J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “War”

King Philip

In honor of the reinternments of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife last weekend, I wanted to feature this story about the general’s beloved horse, King Philip. This horse is represented in the equestrian statue that was removed from Forrest Park in Memphis and will soon be relocated atop the general’s grave. I wrote about King Philip in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

ASK RUFUS: KING PHILIP, NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE
By: Rufus Ward
There were many famous generals and horses that came out of the Civil War. Among the most noted was Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his favorite horse, King Philip. In their 1866 history of Forrest’s campaigns, General Thomas Jordan and J. P. Pryor wrote of King Philip this; “conspicuous iron gray gelding…(was)…sluggish on ordinary occasions, became superbly excited in battle, and was as quick to detect the presence of a blue coat as any Confederate soldier, and was as ready to make battle, which he did, by laying back his ears and rushing at the offending object with open mouth.”

Painting by Michael Gnatek


Growing up off of Military Road in Columbus, my grandmother told me that the horseshoes I would occasionally find were from the stables that had been located behind the old Col. T.C. Billups home which had burned during the 1880s. Little then did I realize whose shoes they might have been. One of the more famous warhorses in American history was General Forrest’s King Philip. Few, though, realize that King Philip was a Columbus horse.

The earliest account of where Forrest got King Philip stated that the horse was a veteran of the Vicksburg campaign and a gift from the citizens of Columbus. As a child, I recall my uncle T. C. Billups IV telling me the story of how Forrest got the horse. He related that after being wounded on one occasion, Forrest was recovering at the Billups house in Columbus. While there “Forrest admired a fine saddle horse and asked to purchase the horse, ‘King Philip”.

Billups replied, “General, I could not sell him at any cost.”

On the day he was leaving to rejoin his troops, Forrest called for his horse to be brought around. Instead, it was King Philip, the horse he had admired, that was led to him. Col. Billups presented the horse to Forrest as a gift. When he departed, Forrest left his crutch with his name carved in the side at the Billups home.


As my interest in history developed, I began to track the origin of many of the stories I had heard as a child. The story of King Philip was one of them. The family still had Forrest’s crutch, however, I wondered about the story as Col. Billups had been in his late 50s during the Civil War and did not serve in the military. That raised a question about the Vicksburg Campaign connection with the horse. I soon found the answer.


One of Billups’ sons, T. C., was a lieutenant in the 6th Mississippi Cavalry and served under Forrest. Another son, John, was Captain in the 43rd Mississippi Regiment and had been captured at Vicksburg and paroled back to Columbus in July 1863. The earliest mention of Forrest riding King Philip into battle that I found was in February 1864. That answered the Vicksburg question. I then sought the earliest family account of the story. I found it being told by Mary Billups, John’s daughter, who was born in 1874 and recalled the story in 1936 that she would have heard from her father. Her account was the story I had been told by my uncle.

In addition, I learned that at the suggestion of Forrest, the Billups family had commissioned an artist friend of Forrest, Nicola Marschall, to come to Columbus and paint portraits in the mid-1870s. Marschall painted at least nine Billups portraits while in Columbus. Growing up, I never realized that the horseshoes I found came from the stables that had once been the home of a big gelding, iron gray horse that became one of America’s most famous warhorses.
Danyon McCarroll

(Article courtesy of the Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 23, issue no. 8, August 2021)

Rave Review for Horses in Gray

This review appeared a while back in the Sons of Confederate Veterans magazine, the Confederate Veteran. I neglected to post it on my blog at the time it was published, so here it is now.

Another Rave Review

I recently received another review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Pamela Loose, for your flattering review!

Review of A Beautiful Glittering Lie

This is a well written story with vivid descriptions of the lives of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The comparison between their lives and those of the people left behind is fascinating. 

Another Awesome Review

A Beautiful Glittering Lie received another very flattering review. This one is short and sweet, but I appreciate it just the same. Thank you so much, Linda Vieira, for your review!

Reviewed in Canada on November 18, 2020

Received a complimentary copy via voracious readers only from the author
this book was amazing!
really enjoyed this read !!
grab a copy and enjoy 🙂

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Book Teasers

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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

 

 

The Name Change Game Goes On

I think it’s crazy that this is even a thing, but apparently, political correctness has affected (infected?) every aspect of American society. Now the military is getting in on the act, or is, at least, is under attack, and some branches are caving.

Lee

MILITARY BRANCHES SENDING “MIXED” ORDERS
The U.S. Army does not plan to change the names of several bases named after Confederate war heroes, despite a broader effort in some states to remove such tributes.
“We have no plans to rename any street or installation, including those named for Confederate generals,” an Army spokesperson told Task & Purpose. The service will instead continue with the existing names of many well known military bases and installations.
“It is important to note that the naming of installations and streets was done in a spirit of reconciliation, not to demonstrate support for any particular cause or ideology,” the U.S. Army spokesperson continued. “The Army has a tradition of naming installations and streets after historical figures of military significance, including former Union and Confederate general officers.”
Among the list of Army bases named after Confederate leaders are: Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Hood, Fort Lee, Fort Pickett, Fort Polk, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.
The Army’s statement comes immediately after U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered the removal of all Confederate flags and “paraphernalia” from Marine bases, effective immediately.
flag

COVER REVEAL!

As promised, I would like to reveal the new book cover for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. I’m so excited to share this with you! Please let me know what you think.

W1310_J.D.R. Hawkins.indd

This book has gone through quite a few transformations in the past few years. It was originally published by iUniverse, an “assisted” self-publishing company. Then it was published by a hybrid publisher. Now it is being published by Westwood Books Publishing, a new publishing company out of Florida. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Westwood Books Publishing family!

This book has received numerous five-star reviews, and is the recipient of the prestigious John Esten Cooke Fiction Award, as well as the B.R.A.G. Medallion. It also received special honors at the L.A. Book Festival.

I’d love to hear your feedback, so please, let me know what you think!

https://www.westwoodbookspublishing.com/books/a-beautiful-glittering-lie-a-novel-of-the-civil-war/

https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Glittering-Lie-Novel-Civil/dp/1643619942/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=a+beautiful+glittering+le&qid=1581448921&sr=8-1

Excerpt from Horses in Gray

Here is an excerpt from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses. The book is available from all online booksellers, and has received numerous five-star reviews. It makes a great gift for that history buff/horse lover on your list, or for anyone who loves nonfiction.

Horses in Gray Cover

 

J.E.B. Stuart’s Magnificent Mounts

One of the most flamboyant officers in the American Civil War was Brigadier General James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart. Born on February 6, 1833 in Patrick County, Virginia, he was the descendant of military elite: his great-grandfather, Major Alexander Stuart, commanded a regiment in the Revolutionary War, and his father, Archibald, served during the War of 1812 before becoming a U.S. Representative. J.E.B. was the eighth of eleven children, and the youngest of five sons. His mother, Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart, a strict religious woman with a good sense for business, ran the family farm,1 Laurel Hill, which was operated with slave labor.

J.E.B. was homeschooled until he was 12, when he was sent to various teachers in the area for schooling. He entered Emory and Henry College at age fifteen, and attended from 1848 to 1850.2 While growing up, he developed a profound love and admiration for horses, becoming a highly-skilled rider, like most young men of the South. In 1850, he obtained an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. It is there that he met Robert E. Lee, who was appointed superintendent in 1852. The two became close friends, and J.E.B. spent much time with the Lee’s. He was a popular student, always happy, and tolerated being teased by his classmates, who nicknamed him “Beauty” because of his comely appearance.

While at The Point, he rode his favorite horse, Tony, on cavalry exercises, until one day in March, 1853, when he wrote:

Tony was condemned by a board of officers as being unfit, and suffered “the penalty.” But there is consolation in the thought that such is the fortune of war, and we are all victims ready for sacrifice when it shall please U.S. I propose therefore that we wear mourning on the little finger for one week. His loss I deeply deplore.

There were plenty of other horses back home, however, and he wrote his cousin, Bettie, that: I suppose I will have to content myself with Duroc, Bembo, Rhoderick, Don Quixote, Forager, or Jerry.3

In 1856, Stuart graduated 13th in his class of 46, and ranked 10th in cavalry tactics. He intentionally degraded his academic performance during his last year of school to avoid being placed in the elite but dull Corp of Engineers.4 Upon graduation, he promptly grew a thick, cinnamon-colored beard to cover his face.

On January 28, 1855, J.E.B. arrived at Fort Davis once he was assigned to the U.S. Mounted Rifles in Texas.5 But after only a few months, he was transferred to the newly formed 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas Territory, and promoted to first lieutenant.

In September, he proposed to Flora Cooke, less than two months after they met. She was the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, the commander of the 2nd U.S. Dragoon Regiment. Completely smitten, J.E.B. said of the whirlwind romance, “Veni, Vidi, Victus sum,” which in Latin means I came, I saw, I was conquered. The death of his father postponed their marriage, but on November 14, they were wed before a small gathering limited to family witnesses.6

Stuart gained experience as a cavalry officer during conflicts on the frontier with Native-American Indians. He was wounded on July 29, 1857 by a Cheyenne, but the injury did little more damage than to pierce the skin.7 He was also involved in “Bleeding Kansas” on the Kansas-Missouri border, when John Brown’s militants murdered slaveholding farmers to bring attention to their radical abolitionist views.

The Stuart’s first child, a girl, was born in 1856, but she died the same day. However, on November 14, 1857, Flora gave birth to another girl, who survived. The Stuart’s named her Flora as well.

Two years later, J.E.B. patented a piece of cavalry equipment known as a saber hook, which was used to attach sabers to belts. While he was in Washington D.C.8 to discuss contracts, he heard about John Brown’s raid at the U.S. Arsenal in nearby Harpers Ferry, so he volunteered as an aide-de-camp. Arriving at Harpers Ferry astride his bay, blooded mare, Virginia, he accompanied Robert E. Lee with a company of U.S. Marines and four companies of Maryland militia. J.E.B. immediately recognized “Old Ossawatomie

Brown” from his days in Kansas.9 Under a flag of truce, Stuart attempted to negotiate surrender, but Brown refused. The “fort” where he and his followers were holed up was stormed, and a gunfight ensued. Sadly, the first death in the tragedy was that of Hayward Shepherd, a freed slave and railroad baggage handler on the B&O line. The first raider killed was also a freed black man, Dangerfield Newby. Stuart was on hand to see John Brown hanged, but not before the fanatical abolitionist made an ominous statement: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.”

On June 26, 1860, Flora gave birth to a boy, who was named Philip St. George Cooke Stuart after Flora’s father. On April 22, 1861, J.E.B. was promoted to captain, but because of Virginia’s secession, he resigned from the U.S. Army on May 3, and was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel for the Confederacy a week later. Learning that Colonel Cooke had chosen to remain loyal to the Union, J.E.B. changed his son’s name to James Ewell Brown Stuart, Jr. (“Jimmie”) in late 1861 out of disgust with his father-in-law.10

Besides Virginia, J.E.B. had many other horses during the war, including Skylark, My Maryland, Chancellor, Star of the East, Lady Margrave, General, Bullet, and Highfly. Most were great blooded bays with black points, animals of the hunter type with distinguished bloodlines.11 Many of the horses were given to him by admirers or his own troopers, and some he acquired through his brother, William Alexander, who Stuart had recruited to be on the lookout for such fine horseflesh. J.E.B. also owned two setters that he took with him on campaigns. The dogs usually rode in the wagon, but sometimes they could be seen riding with Stuart in his saddle.

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=horses+in+gray&qid=1576276929&sr=8-1

 

An Excerpt From Horses in Gray

Here is another excerpt from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses. This one describes the origins of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s horse, Little Sorrel. I hope you enjoy it!

Little-Sorrel-1

 

No one knows the exact origins of a small chestnut horse that came to be known as “Old Sorrel,” or “Little Sorrel.” His story, both tragic and triumphant, made him one of the most famous and beloved horses in history.

On May 1, 1861, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson was deployed to Harpers Ferry, Virginia nine days after the Federals had set fire to the arsenal and armory.1 He was ordered to secure those buildings and command troops from the Valley District who were stationed there. His top priority was training and outfitting his troops with equipments, which meant procuring horses for the army. Fortunately for Jackson, a few days after his arrival, an eastbound train on the Baltimore & Ohio line was seized containing five carloads of cattle and horses. Upon inspection, Jackson chose two horses based on the advice of his quartermaster, Major John Harmon. One horse was a large, muscular stallion, which Jackson named “Big Sorrel.” The other was a small Morgan gelding thought to be eleven years old, gingerbread in color, with no white markings. Jackson named him“Fancy,” and intended to give him to his wife. He then paid the quartermaster for an estimated worth of the animals.

It didn’t take long before Jackson discovered that Big Sorrel was too much horse for him. He was not a good horseman, and the stallion was flighty and gun-shy, so Jackson decided to keep the Morgan for his own instead, and re-named him “Little Sorrel.” Although the scruffy gelding was only fifteen hands high, Jackson took to him because of his pleasant personality and easy gait. Certainly the horse was no beauty, but

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1.The Washington Times, “Bones of Warhorse Will Be Interred Near Jackson” by Martha M. Boltz, July 19, 1997

little_sorrel

perhaps Jackson sensed in him some of the qualities that he demanded of his soldiers and of himself; courage, a willingness to obey orders under any circumstances, and extreme endurance.2

According to Jackson’s wife, Mary Anna Morrison, “… he was well formed, compactly built, round and fat (never “raw-boned, gaunt, and grim,” as he has often been described), and his powers of endurance were perfectly wonderful. Indeed, he seemed absolutely indefatigable. His eyes were his chief beauty, being most intelligent and expressive, and as soft as a gazelle’s.”

Little Sorrel amused his master by lying on the ground like a dog when he slept. He would also supposedly roll over and lie on his back with his feet up in the air. Jackson treated his horse like a pet, and constantly gave him apples for treats.

Little Sorrel’s appearance seemed to match that of his master’s. One of his soldiers, volunteer William Andrews, wrote that Jackson was “a very ordinary looking man of medium size, his uniform badly soiled as though it had seen hard service. He wore a cap pulled down nearly to his nose and was riding a rawboned horse that did not look much like a charger, unless it would be on hay or clover. He certainly made a poor figure on horseback, with his stirrup leather six inches too short, putting his knees nearly level with his horse’s back, and his heels turned out with his toes sticking behind his horse’s fore-shoulder.3

Jackson also had a tendency to slouch over in the saddle when he rode. Even though he was considered eccentric because of his odd habits, such as raising his arm above his head to improve circulation and sucking on lemons, his men adored him because he didn’t put on airs. He ate what they ate, suffered along with them, and prayed openly.

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2. His Kingdom for a Horseby Wyatt Blassingame, Books for Libraries Press, © 1957, p. 128

3. Stonewall Jackson’s Book of Maximsby James I. Robertson Jr., Cumberland House, ©2002, p. 49

Five-Star Review!

Here is another five-star review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Linda Thompson, for your positive review!

ABGL B.R.A.G. Medallion
It was amazing!
When it comes to war (no matter the era), men tend to gravitate toward the bloody bodies and the weaponry, and while some women thing the idea of war as romantic, others are horrified at the cruelty. I’ve never seen war as romantic, anything to be proud of, or even remotely good, and parts of JDR Hawkins book was difficult for me to read. That being said, A Beautiful Glittering Lie is a very good story, well written with extremely engaging characters. The historical aspect is excellent and once I could get my head wrapped around the war and violence, I found this Southern family very engaging. I’m very interested in learning where the next book in Hawkins’ series will take us.

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