J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “military”

Great Honor Ends in Sadness

CA
Beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing into the twenty-first, the Confederate Memorial Association in California established more than a dozen monuments and place-names to the Confederacy. They dedicated highways to Jefferson Davis, named schools for Robert E. Lee, and erected large memorials to the common Confederate soldier.

While one would not ordinarily associate California, far removed from the major military theaters of The War, with anything Confederate when The War erupted between North and South in 1861, a wave of secessionist scares swept across the West. Los Angeles County was the epicenter of California disunionism. Hundreds of Southern-sympathizing Angelenos fled east to join Confederate armies, while an even larger number remained to menace federal control over the region. They openly bullied and brawled with Union soldiers, joined secessionist secret societies, hurrahed Jefferson Davis and his generals, and voted into office the avowed enemies of the Lincoln administration. The threat became so dire that Union authorities constructed a large military garrison outside Los Angeles, and arrested a number of local secessionists, to prevent the region from joining the Confederacy.

The War was lost in 1865, but California’s leaders continued to nurture a nostalgia for the Old South. The editor of the leading Democratic newspaper in the state unapologetically lamented the South’s loss. California refused to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, California was the only “free” state to reject both amendments during the Reconstruction era. In a belated, token gesture, the state “ratified” them in 1959 and 1962, respectively.

Attracted by California’s climate and its reactionary political orientation, thousands of Southerners migrated west in the decades after The War. There, they continued to honor the memory of their ancestors. Through hereditary organizations, reunions, and eventually the landscape itself, some hoped that the Old South would rise again in California.

Some of the most active memorial associations could be found in Los Angeles County. In 1925, the UDC erected the first major monument in the West, a six-foot stone tribute in what is now Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The monument saluted the wartime service of some 30 Confederate veterans, who migrated to Southern California after The War and took their final rest in the surrounding cemetery plot.

Hollywood

Many of those veterans had passed their last days in Dixie Manor, a Confederate rest home in San Gabriel, just outside L.A. Five hundred people gathered for the dedication of the home in April 1929. Until 1936, when the last of the residents died, the caretakers of Dixie Manor housed and fed these veterans, hosted reunions, and bestowed new medals for old service. It was the only such facility beyond the former Confederacy itself.

The UDC followed its Hollywood memorial with several smaller monuments to Jefferson Davis scattered across the state. Those tributes marked portions of the Jefferson Davis Highway, a transcontinental road system named for the former chieftain, stretching from Virginia to the Pacific coast. The Daughters erected the first of the tributes in San Diego in 1926. They even placed a large obelisk to Davis directly opposite the Ulysses S. Grant Hotel. Although opposition from Union army veterans resulted in the removal of the monument that same year, a plaque to Davis was restored to the San Diego plaza in 1956.

Several place-names literally put the Confederacy on the map in California. The town of Confederate Corners (née Springtown) was christened by a group of Southerners who settled in the area after The War. In San Diego and Long Beach, the name of Robert E. Lee graced two schools, while a school in East Los Angeles was named for filmmaker D.W. Griffith. Although not a Confederate veteran himself, Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation did more than any other production to rekindle the Confederate fire among a new generation of Americans.

Several giant sequoias were named for Robert E. Lee, including the fifth-largest tree in the world, located in Kings Canyon National Park. Jefferson Davis and Confederate general George E. Pickett each had a peak named in their honor in Alpine County.

Most of these memorialization efforts took place when The War was still a living memory. But California chapters of the UDC and Sons of Confederate Veterans remain active today. A recent register of the UDC listed 18 chapters in California-more than five times as many as could be found in any other “free state,” and even more than some former Southern states, including Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans were erecting major memorials in California as recently as 2004. That’s when the newly-removed Orange County pillar went up, amid much fanfare from its patrons and supporters, proudly clad in Confederate attire for the occasion. Inscribed on the pedestal: “to honor the sacred memory of the pioneers who built Orange County after their valiant effort to defend the Cause of Southern Independence.”

Earlier this month, that monument, the last one standing in California, was taken down.

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 30, 2019 ed.)
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Long Forgotten History (And Why We Can’t Repeat It)

I found this article fascinating and wanted to share it. When I read it, I learned a lot about our American history and what happened in the South after the Civil War ended. I find it especially interesting because my next novel delves into the issues of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, and Western expansion. I only hope I can find a publisher who doesn’t shy away from it, even though, now apparently, the Confederacy has become controversial and taboo. Hopefully, I can find a publisher who can take the heat! If you know of one, please refer me to them.

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        by Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham

Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot during the Viet Nam War who graduated from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and is qualified through the rank of major general. He is the author of more than 40 books, several of which were History or Military History Book Club Selections.
I am always annoyed when a conservative political leader attacks Southern heritage. I don’t know why because with the present-day crop of cowardly politicians, it is becoming routine, but I am. Unwittingly or not, these modern day Scalawags adopt the “politically correct” line, even though they know (or should know) that political correctness is nothing more than a euphemism for cultural Marxism.
Recently, the courageous governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, swam against the politically correct stream, obeyed state law, and issued a proclamation calling for a day of observance in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest as well as commemorating Confederate Decoration Day and Robert E. Lee Day. Governor Lee also stated that he would not be a party to “whitewashing history” by ripping down the bust of Forrest in the Tennessee State Capitol.
For his refusal to join this intellectual lynch mob, Governor Lee was immediately attacked by the usual anti-Southern bigots and Socialist/Democrat/Leftist house organs, such as the Washington Compost and the New York Slimes.[1] This was predictable. What was unusual and absurd about this particular assault on the memory of a brave man is a tweet by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who mounted his rhetorical Mount Siani and declared: “This is wrong!”
But was it, Senator? And what do you know about it, anyway?
First of all, I suppose I should confess that I like Ted Cruz politically, generally speaking. We have not yet met but do have some mutual acquaintances, including Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Phil is my preacher at the University Church of Christ in Monroe, Louisiana, and he spoke for Mr. Cruz in Iowa. During the 2016 primaries, I was torn between voting for Cruz, Mike Huckabee, or Donald Trump. I was sorry when he and Donald Trump tore into each other, and I think the future president was wrong to attack Cruz’s father. I am also sorry that the senator from Texas cannot see that, in attacking the memory of Bedford Forrest, Senator Cruz is unwittingly making himself a “useful idiot” (to borrow a phrase from Lenin) for the Left, which has gone completely over the edge and is working night and day to turn this country into Venezuela.
But back to my original question: what do you know about it anyway, Senator Cruz?
It is also appalling to me when a conservative such as Glenn Beck or Ted Cruz-who would never allow the politically correct to deceive them on contemporary issues-routinely allow themselves to be hoodwinked on historical topics. Nathan Bedford Forrest is a prime example.
Forrest joined the Klan in 1866. If the Klan were the same organization then as it is today, Mr. Cruz would be correct in condemning it. But was it? To determine if Cruz’s denunciation of Forrest is valid, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, was the Klan of that day the same as the Klan of today? Second, what were the circumstances that induced Forrest to join that organization? Thirdly, when it became something he did not intend, what did he do?
What Mr. Cruz and his ilk too often fail to take into account is that organizations change over time. The year 1865 was pivotal in American history. It was the year the Civil War ended, the Confederacy died, the Ku Klux Klan was born, and the Democratic Party transitioned from the party of slavery to the party of white supremacy. Later, it became the party of separate but equal (with white people being more equal) and the party of segregation after that. Today, it is transforming itself again-into God knows what. It is not the same as it was in 1865.
Neither is the Klan. It was born in the law offices of Judge Thomas Jones in Pulaski, Tennessee. Half its original members were attorneys. Its initial standards were high. One had to be in the Confederate Army at the time of the surrender or in a Union prisoner-of-war camp to be eligible for membership. Its original mission statement called for it to be “an instrument of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy and patriotism” which was to “relieve and assist the injured, oppressed, suffering, and unfortunate, especially widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers.” (This the government in Washington would not do. They did, however, have a 47% tax on cotton, which they used to subsidize Northern railroads and other large corporations. On the other hand, they did provide pensions to Northern widows and orphans at the expense of Southern widows and orphans.) One had to apply for membership. As far as we can tell (written records are absent), its eighth member was John C. Brown, former Confederate brigadier general and, within eight years, governor of Tennessee. Also a lawyer.
The Klan started out as a social club, but that soon changed. It grew like wildfire and morphed into something else altogether.
The loss of the war and the death of the Confederacy were not isolated events. They also signaled the breakdown of the Southern economy and the collapse of law and order in many localities. Gangs of criminals and individual thugs had a field day throughout the South. Union deserters, Southern outlaws, recently freed slaves who did not know how to handle their freedom, and professional criminals ran amuck. Arson, robbery, rape, and murder were the order of the day. At the same time, Carpetbaggers and collaborators pillaged the public treasuries, increased taxes 300% to 400%, ran up huge public debts, pocketed the proceeds, stole land and farms, and enriched themselves at the expense of a helpless and impoverished people.
African Americans suffered most of all. Much of the South’s land was ruined during the conflict, and 1867 was a year of famine. The new Northern rulers had no interest in the Southern people, black or white. Tens of thousands of Negroes literally starved to death.[2] No effort was made on the part of the new rulers to even keep records of how many died. They were too busy stealing.
Public health was almost completely ignored. Smallpox epidemics periodically raged throughout the South in the 1862 through 1868 period. The weakened and malnourished black folks were especially susceptible, often dying at rates of three or four times higher than Southern whites, who were themselves not well nourished. Black children were particularly hard hit. In one six-month period in 1865, 30,000 African Americans died in North Carolina and South Carolina alone. The epidemic lasted six years.[3]
Not content with theft and neglect, a significant minority of Northern politicians openly advocated a second Civil War. They included Thaddeus Stevens, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives; General Benjamin F. “Spoons” Butler; Governor Richard Yates of Illinois; carpetbagger Governor Andrew J. Hamilton of Texas; and Senator Jim Lane of Kansas, among others. U.S. Congressman William Anderson Pile advocated “death to all supporters of the South, past or present.”[4] General William T. Sherman wanted Southerners demoted to “demizens”: people who were given certain rights (such as the right to pay taxes) but not others (such as the right to vote).
Of particular interest to Forrest was carpetbagger Governor William G. “Parson” Brownlow of Tennessee. A former Methodist preacher, slave owner, and newspaper editor, he believed slavery was “ordained by God.” He nevertheless supported the Union and a second Civil War. “I am one of those who believed that the war ended too soon,” he declared, and “the loyal masses” should not “leave one Rebel fence rail, outhouse, one dwelling, in the seceded states. As for the Rebel population, let them be exterminated.”
This kind of wild talk sounds incredible today, but people like Nathan Bedford Forrest had no choice but to take it seriously-especially in Tennessee.
The Southerners after the war were in the same position as the French Resistance was in World War II. The government were it was functioning at all was often in the hands of criminals, and they felt compelled to take the law into their own hands. There is a point between civilization and anarchy in which vigilantism is an acceptable, temporary measure, until law and order can be restored. Into that breach stepped Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was receiving a hundred letters a day from his former soldiers, relating eye-witness accounts of outrage and lawlessness. He was first told about the Klan by George Washington Gordon, a former Confederate general and war hero. Forrest applied for membership through John W. Morton, his former chief of artillery who celebrated his 21st birthday commanding a battalion of horse artillery in the Battle of Chickamauga.[5] In the spring of 1866, the leaders of the KKK met in the Maxwell House in Nashville, Tennessee, and created the position of “Grand Wizard,” a tribute to Forrest’s wartime nickname, “Wizard of the Saddle,” and gave it to the general.
The Klan had already transformed into a hybrid neighborhood protection/vigilante organization which met violence with violence and terror with terror. It was definitely a mixed bag. Under Forrest, it became, as he said, “a protective political military organization,” i.e., a paramilitary force, a counterbalance to Brownlow’s Loyal Legion. Governor Brownlow sought to pass a law making it legal for anyone to shoot a former Confederate on sight. If that law passed, Forrest declared, there would be a second war, although he did not want it, but he would look upon the activation of Brownlow’s militia as a declaration of war. He also declared that he could raise 40,000 Klansmen in Tennessee and 550,000 throughout the South in five days. No one wanted to fight a half a million man cavalry army under Nathan Bedford Forrest, especially Brownlow and his cronies. The militia was not activated. A second war was avoided.
In February 1869, Brownlow resigned as governor. His successor sought to work with the Democrats, was conciliatory to his former enemies, and restored voting rights to Southern veterans and Confederate sympathizers. Forrest, meanwhile, became concerned that white trash elements were taking over large parts of the organization and were using it for their own nefarious and hateful purposes. As a result, Nathan Bedford Forrest issued General Order Number One, disbanding the Ku Klux Klan. “There was no further need for it,” Forrest commented later, “. . . the country was safe.”
Certain branches of the KKK lived on after Forrest disbanded it, under such names as the Constitutional Union Guards, the Pale Faces, the White Brotherhood, the White League, and the Knights of the White Camelia, and a few Ku Klux dens lingered on until 1877 and even after, but the original Ku Klux Klan effectively ceased to exist and faded into history. As Captain John Calhoun Lester, one of the original founders, wrote later: “There never was, before or since, a period of our history when such an order could have lived. May there never be again!”[6] Let us pray that the captain was right.
In 1915, Hollywood produced an infamous film, “Birth of a Nation.” Its contents were so incendiary that it led to several race riots, propelled the NAACP into national prominence, and led to the birth of a second Ku Klux Klan.[7] This racist organization became the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party and was (and is) largely a terrorist organization. Had it not pirated the name of the original KKK, we might look upon the original Klan much differently than we do. But it did. To associate Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name with the depredations of this second incarnation of the Klan of the 20th and 21st centuries is wrong, but many people do, even though it was created almost four decades after his death, and he clearly had nothing to do with it.
General Forrest’s racial views continued to evolve over time. He addressed an early civil rights organization, was denounced by a Freedman’s Bureau officer as being “too liberal” to the African Americans he employed, provoked the outrage of several editors by kissing a young black lady on the cheek after she presented him with a bouquet of flowers, was denounced by the (Confederate) Cavalry Survivors Association for his positive attitude toward African Americans, hired them in responsible positions in his railroad (i.e., as foremen, conductors, architects, and engineers), and was one of two former Confederate generals I know of who advocated allowing African-Americans to vote.[8] I bet you didn’t know that, Senator Cruz. When Forrest died in 1877, twenty thousand people lined the street for two miles with their hats off, respectfully mourning him as his hearse slowly passed by. These included more than 3,000 black mourners. One source placed this number at 6,000.
I would go on with your history lesson, Mr. Cruz, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I would, however, suggest that you refrain from attacking heroes from other states until you learn more about Southern history. Texas, after all, had more than its share of slaveholding heroes. William B. Travis and Jim Bowie (my personal favorite), the commanders of the Alamo, leap to mind. Already, there are those agents of political correctness who would hand the Alamo over to the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, so they can “contextualize” it. Eventually-should they succeed-they will want to tear it down, on the grounds that it represents white supremacy, oppression of a minority group, or some other pretext. And don’t think for one moment they wouldn’t try it. The Left wants no heroes to exist except its own.
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[1] Also known as the Washington Post and the New York Times.
[2] Exact numbers do not exist. The Carpetbaggers and Union Army were so indifferent to the fate of the black people they did not bother to keep records. Estimates as to the exact number who died vary between 80,000 and 1,000,000. Most of them were African American. See Jim Downs, Sick From Freedom: African-American Death and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction. Oxford: 2012, p. 8ff.
[3] Donald W. Livingston, “Confederate Emancipation Without War,” in Frank B. Powell, ed., To Live and Die in Dixie (Columbia, Tennessee: 2004), p. 462.
[4] Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 1964), p. 372. Piles was a former Union general.
[5] Morton was later secretary of agriculture and secretary of state of Tennessee.
[6] John Calhoun Lester and Rev. D. L. Wilson, The Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment (New York: 1905), p. 132.
[7] See Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (New York: 2017) and William Rawlings, The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s (Macon, Georgia: 2017).
[8] The other one was P. G. T. Beauregard.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 19, 2019 ed.)

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 8)

Mary Anna Custis Lee – Wife of Robert E. Lee

Mary_Custis_Lee
     Born on October 1, 1808, Mary Anna Randolph Custis was the only surviving child of Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, who was George Washington’s step-grandson. Mary Anna was the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. She enjoyed all the benefits of growing up in a wealthy family, and spent most of her time at Arlington, which her father built in honor of George Washington.
     Mary had many suitors, and received a marriage proposal from Sam Houston. The man who stole her heart, however, was her second cousin, Robert Edward Lee, whom she had known since childhood. They were married at Arlington on June 30. 1831. Robert had already become an established military man, so he brought Mary with him to West Point. It wasn’t long before she gave birth to a boy, and over the course of several years, bore two more sons and four daughters. She was fluent in four languages, and was an avid painter, author, and horticulturalist, propagating eleven rose varieties in her garden at Arlington. Mary was also deeply religious, and as her rheumatoid arthritis progressed, she accepted it as the will of God. She inherited Arlington after her father passed away in 1857, and two years later, published his memoirs, which she titled “Recollections.” She included an editor’s note stressing the urgency of reconciliation between northern and southern states, as the approaching Civil War seemed imminent.
     Following Virginia’s secession, Mary’s sons enlisted, and Robert resigned from his position with the U.S. military to serve under the newly-formed Confederate States of America. He traveled to Richmond, but Mary remained at Arlington until May, when she received word that Union soldiers were crossing the Potomac from Washington to seize her estate. Reluctantly, she departed, believing that the move was only temporary. How strange she must have felt knowing that she, the descendant of George Washington, was now the enemy. She traveled to different family-owned plantations until the encroaching Yankees forced her to retreat to Richmond. Once there, she set up housekeeping at several locations, all the while diligently knitting socks and mittens for her husband and his soldiers, despite her crippling arthritis.
     In 1863, following the Battle of Brandy Station, Mary witnessed the arrest of her wounded son, Rooney, who had been transported to a local plantation home to recuperate under Mary’s care. She found it necessary to travel to hot springs because of her condition, where she learned of the battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Once she returned to Richmond in the fall, she busied herself with knitting, even though inflated costs made it difficult for her to obtain yarn, and she was saddened by the loss of a daughter due to typhoid fever. Rooney’s two children and his frail wife also succumbed to disease.
     During the war, she rarely saw her husband or sons. While her daughters attended services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on April 2, 1865, they observed as President Davis was called away, and learned afterward that General Lee’s forces had fallen back: Richmond was being evacuated. Mary, however stubborn, refused to leave, and watched from her window as residents scrambled to get out before the Yankees invaded. Following a still quiet, bummers entered the city, looting, cursing, and setting fires. Still, Mary resiliently held tight. Union forces soon appeared, restoring order, and a sentry was placed at her door for protection. Out of the goodness of her heart, she sent down a breakfast tray every morning to the weary soldier who stood outside her door. It wasn’t long before she learned that her husband had surrendered his army. Robert, along with their sons, returned home soon afterward.
     Once the war ended, Robert received many job offers, finally accepting the position as president of Washington College in Lexington. By December, Mary joined him. They spent many happy years together until the summer of 1870, when Robert caught a cold that aggravated the angina he’d developed seven years earlier. He died on October 12, and was buried in a crypt beneath the campus chapel. Mary did not attend the funeral.
     Bedridden for a month, her health finally improved. She was allowed to remain at what was renamed Washington and Lee College, since her son, Custis, had been elected to succeed his father. In 1872, she filed a petition with the Judiciary Committee of Congress to receive payment for Arlington, but her request was denied. Meanwhile, her arthritis had grown so bad that she could no longer sew, so she painted and sold tinted photographs of herself, Robert, and George and Martha Washington, donating the proceeds to charity. The following year, she toured Virginia, where her travels brought her back to her beloved Arlington. Appalled by the desecration, she remained in the carriage as old servants ran out to greet her. Grand trees that had once stood on the property had been reduced to stumps, and headstones cluttered the lawn. She returned to Alexandria, and continued her charity work. In October, her daughter, Agnes, died, which broke Mary’s heart. The loss was too much for her: on November 5, 1873, she, too, passed away. Per her request, she was entombed in the basement of the college chapel next to her husband.

     (In 1874, Custis took up his mother’s crusade to obtain Arlington and won. Because the house was surrounded by a cemetery, he immediately sold it to the U.S. Government. Ownership was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. Eventually, all of the Lee children’s remains were moved to the Lee Chapel.)

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 6)

Loreta Janeta Valazquez

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Loreta Janeta Velazquez (Harry T. Buford)  

Library of Congress 

 

Loreta Janeta Velazquez – Fact or Fiction? 

A spy … 

A civilian pretending to be a soldier … 

A widow four times 

All of these phrases describe one of the most fascinating, thrill-seeking characters of the Civil War. Because she was a woman, Loreta Janeta Valezquez was able to fool her contemporaries while supporting the Confederate cause she so adamantly believed in. 

 Born to a wealthy Cuban family on June 26, 1842, her mother was French-American, and her father, a Spanish government official, owned plantations in Mexico and Cuba, but developed a strong hatred for the U.S. government when he lost an inherited ranch in the Mexican War. In 1849, Loreta was sent to stay with an aunt in New Orleans, where she was taught English and French in addition to her native Spanish at Catholic schools. Her idol was Joan of Arc, and she wished to become just like her. When she was only fourteen, Loreta met a handsome Texas army officer named William, but because her parents opposed their union, they eloped in 1856. The newlyweds traveled around to various army posts until, four years later, when Loreta was eighteen, they were in St. Louis mourning the deaths of their three children. When the Civil War broke out, she insisted that her husband join the Confederacy, and begged to join with him, but he disallowed it, so she simply waited for him to leave. She disguised herself in one of two uniforms she had tailored in Memphis, donned a wig and fake moustache, bound her breasts, and padded the sleeves of her uniform, transforming into Harry T. Buford. Self-appointing herself as a lieutenant, she fooled fellow officers and soldiers by walking with a masculine gait, perfecting the art of spitting, and smoking cigars. She immediately went to Arkansas, and in four days raised a battalion, the Arkansas Grays, consisting of 236 men. She then sent them to her husband in Pensacola, Florida, where she turned them over to his command. William’s astonishment was short-lived, however, because a few days later, he was accidentally killed while showing his troops how to use their weapons. 

The bereaved Loreta turned his battalion over to a friend, and soon after, searched for military adventure on the front, finding it at the First Battle of Manassas, where she observed her comrades. “The supreme moment of my life had arrived, and all the glorious aspirations of my romantic girlhood were on the point of realization. I was elated beyond measure, although cool-headed enough … Fear was a word I did not know the meaning of; and as I noted the ashy faces, and the trembling limbs of some of the men about me, I almost wished that I could feel a little fear, if only for the sake of sympathizing with the poor devils.” 

Soon, Loreta grew weary of camp life, so she borrowed a dress from a local farmer’s wife and made her way to Washington, D.C., where she was recruited as a Confederate spy. She claimed to have met Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton. When she returned to the South, she was rewarded for her services by being assigned to detective duty. Apparently, espionage didn’t offer enough excitement for her either, so she put on her disguise and traveled to Tennessee, where she fought in the siege of Fort Donelson until its surrender. Wounded in the foot, she escaped detection by fleeing to New Orleans, but was arrested while in uniform for suspicion of being a Union spy and impersonating a man. Once she was released, she enlisted again to escape the city, and immediately went back up to Tennessee. There, she found the battalion she had raised in Arkansas, so she joined them in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. After the battle, she was wounded by a stray shell while she was on burial duty. Unfortunately, a doctor discovered her. Fleeing back down to New Orleans, she was there when Union General Benjamin F. Butler took control of the city in May 1862. Because she thought too many people were now aware of her true identity, she put away her uniform and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. 

Upon her arrival, she was recruited as a Confederate spy, and traveled all over the country, crossing enemy lines while she wore both male and female disguises to traffic information, drugs, and counterfeit bills to the South. She married Confederate Captain Thomas DeCaulp, but he soon died at a Chattanooga hospital. Traveling back up north, she was hired by Union officials to search for “the woman … traveling and figuring as a Confederate agent,” or in other words, to search for herself. During that time, she attempted to organize a rebellion of Confederate prisoners in Ohio and Indiana, and helped to win the war of Costintin in 1864. 

After the Civil War ended, she traveled around Europe and the South. Loreta married a third time. She and her husband, known only as Major Wasson, went to Venezuela as United States immigrants. He died in Caracus, so Loreta returned to America, this time going out west. She stopped in Salt Lake City long enough to give birth to a boy, and met Brigham Young. Nearly penniless, she traveled to Omaha, and charmed General W. S. Harney into giving her blankets and a revolver. Two days after she arrived to a mining town in Nevada, a sixty-year-old man proposed to her, but she refused. Supposedly, she married a fourth time, but the name of this younger man is unknown.  

It wasn’t long before she was off again. “With my baby boy in my arms, I started on a long journey through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, hoping, perhaps, but scarcely expecting, to find opportunities which I had failed to find in Utah, Nevada, and California.” Her money was dwindling, so in 1876, she wrote a memoir to support her child. Most of what is known about Loreta was written in her 600-page book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Valazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army. Upon its publication, General Jubal Early denounced it as pure fiction, but modern scholars have found some parts to be accurate. In 2007, the History Channel ran a special entitled Full Metal Corset, and verified some of the incidents described in the book, but there are still many facts in question. 

Loreta is last documented as living in Nevada. She never took any of her four husband’s names. After 1880, there is no further record of her life, including where or how she died, presumably in 1897. 

A Horse Soldier and His Mount

One of the people I truly admire from the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Although the political climate today reflects negatively on him, Lee was, in reality, an amazing patriot, husband, father and leader. His soldiers loved him, and after the war, the entire country did, too. He was given a position as president of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College), which he humbly accepted. Lee only lived five more years, and passed away in 1870. He is interred in the Chapel on campus.

Lee was a dedicated military man, having graduated from West Point at the top of his class. His father was the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. His wife, Mary Custis Lee, was a descendant of George Washington. Lee came from a long line of Virginia’s elite.

When the war broke out, Lee was faced with a very difficult decision. He chose his beloved state of Virginia over the Union, and reluctantly gave up his position with the U.S. military. He released his in-law’s slaves at the start of the war. Always the gentleman, Lee told his soldiers not to take or destroy anything when they entered Northern Territory, and that they should be required to pay with Confederate currency, since that’s all the men had, even though their money wasn’t worth anything.

In honor of General Lee’s upcoming birthday, I’d like to post a few articles about him, his life, and his service. This first article is about his beloved horse, Traveller. Lee had many horses during the course of the war, but Traveller was his favorite. You can read more about Traveller and Lee’s other horses in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

Horses in Gray Cover

There are few relationships more appreciated than that of a horse soldier and his mount. During the American Civil War, over a million horses perished in service to their respective causes. Few of them are remembered and revered today as much as Robert E. Lee’s horse,Traveller. Buried at Lee Chapel, at the same site as his commander, this dappled grey American Saddle bred was known for his speed, strength and courage in combat. Lee acquired him in 1862, and rode him throughout the war and beyond.

In a letter penned during the war, Lee describedhis horse to Mrs. Lee’s cousin, Markie Williams,who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller. Hewrote: “If I was an artist like you, I would drawa true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed.”

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(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)

Halloween Hauntings and the Civil War (Pt 1)

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(Ghostly apparitions on the Chickamauga battlefield. Photo courtesy of Danial Druey)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. What better time to write about spooky happenings and haunts as related to the War Between the States? Now through Halloween, I will share with you some of the scariest Civil War-related places.  First up is the Chickamauga battlefield.

“Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things.”

The Battle of Chickamauga was a costly one. On September 19 – 20, 1863, approximately 35,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing. It was considered a Confederate victory because the Rebels halted the Federal advance. Chickamauga, meaning “River of Death” in Cherokee, lived up to its name. Not surprisingly, the site of the battle in Georgia is reportedly haunted.

In 1876, thirteen years after the battle, ex-Confederate Jim Carlock participated in a centennial celebration. While walking across the battlefield, he and his friends saw something ten feet high with a “big white head.” He said the entity appeared to be a black woman carrying a bundle of clothes on her head.

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Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park from 1969 to 1986, said ghostly sightings are not uncommon. The most famous phantom is known as “Old Green Eyes.” This ghost takes on many different shapes, including a Confederate soldier and a green-eyed panther. Old Green Eyes was spotted soon after the battle ended when surviving soldiers saw the strange specter.

“Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body,” Tinney said.

According to legend, the ghost of Old Green Eyes existed years before the battle took place, possibly during the time that Native Americans lived on the land.

One night in 1976, Tinney was on the battlefield checking on camping reenactors. A man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with stringy black, waist-length hair, walked toward him. Intimidated, Tinney crossed to the other side of the road. The man reached him and flashed a devilish grin. His dark eyes glistened. Just then, a car came down the road and the scary apparition vanished.

Another ghost appears in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress. Known as the “Lady in White,” the ghost is supposedly searching for her lover. Many visitors have reported hearing gunshots and hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol. Reports of ghostly encounters and paranormal activities number in the hundreds.

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(Ghost horse behind reenactor. Photo courtesy of Rick Kanan)

Several years ago, David Lester was camping on the battlefield with several other reenactors. Some of his comrades wandered over to a neighboring camp to say hello to the soldiers. They talked for several hours before returning to their camp. In the morning, they returned to the camp, only to discover that there was no sign of a campfire or any trace of human occupation. There was only undisturbed land.

(Quote courtesy of Edward Tinney)

Horses in Gray Receives Another Five-Star Review

Horses in Gray Cover

My nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, received another five-star review! This is so exciting and such a great honor. Thank you “Jerry G!” Here is the review:

August 6, 2018

This book is a must read for equine scholars as well as those who want to learn more about the Civil War era. I was a skeptic that this book would hold my interest but am now a believer. Hawkins details the relationships of Civil War Soldiers to their beloved horses which she describes so aptly as, “…his horses are the second self of the active soldier.” I particularly found it educational and entertaining as she explains the color of the horse signified their ” rank or role” in the war such as the “grays” because they were easily identified by the officers who wanted to issue a call to battle.

Another Five-Star Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

ABGL Medium

I was recently interviewed by Linda Thompson of the Author’s Show on her podcast. After the interview, Linda expressed interest in reading my book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. I’m very flattered with her five-star review. Thank you so much, Linda!

Here is the review:

August 2, 2018
When it comes to war (no matter the era), men tend to gravitate toward the bloody bodies and the weaponry, and while some women think the idea of war as romantic, others are horrified at the cruelty. I’ve never seen war as romantic, anything to be proud of, or even remotely good, and parts of JDR Hawkins book was difficult for me to read. That being said, A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a very good story, well written with extremely engaging characters. The historical aspect is excellent and once I could get my head wrapped around the war and violence, I found this Southern family very engaging. I’m very interested in learning where the next book in Hawkins’ series will take us.

~ Linda Thompson, Host of www.TheAuthorsShow.com

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Renagade/dp/1544842481/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

 

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Featured on Renee’s Author Spotlight

ABGL Medium

My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, the first book in the Renegade Series, is featured today on Renee Scattergood’s blog, Renee’s Author Spotlight. Thanks, Renee, for featuring my book on your blog! Here is an excerpt of the book that is being featured on Renee’s blog.

ABGL Teaser 1

Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down to Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. Doing her best to shelter her brood, she realized it was just a matter of time before they heard of the event.

A week later, she learned that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home, and especially, dreaded seeing Hiram’s name listed. Traveling alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure. Her ankle boots clunked up the wooden steps and across the porch’s pine slat floorboards with every step she took. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. Upon entering, she saw several others gathered around a notice tacked to a wall. Ben Johnson nodded her way. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.

Slowly, feeling like she was floating, she approached the others, passing by the dry goods, the glass cases displaying pottery, clothing, and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away, or stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one that was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek, walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.

Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.

The revelation started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”

Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”

“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right, ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see…”

“Yes, ma’am, far as I can tell.”

“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good-day, Mr. Johnson.” Turning to leave, she opened the paned-glass door.

Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”

“I surely will,” she replied.

Returning to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, slapped the reins, and drove out of view from the mercantile before pulling the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until her heartache subsided.

https://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-beautiful-glittering-lie-novel-of.html

Cover Reveal For My New Book!

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I’m thrilled to introduce the new cover to my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. This book was previously published with another company and had a different cover (thank you, Dan Nance). However, since I changed publishers last year, two of my previously self-published titles have been republished. Now all three books in the Renegade Series are available from Foundations, LLC.

A Beckoning Hellfire is the second book in the Renegade Series. It tells the story of Confederate cavalryman David Summers and the battles he witnesses from Chancellorsville to Gettysburg. The first book in the series is A Beautiful Glittering Lie, and the third book in the series is A Rebel Among Us. Now that the first three books in the series have been published, all the covers are consistent (thank you, Dawne Dominique). Look for the fourth book in the series to be released next year.

A Beckoning Hellfire is available in e-book format for pre-sale. The cost is only .99 cents! Here is the link. Sign up for your copy today!
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/75984

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