J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “soldier”

Cover Reveal For My New Book!

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

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

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

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Ole Miss Misses the Mark (Again)

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Another event took place last week involving the never ending assault against the Confederacy. Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) announced its marching band won’t play “Dixie” at football games this fall. This decision was made by the athletic department. In a statement, they said the song will be replaced by something “more inclusive for all fans.”

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What? How is “Dixie” non-inclusive? First of all, the song was written before the Civil War. Second, it was written by a Northerner. Third, it was President Lincoln’s favorite song. Fourth, there is nothing in the lyrics that implies racism, which is what all these idiots are now claiming everything Confederate is. Fifth, Ole Miss should be ashamed of doing away with its unique, wonderful heritage.

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The University Greys were students from the school who went to fight in honor of the South. None of them survived. Their bodies were returned, and they were buried on campus. This is a great dishonor and tragedy, because whoever is in charge at Ole Miss is seriously missing the point. Instead of misrepresenting the history of this school, they should be embracing it. They’ve already replaced Colonel Reb and renamed Confederate Avenue. And they refuse to fly the Mississippi state flag on campus: the same state that funds them. I guess getting rid of the Rebel name and the Confederate soldier statue will be next, because who knows who that might offend. If I was an alum of Ole Miss, I would be very offended by what is going on, and I wouldn’t hesitate to let them know. Cutting off funding might get through to them.

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Shame on you, Ole Miss. Shame on your leadership for misdirecting the school. And shame on you for discrediting your history and categorizing all your Southern heritage as racist.

https://socialismisnottheanswer.wordpress.com/tag/ole-miss-wont-play-dixie/

http://www.gopusa.com/ole-miss-to-stop-playing-dixie-at-football-games-this-fall/

My Interview with Vanessa Kings

Recently, I was interviewed by blogger Vanessa Kings about my novels and my writing style. The interview follows:

Our guest this week is J.D.R. Hawkins she is the author of  A Beautiful Glittering Lie  among other books.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.
I am an award winning author who has had several titles published. My latest book is A Beautiful Glittering Lie. It is the first book in the Renegade Series.

How did you come up with the title of “A Beautiful Glittering Lie”?
The title is based off a quote from a Confederate soldier who fought in the Civil War. He referred to battle as a “glittering lie.” I loved that reference, so I expanded on it.

What is your favorite character of “A Beautiful Glittering Lie”?
My favorite character is David Summers, the son of a Confederate infantryman. Although he is obligated to stay at home, his longing for adventure leads him into trouble.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
Primarily, I write historical fiction. It is fascinating to research history and see what ghosts, secrets, and little known facts I can discover.

How would you describe your writing style?
I think my books are fast paced, easy, exciting reads.

What authors inspire your writing? Do you have a mentor?
Other authors who have inspired me include Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Margaret Mitchell, J.K. Rowling and Charles Frazier. I don’t have a mentor.

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?
A musician and/or an artist. (I have music available on iTunes as Julie Hawkins)

What are you working on now?
My nonfiction book about the Civil War, Horses in Gray, will be published in a few months. I also have the third book in the Renegade Series coming out later this year.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never give up! Write every chance you get. Take classes, go to conferences and join a writing group. The more you immerse yourself in the craft, the better you will become.

If you have to choose only one book to keep, knowing the others would be destroyed, which one would you save?
The Holy Bible.

Thank you very much J.D.R. Hawkins for stopping by to answer our questions!

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150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville

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This weekend marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville. In commemoration, a reenactment of one of the last major battles of the Civil War took place near Four Oaks, North Carolina. The event also featured lectures, living history displays, sutlers’ tents, and soldier encampments. Thousands attended the event, which was expected to be the largest crowd to attend a Civil War reenactment in North Carolina.

The Battle of Bentonville took place near Four Oaks on March 19-21, 1865. Union General W.T. Sherman, on his rampage across the South, ripped through the state, dividing his army into two as it headed north from Fayetteville to Goldsboro. Confederate General Joseph Johnston tried to stop Sherman’s advance, but was unsuccessful when the two Union forces reunited. The battle led to Sherman’s ability to capture Raleigh on April 13.

Many spectators expressed their appreciation for the event, including Leon Dockery. “I’ve never been to a reenactment and I was curious about how that worked … I wanted (my children) to be exposed to more than what they may hear from me or read in a textbook,” he said.

The Fight to Reclaim America’s Battlefields

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150 years ago on November 30, 1864 — Union and Confederate soldiers fought their way across a Tennessee field in Franklin just as reenactors do today. But it was no spectator sport that day. A crippling defeat for the Confederacy; the Battle of Franklin came to be known as “Bloody Franklin.”

The casualties on both sides added up to almost 10,000. Nearly 1,500 of the Confederate dead are buried nearby in the McGavock Family Cemetery at Carnton Plantation.

“When you look today at the battlefield, what do you see? I see Targets and Hardee’s and businesses,” said bestselling author Robert Hicks. “We can over this next decade undo some of that.”

In 2005, if you stood in the cemetery and looked over the fence to where hundreds of the soldiers died, you saw a golf course.

“Hopefully, the day will come that it will be back to what it was,” said Hicks.

The golf course is a park now, and Franklin has become the poster child for something almost unheard of: a major victory in the war to reclaim Civil War battlefields.

“If we’d failed on the golf course, then we would never have gone on,” said Hicks.

“Parts of them disappear every day,” said James Lighthizer who heads the Civil War Trust, which raises money to save endangered properties. “We guesstimate at about 30-40 acres a day because of development, so it’s going pretty fast.”

Gettysburg, site of the bloodiest battle ever on American soil, became a National Military Park in 1895. But significant landmarks were left out, including Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Headquarters.Today, a motel stands next to Lee’s headquarters.

“It’s a sacrilege,” said Lighthizer. “I mean, it’s a destruction of a part of American history.”

For $120 a night, you can actually stay upstairs — that is, for a while longer. The Civil War Trust is raising $5.5 million to buy and restore the property and tear down the motel next door.

“When it comes to preserving land, it’s really all about money,” said Lighthizer. “There’s nothing else to it. Good intentions are just that — they get you nowhere.”

According to the Civil War Trust, 42 percent of the principal battlefields have been lost, or close to it —  casualties to development. The fights are not always black-and-white, and good guys against bad guys.

Last November, Franklin, Tennessee came one demolition closer to reclaiming another big piece of its battlefield. A decade ago, it had been written off as lost. But then Franklin had a change of heart – thanks in part to Robert Hicks and lawyer Julian Bibb.

“The battlefield, which had been looked at as forgotten or, ‘Gosh, it’s gonna be way too expensive to do what you all are trying to do,’ that took the convincing,” said Bibb. “And once that began to happen, it completely changed the support we were recognizing politically, locally and statewide.”

“This year we will probably have over 100,000 people come to Franklin [as] heritage tourists,” said Hicks.

The worst part of the fighting was around the site of the Carter House (now a museum) and a Pizza Hut when we first came to Franklin in 2005. Since then, It’s been “now you see it, now you don’t” — one property after another gone. Just like Dominoes, which will be going away in January. All to make way for a 20-acre park on the reclaimed land. The price tag: $14 million. So far, from private donations, the Civil War Trust, and the city, state and federal governments.

“This is hallowed ground” said Hicks. “I don’t know how to say it any other way. Something holy happened here.”

Who knew that people would still be fighting the Battle of Franklin today, 150 years after the fact? The front lines then . . . are the front lines now.

(Courtesy of General William Barksdale Camp 1220 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Columbus, Mississippi, January, 2015)

Haunted Lincoln

It is said that ghosts are the spirits of people who met traumatic, violent, untimely deaths. Abraham Lincoln, of course, is one, because he was murdered by John Wilkes Booth about a week after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to General Grant at Appomattox, and on Good Friday at that. Before his assassination, the president foresaw his own death in a dream, where he was wandering around the White House, and was told by a soldier that the president had been killed.

Since then, Lincoln’s ghost has been roaming the halls of the White House. Jenna Bush, one of President George W. Bush’s daughters, said that she had heard phantom opera music coming from the fireplace in her bedroom while she was living at the White House. In the same breath, she expressed her disappointment about never seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. It’s common knowledge that Lincoln’s spirit still resides within the Executive Mansion, as the White House was called during the Civil War. Several heads of state have witnessed the ghost of Lincoln, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, President Coolidge’s wife, Grace, President Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Maureen.

The president’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, said that her husband’s ghost often visited her. She became an avid believer in the supernatural and regularly attended seances, usually under an assumed name to disguise her identity. In one photograph, an eerie manifestation of Lincoln appears behind her. It could have been a photographer’s trick, but many other witnesses have seen his ghost as well.


Sightings of Lincoln’s ghost have occurred near his grave in Springfield, Illinois, and at his former home there. It has also been seen at the Loudon Cottage in Loudonville, New York, which belonged to one of the women who was sitting in the president’s box at Ford’s Theatre when he was shot. The President’s spectral funeral train has been observed on the anniversary of its journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, thundering through the darkness to its spooky destination.

Fortress Monroe, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was incarcerated for several years following his capture at the end of the war, is said to be haunted by Lincoln, as is Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot.

Haunted Battlefields

It seems that every battlefield, whether significant or minor, seems to inhabit its share of Civil War ghosts. Experts of the supernatural say that people who die sudden, unexpected, violent deaths are the ones whose souls get caught in limbo. Common occurrances are the sounds of gunfire, men yelling and marching, and ghostly apparitions of soldiers roaming around.

Gettysburg is the most famous haunted battlefield. It is believed that this is because it lies on a lei line (mineral deposits under the soil that criss-cross). These places attract apparitions because the electrical current caused by the lei lines coaxes spirits like moths to a flame. Voted “America’s Most Haunted,” Devil’s Den on the battlefield is so charged with energy from ghosts that people have difficulty taking pictures. The spirits drain the charge from their batteries within minutes. Besides the battlefield, numerous structures in town are also rumored to be haunted.

Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi has plenty of supernatural inhabitants as well. It is no wonder, since the citizens and Confederate army were under siege for weeks, forced to live in caves along the riverbank and eat vermin, dogs, etc. in order to survive. The town is filled with old abandoned buildings, but it is rumored that many are not completely empty. Spirits have been seen wandering the streets at night, along with frequenting local establishments, including old antebellum homes that have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts.

The Battle of Chickamauga was the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War (Gettysburg being the first). Besides sightings of the usual soldier-ghosts, an entity that has come to be known as “Old Green Eyes,” and over the years, has been sighted by thousands of people. The creature sounds like something straight of a Grimm fairytale. With a hairy body, fang-like teeth, and glowing green eyes, it walks upright on two legs and wears a cloak. Besides Old Green Eyes, a woman in a wedding dress roams the area, as does a creepy soldier who stares at visitors until they leave.

More Photos

As promised, here are more pictures from last weekend’s Civil War reenactment at Pipestone, Minnesota. I hope y’all enjoy them! 

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New Interview by J.D.R. Hawkins

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I’m honored to have been asked to give another interview to indieBRAG, which sponsors the B.R.A.G. Medallion award to a chosen number of indie published works. My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is the recipient of this prestigious award. The interview is re-posted below:

Interview Part II with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.D.R. Hawkins
July 14, 2014 by layeredpages

JDR Hawkins

Stephanie: I would like to welcome back J.D.R. Hawkins for a follow up interview about her B.R.A.G. Medallion book, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie.”. She is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, the Mississippi Writers Guild, Rocky Mountain Writers and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Her two previous novels, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, have received numerous honors and awards. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War, as well as a Young Adult historical fiction and a memoir. Learn more about J.D.R. here.

Hello, J.D.R.! Thank you for visiting with me again to talk about your B.R.A.G. Medallion book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Please bring readers up to speed about the premise of your story.

J.D.R.: The novel is the first in a four-book series, which I call “The Renegade Series.” It’s a saga about the Summers family from North Alabama, and what happens to them when the Civil War erupts.

Stephanie: I think it’s great that you have written a story about a Southern Soldier & a family rather than an officer or strictly about warfare tactics. I believe you bring readers closer to the events that took place during that time by doing so. What are a couple of this soldier’s struggles he faces during the Civil War?

J.D.R.: The first struggle that the father, Hiram Summers, faces is whether or not to support Alabama when the state secedes. The second is leaving his family once he decides to enlist. And from that point on, surviving every battle, from First Manassas to Fredericksburg, is a struggle.

Stephanie: In my last interview with you, you said that part of your research was travelling to various battlefields. What are the names of the battlefields you visited and what were some of the thoughts and emotions you experienced?

J.D.R.: My husband and I visited many Virginia battlefields, including Manassas (Bull Run), Sharpsburg (Antietam), Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. We also went to Brandy Station, where the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War took place. And, of course, we went to Gettysburg. That battlefield was the most profound. How those foot-weary soldiers fought over such rugged terrain amazes me. And seeing the National Cemetery, with all the unknown soldiers’ markers, as well as the mass graves of the Confederates, was overwhelming. So many gave their lives, and that was just in one battle.

Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story and what were some of the challenges?

J.D.R.: It took me about six months to research and six months to write, so a year overall. I think the biggest challenge was trying to make the battle scenes come to life from a soldier’s perspective. A Beautiful Glittering Lie is based on a journal by one of the soldiers who fought with the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. By referring to his observations and perceptions of the battles he participated in, it was easier to visualize what those men went through.

Stephanie: Did you learn anything new about the Civil War in your research you didn’t know before?

J.D.R: I discovered much about how Alabama was affected by the war. Hiram’s son, David, sees firsthand the devastation taking place when he sneaks into occupied Huntsville. Union soldiers were not always gentlemanly in their treatment of the locals, women, and especially, black people. The scenes described in the book, as well as the Union officers who were in Huntsville and the surrounding area, are based on fact.

Stephanie: What about this period of time in American history impacted you the most to write this story?

J.D.R.: I have always been fascinated with the Victorian era, and the Civil War in particular. The war was not completely about slavery, which is a popular belief. The causes were far more complex, but basically, the war was a result of economics and political greed. As is the case in many instances in American history, citizens become pawns to politicians’ schemes and disagreements.

Stephanie: Which character in your story are you most partial to and why?

J.D.R: I’d have to say that I’m most partial to David. At the beginning of the story, he is just a teenager. Instead of going to fight, which is what he wants to do, he stays behind to tend to the family’s farm, thus fulfilling his promise to his father. However, like any teenage boy, he is hungry for adventure, so he goes off to find it, but bites off more than he can chew.

Stephanie: Writing Historical fiction can be tricky with blending the right amount of fiction with fact. What advice would you give a new writer wanting to do so?

J.D.R.: My advice would be to immerse yourself in the period you want to write about. Read letters, journals, speeches, newspaper articles, and books written about and during that era to get a feel for what people experienced and how they expressed themselves. Study the fashions, the political undercurrent, fads, music, artwork, and photographs. I listened to Civil War music while I wrote to get myself in the right mindset. Know your facts inside and out, but don’t go overboard with description, because that can bore your readers. Instead, sprinkle tidbits throughout your book. Once you are completely familiar with the era you want to write about, develop your plot. Let your characters grow with the story. I ended up writing things that weren’t in the original outline because my characters seemed to take on personas of their own, especially in their dialogue. If possible, visit the places you are writing about to learn the terrain, the architecture, and regional dialects.

Stephanie: What is up next for you and will there be more stories that take place during this period?

J.D.R.: I plan on publishing the third book in “The Renegade Series.” (The second book, A Beckoning Hellfire, has been published.) I’m also working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War, a Young Adult novel, and a memoir.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

J.D.R.: I learned about it from Writer’s Digest magazine.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

J.D.R.: The book is available everywhere. It can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at all other book retailers. Readers can also purchase it through my website.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.D.R. Hawkins, who is the author of, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Privations, Suffering and Deliberate Cruelties

Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood of many of Lee’s men from insufficient and unsound food that a slight wound which would probably not have been reported at the beginning of the war would often cause blood-poison, gangrene, and death.

Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . it was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the wasted corn from under the feet of half-fed horses, and wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.”  General John B. Gordon, “Reminiscences of the Civil War.”

“Winter poured down its snows and its sleets upon Lee’s shelterless men in the trenches. Some of them burrowed into the earth.  Most of them shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these heroes.  Most of them were clad in mere rags.

Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One quarter of a pound of rancid bacon and a little meal was the daily portion assigned to each man by the rules of the War Department. But even this allowance failed when the railroads broke down and left the bacon and the flour and the mean piled up beside the track in Georgia and the Carolinas.  One-sixth of the daily ration was the allotment for a considerable time, and very often the supply of bacon failed entirely.

At the close of the year, Grant had one hundred and ten thousand men. Lee had sixty-six thousand on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty, leaving him barely forty thousand soldiers to defend the trenches that were then stretched out forty miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s Run.” Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E. Lee.”

“When their own soldiers were suffering such hardships as these in the field, the Confederate leaders made every effort to exchange men so that helpless prisoners of war would not suffer in anything like equal measure, offering even to send back prisoners without requiring an equivalent.  Hence, the charges brought against the Confederate government of intentional ill-treatment of prisoners of war are not supported by the facts.

[In  the South] the same quantity and quality of rations were given to prisoners and guards; but that variety in food could not be had or transported on the broken-down railway system of a non-manufacturing country, which system could not or did not provide sufficient clothes and food even for the Confederate soldiers in the field.

[The] control of the prisons in the North was turned over by Secretary Stanton and the vindictive and partisan men (who were later responsible also for the crimes of Reconstruction) to the lowest element of an alien population and to Negro guards of a criminal type, and such men as President Lincoln, Seward, McClellan, and the best people in the North were intentionally kept in ignorance of conditions in Northern prisons while officially furnished with stories as to “the deliberate cruelties” practiced in the South.”

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 399-406)

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