“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.
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.
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.’”
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.
A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins Westwood Books Publishing
book review by Kat Kennedy
“It’s the end of all things as we know them.”
At the beginning of the Civil War, Hiram Summers, a north Alabama farmer and father of three, enlists in the Confederate Army. When Hiram and his best friend, Bud, join the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment to fight in a war that many believe will last only a short time, he leaves his wife, Caroline, daughters (Rena and Josie), and son, David, to take care of the family farm. As the surviving son in the family, David realizes the enormity of this responsibility. “He came to the realization that he was now responsible for protecting his family, tending to the farm, and taking his father’s place as head of the household.” Both Hiram and his family soon discover the horrors of war both in battle and on the home front.
This award-winning novel is well-researched, and the inclusion of historical battles and speeches give it authenticity. As readers follow the story of the Summers family, they are transported to both battlefield and family farm in an emotional narrative. Hawkins’ gift for storytelling is evident in each chapter. Her description of the battlefield and its horrors of war are so compelling that readers can almost smell the gunpowder. “Men dropped around him like flies, the thud of bullets sinking into them before their bodies exploded with blood.” Not only are the author’s descriptions of the devastation of battle intriguing, her attention to detail when relating the dangers faced by those on the home front is impeccable. “Two riders approached up the lane. It was still too dark for her to make out who they were. She rushed over to the gun rack, took down the shotgun, and walked out the front door to the porch.”
The novel explores the theme of friendship and brotherhood through both the relationship between Hiram and Bud as well as the one between David and Jake. The way in which Hiram and Bud look out for each other on the battlefield is a testament to the love the two soldiers have for each other. “Hiram stopped to catch his breath, watching the smoke clear. He looked around for Bud until he finally saw him walking toward him.” David and Jake also share a close bond, which is evident not only in their banter but also in the way they engage with each other during a trip to Huntsville to check out the location of Northern troops. “David jolted awake, realizing it was daybreak. Chilled to the bone, he shivered as he stood, and went outside. Jake was nowhere to be seen. Alarmed by his absence, he looked in every direction… Jake! Answer me, damn it!”
With its descriptive narrative, it is no surprise that this novel is the recipient of awards. The work won the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion. History buffs will appreciate the attention to detail and the inclusion of actual speeches, battles, and Civil War-era songs. The continuing story of the Summers family can be found in the next two books of the series, A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us, which are also award-winning novels. This is a very good thing because the current book is a novel that engages the reader and leaves one eager to read the next one.
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.
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
“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.
“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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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/
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.)
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.