J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Confederate”

What the Hell is Wrong With Virginia? (Pt. 1)

“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of their own destruction.”

Sir William Wallace, 1281 A.D.

There has been an assault going on for quite some time on Confederate monuments and markers. The most alarming is what’s taking place in Virginia. Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney have taken it upon themselves to aggressively go after and do away with any reminder of the Confederacy, even though Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America for nearly all of the Civil War. I find this alarming because, even though the political climate has changed over the past century and a half, history should never be erased. It stands as a reminder to what happened in the past, and whether interpreted as good or bad, it is still a valuable part of American history. Germany intentionally has left what remains of old stalags as reminders of the terrible history it experienced under Nazism. I think America should do the same.

This brings to mind the recent desecration of Monument Avenue in Richmond. What used to be a beautiful area in the heart of the city, with its magnificent monuments, has utterly been destroyed. I visited Richmond when I attended the UDC Convention back in (I believe) 2011, and I thought the avenue was absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, last year, Black Lives Matter was given free rein to desecrate the monuments, as well as buildings around them, by any and all means possible. They covered the monument bases with graffiti and were even allowed to chisel away at some of them. As far as I know, no arrests were ever made. What an atrocity, and shameful for the city of Richmond. I, for one, will never visit Richmond again.

It’s my understanding that Monument Avenue was on the National Historic Sites Register, and because of that, it should have been protected. But apparently not, since all of the magnificent statues have been taken down. The last one to be removed was that of General Robert E. Lee. The statue was even cut in half. They are considering giving the Robert E. Lee monument to the Black History Museum, which has said that they will melt the statue down and make it into something else. I can only imagine what that might be.

https://news.yahoo.com/pedestal-robert-e-lee-statue-162639455.html

The Richmond City Council recently allocated $1.3 million to build a national slavery museum.

“The response can’t be to build back up Monument Avenue,” Hones said. “It must be to build back the antithesis of what was torn down. And the best thing to do is to become serious as a council and administration to tell the true story … of what’s in place in Virginia.”

The city of Richmond has received numerous offers for the monuments, which are being stored in a sewage facility. The matter will be decided on January 18, 2022.

The following is a list of groups who wish to obtain the monuments:
1. Liberty Hall Fife & Drums
2. Ratcliffe Foundation/Ellenbrook
3. Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation
4. VA Division – Sons of Confederate Veterans
5. Valentine Museum
6. United States of America Naval History & Heritage Command
7. Fontaine/Maury Society
8. JEB Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust
9. CSA II: The New Confederate States of America Inc. – Monument Establishment & Preservation Fund
10. Belmead on the James
11. Shannon Pritchard/Hickory Hill/Wickham Family
12. Sumter County SC Sons of Confederate Veterans
13. LAXArt Museum
14. Spotsylvania Historical Association
15. DARNstudio
16 Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation
17. Preserve America’s Battlefields
18. Private individual 1 – David Hinton
19. Private individual 2 – Michael Boccicchio
20. Private individual 3 – Olivia Tautkus
21. Private individual 4 – James Cochrane, Jr.
22. Private individual 5 – Austin Wylam
23. Liberty Hall Plantation

There is no submission from the Black History Museum, but it seems that they will receive legal ownership of most of the monuments and their bases. It also seems that the Valentine Museum will “partner” with the Black History Museum in gaining ownership of the monuments. However, the Valentine Museum has only submitted a request for the Valentine sculptured statue of Jefferson Davis.

https://www.wvtf.org/news/2021-12-30/richmond-hands-monument-process-over-to-black-history-museum

I subscribe to Civil War Talk, and wanted to share some entries.

From Viper 21:

“City and state officials have reached an agreement to transfer ownership of the statue and pedestal of Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which has also agreed to take possession of all the other Confederate memorials removed from Richmond since last year.

“Under this arrangement, Richmond’s Black History Museum would work in partnership with the Valentine museum — which has chronicled the city’s history for more than a century — and local community members to determine the fates of the stone and bronze symbols of the Confederacy.


“The deal requires approval by Richmond’s City Council. Mayor Levar Stoney — who hammered out some of the details with Gov. Ralph Northam (D) — said in a written statement that the arrangement enables the community to take a deliberate approach in reckoning with such divisive symbols.

“‘Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,’ Stoney said in the statement, obtained by The Washington Post … ‘They will take the time that is necessary to properly engage the public and ensure the thoughtful disposition of these artifacts.’”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/12/30/richmond-confederate-statues-black-history-museum/?fbclid=IwAR08i4KSdAtBc60efKAARt7ZouUoxsmkgacx6tfep6vMvJIgpW_wsXHko9k

Sgt. Cycom from L.A. summed it up: “The people that are loudest in calling for ‘unity’ and ‘inclusion’ are almost always projecting their own intolerance and inability to compromise. I hope these monuments remain so that I can take my family to see them in a few years. I pray history is preserved and not destroyed. Giving these monuments to people who will continue to desecrate them is disgusting, infuriating and despicable.”

As a side note, the majority of Richmond residents voted for the monuments to remain intact on Monument Avenue.

Another Fantastic Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I just received another great review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This one is from Pacific Book Review. Thank you, Anthony Avina, for your wonderful review!

Title: A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (Book One of The Renegade
Series)
Author: J.D.R. Hawkins
Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing LLC
ISBN: 978-1643619941
Pages: 200
Genre: War & Military Action Fiction / Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Anthony Avina
Pacific Book Review


One of the United States most deadly and harrowing wars fought was perhaps
amongst itself, when the nation became divided and the North fought the
South during the Civil War. Although most of the lessons we learned from this
horrific war center greatly on the battle to end slavery and free those who
sought nothing more than the freedom to exist, the battles itself and those
who were on the front lines face so much death and pain that those issues
seemed like something out of another lifetime, on both sides. As Anthony
Minghella once said, “The only lesson to extract from any civil war is that it’s
pointless and futile and ugly, and that there is nothing glamorous or heroic
about it. There are heroes, but the causes are never heroic.”


In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s historical fiction novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A
Novel of the Civil War, the author explores a rarely seen side of the conflict;
that of a lone family from Alabama who’s patriarch went off to fight in the war,
and the brutal realities of war they faced both on the front-lines and at home.
The first in the author’s The Renegade Series, the story focuses on the
Summers family, when father Hiram enlists in the Confederate Army and his
son David must stay behind to help his mother and sisters care for the family
farm. Although spurned on by the idea of patriotism for their Southern states
and ideals, the realities of the war soon come to the forefront for both father
and son. One witnesses the gruesome violence the war brought out on both
sides, and the other sees everything from the grim reality of slavery and the
emotional turmoil and fear that comes with waiting for a loved one to return
home safely.


This is a truly captivating and engaging read right from the very start. The
author did such an incredible job of incorporating both the horrific and
gruesome details of the battles fought during this war and the personal and
heartbreaking realities which families faced at home when their husbands,
fathers, sons and brothers all left for the battlefield. The way the author fairly
examined the history from the Confederate side and the mentality that drove
so many to this path of war while also highlighting those moments when
protagonist David felt guilt and sadness over the conditions and treatment of
the slaves was so poignant and helped showcase that the realities of the
battle and life were often lost in the politics and economics that fueled this
war’s beginning.


The absolute perfect read for those who enjoy historical fiction, especially the
study of the Civil War, this novel is emotionally-driven and does an amazing
job of paying attention to details historically which elevated the characters’
arcs. As a fan of historical fiction, I was fascinated and moved by the voice
and tone the author found for these characters, and highlighted that once war
has begun, the bloodlust that overtakes some soldiers on either side often
leads to violence and dispensable acts that have nothing to do with the
morality of the war’s conflict, but man’s inherent need to fight. For in the end,
as in all wars, no one truly “won” the war, but instead an end to the conflict
was truly found.


If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your own copy of author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A
Beautiful Glittering Lie today, and prepare for a masterfully emotional and
beautifully written narrative with a shocking twist ending that leaves readers
wanting more.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1640821177&sr=8-1

Happy Holidays!

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season! Please keep in mind all of our military personnel who are overseas and missing their families this Christmas. One of my favorite songs is “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which was written by a soldier during WWII. Listening to it makes me cry every time!

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for some, as the following excerpt demonstrates. Losing a loved one during this time of year is especially painful, and sometimes lonely. I think the first Christmas after a loved one passes away is the hardest. I know from experience, since I just lost my mom last year.

The following excerpt is the opening chapter from my book, A Beckoning Hellfire. It takes place on Christmas Eve, 1862. What should be a joyous time has turned into tragedy. While we celebrate the birth of our Lord, let’s also keep in mind the hardships that many have experienced during Christmas.

But what a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world¼My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, December 25, 1862

Chapter One

“Here it is! Come quick!”

David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.

“Which one, Josie?” he asked, stifling a snicker.

She planted her feet and pointed to a small yellow pine near a cluster of sweet gum and ash trees. “Right here!” she exclaimed.

Glancing down at the sapling, he gave her a crooked smile. “Well, that’s a mighty fine tree, but ain’t it kinda scrawny?” He estimated the pine to be three feet tall at most.

Josie frowned at her older brother, who had one eyebrow cocked from under his slouch hat. His hands were tucked into his brown trousers, and his linen shirt hung loosely on his tall, lanky frame. “No,” she said, “ it’s jist right. We’ll string some corn on it, hang some nuts and berries on it, and it’ll look right smart in the corner of the front room.”

With a shrug, he said, “All right. If you reckon this is the one.”

She nodded, her bright blue eyes reflecting her elation.

David relished the moment, for he knew Christmas was her favorite holiday. He had only heightened her anticipation on the way out to the woodlot by reminding her what would happen that evening, how Santa would be stopping by later when she was sound asleep. Of course, he had no explanation as to how eight tiny reindeer could pull a sleigh all the way to Alabama. Josie promptly informed him that she wasn’t a child any longer. She was all of thirteen, and didn’t believe in those farfetched stories anymore, but he knew better. She would be lying in her bed tonight, listening and waiting.

“Well, go on now, cut it down!” Josie insisted.

He put his thumb and forefinger to his lips and gave a high, shrill whistle. Noticing how the gray sky was growing darker, he looked over at the edge of the clearing where they stood and saw the underbrush rustle. Suddenly, two hound dogs bounded out of the trees, followed by a gangly young stallion.

“Come on, Renegade. Over here,” he called out to the colt, who responded by cantering to him.

Josie giggled at the sight. “Your dumb horse thinks he’s a dog!”

“He ain’t dumb. I’ll wager he’s a lick smarter than you are, li’l sister,” David teased.

The horse blew and stomped his front hoof.

“Why, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. And not only is he dumb, he looks right silly, too. He can’t decide if he should be spotted or palomino!”

David observed his horse for a moment. Renegade’s face was piebald. His dark chestnut coat was highlighted with white spots and patches concentrating on his underbelly, and his mane and tail were light flaxen. He had white socks up to his knees. His unusual eyes were brownish green. David remembered how he had heard that a horse with strange-colored eyes like Renegade’s was considered sacred and chosen by the Cherokee Indians. Several people had noticed the strange coincidence, and his other sister, Rena, also frequently commented that he and his horse had the same colored eyes.

“I reckon he knows what he is,” David remarked. “Besides, he’s unusual, and that makes him unique.”

“Oh, he’s unique all right,” Josie said, giggling again. She pulled her hair back from her face and replaced her bonnet.

David untied a saw from a leather strap attached to Renegade’s saddle. He knelt down, quickly sawed through the little tree’s trunk, picked it up, and tied it across the saddle’s seat. His two black and tan dogs sniffed around the tree’s sawed off stump. Suddenly, they both lifted their noses into the air with their ears pricked. They bolted across the open clearing, baying at an unseen curiosity as they disappeared into the woods.

“Caleb! Si!” David hollered after the two hounds. “Well, there they go,” he observed wryly. “All right, Renegade, take it on home.” He patted his horse on the shoulder.

Renegade nickered softly, shook his head, and trotted off in the same direction as the two hounds.

Josie gasped. “Look, David! It’s startin’ to snow!” She tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue, trying to catch snowflakes on it.

He chuckled.

“Come on, you do it, too,” she coaxed him.

He obliged his little sister by imitating her.

Josie laughed, spinning around with her arms extended while snow fell silently down around them.

“Oh!” David clasped his hand to his face. “One fell in my eye!”

Josie giggled.

He couldn’t help but smile, although he was careful not to let her see, and snorted to cover up his delight. “Well, I’m right glad you think it’s so funny.” He looked at her, trying to keep a straight face. “Come on, Josie girl. We’d best be gittin’ on back.”

He allowed her to go ahead of him as they started on the bridle path that cut through the woods.

“Let’s sing Christmas carols!” she said. “That new one we heard last year. Jingle Bells!”

“You start,” he prompted.

“Dashin’ through the snow…”

He joined in. Their voices grew stronger in unison.

“In a one-horse open sleigh…”

They came to an empty field, and trudged through, stepping over mud puddles while they continued singing.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”

Their house stood quaintly at the far end of the field. Smoke circled from its two chimneys, dissolving into the gray sky. The sweet smell of burning hickory reached out, inviting them closer. From a distance, the structure appeared to be two separate cabins sitting side by side, but upon closer observation, one could see that they were connected by a covered breezeway. Each section contained two rooms and a fireplace. A wide flat porch on the front of the split log building served as an entryway. The tin roof, which seemed to expel heat in the summertime, also managed to repel snow during winter months.

The cold, damp air encroached upon brother and sister. As they sang, their breath escaped, floated out across the fields, and vanished in phantom gusts.

“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!”

On the last note, Josie’s voice jumped an octave. They laughed at their grand finale and walked around to the front of the house, where Renegade was waiting patiently for the tree to be removed from his saddle. A buckskin horse stood beside him.

“Whose horse is that?” Josie asked.

“It looks like Bud Samuels’ horse.”

David and Josie looked at each other, wide-eyed. “Pa!” they both exclaimed.

Josie sprang onto the porch, burst through the front door, and went inside while David untied the small yellow pine. He set it aside, pulled the saddle from Renegade’s back, and removed his bridle.

“Go on into the barn, Renie,” he said. “Or you’ll be one big ole snowball in a minute.”

The colt blew and trotted around the side of the house.

David carried his tack into the breezeway. He placed it on a horizontal board, which was supported by a plank on each end. Collecting the tree, he heard the sound of Bud’s voice coming from inside.

“I had some trouble gettin’ here,” Bud was saying as he entered. “But I convinced the Home Guard to follow me home so’s I could show them my furlough paper.”

David produced the tiny tree. “I know it’s small,” he said with a grin, “but Josie insisted, and…” The sight that befell him inexplicably filled him with dread. His smile faded. He looked around at the faces before him and let the tree fall onto the wooden floor. Warmth from the fireplace did nothing to relieve the chill that grasped him. “What is it?” he asked.

“Come in, darlin’, and close the door,” his mother said from her high-backed chair, which sat near the empty corner they had readied for the Christmas tree. Her brown skirt encircled her like a puddle. Her dark brown hair, streaked recently with gray, was parted in the middle and contained in a white cotton hair net. She clenched her hands in her lap, and her lips were pursed. The flickering firelight accentuated the grooves on her face, which, for some reason, David had never noticed before. After closing the door behind him, he looked at Rena, who was sitting beside the hearth. She vacantly stared back, her violet eyes welling up with tears.

“Rena?” he asked her.

She looked away and hugged Josie, who had taken the chair beside her.

David walked across the room to their neighbor, Bud.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Samuels,” he said, shaking the man’s hand. “How’s Pa? Is he comin’ home for Christmas, like he wrote?”

“Have a seat, David.” Bud’s eyes filled with concern. He scratched his straggly, graying beard.

Obeying the command, David slowly sank into a chair, keeping his eyes fixed on Bud’s face.

“I’m afraid I have bad news.” Bud cleared his throat, then slowly, deliberately said, “Your father’s been killed at Fredericksburg.” He looked down at the floor. “A little over a week ago. I know he was lookin’ forward to seein’ y’all. I’m…immensely sorry.”

He pulled a folded piece of yellowed paper from his coat pocket. The gray coat was torn and tattered in places, not at all like the beautiful piece of clothing that had been provided to him nearly two years earlier. His trousers and the kepi he held in his hand were weathered, too.

“Miss Carolyn, Hiram wanted me to give you this here letter…in the event of his death.” He solemnly handed her the note.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Carolyn held it to her mouth. Tears streamed down her weathered face. “Thank you, Bud,” she finally said. “You’ve been a good friend to my Hiram. I know he appreciated you dearly.”

Bud nodded. “Please let the missus or me know if there’s anything we can do,” he offered, and walked toward the door.

“I surely will.” Carolyn wearily stood, followed him to the door, and walked him out.

Bud placed his kepi on his head, untied his horse, mounted, and galloped off down the lane. The rhythm of hoof beats faded.

Turning from the doorway, Carolyn somberly gazed at her children. Her two daughters came across the room to hug her. The three of them burst into tears. Carolyn gazed at her son, who was sitting motionless across the room, his handsome young face drained of color, his hazel eyes growing a darker brown.

“David,” she said, her voice filled with the sorrow that had now overtaken the room.

He looked over at her, his face blank with grief-stricken shock.  Finding no comfort in her anguished expression, he glanced up at the ornately-carved mantle clock, the one his father had given to her as a wedding gift. It read ten minutes past five. Beside it sat a framed tintype of his father, adorned in Confederate glory, ready to march off to victory, but now he was never to return. David’s eyes wandered, and he noticed things he’d taken for granted before: the raised oval portrait of his paternal grandmother on the wall, the paintings of flowers his mother liked so well that hung on the opposite wall, the fieldstone fireplace that his father had built, and the pine furniture that had been there ever since he could remember. Somehow, all of it seemed irrelevant.

Moving numbly, he rose and walked across the room to pick up the little tree he had dropped earlier. A tiny pool of water remained where it had fallen. He carried the tree outside, leaving a trail of moisture that splattered onto the floorboards. The cold winter air, uncluttered with snow, barely whispered, its breath deathly quiet and still. Dusk was rapidly approaching.

David hurled the tree as hard as he could. It landed with a rustled thud out in the yard. Without pausing, he walked into the breezeway past his mother and sisters and grabbed a kerosene lantern. He carried it outside, lit it, and threw it at the pine. The glass shattered upon impact. Kerosene trickled out onto the tiny branches and within seconds, flames engulfed the little tree. He stoically watched tongues of fire consume the sapling. Slowly, he turned to face his mother and sisters, who were standing on the porch, watching him while they wept.

“I reckon we won’t be celebratin’ Christmas after all,” he said, his voice raspy with distress.

Impending darkness engulfed his heart. Feeling the need for solitude, he walked around the house toward the barn, vaguely hearing his mother call out to him. The sky opened, releasing icy rain. He stomped past the pigpen and the chicken coop. Upon reaching the old wooden barn, he went inside and blinked several times before his eyes adjusted to his dim surroundings. He caught glimpses of shadows dancing off the walls and up around the rafters. A pungent combination of dry, clean hay and musty wood enveloped him. The rain rattled down upon the barn’s tin roof and sounded like a thousand tiny drums. Three cows studied him with soft brown eyes. One mooed a welcome as he walked past them.

Sidestepping bales of hay stacked near the stall door, David paused to shake off cold drops of moisture that clung to his shirt and ran his hand over the top of his head, wiping the rain from his dark brown hair. A large Percheron, standing in the stall next to Renegade, gazed at David with his ears pricked.

“Hey, Joe Boy,” David said softly to the tall white gelding.

The draft horse sniffled at David’s pockets but seemed to lose interest and shuffled to the other end of his stall when David didn’t offer a treat like he usually did. Renegade looked up from his fodder and nickered softly. David walked over and gently stroked his muzzle. “I’m sorry I put you through all that trouble of bringin’ home a tree.” Anguish and anger welled up inside him. Searing-hot tears streamed down his cheeks. His hatred seethed. His grief was overwhelming, and he could hold it back no longer. Sobs escaped him. He grasped onto his horse’s mane, burying his face in Renegade’s neck. The colt stood quietly, seemingly to console him.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade-ebook/dp/B09C2HXBZL/?encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=S5Coj&pf_rd_p=29505bbf-38bd-47ef-8224-a5dd0cda2bae&pf_rd_r=CE2AMZTMFTYM2Y392VS5&pd_rd_r=d7da3536-eeb5-4d0c-8d3e-525f97a5f395&pd_rd_wg=XFA9u&ref=pd_gw_ci_mcx_mr_hp_atf_m

Amazing Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I just received a very flattering, five-star review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Mr. Todd Price, for your amazing review!

R. T. Price

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Shows the Civil War from the perspective of one family on the Confederate side.

Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2021

Wow. I loved this story from the beginning. It sucks you in almost immediately. Told from the Confederate perspective, it really puts a personal spin on the war from the POV of one family and the effect it had on them. Not only does it have lifelike depictions of battle, it gives you a vivid picture of what it was like for the people left behind by the soldiers back home. Once the father goes off to war it shifts back and forth between what he experiences in the war and what his family is going through while he is away. The battle scenes are described beautifully and really make you feel like you are in the middle of the battle with the soldiers as they fight. My favorite parts though were the scenes from the family back home and what they went through. I have read many books on the Civil War but none ever really went into what the families left behind had to endure, and you get a great picture of their lives during this time. I will definitely be finishing the rest of the series and can’t wait to start the next one, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to jump back in and continue with the story of this family I came to know and love.

Can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if you love Civil War stories like I do, and even if that isn’t your thing, the humanity portrayed in this story makes it worth the read alone. You really care for this family and what happens to them. Also, if you know your Civil War history you will recognize all of the usual characters and battles that are seen from the view of the father as a frontline soldier as he enters into them as he is deployed. This isn’t a Shaara book with a lot of background info on the war provided. You see the war as it unfolds to someone in real time as it happened, without a lot of foreknowledge of the what and where they were headed until they arrived. Once they are there, the details are provided to determine the battlefield on which they are engaged, and it becomes clear which battle you are witnessing. To me this made everything more real and immediate, and personal.

I love the fresh perspective this put on the war that so much has been written about. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. You won’t be sorry.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1IBKRTHPCYQEK&keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+lie&qid=1640118143&sprefix=a+beautiful+glitter%2Caps%2C581&sr=8-1

Lee’s Sword

I came across this article on Facebook and found it extremely fascinating, so I wanted to share. Let me know what you think.

The Return of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Sword

by Kev Lee

The famous sword of Gen. Robert E. Lee is making news this week because its finally returning to Lee’s place of surrender more than 146 years after the Civil War. Anyone who’s not a history buff might wonder what the big deal is, but for decades, there’s been a myth surrounding Lee’s sword.


Legend has it that upon surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee gave up his sword to Grant as a traditional gesture, but Grant refused the sword. History has a funny way of making a big circle, as the sword is moving from its longtime resting place at the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond to a new museum in Appomattox, Va.


Even if you don’t care too much about history, Lee’s sword is a notable and unique French-made sword. The 40 1/2 inch sword has a lion’s head on the pommel (the knob at the bottom of the handle) and an ivory grip. The sword has lost all its gold color from years of polishing and upkeep, but was recently restored so it glows and glitters once again.


There is writing on each side of the blade. One side reads “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863” while the other side says “Aide toi dieu l’aidera.” That means “Help yourself and God will help you.” The sword also comes with a scabbard made of blued steel, which is partially protected from rust. They aren’t sure who made the sword, but they know it would have been extremely expensive in the 1800s. The sword was only for ceremonial use and there’s no sign he used it in battle.


If you want to look at this amazing piece of history and craftsmanship, the sword will also be visiting two more museums in Virginia.

A Beckoning Hellfire Soaring to #1

My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, just acheived #2 rating in Civil War books on Amazon. My publisher, Westwood Books Publishing, has been pushing to get this book rated as #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. Hopefully, that will happen soon!

Part of their marketing campaign is to get more reviews for the book. Here are a couple of five-star reviews that it recently received.

Nov 08, 2021

Pegboard rated it FIVE STARS! It was amazing

A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins brings one of our country’s devastating times to life. David Summers is angry, hurt, and wants revenge. He can’t fathom a war that would have killed the man he idolized. His passion now is to make everyone pay who represented a small part in the death of his father. As he fights this war, brother against brother, father against son, he realizes there isn’t glamour or pride when you win a battle. The destruction and despair are unimaginable.

I found J.D.R. Hawkins a skillful writer as she brings the Civil War alive with a fierce reminder of our country torn apart. A Beckoning Hellfire is well-written and a fascinating novel. The characters are just as you would imagine them with hopes, dreams, and disappointments. They strive to live one more day and to keep their family and friends alive. People will show their true light during their darkest days. History lovers will enjoy this novel.


John H. Manhold

5.0 out of 5 stars 5* thoughtful addition to the American Civil War literature.

Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2021

Verified Purchase

A RECONNING HELLFIRE, A Novel of the Civil War, Kindle Edition by JDR Hawkens.
The author has set forth a coming of age tale of a young farm boy in the horribly difficult time of the Civil War between the states. His father has joined the Army of the Confederate States of America and left him to manage the large but somewhat hardscrabble farm in western Alabama with the help of his sisters and mother. Unfortunately, he is killed and the family is informed just before Christmas shortly before his 18th birthday that was to occur the following year. With a typical display of the bitterness exhibited between residents of the northern and southern states, plus an anxiousness to “get into the action existent in almost all young naïve young men, he is determined also to join in the bitter fighting to “gain revenge on the Yankees:” The story unfolds following the young man’s subsequent enlistment and experiences as he becomes one of the many young men involved in the gradual expansion of the deadly hand-to-hand combat of a member of the Southern cavalry fighting under the flamboyant and highly successful J.E.B. Stuart. His plight is made worse by his actions immediately before leaving for the army, but aided in many ways by his lifelong close friend who joins with him and his unusual horse that has been his companion for many years.
Discussion: The author is the well-known as the eminently well-qualified one of the few women writing in this area of American literature, and once again has provided readers with a well-researched, well-written, mostly poignant story of one series of actions that could have taken place during the conflict. It is a story of the common soldier with only an occasional glance into the lives of the cavaliers and the storied lives lived by the wealthy plantation owners and that from which came the Southern Officers. Instead it depicts the farmer, blacksmith, storekeepers and others who made up the largest proportion of the soldiers involved in the horrendous conflict. It is not a story for the delicate reader and, as are any descriptions of battle scenes as they truly exist, subject to a goodly amount of repetition or repetitive-like description. However, the informed reader will learn much he/she may not previously known about the substitute foods and other innovative moves the southerners ‘manufactured’. It is a well-worthwhile addition to the collection of stories of tis great American conflict.

5* thoughtful addition to the American Civil War literature.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/1648030777/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2VKLVNBU6CDCY&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire&qid=1639167713&sprefix=a+beckonin%2Caps%2C251&sr=8-2

Amazing Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

My publisher has been pushing to get top reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, in hopes of spring boarding it to the #1 status on Amazon. I would like to share some of these with you in the next few weeks.

Grady Harp

Top Contributor: Children’s Books

HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER

4.0 out of 5 stars 

Looking at history from both sides

Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2021

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Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards and to date there are three volumes – A REBEL AMONG US, A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE, and this volume – A BECKONING HELLFIRE. These novels relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

At this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. For a more complete picture of that historical event, Hawkins has created a fictional revisit to that mid 1800s time and her writing is inviting, from the first lines: “Here it is! Come Quick!” David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.’ Approaching her novel from the family standpoint allows everyone entry to better understand the Confederate vantage.

Along those lines, the plot progresses as follows: ‘During the bloody American Civil War, the stark reality of death leads one young man on a course of revenge that takes him from his quiet farm in northern Alabama to the horrific battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania. On Christmas Eve 1862, David Summers hears the dreaded news: his father has perished at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Reeling with grief and thoughts of vengeance, David enlists and sets off for Richmond to join the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. But once in the cavalry, David’s life changes drastically, and his dream of glamorous chivalry becomes nothing but a cold, cruel existence of pain and suffering. He is hurled into one battle after another, and his desire for revenge wanes when he experiences first-hand the catastrophes of war.’

This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars.

Grady Harp, November 21

1862 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by CSA President Jefferson Davis


President Jefferson Davis, Confederate States of America, made the following Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1862. His first such proclamation, “a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer,” had been issued in 1861. It was not until two years later that Abraham Lincoln copied Davis and announced the first official Thanksgiving Day in the North.

To the People of the Confederate States:
Once more upon the plains of Manassas have our armies been blessed by the Lord of Hosts with a triumph over our enemies. It is my privilege to invite you once more to His footstool, not now in the garb of fasting and sorrow, but with joy and gladness, to render thanks for the great mercies received at His hand. A few months since, and our enemies poured forth their invading legions upon our soil. They laid waste our fields, polluted our altars and violated the sanctity of our homes. Around our capital they gathered their forces, and with boastful threats, claimed it as already their prize. The brave troops which rallied to its defense have extinguished these vain hopes, and, under the guidance of the same almighty hand, have scattered our enemies and driven them back in dismay.

Uniting these defeated forces and the various armies which had been ravaging our coasts with the army of invasion in Northern Virginia, our enemies have renewed their attempt to subjugate us at the very place where their first effort was defeated, and the vengeance of retributive justice has overtaken the entire host in a second and complete overthrow. To this signal success accorded to our arms in the East has been graciously added another equally brilliant in the West. On the very day on which our forces were led to victory on the Plains of Manassas, in Virginia, the same Almighty arm assisted us to overcome our enemies at Richmond, in Kentucky. Thus, at one and the same time, have two great hostile armies been stricken down, and the wicked designs of their armies been set at naught.

In such circumstances, it is meet and right that, as a people, we should bow down in adoring thankfulness to that gracious God who has been our bulwark and defense, and to offer unto him the tribute of thanksgiving and praise. In his hand is the issue of all events, and to him should we, in an especial manner, ascribe the honor of this great deliverance.

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, do issue this, my proclamation, setting apart Thursday, the 18th day of September inst., as a day of prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the great mercies vouchsafed to our people, and more especially for the triumph of our arms at Richmond and Manassas; and I do hereby invite the people of the Confederate States to meet on that day at their respective places of public worship, and to unite in rendering thanks and praise to God for these great mercies, and to implore Him to conduct our country safely through the perils which surround us, to the final attainment of the blessings of peace and security. Given under my hand and the seal of the Confederate States, at Richmond, this fourth day of September, A.D.1862.
Thanksgiving Proclamation By President Davis –
Civil War Family

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Publication of Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 45, Issue # 11, November 2021)

In Honor of Our Veterans

Today is Veterans Day, the day we honor all those who served in the American armed forces. To show their appreciation, many restaurants are offering free meals to vets today, and some places are holding parades. This is the least we can do for our brave veterans who risked their lives to secure our freedom, some of which who paid the ultimate price. Thank you, veterans, for your service.

I wanted to emphasize that, because I’m a Civil War author, the fact that all Confederates were essentially declared American war veterans is easily overlooked these days.

Confederate soldiers, sailors, and Marines who fought in the Civil War were made U.S. Veterans by an act of Congress in in 1957. U.S. Public Law 85-425, Sec 410, Approved 23 May, 1958, gave Confederate veterans the same legal status as U.S. veterans in terms of pension rights. This made all Confederate Army/ Navy/ Marine Veterans equal to U.S. Veterans. Additionally, under U.S. Public Law 810, Approved by the 17th Congress on 26 Feb 1929, the War Department was directed to erect headstones and recognize Confederate gravesites as U.S. war dead gravesites. Just for the record, the last Confederate veteran died in 1958. So, in essence, when you remove a Confederate statue, monument or headstone, you are in fact, removing a statue, monument or head stone of a U.S. VETERAN.

1938 Battle of Gettysburg Reunion

 This, in my opinion, is why it is so offensive to be taking down statues and monuments representing Confederate soldiers, because they are honoring our American war vets. My father, who was a Marine in the Korean War, would be ashamed of what America has become, and how disrespectful it is. (I’m glad he’s not alive to see this.) I feel it is our responsibility to stand up to tyranny and put a stop to it.

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

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