J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “military”

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.

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

Moving Day (Again)

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This is moving week for my husband and me. It has been crazy so far, but luckily, we haven’t broken anything (yet). We have managed to lose a few things, but hopefully, they will turn up. In the past four years, we have moved nine times, and we’re not even in the military! It has been a crazy ride but we have met a lot of wonderful friends along the way.

Moving is never an easy task, but it had to be much harder for Southerners who lived during the Civil War and were forced to evacuate before the invading army came along to steal their belongings and do unspeakable things to civilians. Marauding Union soldiers burned and took everything, leaving only what they thought was inedible and/or unsalvagable.

It was also very difficult to be in the military and be told to move in a moment’s notice. My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, is soon to be re-published, so stay tuned for a new book cover and some updated edits. In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the book, describing how the Confederate cavalry had to move quickly and without much notice.

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(Original Book Cover)

On Tuesday, June 16, General Stuart departed with the brigades of Beverly Robertson and Rooney Lee, now under the command of General John Chambliss. Before he left, the general issued a congratulatory order to his remaining troopers, which was read to the men during roll call.

“With an abiding faith in the God of battles, and a firm reliance on the saber, your successes will continue. Let the example and heroism of our lamented fallen comrades prompt us to renewed vigilance and inspire us with devotion to duty.”

The cavalrymen were informed that they was to serve as a counter-reconnaissance screen, thereby preventing Pleasanton’s Union cavalry from discovering General Lee’s objective, which was to cross over into Pennsylvania. Within a few days, General Hampton’s brigade, after being told to prepare three days rations, broke camp and departed north.

The day was extremely hot and humid, but the men did their best to distract themselves from their discomfort. While they rode, the Georgians sang at the top of their lungs.

 

“Sittin’ by the roadside on a summer day,

Chattin’ with my messmates, passin’ time away,

Lyin’ in the shadows underneath the trees,

Goodness, how delicious, eatin’ goober peas!

 

“I wish this war was over, when, free from rags and fleas,

We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts and gobble goober peas.

Peas! Peas! Peas! Eatin’ goober peas!

Goodness, how delicious, eatin’ goober peas!”

 

The Georgians sang with such exaggerated conviction that David couldn’t help but chuckle. Once he’d learned the lyrics, he happily joined in, and boisterously sang along, too.

Later on in the day, the horsemen learned that General Stuart and his brigades had engaged in a battle near the small towns ofAldie and Middleburg. Heros Von Borcke, Stuart’s Prussian aide-de-camp, had been seriously wounded, and was expected to be incapacitated for quite some time. Upon hearing the news, David became greatly disappointed, since he had been looking forward to the day when he could race the colonel. Now he wondered if the opportunity would ever present itself.

The troopers continued their quest. Encountering a pontoon bridge that the Confederate cavalry ahead of them had constructed, David and his comrades crossed the Chickahominy River. That evening, a skirmish broke out between Hampton’s brigade and a Union regiment, but fighting ended when a rainstorm rolled in, covering the countryside with complete darkness as it burst open in a thunderous downpour. The Rebels were driven into the woods, where they were forced to spend the night wet, cold, and miserable.

Rain fell incessantly throughout the night and into the morning, drenching the men to the core. It was replaced by sweltering heat and humidity that afternoon. As night fell, a hailstorm erupted, pummeling the horsemen with stones the size of hens’ eggs. Unable to set their tents up in time, some of the men pulled heavy overcoats over their heads, which provided their only shelter. With only prepared rations to eat, they shivered in the chilly rain while they waited for morning to finally arrive. When it did, the overcast sky constantly released drizzle. The cavaliers mounted up and continued their march, reaching General Stuart’s brigades later that afternoon. No fighting had taken place this Saturday, May 20, due to the inclement weather, so they rested and cared for their horses, seeking cover in the woods behind a stone parapet. The cavalry was now over five thousand strong. Officers instructed the troopers not to release any information about their mission if they were captured.

Horses in Gray Receives Celebrity Endorsement

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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/.

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!

 

 

 

LOUISIANA BILL PASSES COMMITTEE

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Last week, A Louisiana House committee advanced legislation that would forbid the removal of Confederate monuments. The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs voted 10-8 to advance the Louisiana Military Memorial Conservation Act to the full House for consideration.

Baton Rouge Rep. Patricia Smith said after the vote that she had hoped the legislation would be defeated in committee and thus avoid a similar divisive debate in the House chamber. She expects the Republican-majority in the House to approve the measure. “Maybe the Senate can stop it,” Smith said.

House Bill 71 would forbid the removal, renaming or alteration of any military monument of any war, including the “War Between the States,” that is situated on public property. The measure was amended to require the support of a majority of voters in a public election before any monuments could be removed.

State Rep. Thomas Carmody Jr., a Shreveport Republican who says his family has been in Louisiana since before statehood and includes many veterans, called his measure “an effort to make sure those persons’ sacrifices are not just randomly tossed away into the ash bin of history … My objective is to stop the hate.”
His legislation covered all military monuments from all wars. But the bulk of the testimony was about Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

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Carmody said HB71 could not stop the two-year effort by the City Council in New Orleans to move to museums or other locations, the statues of three Confederate luminaries that dominate major intersections. If approved and signed into law, the act probably wouldn’t take effect in time, he said, a position other representatives disputed.

Over a two-hour period, the committee heard testimony from almost two dozen supporters of the bill. Rep. Johnny Berthelot, the former Republican mayor of Gonzales who chairs House Municipal, timed each presentation with a three-minute egg timer.
Steve Jones, of St. Bernard Parish, testified: “Tearing down the three main monuments in the city is as if Rome was to tear down statues because the Roman Empire wasn’t very politically correct.”
Voting for conserving Confederate and other military monuments (10): Chairman Berthelot, Reps. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego; Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge; Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles; Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge; Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans; Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge; Stephen Pugh, R-Ponchatoula; Jerome Richard, No Party-Thibodaux; and Malinda White, D-Bogalusa.

Voting against HB71 (8): Reps Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans; Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport; Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport; Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey; C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge; Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport; Patricia Haynes Smith, D-Baton Rouge; and Joseph A. Stagni, R-Kenner.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, May 5, 2017 ed.)

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