Ahh, I’ve been looking for this book for years! I went to a local book shop, and the guy there found it for super cheap and offered to get it shipped for a small fee! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so without further ado, let’s hop in!
By Ruth Painter Randall
Overall: I LOVE THIS BOOK! Okay, I’ve always been a huge Jefferson Davis family fan, but I’ve never read a book solely about them. This was the perfect book to start with. My mom read this years ago and told me about it, and I’ve been looking for it ever since. The story follows Varina, but it’s impossible to talk about her without paying homage to her amazing husband and her adorable children.
What I Loved: Getting to know my president and his wife on a more personal level. Seeing their heart for their people and their conservative values. It was a fantastic story. And of course little Jim Limber! Oh, I wish we knew what happened to him…
Cons: Multiple references to the Lincolns in an annoyingly positive light. The author acts as if they were a god and goddess and knowing what I do about the Lincolns, I found her comments offensive and her comparisons of the Lincolns and Davis’ to be extremely rude. Their values were very different, and I don’t think the couples would have appreciated being compared to each other. They had some similar unfortunate situations happen to them (losing children), but that doesn’t justify the author’s assertions that they were following the same track in life.
Hope you enjoyed this review! Have a Blessed Week!
I enjoy a good non-fiction read! Today’s is a fun one that I borrowed from the library. It encompasses my favorite time period, the War Between the States!
The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War
H.W. Croker 111
(Not sure Why the Cover is different than the book I borrowed...)
This one would have been a five star for me, but because of some language used in the quotes and occasionally in the text, I dropped my rating a little bit.
Overall: This book is a wealth of information on the American War Between the States. It gives semi-in-depth biographies of important generals, north and south. It also takes you through the war, noting important battles, little known facts and what would have happened if the South had won!!!
What I Loved: This book didn’t read like a text book. It was far more interesting. My Favorite parts were about Stonewall Jackson, Gen. McClellan, Nathan B. Forrest, and A.P. Hill. Really neat side-notes; hardcore southern reading. Many good quotes and interesting information. I loved how they didn’t avoid or justify the topic of slavery, while pointing it out as a national sin and how it really had no pull on the southerners as a reason to fight.
Two particular bad words stick out in my mind that were used about half a dozen times. If this had been my book, I would have blotted them out. Another thing that I found personally irritating was the length of the chapters. I prefer short chapters, and these were usually between 20-28 pages long.
Recommended for ages 16 and up for understanding.
Have a Blessed Week!
Soldier Life...something that has fascinated people for generations. It’s also something we civilians always wonder about and never quite understand. But today, I’m sharing some facts for those researching about the War Between the States, focusing on the Sergeant. (Click here for Episode 7!)
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on soldier or the War Between the States. But I have researched these topics extensively. My goal here is to give readers, writers and researchers the information I wish I had been able to find all in one place. Pulling from books and webpages takes time! To whoever finds this post helpful, this was written with you in mind!
Okay, so first, there are two different types of Sergeants. There are regular sergeants (the ranking one is called the First Sergeant) and the Sergeant Major, who is the top Non-Commission Officer (NCO; in other words, a guy who is in charge whom you do not salute.)
The duties of a regular sergeant are…
Most of the information I gathered was for the First Sergeant and the Sergeant Major, so I’ll expand a little on what they did to keep their part of the army running (the jobs were the same in the North and the South).
The First Sergeant was selected by the captain of the company from among the other sergeants. Then the commanding officer of the regiment would make his position official. Likewise, his commission could be revoked by the commanding officer. He is the main guy supervising the entire company (100 men!). The Captain gives him his orders and he sees that they are carried out by himself and the other sergeants. Think of him as the foreman on a worksite.
The First Sergeant is the one who keeps the rosters, lists of the men serving in his company, noting who is where during the day and night. He was expected to memorize the names in alphabetical order, so that he could call the roll at any hour. I’m sure once campaigning began, that got confusing, with men being killed, captured and reported missing. Not only did he need to know everyone’s name, but he also needed to know what they looked and sounded like and where they were supposed to be in the camp line up. This is because soldiers would sometimes answer for their buddies who were away from drill without permission.
When Roll Call is made, the First Sergeant lists the absentees to the officer overseeing the roll call. All the other NCO’s are responsible to him, making sure that their work is done correctly and that the paperwork is filed. He is also allowed to arrest soldiers and NCO’s, while reporting any action like this to the Captain, along with the details of the situation. He is also the one who oversees the guard details. (See my post on Corporals for more details)
Just as the Corporal of the Guard is the most important job for a corporal, the most important duty for a first sergeant is issuing and keeping records of supplies: weapons and ammunition, uniforms, camp supplies, etc. He also has to keep record of who received what and when, and if anything is misplaced, he has to find out if it was stolen, sold or if it was an innocent mistake. He was also responsible for issuing rations to the men, and overseeing the company funds.
The sergeant is responsible for the actions of the company, to set a good example for him. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a man with a good temper and a strong sense of justice. He’s not supposed to be close friends with the men under him, but he should be the kind they can come to with anything on their minds without fear of talking out of turn. He’s the buffer between the men and the officers.
Now, the Sergeant Major, as I said, is the ranking NCO of the regiment. Here is one of the differences between the first sergeant and the sergeant major: one is regimental, the other is company oriented. The sergeant major is appointed by the regimental commander and there is one sergeant major in every regiment. (There are ten First Sergeants in a regiment, because there are ten companies.)
The Sergeant Major pretty much does what a First Sergeant does, only on a larger scale. His roster is of the NCOs (Sergeants and corporals) and he must also keep the time in camp. That means waking up the musicians in time to sound Reveille at the proper hour in the morning.
The First Sergeant turns the morning reports in to the Sergeant Major, who in turn gives them back to the sergeant, along with the orders for the day. He instructs them in details that will be expected of them the next day and copies the orders into the “Company Order-Book.”
He will also attend the Mounting of the Guard, with the First Sergeants reporting to him that everything is in order. He is the NCO all the lower-ranking NCOs look up to, so it is expected for him to act as the model soldier in the way he dresses and carries himself. He should be punctual and disciplined. When promotions come along, if he has carried out his duties correctly, he will be the first NCO to get an officer’s commission. Then, a first sergeant will take his place.
That’s all I have for today. Have a blessed week!
Hello and welcome back for my newest book related post. But …I’m cheating. 😉 I have only one actual research book to share today. But don’t despair! I’m going to include a few fiction titles to this list to round out the end of this series (for now anyway 😉). So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. Manhunt: The Twelve Day Hunt for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson (Don’t currently have my book with me, it’s being loaned out, it’s that good!)
This book! It’s so good! Okay, so that sounds terrible, seeing as how this is about someone dying… Anyway, this is the best book I’ve read about the Lincoln assassination. It’s non-fiction written like a novel! (I think you call that narrative non-fiction…?) Anyway, Mr. Swanson spins an excellent narrative. At times there are bits of history that we just don’t know what happened. I think there were (I think) three days of the Manhunt when we don’t know what John Wilkes Booth was up to. What did Mr. Swanson do? He used it as a springboard for some background story on the Booth family! It was brilliant! Because of some of the details, I would recommend either editing it first or waiting until the reader is at least 16, depending on their maturity level. It’s very well researched! I’ve read it…3 times? And I’m going to be reading it again when I get it back, to refresh myself for the writing of my 5th book on the War Between the States! (Title is still under wraps!)
2. Iron Scouts of the Confederacy by Lee McGiffin
Okay…I did a whole post on this book, so I won’t reiterate here, but people! You need to read this book! It too is Narrative non-fiction, but not really a research book. It’s about Wade Hampton’s elite Cavalry unit and I just adore this book. This is another one I’ve read two or three times and hope to read again soon! Recommended for all ages!
3. Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Okay, so this one will need editing. But, it is worth it. It’s language, not content. But this book I learned a lot from. It shows the struggle of duty and fear for a young soldier and how he overcomes what he feels is cowardice. I personally just wanted to tell him everything would be okay and your not a coward, you’re just young and scared. Even though he didn’t subscribe to my personal view of the War Between the States, Henry taught me a lot. It made me understand some of my own characters a little better.
4. Iron Thunder by Avi
This was my very first Avi book! It was written in First Person Point of View (POV) so that was so neat. The main character is Tom Carroll and his service aboard the USS Monitor. (There actually was a Tom Carroll aboard, but they make it clear, this is a different person ) While some of the talk about the south was offensive to me, I found it very intriguing to learn about the Iron Clads of the War Between the States. I would love to find a book like this about the CSS Virginia (which this book calls the Merrimac, which drives me nuts!) It was very informative and worth reading. Minimal editing needed, recommended for ages 8 and up!
So that pretty much wraps this series up for now! If I read anymore for my The Battle for Heritage Series research, I will let you know!
Hello everyone! A few months ago, I did a post called Fact or Fiction//Which is More Important? Today, I want to turn this into an official Writing Series called Fact or Fiction? It will cover writing myths and history myths. Today, I’m going to tackle five common misconceptions about The War Between the States that I see popping up in most fiction books on the topic. Hope you enjoy!
Myth #1: All Southerners owned slaves/supported slavery.
This is not true and it makes me want to laugh every time I see this pop up. While a book may not come right out and say this, it’s insinuated in popular fiction that all Southerners own slavery. My ancestors are proof this is untrue. In fact, studies show that only about 25% of the Southern population in 1860 owned slaves. (For more statistics on this study, read The South Was Right! and Lincoln Unmasked)
And all southerners did not support slavery, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are prime examples of Southerners who hated the institution. And I’d also like to point out that the Underground Railroad couldn’t have existed without Southern abolitionists. Let’s say you are helping a slave form Florida escape to Canada. You cannot magically jump over the slave holding states (which included Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Ohio, to name a few). You must come through several of these states to get to Canada. You must have food and shelter to make a trip (on foot or hiding in a wagon), and it’s dangerous. There is no way they could have gotten to Canada without help. North Carolina was one of the most active states in the Underground Railroad. So it is ludicrous to assume all southerners were at least supportive of slavery.
Myth #2: Southern soldiers, on average, could not read.
While both the Union and Confederate States had a large population of illiterate people, it’s silly to write a story where none of the Confederates know how to read. It’s insulting. If I’m not mistaken, The South Was Right! covers this claim as well. I read one study that showed that most Southern soldiers could read to some extent. Christ in the Camp makes this fact clear in the large amounts of tracts, pamphlets, books and Bibles they gave to eager southern soldiers. So, while it’s fine to have a grown soldier here and there who can’t read, or one who can’t read well, it’s way over used. Drummers are another matter, as there were a lot of street kids or orphans who had never been to school filling those spots.
Myth #3: The South fought to preserve slavery.
I am fighting not to roll my eyes at this one. It is in almost every book you read about the War Between the States and it is the biggest fallacy of them all. I’ll give you the nut shell of why the South fought, but if you want to read more on this topic, see these posts (Here, here, here and here.) The south would not have fought to preserve slavery. That would have been ridiculous. No woman in her right mind would send her man to war just so she could force another person to work for her. (Okay, so the women didn't literally send their men off to war, but you know what I mean, lol!) That’s insane. The reason the South fought the War Between the States is because their states’ rights were being taken away from them. The government passed taxes that hurt the south to aide the north. I’m not being biased, I’m stating facts. The government had enlarged it’s self past it’s Constitutional boundaries and had made it quite clear that it didn’t care who they had to step on to grab more power…sound familiar? Seems like there was a man named Kind George III who had that same ambition. I don’t care what side you take on the war in your novel. But I do care if it’s historically inaccurate. Even if you choose to ignore these facts, don’t have your southern antagonist citing slavery as his reason to fight. Read what the southern soldiers said they were fighting for. Slavery will not be one of their reasons.
Myth #4: The Emancipation Proclamation freed the Slaves.
Another common misconception, and it mostly stems from the fact that most people have never actually read the proclamation. I strongly encourage you to read it and not just take someone else’s word for it, no matter what angle they take on it, myself included. But basically, the EP was written to keep England and France, who had already outlawed slavery in their countries, from aiding the Confederacy and recognizing us as a nation. In the latter end, they succeeded, but the British and French did help us monetarily and materially, though not to the capacity they would have if not for the EP. The EP states that all slaves held in the seceded states are free, except those who lived in Union held territory. The hypocrisy here is that those are the only slaves he had the power to free, since they were in territory he had conquered. So where is their right to freedom from the “Champion of Abolition?” The shocking truth is that he didn’t care about the ones he could actually help; he just wanted to look good to Europe. He had no jurisdiction over the seceded states as a whole, since they were a separate country, so his proclamation did absolutely nothing. Also, he said, if the states would rejoin the Union by January 1st of 1863, they could keep their slaves. If the war was over slavery, every single state would have jumped at the chance to be back in their beloved former country. But not one took him up on the offer, proving not only that the South was not fighting to keep their slaves, but also that the Union was not fighting to free them.
Myth #5: All the Southern women wore hoop skirts.
I had to slip a fun one in here! 😉 So, yeah, this one’s not true either! Hoop skirts were very impractical for daily life in the south. They are bulky and let’s be honest, you can’t tend your garden like that, lol! The majority of southern woman were middle class and did the cooking, cleaning, gardening and often times helped in the fields as well. If she owned a hoop skirt, she would have worn it to church, weddings and socials. If I had lived during this time, I probably wouldn’t have even owned one. In my books, my main girl character Dixie is from a middle-class cotton plantation family. And she doesn’t own a hoop skirt. Why? Because she lives in the country. There is no where for her to wear one too. In fact, when up in Philadelphia for Christmas, she must borrow one from her cousins for a social. This wasn’t uncommon. Not everyone lived in Raleigh, Richmond and Atlanta. That’s what most people think of when they imagine life in the Antebellum South. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, lol!
So that’s it for this first post on Fact or Fiction! I hope you enjoyed it!
Have a blessed day!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.