, was erected to honor the 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers buried at the cemetery. The lion overlooks the graves. Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 70,000 residents, including famous Atlantans, mayors and governors, and is also home to a 65-foot Confederate obelisk, built in 1870.


Georgia law includes a statute that can make it difficult for local governments to remove a Confederate monument, because it is considered unlawful to damage, relocate or remove a monument dedicated to the United States or the Confederacy. However, the Georgia General Assembly adopted updates to the law last year that allows for “appropriate measures for the preservation, protection and interpretation of such [a] monument or memorial.”


Local governments throughout metro Atlanta have also simply started ignoring the law over the last two years.
Council approved a $33,000 contract with Superior Rigging and Erecting Co. to remove the lion statue. The City has not said where it will be located long-term, and did not say when the statue removal would take place.

(Article courtesy of the Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 26, 2021 ed.)

Treasure Hunting

It always fascinates me how people can manage to find amazing relics. When we visited Brandy Station and the Graffiti House several years ago, some of the locals told me about how they had almost demolished the old building, but then found invaluable drawings done by both Confederate and Union soldiers. The artwork had been hidden under wallpaper. Fortunately, it was discovered and the house was restored. It is now a museum. While they were restoring it, someone looked in the chimney and found an old bayonet. Amazing! Some of the locals told me how a neighbor had found so many horseshoes that he used them as a foundation for his driveway. What I wouldn’t do to have just one of those old horseshoes!

Graffiti House, Brandy Station, Virginia
Drawing inside Graffiti House

When we lived in Mississippi, several friends told me about how they would go out to where they knew armies had camped. They took their metal detectors and found all sorts of interesting things: from belt buckles to buttons to bullets and then some. One friend told us of how he had been plowing in his field and unearthed a sword in its scabbard. The scabbard was rusted, but the sword was just like brand new. What a find!

I have always wanted to add a cavalry sword to my collection, so I splurged and bought one off of Ebay. It is Confederate and doesn’t have any markings. These swords were called “wrist breakers” because they are so heavy and hard to wield. I don’t know much else about the sword and probably never will, since the seller didn’t know much either, except that it is an M1840 that he purchased at an antique arms show about 5-6 years ago in Virginia. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool, and I have it displayed on the wall above my work station.

Several years ago, I also aquired this framed specimen at a United Daughters of the Confederacy convention in Richmond. The collection includes camp chest hardware, an R.R. seal, a button back, a shoe buckle, and miscellaneous brass. These items were supposedly excavated from central Virginia from Civil War camps and battlefields. The description is a bit vague, but still interesting.

I would love for you to share any treasures you have discovered. It is always enthralling to discover these artifacts and bring history to life. I’d also like to know how you found your treasures, so please, share away!

Bet They Didn’t See This Coming

It looks like the city of Richmond is in a sticky situation, and Mayor Stoney’s plans have been foiled…at least for the time being. I guess Stoney never got the memo stating that if you take down your monuments, you erase your history, and then history is bound to repeat itself.

JUST TWO LITTLE THINGS


The City of Richmond apparently never has owned one of the Confederate monuments it is trying to get rid of. That’s the statue of Gen. A.P. Hill that has stood since 1892 at what is now the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road.


Seeking to match Monument Avenue with its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, cigarette magnate Lewis Ginter arranged with the Hill family for Gen. Hill’s body to be moved from Hollywood Cemetery and reinterred at the current site, and then commissioned the statue as an oversized grave marker.


Apparently, the City never required Mr. Ginter to give the property or the statue to the city. The City Attorney’s Office conducted an extensive search of property records after receiving a query from city resident Michael Sarahan and, according to Mr. Sarahan, “found no record of a deed or other document conveying property rights to the City.” Mr. Sarahan said that James Nolan, press secretary to Mayor Levar M. Stoney, confirmed that the city has found nothing in the way of a record of a legal transfer.


Mr. Sarahan, a former assistant city attorney, said that finding indicates the statue is not an improper encroachment.
For the city, the fact it has no evident ownership means it will need to do one of the following: undertake condemnation proceedings to acquire the property, force the sale for delinquent property taxes and buy it at auction, or find the heirs of the last known owner and have them agree to relinquish their rights.


The Stoney administration had indicated that there is a deal with the family, which has agreed to relocate the statue, pedestal and grave (issue #2). Whether the family will voluntarily proceed with removal now that the City does not own the property (issue #1) is unknown.

(Article courtesy of the Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 23, 2021 ed.)

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