J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Pennsylvania”

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)

      

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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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Update on Lee’s Headquarters

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I recently blogged about the Civil War Trust’s efforts to restore the Widow Thompson House, where General Robert E. Lee had his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. The CWT’s goal is to restore the house to its appearance in 1863. The Civil War Trust also intends to restore the surrounding landscape and install an interpretive trail.

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(Photo of the Widow Thompson’s House on Chamberlain Pike taken circa 1861 – 1865.)

The stone house, built in the 1830’s, was owned by Thaddeus Stephens, the Radical Republican Pennsylvania congressman who played an important role in Civil War financing and the anti-slavery movement. The house was leased to Mary Thompson who, in 1863, was a widow living in the house with her eight children. The property surrounding the house played a pivotal role during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Located on Seminary Ridge, the house was first in the center of the Union line of defense and then became a key position for the Confederates. Lee’s army pushed out the Yankees, and the Confederate general quickly took control of the house as his headquarters. For the next three days, the house served as a hospital, fortress, and nerve center for the Confederate army.

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In the 1890’s, the house was left out of the National Military Park and fell into private hands. The site became a popular attraction. Campgrounds, cottages, and a museum popped up around the house. In the 1960’s, Larson’s Motel (later Quality Inn) and a large restaurant surrounded the house.

Two years ago, the Civil War Trust announced plans to purchase and restore the property, as well as four acres surrounding the house, at a cost of $6 million. After receiving donations, the property was purchased last year. This year, restoration to the property’s 1863 appearance began with the demolition of the restaurant and motel. This first phase will be completed this month.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/quality-inn-at-general-lees-headquarters-gettysburg

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/preservation/gettysburg-lees-headquarters.html?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email_update&utm_campaign=51116

 

“Four Score and Seven…”

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On this date in 1863, President Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to deliver what would become known as the “Gettysburg Address.” Although some revere Lincoln while others despise him, I think this short speech is one of the greatest American achievements. In honor of this event, here is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, A Rebel Among Us, when the main character sees Lincoln face to face.

The family arrived to find throngs of people clogging the road into Gettysburg. David drove slowly toward the center of town, past two- and three-story brick, stone, and weatherboard houses. Abolitionists lined the street, holding signs degrading the South and singing “John Brown’s Body.” Students from Pennsylvania College gathered near street corners in clusters. Union soldiers were everywhere. A group of them walked over and surrounded the landau. David’s heart raced wildly. All of his battlefield memories rushed over him. He continuously drew deep breaths in order to contain his composure and repeatedly wiped his sweaty palms against the coat Anna had provided him.

She glanced at him and noticed his wary expression. “Are you all right?” she asked.

All he could do was nod in response. He was terrified, but he couldn’t let his fears be known to the family.

Pulling Alphie to a halt, he climbed down, tied him to a post, assisted the ladies from the carriage, and escorted them toward a wooden platform that had been erected for the occasion. Someone handed him a program, so he smiled politely, being careful not to speak. The Stars and Stripes waved from atop a flagpole overlooking the gathering, its stars now totaling thirty-five, which included all of the states of the Confederacy. Behind him, he saw rows of graves, their white markers protruding from the dead earth, gleaming in the bright sunshine. Remnants of the fierce battle still remained. Scarred trees, pieces of wagons, rifle pits, scraps of clothing, broken fences, canteens, and other personal artifacts cluttered the sacred ground. Adjacent to the new Soldiers Cemetery was the old town graveyard. Ironically, a sign had been posted there before the great battle: All persons found using firearms on these grounds will be prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the law.

The Yankee dignitaries, lined in procession, finally appeared. Parading through the center of the enormous crowd, they made their way to the platform, which had a sofa and several chairs positioned on it. Four military bands began to play “Hail Columbia.” Union soldiers filed in. They stood only a few feet from David as the procession came through.

“There’s the president!” a man behind him said.

“He’s quite a Chesterfield,” remarked another.

David turned to see Mr. Lincoln atop a gray horse, riding toward the platform. Either the horse was too small or the president was too tall. His legs nearly touched the ground.

The soldiers saluted, and the president returned the gesture. David almost did, too, but caught himself in time. He gazed at the tall, slender, dark-bearded man who wore a long black suitcoat and stovepipe hat. President Lincoln’s expression was somber. His large eyes glanced over the crowd, and a faint, sad smile crossed his lips. Awestruck, David took in the sight of the man he’d heard so much about. The president’s weathered face, both homely and attractive at once, showed sensitivity and remorse. David felt overwhelmed to be in his presence. He continued to stare while the president rode past him. Mr. Lincoln turned his head and looked directly at him, apparently sensing his gaze. Their eyes met. David’s heart leaped into his throat. The president dismounted and stepped up onto the platform. His kind, gentle expression showed compassion. David wondered how he could intentionally proceed with the war, set the slaves free, and pass laws to cripple the South.

Just before noon, the program commenced with the Birgfield’s Band of Philadelphia playing “Homage d’un Heros.” Called to prayer, the audience was reminded of how so many young men had departed from their loved ones to die for their cause. The Reverend T.H. Stockton spoke with such soulful entreaty his listeners were overcome with emotion. When he was finished, the United States Marine Band played “Old Hundred.”

David glanced around; relieved no one could detect his secret. His eyes met Maggie’s. She mouthed the word “Rebel” at him, and glared so harshly he felt compelled to look away.

Edward Everett of Massachusetts began with an oration. He went on endlessly in an eloquent speech, referring to Athens, the occasion for which they all assembled, the significant victory, and the history of the war. Giving an elaborate account of the battle, he said nothing about the cavalry fight and predictably proceeded to castigate the South. In his opinion, the Confederacy had committed treason, comparable to the Bible’s “Infernal Serpent” by perpetuating wrong and injustice. He referred to the Rebels as Eversores Imperiorum, or destroyers of States.

David continuously scanned the crowd, half-expecting the soldiers to surround him at any moment. He noticed how some of the spectators yawned and wandered off to observe unfinished gravesites. After nearly two hours, Mr. Everett’s harangue finally ended. The Musical Association of Baltimore, accompanied by a band, sang “Consecration Hymn,” but the lyrics were so traumatic many people began to sob.

“Here, where they fell, oft shall the widow’s tear be shed.

Oft shall fond parents mourn their dead; the orphan here shall kneel and weep.”

David felt his throat tighten. He stared down at his boots, waited for the hymn to end, and remembered his comrades, his best friend, and his father.

At last, the President of the United States was introduced. The crowd applauded. Mr. Lincoln made his way to the front of the platform. Keeping his eyes downcast, he withdrew his steel-rimmed spectacles from a vest pocket. His visage remained staid and melancholy. Slowly, clearly, deliberately, he began to speak. David hung on every word. In spite of how he felt about the man, his heart began to swell.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

David thought it ironic the Northern President spoke with a hint of a Southern drawl, but then recalled Mr. Lincoln had been born in Kentucky. The president returned to his seat. A sprinkling of applause followed him. David thought he heard the President say, “Well, that fell on them like a wet blanket,” but he wasn’t close enough to be sure. Everyone around seemed surprised the president’s speech was so short, but David found himself overcome by the Yankee president’s words. Although they didn’t necessarily apply to his Southern beliefs, they were heartfelt and poignant.

A dirge was sung, a benediction given, and the soldiers completed the program with a cannon salute, which startled him and jolted his heart for a moment. The spectators filed out of the square. He glanced over at Maggie. The time was ripe for her to confess his true identity, but she merely stared at him with a smirk on her face.

 

Romance and the Civil War

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Welcome to the Indie Love Blog Hop! As part of this blog tour, I have been asked to highlight an indie author, so I chose myself! Therefore, I have included a synopsis of my two printed novels and a short, romantic interlude from each book. Please read to the end to find out how you can win a book!

First up, a synopsis and excerpt from A Beautiful Glittering Lie:

Synopsis:

In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America chooses to fight for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. In north Alabama, the majority favors remaining in the Union, but when the state secedes, many come to her defense. Such is the case with Hiram Summers, a farmer and father of three. He decides to enlist, and his son, David, also desires to go, but is instead obligated to stay behind.

Hiram travels to Virginia with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment. Although he doesn’t intentionally seek out adventure, he is quickly and inevitably thrust into combat. In the meantime, David searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Their escapade turns sour when they discover the true meaning of war, and after two years of service, Hiram sees enough tragedy to last a lifetime.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie addresses the naivety of a young country torn by irreparable conflict, a father who feels he must defend his home, and a young man who longs for adventure, regardless of the perilous cost.

Excerpt:

Unintentionally, he fell asleep. He awoke to find his room dark. Quickly rising, he went outside to feed the animals, but was informed by Rena that his chores had already been done, so he ambled back to his room, lit the oil lamp, and picked up his guitar. He sat upon his bed, gently strumming it. Already, he had managed to figure out five different chords, and could play his favorite, which was the “Bonnie Blue Flag.” For some reason, that song made him proud to be a Southerner, and for believing in the cause that his father was about to defend, even though the concept was rather vague to him. He knew a few other melodies, too: “Old Zip Coon,” “Aura Lea,” “Old Dan Tucker,” and his favorite, “Cindy.” When he had gone through his repertoire a few times, long enough for his fingertips to start hurting, he put the instrument back in the corner.

Deciding to go outside, he stepped onto the breezeway. Voices were speaking from just beyond the corner, so he moved up close enough to see around it. His mother and father were sitting side by side, their silhouettes illuminated by the pale moonlight.

“Now don’t forget to write to me every chance you git,” she was saying.

He snickered. “I won’t forget, honey.”

“And I expect you to attend services every Sunday.”

“I will.”

“I’ll send you packages every week.”

“That’ll be jist fine.”

They sat in the dark momentarily as the faint hoot of an owl punctuated the silence.

“I don’t want you to go,” she finally said, “even though I know it’s your duty to uphold.”

“Now, Caroline, darlin’, you know I’ll be fine.”

“Yes, I do. But I’ll still fret about you.”

He softly chuckled. “There’s no need for you to worry your purty lil head.”

She took his hand. “I’ll miss you, my dear,” she tenderly whispered.

There was another extended silence, and then Hiram responded in a low, passionate voice, “I’ll miss you, too. You know that, Caroline. My heart belongs to you, and it always will.”

David stepped back into the shadows to the sanctuary of his room. He quietly closed the door behind him. For some reason, he felt consumed with gloom, but pushed the feeling aside. His father was leaving in the morning for excitement, honor, and glory. He forced his heartache to turn into anticipation.

And now, a synopsis and excerpt from A Beckoning Hellfire:

Synopsis:

During the bloody American Civil War, the stark reality of death leads one young man on a course of revenge that takes him from his quiet farm in northern Alabama to the horrific battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

On Christmas Eve 1862, David Summers hears the dreaded news: his father has perished at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Reeling with grief and thoughts of vengeance, David enlists and sets off for Richmond to join the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

But once in the cavalry, David’s life changes drastically, and his dream of glamorous chivalry becomes nothing but a cold, cruel existence of pain and suffering. He is hurled into one battle after another, and his desire for revenge wanes when he experiences first-hand the catastrophes of war.

A haunting look at the human side of one of America’s most tragic conflicts, A Beckoning Hellfire speaks to the delusion of war’s idealism.

Excerpt:

“Oh, Jake, darlin’,” Calle crooned, turning her face to his, “please go in and fetch me my shawl.”

Jake mooned over her. “Of course, Callie,” he said.

His countenance was that of pure adoration, dripping with too much sweetness for David’s taste. He watched Jake’s performance with one eyebrow cocked, and for a moment, looked away so that they wouldn’t see him frown. It was obvious that Jake wouldn’t be enlisting with him after all.

“Oh, and I believe your mother wishes to speak with you,” Callie added over her shoulder as Jake opened the screen door and went inside. She turned back to face David. “I would like to have a word with you privately,” she informed him.

“Yes, miss,” he responded.

A strange, awkward pause ensued. She moved closer to him. He could feel his face flushing.

“Do you remember last summer, when we were at the fishin’ hole with Jake and your two sisters?” she turned her head slightly to look at him out of the corner of her eye.

He nodded. This was making him uncomfortable. Callie reached out and grabbed hold of his hand. He felt like she was cornering him.

“Do you recollect what happened after they all left, and it was jist you and me remainin’?”

“Yeah.”

Regardless of how badly he didn’t want to remember, he couldn’t help but think back to the event. Jake had volunteered to escort Rena and Josie home. David made fun of the way Callie’s hair looked, she splashed him, he splashed her back, and then she swam right up to him, clasped onto his head with her hands, and planted a big wet kiss straight on his mouth. He recalled how shocked he was, completely taken aback, this coming from the girl who was supposed to be Jake’s. He remembered protesting, telling her that he had to leave, that Jake loved her, and that Jake was the one she should be doing that to. But to his surprise, she laughed, amused by his bewildered embarrassment. She informed him that, if anything were to ever happen to Jake, he would be her next choice. Reliving the moment in his mind made him feel even more awkward now. He looked down at his feet.

“David, I want you to know that I love the both of you,” she said. She reached out and pulled his chin up, forcing him to look at her. “And you know that I intend to marry Jake. But if he decides to go off to war, and somethin’ should happen to him …”

“Callie Mae Copeland,” he interrupted, “don’t you be thinkin’ that way.”

Callie looked deeply into his eyes. David blinked. She drew closer.

“If anything should happen, promise me you will return to take his place.”

“I don’t reckon he’s fixin’ to go.”

“He ain’t made up his mind yet.” Her penetrating stare bore into him. “Promise me you’ll come back to claim me as your bride.”

He felt his resolve melting. “All right, I promise,” he reluctantly agreed, knowing that it was the only way to escape the confrontation.

As part of this blog hop, I am sponsoring a book giveaway. What I ask is that you answer the following questions and email them to me at jdrhawkins@gmail.com. The contest runs through February 21, after which I will announce the two winners on my blog. Good luck and Happy Valentine’s Day!

  1. Describe your perfect Civil War soul mate:
  1. What is their name?
  2. Where are they from?
  3. What is their occupation?
  4. What is their age/gender?
  5. What are some of your soul mate’s personality traits?
  6. Please specify if you would like a copy of A Beautiful Glittering Lie or A Beckoning Hellfire.

Thanks for participating! I can’t wait to read what you send me. Stay tuned – winners will be announced on February 22!

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