J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Horses in Gray”

Life is Short

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Outlets for New Book

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

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

2.       Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, TX

3.       Rum Creek Sutler in Georgia

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

5.       United Daughters of the Confederacy in VA

6.       Kent Plantation House in Louisiana

7.       Books of the South on Birmingham, AL

8.       Brice’s Crossroads Bookstore in Mississippi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Slaves of General Forrest

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

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

Horses in Gray Cover

Chapter 4

The Thirty Horses of Forrest

 

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

But will ring through her song and her story;

He fought like a Titan and struck like a god,

And his dust is our ashes of glory.1

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And in another excerpt:

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

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

Sadly, King Philip died of colic later that year.

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

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

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

Is This Awesome Or What!?

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Over the weekend, I was informed by my United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) chapter’s president that I won an award at the annual Mississippi convention. What an amazing honor! I am so humbled to receive this special award for the publication of my two books, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and Horses in Gray, during the past year, and to win the award for my UDC chapter, Varina Howell Davis #2559.

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion       Horses in Gray Cover

(Click on books for purchasing info.)

The annual Mississippi UDC convention was held last weekend in Gulfport. This is a beautiful city near Biloxi. I can’t thank the Mississippi UDC division enough for this very special honor.

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To learn more about the Mississippi United Daughters of the Confederacy, please visit: http://mississippiudc.homestead.com/.

Visit my UDC chapter’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1327342747312231/

Horses in Gray Receives Celebrity Endorsement

Horses in Gray Cover

My new book, Horses in Gray, has received a special endorsement from Mr. Patrick Gorman. If you are unfamiliar with who he is, Mr. Gorman played Confederate General John Bell Hood in the movie Gettysburg. He has also starred in many other movies, including Gods and Generals, Three Days of the Condor, Wild Bill, and Rough Riders. Mr. Gorman has appeared on numerous TV shows as well.

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Mr. Gorman’s endorsement is as follows:

“Civil War history buffs can supplement their knowledge with these well researched horse tales. Your heart will go out to these seldom mentioned heroes, the mount of the Confederacy.”

Thank you, Mr. Gorman, for your endorsement! To learn more about this amazing actor, visit http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0331112/.

Two Five-Star Reviews!

Horses in Gray Cover

My new book, Horses in Gray has received two five-star reviews! This is very exciting for me, so I wanted to share. Here is the what the first reviewer wrote:

This is a well written book. I am not the quickest of readers but the reading is easy, and Ms. Hawkins provides much person insight in the men and their horses. I originally bought the book to read about my cousin John Hunt Morgan. However i became engrossed in the book just reading about General Lee and Traveller. I would highly recommend this book not just to those who are interested in the War Between the States, but a very good read for anyone.
Another reviewer wrote a very simple summary.
Love this book fantastic read.
Short but sweet. I love that! Special thanks to Wayne and John for your reviews!

Live Radio Interview

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Last week, I was featured on ArtistFirst, a radio program that spotlights artists and authors. It’s a bit ironic that my discussion with the interviewer included the destruction and/or removal of Confederate monuments. Since then, several events have taken place in the assault against Confederate monuments. Here is a link to the interview:

http://www.artistfirst2.com/Authors-First_2017-08-08_JDR_Hawkins.mp3

 

Horses in Gray Cover

Our discussion focused on my new book, Horses in Gray. This is my first non-fiction book, and highlights Confederate warhorses. Here is the purchase link for the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503026776&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

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Please support me on Patreon. It is very similar to Kickstarter, but it is an ongoing sponsorship. I would be eternally grateful for your support! Anything you give will be rewarded with fun gifts! You can commit to as little as $1 a month. Here is the link:

https://www.patreon.com/jdrhawkins

I Received My Author Copies!

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My new book, Horses in Gray, premiered last weekend at the SCV Convention in Memphis, and today, I received my author copies! This is such an exciting experience for me to share with you. Getting this book published has been a roller coaster ride. I started writing it five years ago, and after moving three times, I finally finished the manuscript. I searched around and discovered a small press who was willing to publish the book. Several months later, the manuscript had been edited, formatted and indexed. It was finally ready to be published! But just as it was about to go to press, the publishing company folded. I was heart-broken. Now it was back to square one.

I put on a brave face and sent the manuscript to a few companies who publish Civil War nonfiction, but I only got reject letters back. Then I sent it to Pelican Publishing, and they accepted it! One year later, my book is finally seeing the light of day!

Horses in Gray Cover

This is my first nonfiction book, and I am very proud of it. Here is an excerpt from Chapter One:

Most horses used in the war were geldings or mares. Not many stallions were utilized because they were unruly and hard to handle. For ambulances, horses were used rather than mules because horses were less skittish.1

At the start of the war, Southern gentry considered Thoroughbreds to be superior. They were certain that the quality and breeding of their fine racehorses would assure the Confederacy’s victory.

One newspaper article printed in 1863 read: “Let the baser baseness of breeding scrubs and cold bloods be left to the Yankees: and let Virginia planters resume [breeding] the thoroughbred Virginia race horse.”2

It didn’t take long for Confederate soldiers to figure out that Thoroughbreds were too flighty for use on the battlefield. Instead, various other breeds were used. Percherons were preferred by the Confederate artillery for pulling heavy caissons and wagons. Saddlebreds from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, as well as Tennessee Pacers (Southern Plantation Horses), the forerunners of today’s Tennessee Walking Horses, were ridden by the cavalry.

Gen. Basil Duke, second in command to Gen. John Hunt Morgan, was the first to describe the Saddlebred breed: “If I be correct in my estimate of the Thoroughbred, then it must be conceded that the nearer he approximates him, the better another horse (the Saddlebred) will be. But the Kentucky Saddlebred horse has not only inherited, in a large measure, the excellence of the Thoroughbred in respects to which I have called attention, but has also retained certain desirable characteristics which have more peculiarly distinguished the humbler (non-Thoroughbred) strain from which he is descended.”3

The desirable characteristics to which Duke alluded were “the peculiar gaits which make their descendants so valuable for the saddle.”4 However, Morgans were the most popular riding horses used by officers and horse soldiers alike.

Morgans were one of the earliest breeds to be developed in the United States. They can be traced back to their foundation sire, Figure, born in 1789 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and later renamed Justin Morgan after his owner. The breed is smaller than the Thoroughbred and possesses a stocky body, sturdy legs, and a long, thick mane and tail. Morgans are alert, easy keepers, sustaining on little food compared to other breeds.

Used primarily for riding and harness racing, they also served as coach horses. Because they were accustomed to pulling vehicles and were able to keep calm under fire, both armies used the breed extensively during the Civil War.

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During the war, bays were the most common in terms of color. Bay horses are distinguishable by their brown coats and black points (i.e. black manes, tails, and lower legs). Browns were the second-most common, followed by chestnuts and blacks. Next in line were horses whose colors ranged from gray to white, followed by roans, which have white and any other hair color intermixed throughout their coats. Most armed forces did not use pintos, spotted, or white horses, since they believed the animals would be easy targets, but some soldiers took a chance and rode them anyway. Grays were used by trumpeters so that officers could easily locate them when they wanted to have a call blown. Musicians also rode grays.

Horses came to recognize the different bugle calls used during the war. The call to trot or gallop was synchronized with the rhythm of the horses’ hoof beats in those gaits. The animals also recognized certain songs, a favorite of theirs being “Stable Call” because when they heard the music, they knew it was time to eat:

 

Oh, go to the stable,

All you who are able,

And give your poor horses some hay and some corn.

For if you don’t do it,

The colonel will know it,

And then you will rue it as sure as you’re born.5

 

Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart (known as Jeb) had an immense love of music and assembled a band of talented musicians to entertain his division as they marched long miles. Some horses in his cavalry grew so accustomed to the melodies that they responded by prancing in rhythm to the tunes.

 

Here is the Amazon link to purchase the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501200364&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

I am looking for reviewers, so please let me know if you are interested. Also, if you know of someone who might want to endorse the book and have their quote on the cover, send them my way!

 

 

 

New Author Interview

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Recently, I was interviewed by Lorana Hoopes with Lorana Writes the World. Here is the intro to the interview:

Lorana Writes the World with Guest Author, J.D.R. Hawkins

WATCH SHOW BELOW INTRO ARTICLE

By TLBTV Show Host: Lorana Hoopes

Today’s guest Julie Hawkins, who writes as JDR Hawkins, has a fascination with the Civil War. She’s been writing since she was a little girl and she wrote the level her kids were reading while they were growing up. Once she moved to Colorado, she became fascinated with the history, but it was a contest that actually set her life on the trajectory it followed.

This contest sent her to a Civil War re-enactment field and her love for the Civil War grew and led to her series of books. Her books have even won awards from a distinguished Civil War group.

In addition to her Civil War series, she also has written a non-fiction book about Civil War horses. Her love of horses has been a part of her life for a while and led her to write a book about the horses in the Civil War. She even has some great stories about a camel, and her knowledge of History is amazing.

Even more interesting is how everything in her books just kind of fell into place for her. You’ll have to watch the discussion to find out how, and of course, check out her books, especially if you are a history buff.

To watch the podcast, check out the link below:

http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/tlbtv-lorana-writes-the-world-with-guest-author-j-d-r-hawkins/

About the Author/Host: Lorana Hoopes is  a The Liberty Beacon Project (TLB) Contributing Author and TLBTV Host. Lorana brings a solid background in education, teaching our children, as a published author, and many other talents into this project.

Read more TLB articles and see archived TLBTV shows by Lorana HERE

You can find Lorana’s Heartbeats series, newly redone to fit snugly in the Christian Romance section at The Heartbeat Collection. Her new children’s early chapter book, This Wishing Stone can be found there as well. And if you’d like a free novella, you can sign up for Lorana’s newsletter at Lorana Hoopes’s author page.

A special thanks to Lorana Hoopes for this interview.

 

 

Cover Reveal!

Horses in Gray Cover

I am so excited to reveal the cover for my new nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. This book tells many fascinating stories about famous Confederate steeds and their masters. It also describes lesser known horses as well. All of them have amazing stories to tell, and were as brave and fearless as their riders. Pre-order copies are available through Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491332576&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

A special shout out to Pelican Publishing, Dan Nance for the cover art, and everyone else who helped make this book a reality. This is my first nonfiction book, and I’m very proud and honored to be able to publish it. Thank you so much!

 

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