J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Walt Whitman”

Miss Alcott and the Rest (Who Inspired Us)


According to Google, today would have been Louisa May Alcott’s 184th birthday (check out the cute picture). For those of you who don’t know who she was, Louisa May Alcott served as a nurse in a Union hospital in Georgetown during the Civil War for several weeks in 1862-1863. Her experiences inspired her to write “Hospital Sketches,” which was published in 1863. Later on, she would write the classic Little Women (1868), which took place during the Civil War. The story revolved around the lives of four sisters after their father left to serve in the Union Army, and was based on Louisa’s childhood.


Other than Louisa May Alcott, the Civil War era produced many other great writers, including Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Of course, the war produced numerous war heroes, but it also effected the population so profoundly that many authors, artists, musicians, medics, and thespians would go on to relive the war through their creations.


(Clara Barton)

It’s easy to forget today how such a terrible war impacted the lives of our ancestors. Kids who grew up during the war went on to recreate what their father’s had told them about their experiences. Early movies and television depicted the war, including famous vaudevillian acts. Shirley Temple, the Three Stooges, and John Wayne all recreated the Civil War in their movies. One of my favorite songs, “I’m a Good Ole Rebel,” was written after the war, and expressed the angst felt by a Southerner who refused to be reconstructed.


The list goes on and on. Share your favorite Civil War celebrity or creation that was a product of the Civil War. Let’s see how many we can come up with!

“Hospital Sketches” is mentioned in my new novel, A Rebel Among Us.






Civil War Rediscovered

For over one hundred a fifty years, a long standing mystery appearing in a poem written by Walt Whitman remained unsolved … until now. The meteor in question, mentioned in Whitman’s famed “Leaves of Grass,” and referred to as “a strange huge meteor-procession,” really did occur. It was discovered that a painting by Frederic Church shows the meteor streaking through the sky. The meteor appeared in 1860, which coincides with Whitman’s publication. Period newspapers verified the event, which was visible from the Great Lakes to New York, but by the mid-twentieth century, the event was forgotten. The meteor actually split into multiple fireballs upon impacting the atmosphere. Earth-grazing meteor processions are so rare that few people have ever heard of them. There were also documented processions in 1783 and 1913.

Another artistic find recently discovered is a photograph believed to have been taken by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. The photo portrays two young African-American children dressed in raggedy clothing, barefoot, and sitting on an upright barrel. The two boys are thought to be slaves. It was discovered at a moving sale in Charlotte, North Carolina in April, accompanied by a document stating that “John” sold for $1,150 in 1854. The photograph is believed to have been taken around 1860. 

I find it extremely fascinating that old relics, photos, and historical artifacts keep resurfacing. Lost long ago, these connections to the past are an essential part of our American experience, thus making us who we are today. I hope these newly-discovered items are never again buried and forgotten.

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