As an author, I subscribe to many publications and newsletters that pertain to the Civil War in order to conduct research for my books. I came across one article which I thought was distressing. It seems the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee offered a theology workshop to its clergy titled “Confronting Confederate Monuments: Preaching, Liturgy, and Leadership for Change.” I have to wonder just what was taught in this workshop, especially with a title like “confronting Confederate monuments.” Really? Since when is a Confederate monument confrontational? Anyway, the article went on to say that the workshop was for three days and two nights, and was designed to equip clergy with tools for confronting Confederate monuments in their churches and communities. The cost was only $150!
I find this appalling, to say the least. What are they teaching our kids, not to mention our pastors? Bizarre! Let me set the record straight – monuments are not racist, they do not represent or depict racism, and anyone who believes otherwise is, in my opinion, a racist. Monuments were erected all over the country after the war to honor heroes, and those who defended their homelands with their lives. It is written in our Constitution that any state has the right to secede, so Confederates were not traitors by any means, but patriots in their own right. I hate to say it, but I’m just waiting for the next wave of destruction to sweep across the nation in the form of monument desecration. I really hope that doesn’t happen.
J.D.R. Hawkins, acclaimed author of the Renegade Series, unveils another remarkable chapter, a masterpiece of historical fiction that captivates readers with its compelling narrative and profound exploration of the human spirit. Double-Edged Sword, released on April 18, 2022, has garnered widespread acclaim and solidified Hawkins’ reputation as a master storyteller.
Focusing on the enduring themes of courage, survival, and the consequences of war, Double-Edged Sword takes readers on a transformative journey through the post-Civil War era. Hawkins expertly weaves a tale that immerses readers in the complex aftermath of the conflict, capturing the essence of a nation grappling with the scars of its past.
From the opening pages, readers are drawn into the world of Confederate cavalryman David Summers, who returns to Alabama with his new wife, Anna. As they navigate the challenges of a society trying to rebuild, they soon discover that the wounds of war run deep. Hawkins skillfully portrays the emotional turmoil experienced by her characters, allowing readers to witness their struggles with empathy and understanding.
The Renegade Series has resonated with readers across the globe, and Double-Edged Sword is no exception. Hawkins’ ability to breathe life into her characters and transport readers to the heart of the Civil War era has earned her a devoted following. Her meticulous research and attention to historical detail further enhance the story’s authenticity, giving readers a captivating glimpse into the past.
The success of Double-Edged Sword can be attributed not only to its engaging storyline but also to Hawkins’ exceptional storytelling prowess. Her vivid descriptions, poignant dialogue, and richly developed characters leave an unforgettable impression on readers.
As the Renegade Series continues to unfold, readers are left with a profound sense of satisfaction and a renewed appreciation for the power of storytelling. Through the pages of Double-Edged Sword, J.D.R. Hawkins reminds us of the indomitable strength of the human spirit and the enduring quest for freedom and justice.
About J.D.R. Hawkins:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an acclaimed author known for her captivating novels on the Civil War era. With the Renegade Series, she has established herself as a master storyteller, blending historical accuracy with compelling narratives. Hawkins’ dedication to her craft has earned her a loyal readership and numerous accolades. Her ability to bring history to life through her characters and stories is a testament to her exceptional talent as an author.
I wanted to share an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. This book is an award winner and a bestseller. It is constantly getting rave reviews as well. In this scene, which takes place early in 1862, the protagonist, David Summers, and his best friend, Jake Kimball, set out for adventure, since they are missing out on the fighting.
Ormsby Mitchel’s Union army marched into undefended Huntsville early the following morning. Once David and Jake found out, they couldn’t wait to investigate. They finally found the opportunity to sneak off early one crisp spring morning a week later.
Devising a plan, they told their parents they were staying at each other’s homes for two nights, thus buying themselves extra time for their adventure. With Jake on Stella and David on Cotaco, they stealthily made their way up to Huntsville. Once they arrived at the outskirts of town the following day, they were awed by the spectacle that lay before them. Union soldiers were everywhere, like blue ants on a picnic, swarming about the city streets. No civilians were in sight. David and Jake tied their horses behind a shed half a mile out and headed into town. They slinked past sentries, cowered behind wagons, barrels, and buildings, and hid in the shadows, making their way toward the courthouse. As they crouched behind a cluster of budding shrubs in front of an enormous white Greek-revival house, peering out at a patrol of Yankees marching down the street, they muttered to each other in hushed tones.
“Lookee, there, Zeke,” Jake said, pointing his index finger. “That must be a general. See all them bars on his sleeve?”
“He ain’t a general,” replied David. “He looks too young. Maybe he’s a corporal.”
“Is that a rank jist below a general?”
“Reckon so. I dunno.”
The boys both jumped in astonishment. Whirling around, they saw a young woman, attired in a pastel-colored calico dress, standing in the doorway of a house. She reacted to their wide-eyed surprise by stifling a snicker.
“Come here, boys!”
Sweeping her arm toward herself, she motioned for them to approach, which they did with anxious enthusiasm by quickly bounding up the steps of the portico.
“Miss, how-do,” said Jake. Removing his slouch hat, he swept it across his body, taking a bow. “How may we be of service?”
“What are you two doin’ lurkin’ ’round my mother’s rosebushes?” she asked, thrusting her fists onto her hips in obvious irritation. “I wish you Yankees would jist—”
David and Jake threw glances at each other.
“We ain’t Yankees!” exclaimed Jake. “Whatever gave you that notion?”
She stared at them for a moment before her expression softened. “Oh, kind sirs, beggin’ your pardon, but all I’ve been seein’ this past week is Yankees. I thought y’all might be out of uniform.”
“No, miss,” David said kindly. “We came up to Huntsville because we heard the Yankees took over the town.”
“Well, in that case, please do come in.”
They followed her through the doorway, and once inside, David took in his surroundings. The receiving room opened up with high ceilings, and stained-glass windows occupied the upper echelon. A dark oak winding staircase, complete with an elaborate banister, spiraled upward. Overstuffed red velvet furniture filled the front room, and the floor was draped with oriental tapestries. On the walls were scenic paintings. Brass candlesticks, crystal chandeliers, and dried floral arrangements displayed under glass bell jars accented the décor. The room-length paned windows, framed by heavy burgundy velvet drapes, allowed bright light to beam in. He noticed a box piano in one corner and wondered if the elegant swan in female form standing before him ever graced its ivories.
“Have the Yankees caused y’all much trouble since they arrived?” he innocently inquired.
She nodded mournfully. “That they have.” Unexpectedly, she let out a little sob.
“Don’t cry, miss,” said Jake reassuringly. “I’m sure everything will be all right.”
She forced a smile. “Thank you … Oh, please do forgive my inhospitality. My name is Emily Levinsworth.”
She held out her slender hand, so Jake graciously took it, and kissed the back of it while she watched his movements.
He released her. “I’m Jake Kimball, and this here’s David Summers.”
Taking his cue, David kissed her hand as well.
“We came up to see what y’all have had to tolerate,” Jake explained.
“Please, come on into the kitchen. I’ll fix y’all some sweet tea and tell y’all about it,” she said in invitation.
They cordially followed her. Once David entered the kitchen, she requested he take a seat at the long cherry table with his friend. Emily busied herself momentarily before carrying over a tray with a pitcher and three glasses. She set them on the table, filled each glass, and distributed them.
Taking a sip, Jake complimented her in gentlemanly fashion and asked, “When did the Yankees arrive? We heard it was last Friday.”
“Those beastly men!” Emily’s face turned red with frustration. “They are everywhere! The dreadful brutes even trampled down some of my mother’s rosebushes, but I chased them off with a broom.”
Jake chuckled, but seeing her annoyed glare, he quickly ceased.
“They got here at first light on the mornin’ of the eleventh,” she said forlornly. “It was a surprise to us all.”
David frowned. He had been warned of the impending danger. Why hadn’t the civilians of Huntsville?
“It all started with their takin’ the trains over at the depot,” she explained. “One train got away, but they wounded the poor nigger fireman. We were soon isolated, because the telegraph lines were cut. There were about a hundred and fifty wounded men on one train who had been at the battle at Pittsburg Landin’, and the Yankees took them all prisoner. Can you imagine? Those poor boys already sufferin’, and along come the Federals to keep them from their medicines.”
“That’s horrific,” said Jake dramatically. “How dare they!”
“The poor souls couldn’t even defend themselves. Well, you can imagine how mortified they were!”
“Yes, miss. We surely can,” David agreed.
“They were kept in the depot for over a week, until those heathens finally decided to send them off to Yankee-land, to wither away in some Godforsaken prison.”
“That’s right awful,” David sympathetically remarked.
Emily shook her head in disgust. “Those horrid rascals played ‘Yankee Doodle’ when they came into town.” She angrily scowled. “They marched right past our house in all their mud-splattered glory, and ended up yonder at Court House Square. Some of them even had the audacity to gloat about our capture!”
“Shameful!” exclaimed Jake. He flashed a glance at David, who raised an eyebrow.
“And then they took down our beloved flag, and hoisted up those atrocious stars and stripes.” Emily shook her head in abhorrence. “I only hope the good Lord in Heaven will spare us any more afflictions.”
“Why don’t you jist leave?” asked David.
“My father wouldn’t hear of it!” she exclaimed. “Some of the more prominent citizens in town ran off. But we want to stay and try to protect that which is ours.”
Suddenly there came an abrupt knock at the front door. “Is anyone in there?” a brusque male voice inquired. “Open up immediately!”
Emily’s eyes flew wide with panic. “They’ve come to steal us blind!” she cried. Hurriedly, she gathered her family’s silverware box from a lower drawer of the dining room sideboard and thrust it into Jake’s hands. “Please, Mr. Kimball. Keep this safe from those despicable men!” She motioned toward the back door and scurried off to answer the front.
David and Jake glared at each other. Having no other plan of recourse, they exited out the kitchen door to the back alley, with Jake concealing the awkward bundle inside his coat. They made their way to their waiting mounts and galloped away from the infested town. After traveling a fair distance, they crossed the Tennessee River and continued south for about a mile. Selecting a group of sweetgum trees, recognizable by their star-shaped leaves, the boys dismounted, stepped off thirty paces east from where the trees were clustered, and buried the silverware box. Nightfall was upon them, so they made makeshift beds from horse blankets on the hard, cold ground, dozed for a few hours, and rode back home, exhilarated by their escapade.
My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, has received another five-star review on Goodreads. This book is the first one in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Rachel, for your awesome review!
This book is a very well written novel set during the Civil War, apparently the first of a series. Hawkins does a wonderful job telling the story from the Confederate side, and creating characters that the reader will care about. There is so much Civil War history included that anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction would benefit from picking up this story. I was impressed with the southern drawl that most of the characters had and how it was consistent throughout the entire book.
JDR Hawkins brings us a really interesting and human look at the Reconstruction era with Double-Edged Sword! With the end of the Civil War, ex Confederate David Summers returns to a war torn home and begins to attempt to pick up the pieces. But when a confrontation erupts with an old enemy, David is forced to stand trial. Hawkins always brings the past to life so vividly and seamlessly, and seeing Reconstruction through David and his family’s eyes was very deep and intriguing! I especially found the court case and the arguments around fairness in a postwar Union to be particularly fascinating, and I honestly had to keep flipping forward to figure out what would become of David! If you love historic fiction, the Civil War era, or even court dramas, definitely dive back into the deep South with Double-Edged Sword!
I recently received another flattering review from a person going by the name Cat Power on Goodreads. This review is in reference to my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Cat Power, for your review!
Whilst this isn’t one of my usual genres I received a complimentary copy from the author via Voracious Readers. I’d never thought about the people caught up in the American Civil war as people much like us simply trying to carry on with their lives. They’re usually portrayed as staunch slavers. This book gives a clearer insight and shows ordinary people caught in a fight that’s really not their own. I enjoyed getting to know the boys and seeing them grow up a little. Is an excellent read.
General Robert E. Lee has long been a part of Virginia’s history. After the War Between the States, he accepted a position as president of Washington College, which was later named Washington and Lee University in his honor. The general is buried in the chapel on campus, even though the Confederate flags around his chamber have been removed.
General Lee’s beloved horse, Traveller, is buried just outside the chapel. Up until last week, there was a marker denoting Traveller’s gravesite, but the marker has been removed. The plaque had been a part of the university’s fabric since 1930, when it was decided that Traveller’s remains required a proper burial. Prior to that, the skeleton was on display, and students etched their initials into the bones for good luck. It has been a longstanding tradition for students and faculty to leave treats on Traveller’s gravesite.
But now, the plaque is gone, as well as two other plaques on campus referring to General Lee. University officials didn’t bother to make any prior announcements about the desecration. Lynn Rainville, the Director of Institutional History and Museums, is the person directly responsible for the removal of Traveller’s plaque. Contact her at the following address, and let her know this is not okay. She should not be the one deciding the fate of our history.
Washington and Lee University
Attention: Lynn Rainville
204 W. Washington Street
Lexington, Virginia 24450
Here is an excerpt from my book, Horses in Gray, which describes the beautiful horse, Traveller.
Behold that horse! A dappled gray!
I saw him in the month of May,
When wild flowers bloomed about his feet,
And sunshine was his mantle meet.
Of all the horses to serve in the War Between the States, the most famous is Traveller. The magnificent steed and his owner, General Robert E. Lee have become synonymous in history. Although Traveller was not the only horse Lee owned, he was certainly the general’s favorite. The two were constant companions.
… Traveller has also been immortalized in verse, such as in the following by Stephen Vincent Benet:
And now at last, comes Traveller and his master. Look at them well. The horse is an iron-grey, sixteen hands high, Short back, deep chest, strong haunch, flat legs, small head, Delicate ear, quick eye, black mane and tail, Wise brain, obedient mouth. Such horses are the jewels of the horseman’s hands and thighs, They go by the word and hardly need the rein. They bred such horses in Virginia then, Horses that were remembered after death And buried not so far from Christian ground That if their sleeping riders should arise They could not witch them from the earth again And ride a printless course along the grass With the old manage and light ease of hand.
… Before his death, General Lee was approached by his wife’s cousin, Martha “Markie” Williams, who desired to paint a portrait of Traveller. In response, the general dictated a description to his daughter, Agnes: “If I were an artist like you, I would draw a true picture of Traveller . . . Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat, cold, and the dangers and suffering through which he passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts, through the long night marches and days of battle through which he has passed.
“But I am no artist. I can only say he is a Confederate gray. I purchased him in the mountains of Virginia in the autumn of 1861, and he has been my patient follower ever since—to Georgia, the Carolinas, and back to Virginia. He carried me through the Seven Days battle around Richmond, the second Manassas, at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, the last day at Chancellorsville, to Pennsylvania, at Gettysburg, and back to the Rappahannock.
“From the commencement of the campaign in 1864 at Orange till its close around Petersburg, the saddle was scarcely off his back, as he passed through the fire of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and across the James River. He was almost in daily requisition in the winter of 1864-65 on the long line of defenses from the Chickahominy, north of Richmond, to Hatcher’s Run, south of the Appomattox. In the campaign of 1865, he bore me from Petersburg to the final days at Appomattox Court House.
“You must know the comfort he is to me in my present retirement. He is well supplied with equipments. Two sets have been sent to him from England, one from the ladies of Baltimore, and one was made for him in Richmond; but I think his favorite is the American saddle from St. Louis.
“Of all his companions in toil, Richmond, Brown Roan, Ajax, and quiet Lucy Long, he is the only one that retained his vigor. The first two expired under their onerous burden, and the last two failed.
“You can, I am sure, from what I have said, paint his portrait.”
I recently received this five-star review from another super fan! This one is for my novel, Double-Edged Sword, which is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Greg Seeley, for your awesome review!
In Double-Edged Sword, J.D.R. Hawkins continues the love story of David Summers and his bride Anna (A Rebel Among Us) as the Civil War ends and the awkward period of Reconstruction begins. The story takes the couple back to David’s home state of Alabama where the harsh terms of Reconstruction come to odds with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, catching between them the youthful couple and David’s family who wish nothing more than to simply go on with their lives. The conditions depicted in Double-Edged Sword are not pretty but are vividly brought to life in this well-researched, well-written novel. Every page leaves the reader wanting more and the following pages certainly deliver. When the couple leave the world of scalawags and carpetbaggers and travel north to Anna’s home state of Pennsylvania, they encounter a whole new set of problems that threaten to throw an already shaky marriage onto the rocks. The bitterness of war continues as Northerners obsess over the near-breakup of the Republic and those whom they hold responsible. For any true fan of historical fiction and, particularly this divisive period in American history, Double -Edged Sword is not to be missed. Read it now. You’ll be glad you did and it will leave you clamoring for David and Anna’s next adventure. I give a solid five stars.
Last Friday, I was honored with a writeup in the LA Weekly about my books in the Renegade Series. These books include A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, A Rebel Among Us, and Double-Edged Sword. Thank you so much, LA Weekly, for featuring my books in your publication!
The Renegade Series: A Family’s Tale of Courage and Survival Amidst the Civil War
Within the tumultuous pages of history, the American Civil War stands as a defining chapter, resonating with tales of bravery, sacrifice, and resilience. Amidst the chaos and devastation, one remarkable literary series emerges, offering readers a poignant glimpse into the lives of the Summers family from north Alabama. J.D.R. Hawkins’ Renegade Series transports us to a bygone era, where the boundaries of courage and survival are tested in the crucible of war. Embark on a captivating journey through the pages of this remarkable saga, where love and determination intertwine amidst the ravages of the Civil War.
The Unforgettable Characters
At the heart of the Renegade Series lies a cast of unforgettable characters, each grappling with the harsh realities of a world torn asunder. In the first installment, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie,” readers are introduced to Hiram Summers, a farmer and father of three, who makes the fateful decision to enlist in the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment. As Hiram departs for Virginia, his son David, filled with youthful curiosity, seeks adventure at home in Huntsville, Alabama, alongside his best friend, Jake Kimball. Meanwhile, Caroline, Hiram’s wife and David’s mother, holds their family together on the home front, finding solace in the letters she receives from her husband. Through their interconnected experiences, J.D.R. Hawkins paints a vivid picture of a family divided by the Civil War, each member facing trials and sacrifices.
The Struggles and Triumphs
“A Beautiful Glittering Lie” delves deep into the naivety of a young nation as the brutal realities of war test it. Hiram and David Summers, separated by duty, embark on separate paths that will forever alter their lives. Hiram, thrust into the chaos of combat, discovers the cost of defending his home and the required sacrifices. Meanwhile, David, driven by a longing for adventure, confronts the invading Yankees in Huntsville, unaware of the dangers ahead. Caroline is the backbone of the Summers family, who demonstrates unwavering strength and resilience as she keeps their home and farm intact, her world revolving around the cherished letters from her husband. Through the struggles and triumphs of the Summers family, the Renegade Series immerses readers in the profound challenges ordinary individuals face in the vortex of war.
The Latest Chapter: “Double-Edged Sword“
In the gripping fourth installment of the Renegade Series, “Double-Edged Sword,” J.D.R. Hawkins continues the captivating narrative, diving deep into the post-Civil War era. Confederate cavalryman David Summers, accompanied by his new wife, Anna, returns to Alabama, only to find a land scarred by the ravages of war and a society struggling to heal its wounds. As David navigates the challenges of transitioning from soldier to civilian, he soon discovers that the battles of the past still haunt him. In this highly anticipated chapter, Hawkins explores the complexities of redemption, justice, and the enduring consequences of war. David’s path crosses with his old adversary, Stephen Montgomery, and their deep-rooted animosity ignites a powder keg of emotions. As their conflict escalates, David faces arrest and a trial that holds his future in the balance. The question looms: Will the jury believe his side of the story, or will his Confederate past overshadow any chance of justice?
Impact and Enduring Legacy
The John Esten Cooke Fiction Award-winning Renegade Series goes beyond mere entertainment; it offers a unique perspective on the Civil War, shedding light on the untold stories of ordinary individuals thrust into extraordinary circumstances. By highlighting the struggles and triumphs of the Summers family, J.D.R. Hawkins reminds us of the human cost of war, urging us to reflect on the consequences of our actions and the lessons history has to teach. Through meticulous research and immersive storytelling, Hawkins presents a narrative that captures the imagination and fosters empathy. The Renegade Series stands as a testament to the power of literature to bridge the gap between past and present and to uncover the untold tales that shape our collective understanding of history.
As readers turn the pages of the Renegade Series, they embark on an emotional journey through the lives of the Summers family, witnessing their unwavering courage and tenacity in the face of unimaginable adversity. J.D.R. Hawkins’ captivating storytelling invites us to reflect on the enduring impact of the Civil War and the unconquerable spirit of those who lived through it. Immerse yourself in the Renegade Series and experience the triumphs and tragedies of a family’s struggle for survival amidst one of America’s darkest chapters. Let J.D.R. Hawkins’ words transport you to a world where love and determination conquer the ravages of war, reminding us that the human spirit is capable of astonishing resilience even in the face of overwhelming odds.
It seems I have a superfan in another author named Grady. He has taken the time to review several of my books and has given them all five-star reviews. Here is a review he wrote recently for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Grady, for flattering me with all your five-star reviews! Grady
Author 52 books1,872 followers
Superb Historical Fiction
Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards; the initial volume is this exceptional book – A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE. This series, now four books in number, relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. At this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. For a more complete picture of that historical event, Hawkins has created a fictional revisit to that mid 1800s time and her writing is inviting, from the first lines: “Oh, look! Here ne comes!” Jenny exclaimed. The crowd exploded with cheers. David looked over to where she was pointing, his hazel eyes squinting in the bright sunshine. An elegant black lacquered carriage drawn by six white horses pulled up to the steps of the regal Greek revival-style state building. Eight musicians burst into “Dixie’s Land.” A slender, steely middle-aged gentleman stepped out of the carriage and was escorted by military personnel to a waiting platform, where he took his seat. “He looks sickly to me,” remarked David’s father, Hiram…’ Approaching her novel from the family standpoint allows everyone entry to better understand the Confederate vantage.
With that sense of presence, the plot progresses as follows: ‘In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America fights for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. Rebel forces have already seized Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, a new Confederate president has been elected, and the Constitution has been revised. In north Alabama, a farmer and father of three decides to enlist. For Hiram Summers, it is the end of everything he has ever known. After Hiram travels to Virginia with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment, he is quickly thrust into combat. His son, David, who must stay behind, searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Meanwhile, Caroline – Hiram’s wife and David’s mother – struggles to keep up with the farm as her world revolves around the letters she receives from her husband, whom she misses dearly. As Hiram and his son discover the true meaning of war, they soon realize that their choices have torn their family apart. The naïveté of a young country is tested, a father sacrifices everything to defend his home, and a young man longs for adventure – regardless of the perilous cost.’
This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars.