Kindle version of the novel now at 99 cents

KVCoverKindleGettysburg held. Vicksburg has fallen. Now Rebel flags ring Knoxville in East Tennessee. General James Longstreet, Lee’s Warhorse, means to wrench this railroad hub away from the occupying Union army.

“I’ve long considered Michael and Jeff Shaara’s Civil War trilogy to be one of the benchmarks for Civil War historical fiction. Knoxville 1863 came very close to that mark.” --Jim Chambers for Red Adept Reviews

In this sesquicentennial of the war, the eBook version is available for the Amazon Kindle at 99 cents a copy. It’s professionally edited, proofread to eliminate misspellings, typos and other annoying errors, and has a map of the battlefield and a linked table of contents. A paperback version is available for $7.98 here.

Also now available is my 366-page, indexed non-fiction history of the 13th Mississippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the principal Rebel units in the attack on Fort Sanders, here.

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Parson Brownlow’s wife Elisa


In the novel, the historical Elisa Brownlow and my fictional Leila Ellis are close friends. This photo of Mrs. Brownlow was taken in Philadelphia, Pa, soon after the war began when the Confederates had kicked her husband out of Knoxville for being vehemently anti-Rebel.

Parson William Gannaway Brownlow was then as popular in the North as he was despised in the South because he was pro-Union. So he and Elisa and their daughter, Susan, enjoyed great acclaim in Philadelphia. He gave speeches and wrote pamphlets. Later, when emancipation became part of the Union cause, he would not be so popular because he was not and never had been an abolitionist.

Via The McClung Collection

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This is Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day came and went without much notice in the late days of the war. Private RobertA. Moore of the 17th Mississippi Regiment which led the attack on Fort Sanders:

“This is Valentine’s Day,” Moore wrote in his diary in 1863. “The boys are generally far from home & their beloved ones & are in no state of mind for such light amusement.”

Via The Bloody Thirteenth.

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An honor guard


An honor guard for the dead of Fort Sanders as this sesquicentennial period nears its end.

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Correction: “new gray shell jackets”

I’m now convinced I made a mistake in attributing the Mississippi Brigade’s new shell jackets to a gift from the state of North Carolina in the late summer of ’63 when their motley collection of railroad cars stopped en route from Petersburg, VA, to Ringgold, GA.

“Those quality ladies were all so happy to see us, the raggedy boys of Bob Lee’s beloved army,” my fictional Private Bird Clark recalls in the novel. “They treated us like as if we were royalty, though we were dirty and sour-smelling and our beards were scraggly. Then they presented us with new gray shell jackets, a gift from the governor of North Carolina.”

The real jackets, it seems, were not gray but of a light blue “gray kersey” a course woolen cloth then imported from England. So blue, in fact, that one Ohio regiment hesitated to fire on them at Chickamauga. So blue that Gen. Grant mistook a First Corps soldier for a Yankee.

But also in need of correction is the notion that the jackets were a “late summer of ’63” gift from Zebulon Vance, the war-era governor of North Carolina. I’d been corrected on this before by reader Les White but was not convinced until I stumbled on it again at the Civil War blog Blue and Gray Marching which attributed it to historian and journalist Glen Tucker and presented evidence that Tucker was mistaken.

My apology. I regret the errors.

Via Blue and Gray Marching.


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Bragg: The man who knew no fear

Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s silent partner at Knoxville was Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. Not because Bragg was a traitor but because he put getting even with Gen. Longstreet ahead of Confederate victory. Way ahead. Bragg was a small man.

His chief, post-war published critic Sam Watkins said it best: “Bragg was the great autocrat…He loved to crush the spirit of his men. The more of a hang-dog look they had about them the better was General Bragg pleased. Not a single soldier in the whole army ever loved or respected him.”

Probably not coincidentally, Bragg was also the losingest of the Confederate generals. So much so that after the war he was the inspiration for a derisive portrayal of a Confederate general in the 1956 Broadway musical Li’l Abner: None other than Jubilation T. Cornpone.

The first stanza of Jubilation’s song: “When we fought the Yankees and their annihilation was near, who was there to lead the charge that took us safe to the rear? Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone, old toot-your-own-horn pone. Jubilation T. Cornpone, a man who knew no fear.”

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Strawberry Plains, 1863


The guard on this bridge 20 miles northeast of Knoxville probably is Union but the photo was taken soon after Dec. 3, about the time when Longstreet’s retreating troops passed this way, so who knows?

Biggerize the photo with a click and you’ll notice the guard is barefoot. Unusual for Union, but then quite common for Rebels. Biggerizing will also give you a better look at the dirt fort in the right top. It is not Fort Sanders but it could be, from all we know of the latter, at least from this angle. See here for more details.

Via Shorpy.

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A Merry Knoxville 1863 Christmas

Christmas Presents for Gentlemen!
Christmas Presents for Gentlemen!
Christmas Presents for Gentlemen!
Fresh Supplies of Genuine Imported
Havana Cigars,
of the Finest Quality—REAL
Turkish Smoking Tobacco!
Meerschaum Pipes and Meerschaum
Cigar Tubes of the most Elegant Styles,
Just received per steamer “Red Wing,” and for sale
at the lowest prices, by Bernays.

At Henry’s Variety Store, Little Rock, Arkansas, according to this ad in the Jan 5, 1860 edition of the Old-Line Democrat newspaper.

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A Yankee Opinion of East Tennessee

More from the Charleston Mercury newspaper of Charleston, South Carolina, this item from its Dec. 21, 1863 edition:

“A Yankee Opinion of Their Friends in East Tennessee–Among the letters captured by our forces around Knoxville was one from D. G. Griffin to his father in New York.  The opinion expressed must be very flattering to the Unionists of East Tennessee:

“Our Union friends have fanaticism and enthusiasm enough, but they are so ignorant and ill bred as to disgust any gentleman.  The women know how to make “corn dodgers” and dirty little Federal flags, “ginger cakes and the like,” and to curse and point out their superiors–rebel ladies and rebel gentlemen–and that is about all.

“The rebel ladies are intelligent, well bred, and good looking–dignified and bold in their demeanor.  But they won’t talk to us–consider themselves our superiors, simply from the fact that we are fighting for their inferiors, the Union ladies.  They are not to blame.  I often blush when I think of the common herd that I am perilling [sic] my life for.  God save me from such ignorant trash.

“You have often heard of majorities for the Union in East Tennessee; but I must confess, taking into consideration, if the rebels are entitled to any country, it is this.  Their friends are many, strong in their fidelity, and seem to have some plausible reasons for their rights, &c.

“The name of tory seems to suit them very well.  I don’t wonder at the promotion of Gov. Johnson, Horace Maynard and others.  Such a people can be easily demagogued.  All they know is to be “Union folks.”

“I can’t think that we shall remain here very long, even the rebels permitting.  The rebel Gen. Faughn and others are continually annoying us, so much so that we cannot see any peace for them.  We didn’t expect to fight the rebels when we came here, but find that our personal safety will force us to fight them hard and often.”

Via University of Texas at Tyler & Poore Boys in Gray

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