J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Pennsylvania”

Historical Victory!

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Earlier today, I received an email from the American Battlefield Trust with wonderful news. Because of donations, 143 acres at the Plank Farm on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield has been preserved.

According to the American Battlefield Trust,

“On all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, and for many weeks after Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia made its retreat, this farm (owned by J. Edward Plank at the time of battle) served as one of the largest hospitals in all of Gettysburg. Soldiers on each side traversed these 143 acres, and more than 1,500 soldiers were treated on this land, including Confederate General John Bell Hood. There were more than 60 documented burials on the property. The soldiers buried there were later reinterred in proper cemeteries.

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“Now … this sacred land and the stories that it holds will be preserved, forever! This transaction was truly a team effort, with the Trust and other partners raising funds to enable the Land Conservancy of Adams County to protect the farm with a conservation easement. Because (investors) have secured this land now, (they) are proactively protecting this part of the battlefield from commercial or residential development while further securing the integrity of nearby hallowed ground, like the 18 acres Trust members … preserved at Seminary Ridge earlier this year and the preserved and restored Lee’s Headquarters site we saved in 2014.”

I think this is an awesome accomplishment! If you would like to support the American Battlefield Trust, here is a link to their website:

https://www.battlefields.org/?emci=56cf5d34-7dd9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&emdi=ace04701-a1df-e911-b5e9-281878540838&ceid=315208

Reenactment Saved

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As of last week, it seemed that a staple in the Civil War reenacting world, the annual Battle of Gettysburg reenactment, had been cancelled next year. The organization that has been sponsoring the event, the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC), posted on their website:

The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee (GAC) would like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to all the reenactors, visitors, and local staff that have participated in the Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Reenactments for the past 25 years; making those dusty old history books come alive. We are honored to have hosted over 100,000 reenactors, 500,000 visitors, and provided well over 1000 community staff positions. GAC has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to many worthy community organizations and supported our community economically. At this time, GAC does not anticipate organizing or hosting a 157th Reenactment.  Please refer to Destination Gettysburg’s Event Schedule for a wide array of historical, cultural and entertaining events in the Gettysburg and Adams County area throughout the year.”

How sad to end a well-participated event after doing it for 25 years. According to GAC’s Operations Manager, Randy Phiel, reeanactors’ aging demographic and varied visitor interest indicates “the hobby is declining somewhat.” He also said reenactments are most successful every five years, so spreading them out may build anticipation and visitor interest.

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Fortunately, someone has come to the rescue. According to The Washington Times, a veteran Civil War reactor from Pennsylvania plans to take over the 2020 reenactment next July. Dustin Heisey, who has been participating in reenactments since he was 14 years old, says he wants to keep the tradition alive.

“My primary focus is, let’s bring honor back into our hobby and, we’re portraying these men who sacrificed so much for their country, I want them to be remembered and I think it should be done every year,” Heisey told The (Hanover) Evening Sun.

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https://gettysburgreenactment.com

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/8/gettysburg-reenactment-saved-reenactor-after-organ/

 

The Facts Are Alarming

I just read an article written by a former Southern governor, stating that all Confederate monuments were erected to celebrate white supremacy. This is so offensive and off base that I wanted to post the following list in order to show how wrong this attitude is. The fact is, most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes and ward off the advancing enemy. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Thanks again so much for reading my blog!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOWNS BURNED BY THE CONFEDERATE ARMY

1. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1864

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TOWNS BURNED BY THE UNION ARMY

(from the Official Records):

1. Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861

(The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.) *

2. * Platte City, Mo – December 16, 1861 – (“ColonelW. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while thethird is released. ”)

3. Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862

4. Frenchburg, Virginia (later West Virginia), burned, January 5, 1862

5. Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862

6. Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862

(a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground)*

7. Winton, North Carolina, burned, February 20, 1862

8. Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863

(Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog,

surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”)*

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, burned, August 5 & 21, 1862

10. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862

11. Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862

12. Prentiss, Mississippi, burned, September 14, 1862

13. Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862

14. Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862

15. Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

16. Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

17. Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863

18. Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863

19. Clifton, Tennessee, burned, February 20, 1863 20. Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863

(“Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to removepersonal items, and the men then burned every house inthe village.”)*

21. Celina, Tennessee, burned, April 19, 1863

22. Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863

23. Greenville, Mississippi, burned, May 6, 1863

24. Jackson, Mississippi, mostly burned, May 15, 1863

25. Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 23, 1863

(“On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landednear Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the town people out and burned down the

26. Darien, Georgia, burned, June 11, 1863

27. Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863

28. Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863

29. Richmond, Louisiana, burned, June 15, 1863

30. Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863

31. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, destroyed and burned, June 28, 1863

 

32. Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864

33. Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864

34. Campti, Louisiuana, burned, April 16, 1864

35. Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864

36. Grand Ecore, Louisiana, burned, April 21, 1864

37. Cloutierville, Louisiana, burned, April 25, 1864

38. Bolivar, Mississippi, burned, May 5, 1864

39. Alexandria, Louisiana, burned, May 13, 1864

40. Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864

41. Newtown, Virginia, ordered to be burned, ordered May 30, 1864

42. Ripley, Mississippi, burned, July 8, 1864

43. Harrisburg, Mississippi, burned, July 14, 1864

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44. Oxford, Mississippi, burned, August 22, 1864

45. Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864

(“Union soldiers were told to burn buildings theConfederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M.Battey Jr. called harmless places.”)*

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46. Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864

47. Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864

48. Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864

49. Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan

(Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign)*

50. Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864

51. Guntersville, Alabama, burned January 15, 1865

52. Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865

53. McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865

54. Lawtonville, South Carolina, burned, February 7, 1865

55. Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865

56. Orangeburg, South Carolina, burned, February 12, 1865

57. Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865

58. Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865

59. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

Thanks to Jim Huffman with The Gainesville Volunteers, Picayune for the above places, dates and actions.

(*) information taken from: https://seekingliberty.org/2018/10/01/ the-benchmark-set-by- union-army-1861-1865/

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars newsletter, vol. 43, issue 9, September 2019)

 

Civil War Gold Found?

I’m always fascinated to learn about long-lost items from the Civil War that have been discovered. When I lived in Mississippi, it was fun to see what some of my WBTS enthusiast friends found with their metal detectors – from coins to belt buckles to buttons. The most interesting find was a Confederate sabre that a friend found buried on his farm. There are lots of theories about what happened to the Confederate gold, and now, some say they have found Union gold. I hope you find this article as fascinating as I do!

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RUMORED SITE OF $55M IN CIVIL WAR-ERA GOLD DRAWS FBI’S ATTENTION, REPORTS SAY

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President Abraham Lincoln reportedly ordered the shipment to help pay Union Army soldiers, Dennis Parada, owner of local treasure-hunting group Finders Keepers, told WJAC-TV.

“I’m not going to quit until it’s dug up,” Parada told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “and if I die, my kid’s going to be around and make sure it’s going to be dug up.

Dozens of FBI agents, Pennsylvania state officials and members of a treasure-hunting group dug in a remote Pennsylvania site earlier this week, on rumors of Civil War-era gold being buried there.

A 155-year-old legend has it that a Civil War-era gold shipment bound for a U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was either lost or hidden northeast of Pittsburgh around the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

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“There’s something in there and I’m not giving up.”

Based on different stories, the shipment was composed of either 26 or 52 gold bars, each weighing 50 pounds, meaning it would be worth $27 million to $55 million today.

Local lore that the federal gold might be buried at the Dents Run site in Benezette Township, Pa., about 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, caught the FBI’s attention.

So earlier this week agents from the bureau and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) set up a search area off Route 555, the Courier-Express reported.

The site is west of Driftwood, where a crew delivering the gold was attacked in an ambush, lone survivor Sgt. Jim Connors reportedly told his Army superiors at the time, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. But the Army reportedly doubted his story and Connors died in a “western outpost,” leaving the loot unfound. 

This week the FBI wouldn’t say why it was at the site, revealing only that it was conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

Historians have cast doubt that the shipment of gold was lost on its way to Philadelphia. Finders Keepers also said Pennsylvania’s Historical and Museum Commission claims the legend of the lost gold is a myth, the Inquirer reported.

But the lost treasure recovery group has insisted for years that it discovered buried gold in a state forest at Dents Run (within the township) using a high-powered metal detector, but federal law wouldn’t allow it to conduct a dig in search of more, the Courier-Express reported.

A spokesman from the Pennsylvania DCNR said that the group previously asked to excavate the site, but elected not to pay a required $15,000 bond.

The spokesman also referred questions on Tuesday’s activity to the FBI, and Parada said he was under FBI orders not to discuss the site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/rumored-site-of-dollar55m-in-civil-war-era-gold-draws-fbis-attention-reports-say/ar-BBKk5dO?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452,  Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 42, Issue No. 4, April 2018)

      

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you a very happy New Year. May all your hopes and dreams come true in 2018.

Here is an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. It is New Year’s Eve, 1863, and the antagonist, David, finds himself in a predicament he never could have imagined. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the past.

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That evening, the family and their friends gathered in the parlor for a New Year’s Eve celebration, but David kept to a corner, avoiding the others. Anna had given him some wine, so he sat alone, contentedly sipping, and gazed at the two Currier and Ives paintings. Claudia and Abigail amused themselves with their stereographs and the carousels he had made for them. Anna and Maggie talked happily while Sarah and Grace conversed in the opposite corner. At midnight, they all gathered in the center of the room. Anna stood close to him as the mantle clock chimed twelve times.

“Happy New Year!” the ladies exclaimed, raising their glasses.

They clanked their crystals together, and everyone took a sip of wine. David glanced over at the doorway where a strand of mistletoe had been hung. He wished he was standing beneath it with Anna, so he would have an excuse to kiss her. Claudia and Abigail went around the room hugging everyone before they went up to bed. Once David had finished his glass, he excused himself and retired to his room.

He lit the fire, undressed, heated a bed warmer in the embers of the fireplace, and set it on the bed. While he waited for it to warm the flannel sheets, he checked on his Colt .44 and saw that it was just as he’d left it. Returning the warmer to its place near the hearth, he climbed into bed and shivered slightly, his breath barely visible in the firelight.

Closing his eyes, he thought of everything that had taken place the previous year: how he had traveled to Virginia and fought with so many fearless commanders and comrades, and how he had lost Jake and had ended up at the Brady farm. His mind wandered to home. He wondered how his mother and sisters were getting along and whether the Yankees had taken over their land. He hoped 1864 would see an end to the terrible war, but he also wished the South would be triumphant somehow. He thought of his hospitable hostesses and how they had saved him: Miss Maggie, who obviously loathed him; Miss Sarah, who tolerated him; and Anna, lovely Anna. If the war ended, she might be interested in him for some other reason than to provide her with an alibi. It seemed the only people who really liked him for who he was were the two little girls.

Thank God for their innocence, he thought.

His mind drifted back to Anna and her amazing smile. What this year held in store for them, he hadn’t a clue. Perhaps he would be able to return to Alabama soon, after all. It would be a welcome escape from the predicament he now found himself in. Anna was too close, too personal. He knew he was falling further with each passing day. His portentous, precarious situation reminded him of soldiers he’d seen walking enemy lines. He knew sparks could never fly between the two of them. It was the worst forbidden, foreboding situation he could have ever imagined. His affections toward her might potentially place Anna in horrific danger. The Yankees could blame her for treason. She would stand to lose her farm, or even worse, her life. Where would that leave her younger sisters? Guilt washed over him. He couldn’t restrain his feelings, yet he knew he had to. His only choice was to submit to his present condition: the most challenging, heart-wrenching situation he had yet to endure. He knew his family missed him and Callie needed him, but in his heart he wasn’t ready to go home.

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.

One More Five-Star Review!

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I’m so honored to have received another 5-star review for my new novel, A Rebel Among Us. Thanks again, everyone, for your continuing support!

on January 30, 2017
I was looking for a book to lose myself in after finishing Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ and found an engaging and well-written dramatic love story in ‘A Rebel Among Us.’ The author uses detailed and powerful language to bring readers back to the Civil War, giving us a realistic glimpse into the lives of soldiers, slaves, and the challenges that come with war-time love. With a well-developed plot and uniquely charming characters, ‘A Rebel Among Us’ is an absorbing tale that kept me up reading way too late at night! I’m looking forward to reading the other books in The Renegade Series.
Thank you, Katie B!

Just For Fun

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For those of you who haven’t seen these yet, I’d like to share three teasers my publisher put together for my new novel, A Rebel Among Us. These are just for fun, so enjoy! Let me know what you think, and which one you like best. Have a happy weekend, everyone!

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/665424

https://www.foundationsbooks.net/book/a-rebel-among-us-by-j-d-r-hawkins/

Haunted Battlefields: Part I, Gettysburg

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In the spirit of Halloween, I will be posting the next few articles about hauntings related to the Civil War. The number of haunted places and things associated with the War Between the States is virtually limitless. New reports of strange occurrences surface nearly every day, and each story is more fascinating and creepy than the last.

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It goes without saying that the most haunted place in America associated with the Civil War is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This small, sleepy town suddenly found itself in the crossfires on July 1, 1863. The battle would last three days and claim over 50,000 lives (including dead, wounded, and missing). The tragedy left a lasting imprint on the land. Over 150 years later, ghostly apparitions still dwell on the battlefield and nearby town.

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The Farnsworth House is reportedly one of the most haunted places in Gettysburg. The house was riddled with bullets during the battle, and the scars still exist outside the building’s facade. Tourists say they have seen a specter of a distressed man carrying a child in a quilt, as well as the ghost of a fallen Confederate sharpshooter. Outside of town, the Daniel Lady Farm, which served as a Confederate field hospital where over 10,000 Confederate soldiers lost their lives, is host to numerous hauntings.

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At the Cashtown Inn, the first soldier of the battle was killed. The owners claim to have photographic evidence of spirits floating around the premises. Guests have witnessed someone knocking on doors, lights turning off and on, and doors locking and unlocking by themselves.  The Gettysburg Hotel and the Baladerry Inn are also reportedly haunted.

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Gettysburg visitors have reported hearing the sound of whirring bullets and the screams of fallen horses and soldiers. Some have had direct encounters with the deceased.  Devil’s Den is one of the most haunted places on the battlefield. So is the Triangular Field and Sachs Bridge. Visitors have captured apparitions on camera. In one instance, a long-haired young man told a tourist, “What you are looking for is over there.” The ghost then quickly vanished.

(Next up: Antietam)

Cover Reveal in One Week!

I am so excited to announce my new novel, A Rebel Among Us, is near completion. The book is due to launch in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I would like to tell you about the book, as well as the process I went through to get it published.

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Originally, I wrote A Beckoning Hellfire after visiting the Gettysburg battlefield. Coming from Colorado, I had never seen an actual Civil War battlefield before, so as you can imagine how astounded I was. Silly me, I thought it would be the size of a football field. Far from it! Needless to say, after I experienced this event, I was inspired to write a novel about it, but not a typical Civil War novel about officers and presidents, or even Union soldiers, such as The Red Badge of Courage. No, my novel would be about a typical Southern soldier. So I chose to write about a Confederate cavalryman who originated from North Alabama near Huntsville (Ryan Crossroads, to be exact).

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art

I wrote my heart out, and by the time I was finished, I realized I had enough material for two novels, so I split the book in two. The second book became A Rebel Among Us. From there, I wrote a sequel, which has yet to be published. And then I went back and wrote a prequel to the story, which is titled A Beautiful Glittering Lie. So what started out as a single book became a series, which I call the Renegade Series. I intend to write a fifth novel in the series later on.

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The first two books in the Renegade Series were self-published. I also self-published A Rebel Among Us, but then I found a new hybrid publisher called Booktrope. This publisher provided me with an excellent team of talented people. We were just about to publish the book when the company folded. ARGH! So I had to start all over. Luckily, I had a contact through NaNoWriMo ( which stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November). Because I had entered A Rebel Among Us in this contest, I learned of a new startup small publisher located in Mississippi. Enter Foundations, LLC, who loved my book and agreed to publish it. Finally, my book will see the light of day! Thank you Foundations!

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All of the books in the Renegade Series center on a family from North Alabama and how the war impacts them. For each novel, I spent about six months researching and six months writing. I traveled to the battlefields I wrote about, as well as the Pennsylvania countryside, where A Rebel Among Us primarily takes place. This book is a little different than the first two in the Renegade Series, because it involves more romance and less battle. I learned a lot along the way, received amazing help from many people, and had a blast writing the story. I can’t wait for it to come out and for you to get a chance to read it. Please tune in next Thursday for the big cover reveal. It is nothing less than awesome!

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