J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “warhorses”

Horse in Gray Featured on Blog

Horses in Gray Cover

My nonfiction book, Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses, is being featured on Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Here is the link, so please check it out!

https://wp.me/p4pimt-5qv

We are running a contest for the next week, so if you go to Karen’s website/blog, you can find out more  information about my book and learn how you can win a signed paperback copy. Thanks so much for your support!

Horses in Gray Receives Another Five-Star Review

Horses in Gray Cover

My nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, received another five-star review! This is so exciting and such a great honor. Thank you “Jerry G!” Here is the review:

August 6, 2018

This book is a must read for equine scholars as well as those who want to learn more about the Civil War era. I was a skeptic that this book would hold my interest but am now a believer. Hawkins details the relationships of Civil War Soldiers to their beloved horses which she describes so aptly as, “…his horses are the second self of the active soldier.” I particularly found it educational and entertaining as she explains the color of the horse signified their ” rank or role” in the war such as the “grays” because they were easily identified by the officers who wanted to issue a call to battle.

Another Five-Star Review for Horses in Gray

Horses in Gray Cover

I just received another five-star review for my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. The review is as follows:

“Excellent book, particularly if you love history and pet love (horses).”

Short but sweet! Thank you, Russell C., for your kind review!

Here is another excerpt from the book. Hope you enjoy it!

***

Crucial to the infantry, cavalry soldiers served a special purpose, as they were the eyes of the army. Cavalry units could easily cover thirty to seventy miles a day, and scouting units could travel as much as one hundred miles a day.

Throughout the course of the war, the Confederacy raised an estimated 137 mounted regiments; the North, nearly twice that many. The US Army supplied mounts to their cavalry, while Confederate soldiers provided their own.

The Confederate cavalry consisted of regiments containing eight hundred to one thousand men. Regiments were made up of ten brigades of one hundred men each and were commanded by a colonel, a lieutenant colonel, three majors, and a lieutenant. Regiments also included a surgeon and his assistant, a quartermaster sergeant, a commissary sergeant, a saddler sergeant, a blacksmith, a wagoner, hospital stewards, and musicians.

Equipment used by officers was usually non-regulation. Saddles were flat or English style, and Confederates of all ranks often used imported types, as well as McClellan and Jennifer saddles. A cavalryman’s gear also included iron stirrups, breast and crupper straps, a running martingale, a bridoon or snaffle bit, and a curb bit. Saddlebags had straps attached for tying on bedrolls, cooking utensils, ponchos, and other necessities.

When a horse threw a shoe, blacksmiths, or farriers, as they later came to be known, were called upon to remedy the situation. But sometimes the farriers were inaccessible. In these instances, the trooper had to shoe his own horse by nailing on one of the two spares he carried in his saddlebags. The South had much less iron than the North, so when shoes became scarce, cavalrymen were compelled to wrench shoes from dead horses.13

For the first two years of the war, the Confederate cavalry was far superior to its Northern counterpart. This was because Southern soldiers came from rural upbringings, and their horses were generally more agile compared to the draft horses used up north. Many Confederate officers were experienced foxhunters, so they were well-versed in jumping ditches and fences and galloping through woods.

Some soldiers who were not as learned around horses were taught tricks by their seasoned comrades. Lt. Col. William Willis Blackford, Stuart’s aide-de-camp, wrote in his memoirs: “I recollected a thing Von Borcke14 had once told me. He was taught in the Prussian Cavalry schools for this very emergency, and I made a courier twist the horse’s ear severely and keep it twisted while he led the horse off the field with Von Borcke on him, the horse becoming perfectly quiet immediately.”15

Tactics during the war changed. Instead of staging direct attacks, cavalry officers learned to use their horses for swift mobility to bring soldiers closer to the enemy. Once the soldiers reached a close proximity, the horsemen dismounted and fought on the ground, with one man in each group of four holding the reins of his comrades’ horses.

Horses were valuable, sacred commodities. Blackford explained it this way: “To a cavalry officer in active service, his horse is his second self, his companion and friend, upon whom his very life may depend.”16 Because of this, cavalrymen put the needs of their horses before their own.

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Horse killed with its owner, Col. Henry B. Strong, 6th Louisiana, at the Battle of Antietam, September 1862 

As the war progressed, Southern cavalrymen found it more challenging to replace their mounts. In the summer of 1862, the Union army captured and cut off the great horse-breeding states of Kentucky, Missouri, parts of Tennessee, and western Virginia. This forced Gen. Robert E. Lee’s men to scour the South, where remounts became more and more scarce. There were plenty of mustangs in Texas, but most of them were too small for military service.17

Whereas Confederate infantrymen were paid eleven dollars per month, cavalrymen were paid forty cents per day, or thirteen dollars a month; the two extra dollars could be used to provide for their horses. The men were also given horseshoes when they were available. If a horse was killed in the line of duty, the government compensated the trooper for his loss. But if the horse was captured, disabled, or lost, the trooper was not paid anything. In either case, the cavalryman was required to replace the mount himself. This could be a difficult task, as by the end of 1863, horses in the South were selling for $2,000 to $3,000 each.18

While on furlough to find a horse, a trooper was considered to be on “horse detail.”19 Horseless soldiers were said to belong to Company Q, a nonexistent company composed “not only of good soldiers, but no-goods, malingerers, and inefficients as well.”20 Blackford wrote about a flaw of this arrangement: “We now felt the bad effects of our system of requiring the men to furnish their own horses. The most dashing trooper was the one whose horse was the most apt to be shot, and when this man was unable to remount himself, he had to go to the infantry service and was lost to the cavalry. Such a penalty for gallantry was terribly demoralizing.”21

When soldiers were riding Shanks’ Mare, it meant that they were on foot. This was the most common means of transportation used for getting home after the war. “You place your feet on the ground and move,” one Tennessean described. “Walk in the direction you are going. You are now riding Shanks’ Mare.”22

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524634560&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

New Review for Horses in Gray

Horses in Gray Cover

I received a very flattering review for my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. Thank you so much, Mr. Greg Seeley, for your wonderful five-star review!

Horses in Gray – A Gem Not to be Missed

J.D.R. Hawkins’ latest work is like a rare gem – something that doesn’t come along often but to be prized when discovered. The work’s rarity derives from its unique subject matter, its detailed research, and its reader-friendly storytelling.

Notable throughout the entire book is Hawkins’ reverence and passion for horses. She covers in this book a subject I have never before seen in my readings of the American Civil War. Many stories have been told, some true and some not-so-much, of the exploits of Civil War generals. Largely forgotten, except in a few obscure cases, have been the exploits of the horses who made their heroics possible.

Horses in Gray is so well documented that it could easily pass as a Master’s Degree thesis. However, the author never lets the documentation get in the way of providing a fascinating read. One becomes keenly aware of the strong bond between horse and rider that is never weakened by long marches, harsh weather, or the noise of battle. She presents the horses as loyal servants with personalities as unique and varied as those of the men who rode them, and the masters as caring owners who treat them as faithful companions, not mere tools of battle.

Interwoven into the stories of the Confederate war horses and their riders are insightful vignettes of the actions they shared. Some of the actions were major ones such as the battles of Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Pittsburgh Landing, others largely forgotten except among military scholars and Civil War buffs – notably raids by John Mosby and Turner Ashby. As a student of the war, I was never before aware of the extent to which horses “changed sides” as the result of being captured or that General Grant, himself, rode a captured horse named Jeff Davis.

The author of Civil War novels such as A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us does not disappoint with her foray into non-fiction. If you consider yourself even a casual student of the Civil War, or if you are a more serious scholar, Horses in Gray is a must read.  I rate it five stars and look forward to more of Hawkins’ work.

Greg Seeley – Goodreads author, Henry’s Pride.

New Outlets for New Book

Horses in Gray Cover

I was notified by my publisher, Pelican Publishing, that my new nonfiction book, Horses in Gray, has been accepted and will be sold in several venues. This is very exciting, and is an extreme honor. The list is as follows:

1.       One Eastern National site picked up the book, Parker Crossroads, TN

2.       Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, TX

3.       Rum Creek Sutler in Georgia

4.       Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, SC

5.       United Daughters of the Confederacy in VA

6.       Kent Plantation House in Louisiana

7.       Books of the South on Birmingham, AL

8.       Brice’s Crossroads Bookstore in Mississippi

I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has decided to pick up my book! Thank you so much for your support.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in carrying the book, please let me know! I’m hoping to get it into more national parks, as well as more Civil War museums and the like.

Here is another exerpt from Horses in Gray. I hope you enjoy it!

1

As the war progressed, Southern cavalrymen found it more challenging to replace their mounts. In the summer of 1862, the Union army captured and cut off the great horse-breeding states of Kentucky, Missouri, parts of Tennessee, and western Virginia. This forced Gen. Robert E. Lee’s men to scour the South, where remounts became more and more scarce. There were plenty of mustangs in Texas, but most of them were too small for military service.17

Whereas Confederate infantrymen were paid eleven dollars per month, cavalrymen were paid forty cents per day, or thirteen dollars a month; the two extra dollars could be used to provide for their horses. The men were also given horseshoes when they were available. If a horse was killed in the line of duty, the government compensated the trooper for his loss. But if the horse was captured, disabled, or lost, the trooper was not paid anything. In either case, the cavalryman was required to replace the mount himself. This could be a difficult task, as by the end of 1863, horses in the South were selling for $2,000 to $3,000 each.18

While on furlough to find a horse, a trooper was considered to be on “horse detail.”19 Horseless soldiers were said to belong to Company Q, a nonexistent company composed “not only of good soldiers, but no-goods, malingerers, and inefficients as well.”20 Blackford wrote about a flaw of this arrangement: “We now felt the bad effects of our system of requiring the men to furnish their own horses. The most dashing trooper was the one whose horse was the most apt to be shot, and when this man was unable to remount himself, he had to go to the infantry service and was lost to the cavalry. Such a penalty for gallantry was terribly demoralizing.”21

When soldiers were riding Shanks’ Mare, it meant that they were on foot. This was the most common means of transportation used for getting home after the war. “You place your feet on the ground and move,” one Tennessean described. “Walk in the direction you are going. You are now riding Shanks’ Mare.”22

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516772704&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

Two Five-Star Reviews!

Horses in Gray Cover

My new book, Horses in Gray has received two five-star reviews! This is very exciting for me, so I wanted to share. Here is the what the first reviewer wrote:

This is a well written book. I am not the quickest of readers but the reading is easy, and Ms. Hawkins provides much person insight in the men and their horses. I originally bought the book to read about my cousin John Hunt Morgan. However i became engrossed in the book just reading about General Lee and Traveller. I would highly recommend this book not just to those who are interested in the War Between the States, but a very good read for anyone.
Another reviewer wrote a very simple summary.
Love this book fantastic read.
Short but sweet. I love that! Special thanks to Wayne and John for your reviews!

Live Radio Interview

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Last week, I was featured on ArtistFirst, a radio program that spotlights artists and authors. It’s a bit ironic that my discussion with the interviewer included the destruction and/or removal of Confederate monuments. Since then, several events have taken place in the assault against Confederate monuments. Here is a link to the interview:

http://www.artistfirst2.com/Authors-First_2017-08-08_JDR_Hawkins.mp3

 

Horses in Gray Cover

Our discussion focused on my new book, Horses in Gray. This is my first non-fiction book, and highlights Confederate warhorses. Here is the purchase link for the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503026776&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

patreon

Please support me on Patreon. It is very similar to Kickstarter, but it is an ongoing sponsorship. I would be eternally grateful for your support! Anything you give will be rewarded with fun gifts! You can commit to as little as $1 a month. Here is the link:

https://www.patreon.com/jdrhawkins

I Received My Author Copies!

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My new book, Horses in Gray, premiered last weekend at the SCV Convention in Memphis, and today, I received my author copies! This is such an exciting experience for me to share with you. Getting this book published has been a roller coaster ride. I started writing it five years ago, and after moving three times, I finally finished the manuscript. I searched around and discovered a small press who was willing to publish the book. Several months later, the manuscript had been edited, formatted and indexed. It was finally ready to be published! But just as it was about to go to press, the publishing company folded. I was heart-broken. Now it was back to square one.

I put on a brave face and sent the manuscript to a few companies who publish Civil War nonfiction, but I only got reject letters back. Then I sent it to Pelican Publishing, and they accepted it! One year later, my book is finally seeing the light of day!

Horses in Gray Cover

This is my first nonfiction book, and I am very proud of it. Here is an excerpt from Chapter One:

Most horses used in the war were geldings or mares. Not many stallions were utilized because they were unruly and hard to handle. For ambulances, horses were used rather than mules because horses were less skittish.1

At the start of the war, Southern gentry considered Thoroughbreds to be superior. They were certain that the quality and breeding of their fine racehorses would assure the Confederacy’s victory.

One newspaper article printed in 1863 read: “Let the baser baseness of breeding scrubs and cold bloods be left to the Yankees: and let Virginia planters resume [breeding] the thoroughbred Virginia race horse.”2

It didn’t take long for Confederate soldiers to figure out that Thoroughbreds were too flighty for use on the battlefield. Instead, various other breeds were used. Percherons were preferred by the Confederate artillery for pulling heavy caissons and wagons. Saddlebreds from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, as well as Tennessee Pacers (Southern Plantation Horses), the forerunners of today’s Tennessee Walking Horses, were ridden by the cavalry.

Gen. Basil Duke, second in command to Gen. John Hunt Morgan, was the first to describe the Saddlebred breed: “If I be correct in my estimate of the Thoroughbred, then it must be conceded that the nearer he approximates him, the better another horse (the Saddlebred) will be. But the Kentucky Saddlebred horse has not only inherited, in a large measure, the excellence of the Thoroughbred in respects to which I have called attention, but has also retained certain desirable characteristics which have more peculiarly distinguished the humbler (non-Thoroughbred) strain from which he is descended.”3

The desirable characteristics to which Duke alluded were “the peculiar gaits which make their descendants so valuable for the saddle.”4 However, Morgans were the most popular riding horses used by officers and horse soldiers alike.

Morgans were one of the earliest breeds to be developed in the United States. They can be traced back to their foundation sire, Figure, born in 1789 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and later renamed Justin Morgan after his owner. The breed is smaller than the Thoroughbred and possesses a stocky body, sturdy legs, and a long, thick mane and tail. Morgans are alert, easy keepers, sustaining on little food compared to other breeds.

Used primarily for riding and harness racing, they also served as coach horses. Because they were accustomed to pulling vehicles and were able to keep calm under fire, both armies used the breed extensively during the Civil War.

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During the war, bays were the most common in terms of color. Bay horses are distinguishable by their brown coats and black points (i.e. black manes, tails, and lower legs). Browns were the second-most common, followed by chestnuts and blacks. Next in line were horses whose colors ranged from gray to white, followed by roans, which have white and any other hair color intermixed throughout their coats. Most armed forces did not use pintos, spotted, or white horses, since they believed the animals would be easy targets, but some soldiers took a chance and rode them anyway. Grays were used by trumpeters so that officers could easily locate them when they wanted to have a call blown. Musicians also rode grays.

Horses came to recognize the different bugle calls used during the war. The call to trot or gallop was synchronized with the rhythm of the horses’ hoof beats in those gaits. The animals also recognized certain songs, a favorite of theirs being “Stable Call” because when they heard the music, they knew it was time to eat:

 

Oh, go to the stable,

All you who are able,

And give your poor horses some hay and some corn.

For if you don’t do it,

The colonel will know it,

And then you will rue it as sure as you’re born.5

 

Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart (known as Jeb) had an immense love of music and assembled a band of talented musicians to entertain his division as they marched long miles. Some horses in his cavalry grew so accustomed to the melodies that they responded by prancing in rhythm to the tunes.

 

Here is the Amazon link to purchase the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501200364&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

I am looking for reviewers, so please let me know if you are interested. Also, if you know of someone who might want to endorse the book and have their quote on the cover, send them my way!

 

 

 

Cover Reveal!

Horses in Gray Cover

I am so excited to reveal the cover for my new nonfiction book, Horses in Gray. This book tells many fascinating stories about famous Confederate steeds and their masters. It also describes lesser known horses as well. All of them have amazing stories to tell, and were as brave and fearless as their riders. Pre-order copies are available through Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491332576&sr=8-1&keywords=horses+in+gray

A special shout out to Pelican Publishing, Dan Nance for the cover art, and everyone else who helped make this book a reality. This is my first nonfiction book, and I’m very proud and honored to be able to publish it. Thank you so much!

 

Why I Write About the Civil War

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Frequently, when I’m at book signings and speaking engagements, I am asked why I chose to write about the Civil War. To me, this is one of the most captivating times in U.S. history. I was never into history when I was in school, but over the years, I have developed an interest in certain aspects of world and American history, as well as genealogy. Perhaps this is part of becoming more mature, but curiosity has compelled me to search out my ancestors and find out just where, exactly, I came from.

Doc Holliday

The same goes for writing about the War Between the States. I have always been interested in the Victorian era, especially after living in Colorado for 25 years and seeing the old mountain and mining towns that still exist. Some even have residents who live like people did in the late 1800’s. Of course, there’s Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, Central City, and Glenwood Springs, where Doc Holliday is buried. These places have always fascinated me, and they still do.

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While living in Colorado, I had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg. I had never seen a Civil War battlefield before, so when I did, you can imagine how awestruck I was. It impressed me so much that I was inspired to write my first novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. From there, the book expanded to a series. After I wrote three books in the Renegade Series, I went back and wrote the prequel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art

Now I am in the process of editing the third book in the series. I have also written a nonfiction book about Confederate warhorses. Unfortunately, the publisher for that book had to close up shop and file for bankruptcy during the same month that the book was supposed to be published. So needless to say, I am looking for a new publisher. (If you know of any, please send them my way!)

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While researching my first novel, I came upon some information about my husband’s family. After a genealogy search, we learned that his great-great grandfather was a Cherokee interpreter who fought under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. It just goes to show what you can discover when you start digging!

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