J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “infantry”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the special holiday, I’d like to share this article. Erin go bragh!

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IRISH REGIMENTS OF THE WAR

Memphis, Tennessee was home to the 2nd largest Irish population in the South, and on the outbreak of War, many rushed to the state colors. Colonel Knox Walker was in command of 2nd TN Infantry Regt, a.k.a. “Irish Regiment”. Early uniforms made by the ladies of the city consisted of a dark, 8 button frock coat, trousers and kepi. The men would carry flintlock or conversion muskets. On completion of basic training the 2nd was sent to Columbus, Kentucky, where they would assist in the construction of water batteries before seeing their first  action at Belmont, Missouri on November 7, 1861.

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1862 would see the Tennessee Irish back in their adopted state and at Shiloh. The regiment took extremely heavy casualties, so much so that it would necessitate consolidation with the 21st TN (also Memphis origin with a large Irish contingent). The new unit would be designated as the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment and it would go on to establish a reputation as one of the western army’s most reliable regiments and become a favorite of Major-General Patrick Cleburne. The autumn of 1862 would see the 5th acting as escort for General Bragg’s Pioneer Corps during the Kentucky campaign. They were released from this duty and participated at the Battle of Perryville, where they traded shots with the 10th Ohio, a Federal Irish unit. The action between these Irishmen was severe with the Federals having the upper hand. Despite running low on ammunition (the 5th was twice resupplied) the Confederate Irish continually refused to yield and were, eventually, joined by the 37th Tennessee and then by Gen. Cleburne leading his brigade onto the field securing the victory.

By the end of 1862 the regiment had, again, returned to Tennessee and Murfreesboro before going into winter quarters at Tullahoma and then Wartrace. Chickamauga in September 1863 would, once again, see the regiment’s high rate of attrition continue with Captains James Beard & George Moore among the fallen. Even though not part of his brigade, Gen. D.H. Hill was high in his praise for the Memphis Irish. Onto Missionary Ridge and again against overwhelming odds the regiment held until, finding themselves isolated, the 5th finally gave way. Gen. Cleburne used them at Ringgold Gap and his strategic placement of the regiment helped save the Southern army.

The following year would see the regiment involved in virtually all the engagements of the Army of Tennessee from Resaca in May through to Nashville in December even though it was now numbered less than 170 muskets. At Atlanta, these would be reduced further when a large number of them were taken prisoner after a ferocious struggle. Indeed, the remnants of the regiment became disjointed in heavy woodland near Peach-tree Creek. As Lt. Beard and Corporal Coleman emerged onto the road from the woods just as Gen. James B. McPherson and his staff were approaching. Corporal Coleman quickly fired off a round at the Federals, hitting and instantly killing Gen. McPherson. The Confederates were soon taken prisoner and, eventually arrived in Utica, allegedly as the General’s body got there. Corporal Coleman’s comrades later spoke of the young man’s distress and regret at his impulsiveness.

November 30, 1864 would see the 5th Confederate Regiment at Franklin where it formed part of Granbury’s brigade. Gen. Cleburne, however, sought them out and placing himself at their head, he would lead their charge to the Federal breastworks around the small Middle-Tennessee town. Like the general, many would fall. indeed Pvt. Richard “Dick” Cahill’s body was found inside the works with at least 4 bayonet wounds through his head the following morning. Later on, December 1 1864, just 21 men from the 5th would answer the roll. Within 2 weeks, overwhelming Federal numbers would force an overall Southern retreat from before Nashville; it would not be easy for many of the soldiers were barefoot, clad in rags and faced with constant harassment from pursuing Federal cavalry. They would finally reach Corinth, Mississippi before being sent to North Carolina.

 

Fredericksburg

Here just before the Battle of Bentonville, the remaining members of the 5th would again be joined with other units to form Co. I, Consolidated Tennessee Infantry. When Gen. Johnston surrendered his army on April 26, 1865, just 10 soldiers of the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment laid down their muskets.

5th Confederate Flag Sources:”Military Annals of Tennessee”; C.W. Frazer “Irish-American Units of The Civil War”; T. Rodgers “The Confederate Army 1861 TN & NC: R. Field

Irish in Blue & Gray, # 44; Spring 2019

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 44, issue #2, Feb. 2020 ed.)

Fear the Ramrod

It is difficult to imagine what a soldier who fought in the American Civil War endured. Firearms were virtually relics at the start of the war. Soldiers fought with arms they brought from home, which were typically muskets used for hunting. These firearms were very slow to fire and were usually ineffective, and sometimes dangerous, because they were difficult to aim, load and fire. During the course of the war, increments became far more effective and deadly. Here’s an explanation of how the early muskets were used.

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Civil War soldiers were taught to load and fire their muskets using the “Nine-Steps.” They were drilled for hours to ensure every soldier would know each step without thinking. Step No. 6 was “return rammer” and while all of the steps were important, this one could have serious consequences if it was skipped.

Pvt. Arminius Bill of the 66th Illinois Western Sharp Shooters, recorded an incident in his diary about a man who skipped step No. 6. It was on Dec. 2, 1861,during a “sham battle” between Union forces at Benton Barracks near St. Louis. Artillery roared, cavalry galloped, and tens of thousands of blank rounds were fired. “One infantry man was killed by the man behind him in the rear rank who became excited & forgot to withdraw his ramrod. The gun went off & drove the ramrod through the head of the man in front.”

At the battle of Tupelo, July 14, 1864, Captain Theodore Carter cheered on his men of the 14th Wisconsin as they fired while lying down. Suddenly a private rose to his feet and began to hurl curses across the open ground to the Confederates. A rammer had streaked across the field and skewered his bicep, and he paused to pull out the long bloody piece of steel. “It was ludicrous to see hear him use strong invectives against the ‘rebel’ who was so careless as to leave his ramrod in the gun after loading.”

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned, “I shot an arrow in the air, it fell to earth, I know not where.” A beautiful poem, he was certainly not thinking of Pvt. Alexander Downing of the 11th Iowa Infantry, and an incident on April 6, 1862, during the battle of Shiloh.

“My musket became so dirty with the cartridge powder, that in loading it the ramrod stuck fast and I could neither get it up nor down, so I put a [percussion] cap on, elevated the gun and fired it off. But now I had no ramrod, and throwing down my musket, I picked up a Belgian rifle lying at the side of a dead rebel, unstrapped the cartridge box from his body, and advanced to our company, taking my place with the boys.”

Longfellow’s arrow was found unbroken in an oak; whatever happened to Downing’s?

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Shiloh National Military Park

(Thanks to Trent Lewis)

(Article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Samuel A. Hughey camp #1452, Volume 43, Issue 5, May 2019 ed.)

Another 5-Star Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion

My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, received another five-star review! I am so appreciative of readers taking the time to write a review. This is the first book in the Renegade Series, and was previously self-published. It was re-published in May by Foundations, LLC. The review is as follows:

Review – A Beautiful Glittering Lie

A warning to all who think war is some glamourous adventure filled with parades, flags, and stirring martial music – read J.D.R. Hawkins’ novel A Beautiful Glittering Lie. That lie is put to rest here in the book that begins Hawkins’ ‘Renegade’ series placed during the American Civil War and its aftermath. The book is perfect lead-in to the rest of the series that follows David Summers and his family through that horrendous conflict. My only regret about A Beautiful Glittering Lie is that I failed to read it before reading the follow-up books, A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us. Hawkins does an excellent job of presenting those books as stand-alone volumes but they are best read after reading A Beautiful Glittering Lie. That said, this book left me wanting more even though I had already read the other two. Of course, there isn’t more until the next one in the series is published and released.

Portions of Hawkins’ novel are graphic. Any war story will be if it is truly well done. I would not recommend this book for pre-teens and would actually recommend 15 years and up. The story, away from the battle front, however, is truly heartwarming and presents a very realistic picture of the burdens and sacrifices carried by those at home. Though the story is told from the perspective of a Southern family in a region physically devastated by the war, the homesickness, the worry, the suffering, and the grief are universal themes that tragically played out in homes both North and South.

It is no wonder that A Beautiful Glittering Lie is the recipient of numerous rave reviews and awards. I too rate the book a solid five-stars. Hawkins tells me that all three books are in the process of being released in a new format. I think they will be collectors’ items. I have the second two books only on Kindle and look forward to acquiring all three books as the re-released editions. I also eagerly await the fourth book in the series.

Gettysburg Photos

Here are a few more photos for your enjoyment. Have a great weekend!

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Gettysburg 150th (continued)

Here are some more pictures I took while in Gettysburg for the 150th. Hope you enjoy them!

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Photo 1 – Ready to face the Union army

Photo 2 – Confederate camp

Photo 3 – General J.E.B. Stuart wields his sword

Photo 4 – Confederate artillery

Photo 5 – Confederate infantrymen ready to fight for the cause

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