J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “War Between the States”

Happy Holidays!

I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season! Please keep in mind all of our military personnel who are overseas and missing their families this Christmas. One of my favorite songs is “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which was written by a soldier during WWII. Listening to it makes me cry every time!

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for some, as the following excerpt demonstrates. Losing a loved one during this time of year is especially painful, and sometimes lonely. I think the first Christmas after a loved one passes away is the hardest. I know from experience, since I just lost my mom last year.

The following excerpt is the opening chapter from my book, A Beckoning Hellfire. It takes place on Christmas Eve, 1862. What should be a joyous time has turned into tragedy. While we celebrate the birth of our Lord, let’s also keep in mind the hardships that many have experienced during Christmas.

But what a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world¼My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, December 25, 1862

Chapter One

“Here it is! Come quick!”

David sauntered across the dead grass toward his little sister. Amused by the way she was jumping up and down like a nervous flea, he couldn’t help but grin. Obviously, she was too excited to care that her petticoats were showing from under the brown coat and green calico dress she wore, or that her long auburn hair had broken free from its bondage as her bonnet slid from her head and dangled down her back.

“Which one, Josie?” he asked, stifling a snicker.

She planted her feet and pointed to a small yellow pine near a cluster of sweet gum and ash trees. “Right here!” she exclaimed.

Glancing down at the sapling, he gave her a crooked smile. “Well, that’s a mighty fine tree, but ain’t it kinda scrawny?” He estimated the pine to be three feet tall at most.

Josie frowned at her older brother, who had one eyebrow cocked from under his slouch hat. His hands were tucked into his brown trousers, and his linen shirt hung loosely on his tall, lanky frame. “No,” she said, “ it’s jist right. We’ll string some corn on it, hang some nuts and berries on it, and it’ll look right smart in the corner of the front room.”

With a shrug, he said, “All right. If you reckon this is the one.”

She nodded, her bright blue eyes reflecting her elation.

David relished the moment, for he knew Christmas was her favorite holiday. He had only heightened her anticipation on the way out to the woodlot by reminding her what would happen that evening, how Santa would be stopping by later when she was sound asleep. Of course, he had no explanation as to how eight tiny reindeer could pull a sleigh all the way to Alabama. Josie promptly informed him that she wasn’t a child any longer. She was all of thirteen, and didn’t believe in those farfetched stories anymore, but he knew better. She would be lying in her bed tonight, listening and waiting.

“Well, go on now, cut it down!” Josie insisted.

He put his thumb and forefinger to his lips and gave a high, shrill whistle. Noticing how the gray sky was growing darker, he looked over at the edge of the clearing where they stood and saw the underbrush rustle. Suddenly, two hound dogs bounded out of the trees, followed by a gangly young stallion.

“Come on, Renegade. Over here,” he called out to the colt, who responded by cantering to him.

Josie giggled at the sight. “Your dumb horse thinks he’s a dog!”

“He ain’t dumb. I’ll wager he’s a lick smarter than you are, li’l sister,” David teased.

The horse blew and stomped his front hoof.

“Why, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. And not only is he dumb, he looks right silly, too. He can’t decide if he should be spotted or palomino!”

David observed his horse for a moment. Renegade’s face was piebald. His dark chestnut coat was highlighted with white spots and patches concentrating on his underbelly, and his mane and tail were light flaxen. He had white socks up to his knees. His unusual eyes were brownish green. David remembered how he had heard that a horse with strange-colored eyes like Renegade’s was considered sacred and chosen by the Cherokee Indians. Several people had noticed the strange coincidence, and his other sister, Rena, also frequently commented that he and his horse had the same colored eyes.

“I reckon he knows what he is,” David remarked. “Besides, he’s unusual, and that makes him unique.”

“Oh, he’s unique all right,” Josie said, giggling again. She pulled her hair back from her face and replaced her bonnet.

David untied a saw from a leather strap attached to Renegade’s saddle. He knelt down, quickly sawed through the little tree’s trunk, picked it up, and tied it across the saddle’s seat. His two black and tan dogs sniffed around the tree’s sawed off stump. Suddenly, they both lifted their noses into the air with their ears pricked. They bolted across the open clearing, baying at an unseen curiosity as they disappeared into the woods.

“Caleb! Si!” David hollered after the two hounds. “Well, there they go,” he observed wryly. “All right, Renegade, take it on home.” He patted his horse on the shoulder.

Renegade nickered softly, shook his head, and trotted off in the same direction as the two hounds.

Josie gasped. “Look, David! It’s startin’ to snow!” She tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue, trying to catch snowflakes on it.

He chuckled.

“Come on, you do it, too,” she coaxed him.

He obliged his little sister by imitating her.

Josie laughed, spinning around with her arms extended while snow fell silently down around them.

“Oh!” David clasped his hand to his face. “One fell in my eye!”

Josie giggled.

He couldn’t help but smile, although he was careful not to let her see, and snorted to cover up his delight. “Well, I’m right glad you think it’s so funny.” He looked at her, trying to keep a straight face. “Come on, Josie girl. We’d best be gittin’ on back.”

He allowed her to go ahead of him as they started on the bridle path that cut through the woods.

“Let’s sing Christmas carols!” she said. “That new one we heard last year. Jingle Bells!”

“You start,” he prompted.

“Dashin’ through the snow…”

He joined in. Their voices grew stronger in unison.

“In a one-horse open sleigh…”

They came to an empty field, and trudged through, stepping over mud puddles while they continued singing.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”

Their house stood quaintly at the far end of the field. Smoke circled from its two chimneys, dissolving into the gray sky. The sweet smell of burning hickory reached out, inviting them closer. From a distance, the structure appeared to be two separate cabins sitting side by side, but upon closer observation, one could see that they were connected by a covered breezeway. Each section contained two rooms and a fireplace. A wide flat porch on the front of the split log building served as an entryway. The tin roof, which seemed to expel heat in the summertime, also managed to repel snow during winter months.

The cold, damp air encroached upon brother and sister. As they sang, their breath escaped, floated out across the fields, and vanished in phantom gusts.

“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!”

On the last note, Josie’s voice jumped an octave. They laughed at their grand finale and walked around to the front of the house, where Renegade was waiting patiently for the tree to be removed from his saddle. A buckskin horse stood beside him.

“Whose horse is that?” Josie asked.

“It looks like Bud Samuels’ horse.”

David and Josie looked at each other, wide-eyed. “Pa!” they both exclaimed.

Josie sprang onto the porch, burst through the front door, and went inside while David untied the small yellow pine. He set it aside, pulled the saddle from Renegade’s back, and removed his bridle.

“Go on into the barn, Renie,” he said. “Or you’ll be one big ole snowball in a minute.”

The colt blew and trotted around the side of the house.

David carried his tack into the breezeway. He placed it on a horizontal board, which was supported by a plank on each end. Collecting the tree, he heard the sound of Bud’s voice coming from inside.

“I had some trouble gettin’ here,” Bud was saying as he entered. “But I convinced the Home Guard to follow me home so’s I could show them my furlough paper.”

David produced the tiny tree. “I know it’s small,” he said with a grin, “but Josie insisted, and…” The sight that befell him inexplicably filled him with dread. His smile faded. He looked around at the faces before him and let the tree fall onto the wooden floor. Warmth from the fireplace did nothing to relieve the chill that grasped him. “What is it?” he asked.

“Come in, darlin’, and close the door,” his mother said from her high-backed chair, which sat near the empty corner they had readied for the Christmas tree. Her brown skirt encircled her like a puddle. Her dark brown hair, streaked recently with gray, was parted in the middle and contained in a white cotton hair net. She clenched her hands in her lap, and her lips were pursed. The flickering firelight accentuated the grooves on her face, which, for some reason, David had never noticed before. After closing the door behind him, he looked at Rena, who was sitting beside the hearth. She vacantly stared back, her violet eyes welling up with tears.

“Rena?” he asked her.

She looked away and hugged Josie, who had taken the chair beside her.

David walked across the room to their neighbor, Bud.

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Samuels,” he said, shaking the man’s hand. “How’s Pa? Is he comin’ home for Christmas, like he wrote?”

“Have a seat, David.” Bud’s eyes filled with concern. He scratched his straggly, graying beard.

Obeying the command, David slowly sank into a chair, keeping his eyes fixed on Bud’s face.

“I’m afraid I have bad news.” Bud cleared his throat, then slowly, deliberately said, “Your father’s been killed at Fredericksburg.” He looked down at the floor. “A little over a week ago. I know he was lookin’ forward to seein’ y’all. I’m…immensely sorry.”

He pulled a folded piece of yellowed paper from his coat pocket. The gray coat was torn and tattered in places, not at all like the beautiful piece of clothing that had been provided to him nearly two years earlier. His trousers and the kepi he held in his hand were weathered, too.

“Miss Carolyn, Hiram wanted me to give you this here letter…in the event of his death.” He solemnly handed her the note.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Carolyn held it to her mouth. Tears streamed down her weathered face. “Thank you, Bud,” she finally said. “You’ve been a good friend to my Hiram. I know he appreciated you dearly.”

Bud nodded. “Please let the missus or me know if there’s anything we can do,” he offered, and walked toward the door.

“I surely will.” Carolyn wearily stood, followed him to the door, and walked him out.

Bud placed his kepi on his head, untied his horse, mounted, and galloped off down the lane. The rhythm of hoof beats faded.

Turning from the doorway, Carolyn somberly gazed at her children. Her two daughters came across the room to hug her. The three of them burst into tears. Carolyn gazed at her son, who was sitting motionless across the room, his handsome young face drained of color, his hazel eyes growing a darker brown.

“David,” she said, her voice filled with the sorrow that had now overtaken the room.

He looked over at her, his face blank with grief-stricken shock.  Finding no comfort in her anguished expression, he glanced up at the ornately-carved mantle clock, the one his father had given to her as a wedding gift. It read ten minutes past five. Beside it sat a framed tintype of his father, adorned in Confederate glory, ready to march off to victory, but now he was never to return. David’s eyes wandered, and he noticed things he’d taken for granted before: the raised oval portrait of his paternal grandmother on the wall, the paintings of flowers his mother liked so well that hung on the opposite wall, the fieldstone fireplace that his father had built, and the pine furniture that had been there ever since he could remember. Somehow, all of it seemed irrelevant.

Moving numbly, he rose and walked across the room to pick up the little tree he had dropped earlier. A tiny pool of water remained where it had fallen. He carried the tree outside, leaving a trail of moisture that splattered onto the floorboards. The cold winter air, uncluttered with snow, barely whispered, its breath deathly quiet and still. Dusk was rapidly approaching.

David hurled the tree as hard as he could. It landed with a rustled thud out in the yard. Without pausing, he walked into the breezeway past his mother and sisters and grabbed a kerosene lantern. He carried it outside, lit it, and threw it at the pine. The glass shattered upon impact. Kerosene trickled out onto the tiny branches and within seconds, flames engulfed the little tree. He stoically watched tongues of fire consume the sapling. Slowly, he turned to face his mother and sisters, who were standing on the porch, watching him while they wept.

“I reckon we won’t be celebratin’ Christmas after all,” he said, his voice raspy with distress.

Impending darkness engulfed his heart. Feeling the need for solitude, he walked around the house toward the barn, vaguely hearing his mother call out to him. The sky opened, releasing icy rain. He stomped past the pigpen and the chicken coop. Upon reaching the old wooden barn, he went inside and blinked several times before his eyes adjusted to his dim surroundings. He caught glimpses of shadows dancing off the walls and up around the rafters. A pungent combination of dry, clean hay and musty wood enveloped him. The rain rattled down upon the barn’s tin roof and sounded like a thousand tiny drums. Three cows studied him with soft brown eyes. One mooed a welcome as he walked past them.

Sidestepping bales of hay stacked near the stall door, David paused to shake off cold drops of moisture that clung to his shirt and ran his hand over the top of his head, wiping the rain from his dark brown hair. A large Percheron, standing in the stall next to Renegade, gazed at David with his ears pricked.

“Hey, Joe Boy,” David said softly to the tall white gelding.

The draft horse sniffled at David’s pockets but seemed to lose interest and shuffled to the other end of his stall when David didn’t offer a treat like he usually did. Renegade looked up from his fodder and nickered softly. David walked over and gently stroked his muzzle. “I’m sorry I put you through all that trouble of bringin’ home a tree.” Anguish and anger welled up inside him. Searing-hot tears streamed down his cheeks. His hatred seethed. His grief was overwhelming, and he could hold it back no longer. Sobs escaped him. He grasped onto his horse’s mane, burying his face in Renegade’s neck. The colt stood quietly, seemingly to console him.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-Renegade-ebook/dp/B09C2HXBZL/?encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=S5Coj&pf_rd_p=29505bbf-38bd-47ef-8224-a5dd0cda2bae&pf_rd_r=CE2AMZTMFTYM2Y392VS5&pd_rd_r=d7da3536-eeb5-4d0c-8d3e-525f97a5f395&pd_rd_wg=XFA9u&ref=pd_gw_ci_mcx_mr_hp_atf_m

Amazing Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I just received a very flattering, five-star review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Mr. Todd Price, for your amazing review!

R. T. Price

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Shows the Civil War from the perspective of one family on the Confederate side.

Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2021

Wow. I loved this story from the beginning. It sucks you in almost immediately. Told from the Confederate perspective, it really puts a personal spin on the war from the POV of one family and the effect it had on them. Not only does it have lifelike depictions of battle, it gives you a vivid picture of what it was like for the people left behind by the soldiers back home. Once the father goes off to war it shifts back and forth between what he experiences in the war and what his family is going through while he is away. The battle scenes are described beautifully and really make you feel like you are in the middle of the battle with the soldiers as they fight. My favorite parts though were the scenes from the family back home and what they went through. I have read many books on the Civil War but none ever really went into what the families left behind had to endure, and you get a great picture of their lives during this time. I will definitely be finishing the rest of the series and can’t wait to start the next one, especially since it ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to jump back in and continue with the story of this family I came to know and love.

Can’t recommend this book highly enough, especially if you love Civil War stories like I do, and even if that isn’t your thing, the humanity portrayed in this story makes it worth the read alone. You really care for this family and what happens to them. Also, if you know your Civil War history you will recognize all of the usual characters and battles that are seen from the view of the father as a frontline soldier as he enters into them as he is deployed. This isn’t a Shaara book with a lot of background info on the war provided. You see the war as it unfolds to someone in real time as it happened, without a lot of foreknowledge of the what and where they were headed until they arrived. Once they are there, the details are provided to determine the battlefield on which they are engaged, and it becomes clear which battle you are witnessing. To me this made everything more real and immediate, and personal.

I love the fresh perspective this put on the war that so much has been written about. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book. You won’t be sorry.

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1IBKRTHPCYQEK&keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+lie&qid=1640118143&sprefix=a+beautiful+glitter%2Caps%2C581&sr=8-1

More Flattering Reviews

I hope y’all aren’t getting tired of my sharing these reviews, but I’m just over the moon with receiving them! I feel very fortunate that I have been able to receive these reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, in recent weeks. Here are a few more that I’d like to share with you!

Phil Bolos

5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2021
Verified Purchase
A Beckoning Hellfire by J.D.R. Hawkins takes us into the heart of the Civil War and shows us the harsh realities of what it was like to be a soldier in the bloodiest conflict in American history. On Christmas Eve 1862, David Summers finds out that his father has died at the hands of the Union Army. Caught up in rage and seeking revenge, David does the honorable thing and joins the Confederate Army so that he can goes against the Union and get revenge for what happened to his father. But, all honor is quickly forgotten when he is thrown into numerous battles and he sees what war is really like. Revenge begins to fade away as David becomes more focused on just staying alive so that he can get back home again.
I am a big history buff, so reading this was a lot of fun. The author has done a nice job of creating a piece of historical fiction that gives the reader a chance to get a glimpse of what it was like to go through this horrific conflict. I think that fans of history and of fiction will really enjoy this read and the efforts the author took to make this as realistic as possible.


JoJo Maxson

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel

Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2021

Verified Purchase

A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins brings one of our country’s devastating times to life. David Summers is angry, hurt, and wants revenge. He can’t fathom a war that would have killed the man he idolized. His passion now is to make everyone pay who represented a small part in the death of his father. As he fights this war, brother against brother, father against son, he realizes there isn’t glamour or pride when you win a battle. The destruction and despair are unimaginable.

I found J.D.R. Hawkins a skillful writer as she brings the Civil War alive with a fierce reminder of our country torn apart. A Beckoning Hellfire is well-written and a fascinating novel. The characters are just as you would imagine them with hopes, dreams, and disappointments. They strive to live one more day and to keep their family and friends alive. People will show their true light during their darkest days. History lovers will enjoy this novel.


astrofan
5.0 out of 5 stars A look at what it might’ve been like to be the family of a Confederate soldier.

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2021

Verified Purchase

I would say, if you’re going to go into this easily offended by the vivid descriptions of a Confederate soldier and his family, don’t bother picking this one up. But if you want to know what it might’ve been like to be part of a family whose father has gone off to fight for the Confederacy and was killed, this is the book to get. It’s a vivid look at how ugly the war was and what it’s like to have one’s images of glorious warfare and revenge shattered.

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Haunted Gettysburg and the Farnsworth House

One of the most haunted Civil War battlefields, and places on Earth, for that matter, is Gettysburg. I have been there several times and attended a ghost tour, but I failed to witness any apparitions. The town and battlefield did inspire me to write a book, however, and the book became a series called the Renegade Series. My husband and I stayed overnight once in the Farnsworth House, which is a beautiful home that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The interior is filled with gorgeous antiques. Bulletholes are visible on the outside brick of the house, which makes you wonder what it would be like. If only its’ walls could talk.

 It should come as no surprise that hauntings have taken place in various parts of the country in regard to the Civil War since the war ended. In fact, stories and folklore have been passed down about ghosts appearing even before the War Between the States.


Disputably, the most haunted place is Gettysburg. This is because the town rests on what is known as a “lei line,” where two intersecting fractures in the earth’s crust meet. It has something to do with energy fields beneath the earth’s surface.
Within Gettysburg, probably the most haunted place is the Farnsworth House. Now an inn, the Farnsworth House has seen its share of violence. Confederate sharpshooters used the garret (attic) as a vantage point to fire upon Union troops positioned on Cemetery Hill. One bullet fired by a sharpshooter supposedly traveled down the street, hitting Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed during the battle. Afterward, the house was used as a Federal headquarters.

There are over 100 bullet holes visible on the south side of the house, and some of the bullets that were lodged in the brickwork are on display inside. The house boasts a fabulous restaurant, a cozy tavern decorated with memorabilia from the movie, “Gettysburg,” and the guest rooms are decorated in beautiful Victorian style. Guests and staff have witnessed strange occurrences on several occasions. Some of the servers have had mysterious encounters, claiming that someone or something yanks on their aprons. Others have seen apparitions in the forms of women in period dress and soldiers, or have been tapped on the shoulder. Phantom footsteps echo through the two-story house, and strange, eerie shadows abound. The Farnsworth House sponsors ghost tours, and has a seance room in the spooky basement to replicate the Victorian notion of communicating with the dead.

Two More Awesome Reviews!

I recently received two more amazing reviews for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you, Paula and Kaye!

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Extremely interesting

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 September 2021

This was my first time reading any of this author’s work. My knowledge of American history would be fairly scanty but I did find this an excellent read and I will be recommending her books to friends and family, and look forward to more of her books in the future.

4.0 out of 5 stars 

good read

Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2021

I have always been a fan of books revolving around the Civil War. This is no exception. Recommend without hesitation.

My Feature on Shepherd

I was recently featured on a new website called Shepherd, which has just launched. I was approached by Mr. Ben Fox to be a contributor. Thank you, Ben, for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers my book, Horses in Gray, as well as my favorite Civil War novels. Here is the article:

The Best Civil War Novels

Who am I?

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of only a few female Civil War authors, and uniquely describes the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, winner of the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion, A Beckoning Hellfire, which is also an award winner, and A Rebel Among Us, recipient of the 2017 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award. These books tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of Pikes Peak WritersRocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter.


I wrote…

Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses

By J.D.R. Hawkins

Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses

What is my book about?

Never before has there been such a comprehensive look at Confederate military horses in the Civil War and their lives before, during, and after battle. Why particular breeds or colors were chosen for specific tasks, what the life expectancy of military horses was and why they died, and the distinct challenges of caring for horses in wartime conditions are all covered. Chapters focus on how they were acquired by their owners, their lineages, the stories behind their names, and the ways in which they were immortalized. Robert E. Lee’s Traveller, Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel, Forrest’s thirty horses, Ashby’s Tom Telegraph, and many more are included in this must-read history.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Books I Picked & Why

Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind

Why this book?

This is one of my all time favorites! The book was so popular when it was first published that it was quickly picked up by Hollywood and made into a movie. The film is a classic, even though disclaimers have recently been attached to it. Gone With the Wind won the 1939 Academy Award for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best actress Vivian Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara, and best supporting actress, Hattie McDaniel, who was the first African American to win an Oscar.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Cold Mountain

By Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain

Why this book?

Like Gone With the Wind, this book was also made into an award-winning movie. I find the novel interesting because of the way Charles Frasier wrote it. There are no quotation marks in the book! I’m not sure why he chose to write it like that, but it’s interesting, nevertheless.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks

The Widow of the South

Why this book?

I really like this book because it tells the poignant tale of Carrie McGavock, who was forced to deal with the Civil War when it appeared in her front yard. This is based on a true story. Carrie was so compassionate that she buried the solders, both northern and southern, on her property. The cemetery at her home, Carnton Plantation, is still there. I had the opportunity to meet the author, Robert Hicks, at a book signing, and visit Carnton Plantation. The home served as a field hospital during the Battle of Franklin, and bloodstains still remain on the wooden floors.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

March

By Geraldine Brooks

March

Why this book?

This book is not as well known, but the author, Geraldine Brooks, did an amazing job in describing the war. She took an interesting spin by writing a side story to the famous novel, Little Women. Interestingly, Little Women was written by Louisa May Alcott, who served as a Union nurse during the Civil War.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Shiloh

By Shelby Foote

Shiloh

Why this book?

This novel was written by Shelby Foote, who gained notoriety when he appeared on Ken Burns’ documentary series, the Civil War. Mr. Foote is probably better known for his trilogy of the Civil War, which is narrative nonfiction. However, he did write fiction as well, and this book is one example.


https://shepherd.com/best-books/civil-war-novels

Happy New Year!

While going through some old papers today, I came across this interesting article. I hope you enjoy it! (I had to post the original article because I jammed my finger last night and am having a hard time typing!)

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Pvt. Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, SCV, & Pres. Jefferson Davis Chapter, MOSB, volume 35, issue no. 5, May 2011 ed.)

Guest Post by Lewis Regenstein

As you know, I frequently feature other authors on my blog; Mr. Regenstein sets the record straight on how important ancestry is. With all the attacks on Confederate heritage these days, I wanted to share his perspective. I hope you enjoy this article.

Rebel

The Last Order of the Lost Cause

Speech By Lewis Regenstein

To Washington, GA Civil War Roundtable        

26 February, 2007

I am deeply honored  to be here today  in this wonderful town of Washington, and I thank you for the chance to speak before such a distinguished group of people. Claibourne has warned me that some of you all are extremely knowledgeable about the War Between the States, and to be careful not to make any mistakes because I will surely get caught and be called on it.  So please go easy on me. 

Before I begin I’d like to emphasize that while I am very proud of my ancestors, I‘m not bragging about anything.  I can  claim no personal distinction for their heroism, which reflects what was common among the hopelessly outnumbered, outsupplied but not outfought Confederate troops, something in which we all take much pride. 

Our ancestors often ran low on food, ammunition, and other supplies, but never on courage.

 I write and talk about all this because I am proud of our heritage and committed to helping keep its memory alive and honored, amidst the ongoing campaign to rewrite history and discredit the valor and honor of the Confederate soldiers and their Cause. I know that no one here today needs educating on this issue.

Here in Washington, some very historic events have taken place, one of them involving one of my ancestors, and I’d like to talk a little about that today. 

 I am very proud that my great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, Jr, of Sumter, S.C., and his four brothers fought for the Confederacy, and Major Raphael Jacob Moses was their uncle, [having married Eliza Moses, the sister of the Moses brothers’ father, Andrew Jackson Moses, Sr.] 

We know first hand, from their letters, diaries, and memoirs, that they and their compatriots were not fighting for slavery, as is so often alleged. They were trying to defend themselves and their comrades, their families,  homes, and country from an often cruel invading army that was trying to kill them, burn their homes and cities, and destroy everything they had. 

Raphael Moses was a fifth generation South Carolinian who in 1849 moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he was a lawyer, planter, and owner of a plantation he named “Esquiline.” Moses’ English ancestors came to America during colonial days, one of them being  his great, great grandfather  Dr. Samuel Nunez, fleeing the Inquisition.  He is credited with saving the newly-established, mosquito-infested colony of Savannah, Georgia from being wiped out in 1733 by a “fever,” then  thought to be yellow fever but which was probably malaria.

Before the War, Moses pioneered the commercial growing of peaches and plums in Georgia, so it could thus be said that he is a major reason Georgia is called The Peach State. Moses is reputed to have been the first planter to ship and sell peaches outside of the South, in 1851, before there was any through connection by railroad. James C. Bonner’s “A History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732-1860,” credits Moses with being the first to succeed in preserving the flavor of shipped peaches, by packing them in a champagne baskets instead of pulverized charcoal.

Moses knew well and wrote in his memoirs about General Robert E. Lee (whom  he was with at Gettysburg) and other major Confederate figures Lee’s Lieutenants. The renowned Douglas Southall Freeman, in his authoritative work called Moses “…the best commissary officer of like rank in the Confederate service.”

As General James Longstreet’s chief commissary officer, Moses participated in many of the major battles in the East, and was responsible for supplying and feeding up to 54,000 troops, porters, and other non-combatants. General Lee had forbidden him from entering private homes in search of supplies in raids into Union territory (such as the incursions into Pennsylvania), even when food and other provisions were in  painfully short supply.  

Moses always paid for what he took from farms and businesses, albeit in Confederate tender.

Often while seizing supplies, Moses encountered considerable hostility and abuse from the local women, which he always endured in good humor, and it became a source of much teasing from his fellow officers. 

Moses always acted honorably, compassionately, and as a gentleman. Once, when a distraught woman approached Moses and pleaded for the return of her pet heifer that had been caught up in a cattle  seizure, he graciously acceded.

The contrast is striking between the humane Confederate policies and those of the North.  Union generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan regularly burned and looted homes, farms, courthouses, churches, libraries, and entire cities full of civilians, such as Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, and most everything of value in between, later engaging in the mass  slaughtering of Native Americans in the West, largely old men, women, and children in their villages, in what we euphemistically call “The Indian Wars.”

Moses’ memoirs contain some very interesting observations on the Battle of Gettysburg. “…We lost the battle,” laments Moses, “and then came the retreat; the rain poured down in floods that night ! I laid down in a fence corner and near by on the bare earth in an India rubber [tarp] lay General Lee biding the pelting storm.”

In his memoirs, Moses reveals that “General Longstreet did not wish to fight the Battle of Gettysburg. He wanted to go around the hill, but Lee objected on account of our long wagon and artillery trains.” Longstreet, as historian Ed Bearss notes, “knew what muskets in the hands of determined troops could do,” and  felt that the Union forces, holding the high ground, would have the same advantage over his forces that the Confederates had over the Federals at Fredericksburg. If his  advice had been taken, it could have changed the course of the War. 

But Lee rejected Longstreet’s recommendation to swing his troops around the heights, and instead ordered the attack on the center of the Union forces at Cemetery Hill, saying  of the Yankees, “I will whip them here, or they will whip me.” Honorable as always, after the battle Lee took responsibility for the disaster, saying “All this has been my fault.” Longstreet, feeling that the ground fought over had no military value, called that day “the saddest of my life.” Shelby Foote calls Lee’s decision “The mistake of all mistakes.”

Interestingly, the entire battle might have been avoided and the course of the war changed if Longstreet’s forces had not been forced to wait for their reinforcements to arrive. Moses  says that if the Confederates had not been delayed near Cash Town  for over a day waiting for General Richard Stoddert Ewell’s wagon train of supplies, “…I do know that we could have marched easily from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, in a day, and been there before the Union troops.” 

Moses’ three sons also fought for the South, and one was killed at Seven Pines in May, 1862 after performing acts of amazing valor – Lt. Albert Moses Luria, the first Jewish Confederate to fall in battle. 

He was killed at age nineteen after courageously  throwing a live Union artillery shell out of his fortification before it exploded, thereby saving the lives of many of his compatriots.

(The last Confederate Jew to be killed was Major Moses’ nephew, Joshua Lazarus Moses, of Sumter, South Carolina, the brother of my great grandfather. Josh was killed in the battle of Fort Blakeley, Alabama, a few hours after Lee surrendered, commanding the guns  firing the last shots in defense of Mobile. In this battle, Josh’s brothers Perry and Horace were respectively wounded and captured.

RUNNING OUT OF FOOD

Prior to Virginia’s  Battle of the Wilderness in May, 1864, Moses was having more and more difficulty obtaining supplies, since farmers were refusing to sell their crops because of increasing speculation over prices. Moses decided to travel to Georgia, his major source of supplies, to talk to the farmers:  [“It occurred to me, that if I could go to  Georgia and speak to the people who had sons, brothers, relatives and friends suffering for food, that I could get supplies.” Moses asked General Lee for a furlough to go there and loosen up the pipeline, and Lee replied,  “Major, I would approve it but really we can’t spare you, you know.” But when Moses explained his plans, Lee responded, “Well, Major, if you think you can do anything for my poor boys, go and may God crown you effort with success.”]

When he arrived in Georgia in mid-1864,  Moses found few willing and able to help out.[ In his memoirs, he recalled a meeting where he spoke at Temperance Hall in Columbus:

There were about thirty persons present…When I last spoke at this hall, it was to urge the people of Columbus to send their sons and brothers to confront the hazards of war to redress their country’s wrongs. The house was full from pit to gallery with patriotic citizens ready for the sacrifices asked. Now I come from those near and dear to the people here to appeal to them for bread, for the starving Army, and I am confronted by empty benches…

Travelling next to southwest Georgia, Moses was “met there with a very different spirit and had a very successful trip.”] But while there, the Confederate Commissary for the state died, and Moses was appointed  to fill the post. 

Still, the pressures on Moses to obtain and distribute supplies of food remained relentless, and towards the end of the War, the situation had become  desperate. 

THE FINAL DAYS

Moses’ account of those final, chaotic days after Lee’s surrender is filled with stories of heroism and heartbreak, humor and tragedy. (There are many conflicting accounts of this era; what follows is from Moses’ recollections.)

With the defeat of the Confederate forces, the capital of Richmond was abandoned in April, 1865, and the senior government officials and their staff  headed south, avoiding Union forces, and ending up in Georgia. 

Moses tells of  Mrs. Jefferson Davis awaiting her husband in Washington, Georgia, where he arrived accompanied by his cabinet and “a train containing gold and silver bullion.” 

Moses writes, 

shortly before [General  Joseph E.] Johnston’s surrender, I was ordered to Washington, Wilkes County. Soon after, Davis and his cabinet arrived there. Mrs. Davis met her husband in Washington.  A train containing gold and silver bullion accompanied the cabinet. It was brought from Richmond banks. I was staying with General Toombs… I remember seeing General [ Braxton] Bragg waiting under an oak tree to get his $20.00.

I received an order from General  Johnston to provide 250,000 rations at Augusta for the returning soldiers…and there arrange as best I could with general Mollyneux [Molineux] who then occupied Augusta with Federal troops, to protect me in furnishing the troops as they passed through Augusta and to provide for the sick and wounded in hospitals.

One of Moses’ stories describes the close escape from arrest by the Yankees of his close friend, and resident of this area,  General Robert A. Toombs, a leading Georgia planter who served as the South’s first Secretary of State.

Moses was in Washington with his son Israel Moses Nunez, called “Major,” when, he writes,  “…a cavalry man rode up coming from [War Secretary] Breckenbrige [sic] and threw over the fence a sack containing $5,000 in gold for his [Toombs’] personal use”:

He [Toombs] handed it to Major and told him to buy corn and provisions with it and distribute it among the returning soldiers as they passed through Washington, and my son did so use it…

Shortly afterwards, Moses continues, “the government came to arrest [Toombs], and my son Major  met the officer between the gate and the house, while [Toombs] escaped out of the back way, mounted his horse, donned  blue spectacles and after many hair-breath escapes, fled to foreign parts, where his wife followed, and he lived with her some time in Paris.”

THE LAST ORDER OF THE LOST CAUSE

About three weeks after the war’s end, as chief commissary for Georgia, Moses carried out what is reputed to have been the last order of the Confederacy. It involved safeguarding and delivering the Confederate treasury’s last $40,000 of silver and/or gold bullion (perhaps $750,000 today).

(Although the accounts are contradictory and confusing, it appears that Moses  paid $10,000 to the Quartermaster-General in Washington [according to Avery, p. 326], and carried $30,000 in bullion to Augusta.)

Carrying out the order was no easy task, amidst the anarchy of defeat, orderly government and military discipline having collapsed, and lawless mobs of unruly, sometimes drunken former soldiers searching desperately for food and money.

[“The Memoirs of Jefferson Davis,” written by his wife, contain a letter written to Davis several years after the war by Acting Secretary of Treasury, describing how he “directed him [an acting treasurer] to turn the silver bullion over to Major Moses, as it was too bulky and heavy to be managed by us in our then condition; and I saw Moses putting it in a warehouse in Washington [Georgia] before I left there. I also directed him to burn the Confederate notes in the presence of General Breckinridge and myself.]

The Acting Treasurer, Captain M.H. Clark of Clarksville, Tennessee, described the disposition of the Confederate bullion in a 13 January, 1882 interview with the “Louisville Courier Journal”:

Before reaching town [Washington, Georgia], I was halted by Major R.J. Moses, to turn over to him the specie [coins] which president Davis, before he left, ordered to be placed at the disposal of the Commissary Department, to feed the paroled soldiers and stragglers passing through, to prevent their burdening a section already stripped of supplies. I turned over to Major Moses the wagons and silver bullion, and all of the escort except about ten men.

The government’s final order was  handed down at its last  meeting, held  in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia on 4 May, 1865, which  according to Moses, was attended, among others,  by President Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and Major  Moses. (It is unclear who actually attended the meeting, with some accounts saying that Breckinridge  arrived after Davis departed.)

And then, as “Confederate Veteran” observes, “…at last, in the old Heard House in Washington, on Georgia soil, the Southern Confederacy ceased to exist and passed into history.” 

That Last Order, dated 5 May, 1865,  reads as follows: 

Major R.J. Moses, will pay $10,000, the amount of bullion appropriated to Q.M. [quartermaster] Dept. by Sec. War to Maj. R.R. Wood. By order of Q.M. Gen.

[signed] W.F. Alexander, Maj. And Asst. to Q.M. Gen., 5 May, 1865, Washington

But the Confederacy did not die a quiet death. “By early may, 1865, realizing the war was lost, the major units of the Confederate Army had surrendered,”  author Mel Young writes in “Last Order of the Lost Cause,” the authoritative published account for this historic event. 

“Individual Confederate soldiers, groups of soldiers, and small units were trying to walk, ride, or move in groups back to their homes. They were in tattered uniforms, hungry and mostly penniless. Confederate General [Joseph E. ] Johnston, requested of President Davis that 250,000 rations be obtained to be distributed to these discharged soldiers. 

In accepting this responsibility, Moses, now 53 years old,  showed the usual courage and tenacity for which he was known. Facing down a turbulent mob of former Confederates who intercepted and threatened to storm his train  in Barnett, Georgia, Moses  successfully carried out the  order to deliver the remaining Confederate gold bullion to  help and provision the troops struggling to get back home, 

In his classic work, “The History of the State of Georgia, from 1850-1881,” I.W. Avery describes the  situation thusly:

Major Moses had a stirring time with his perilous treasure. It was,      of course, known immediately that he had it in his possession. The war had unhinged men’s ideas and principles. But still more demoralizing of the public conscience was the desperate stress of the people, coupled with the knowledge that the Confederate cause was dead, and that this specie was ownerless and a probable treasure trove and booty for the Federal soldiery. Maj. Moses, with punctilious honor, was resolved to part with it only with his life and to deliver it according to orders in fulfillment of its kindly mission.

Moses biggest problem was protecting the bullion in his charge  from unruly soldiers: “The town was full of stragglers, cavalry men who had just been paid $20.00 each. They had arms but no consciences, and the little taste they had of specie provoked their appetites…” 

Moses writes in his memoirs that  General Robert Toombs gave me the names of ten of the Washington Artillery, all gentlemen well known to him”:

I agreed to pay them $10.00 each in gold to guard it that night and go with me to Augusta. I then took a squad of them and destroyed all the liquor I could find in the shops. I then got part of a keg of powder and put it in a wooden building that was unoccupied and put the boxes of bullion in the same room, placed my guard outside and around the building, and gave out that I had laid a train of powder to the outside, and if the guard was forced, the train would be fired. 

The next morning, Moses had the bullion loaded onto a train filled with some 200 soldiers and “29 cavalry men”, and when the train  was just outside of its destination of Barnett, the trouble started:

…the conductor, a nice old man, came to our car and said, “Major, from the talk I reckon the boys are going to ‘charge’ your car when we reach Barnett.” Charge meant to attack it and take the specie and divide it among themselves….I held a council with my guard, and I told them that if they would stand by me, keep cool, fire (and reload) through an opening we would make in the doors, I thought we could successfully defend the car, but they were not ready to do this, we would be overcome. 

They consulted together, and I was afraid they  would conclude “To join the Cavalry,” but they finally said, “We will stand by you as long as there is a chance to save the specie.”

Avery writes that “These desperate men, a reckless mob, coolly demanded the money, as being as much theirs as anyone’s, and they were armed to enforce the demand.”

Showing amazing courage, Moses then went out “among the men, who were as thick as blackbirds,” and told them that “every dollar of the bullion would be devoted to feeding their fellow soldiers, and caring for the wounded in the hospitals at Augusta…that they might killed me and my guard, but they would be killing men in the discharge of a duty in behalf of their comrades ! That if they killed us, it would be murder, while if we killed any of them in defending the bullion, which we certainly should endeavor to do, we would be justified, because the killing would be in self defense and in a discharge of a sacred duty.”

When two soldiers in the crowd spoke up and vouched for Moses, “the crowd began to disperse,” but unfortunately, the train he was meeting was over an hour late. “…the billows of the seas rise and fall when disturbed by the winds, and this restless crowd at the depot would surge and press up against the door of my box[car] trying to get in, and I would have to threaten them and appeal.”

Avery writes, in a page titled “Attempted Rape of the Bullion,”  that “Major Moses remonstrated quietly and argumentatively with the menacing men surrounding him, and appealed to their honor and patriotism and stated his orders. At length it is seemed nothing could avert the ravishment of this specie.”

“At last, the storm seemed to be subsiding,” writes Moses, when a fellow officer warned him that some men were about to charge his boxcar, led by a young man from Tennessee with a wound on his cheek. Again showing remarkable courage, Moses approached the man and said to him,  “You appear to be a gentleman and bear an honorable wound”:

I then read my orders to him, explained my position, and how trying it was to be forced perhaps to take life and lose my own in the performance of a duty that I could not voluntarily avoid. I told him I had a guard and some friends in the crowd, but we would be outnumbered unless I could enlist men like himself in our behalf. ..

I said, “I appeal to you in the spirit of that honor that belongs to all brave men, to assist me in the discharge of this trust.”

He seemed embarrassed, but said, “I don’t think you will have any further trouble,” and I did not. 

Finally, Moses and his men were able to catch the train to Augusta and  deliver the goods, obtaining a receipt for the delivered bullion from  Major and Quartermaster R.R. Wood dated  5 May, 1865.

“The Atlanta Journal” of 6 February, 1927, in an article entitled “Last official Writing of the Southern Confederacy,” reproduced this receipt, calling it “…the last official writing ever issued by the Confederate administration”:

          It is as historic a curiosity as the world affords, this last 

flicker of a mammoth revolution. Such thoughts cluster around it as would make a grand epic…the paper thus testifying to the honesty and promptness of the disbursing officer of a great shattered government – an administration gone down hopelessly in a grand ruin. 

[The complete story is told in Mel Young’s Last Order of the Lost Cause, and  Robert Rosen’s authoritative, The Jewish Confederates, and originally in I.W. Avery’s “History of the State of Georgia from 1850-1881.]

In his memoirs, Moses wrote: “I have never turned my back on an enemy that was attacking me, or failed to forgive one as soon as he cried for quarter. I can also say that I never deserted a friend…”

 And the Atlanta Journal in 1928 summed up Moses’ career thusly: “At the beginning of the war, although overage, he hastened to the defense of his beloved Southland, offering his fortune, his service, his sons – everything save his honor – a willing sacrifice on the altar of his country.”

After the war, Raphael Moses became an outspoken critic of the Reconstruction government in Georgia, calling its members “spies, carpetbaggers, a class of politicians, men without character who came from the North in swarms seeking whom they might devour.”  He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and was named  chairman of the Judiciary Committee

On 3 April, 1867, Robert E. Lee, then President of Washington and Lee university in Lexington, Virginia, wrote to Moses asking him, and other prominent men of the South, to help heal the wounds of a divided nation.

Moses remained a loyal Confederate until the very end. When he  died in 

1893, his calling card still read, “Major Raphael J. Moses, C.S.A.”

 Moses and his fellow soldiers  typified many of the brave, beleaguered Confederates who honorably served their country, facing overwhelming, indeed hopeless odds, with loyalty and valor. That terrible war ended fourteen decades ago, but the memory of those  soldiers should never be forgotten. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss and remember some of those events here with you today. 

Lewis Regenstein <regenstein@mindspring.com>, a Native Atlantan, is descended on his Mother’s side  from the Moses family of Georgia and South Carolina, whose patriarch, Myer Moses, participated in the American Revolution..

Almost three dozen members of the extended family fought for the Confederacy, and participated in most of the major battles and campaigns of the War. At least nine of them, largely teenagers,  died in defense of their homeland, and included the first and last Confederate Jews to fall in battle. 

 

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Book Teasers

W1310_J.D.R. Hawkins.indd

Just for fun, and because this is the last week of Confederate Heritage Month, I thought I’d share some teasers that were made up for me by a previous publisher. The book is now out with Westwood Books Publishing, LLC. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you think!

ABGL Teaser 3

ABGL Teaser 2

ABGL Teaser 1

 

 

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