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’s 1864, 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, 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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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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Spirit of the Knoxville Ladies

Longstreet and his rebels may have left Knoxville in defeat but the half of the town that was Confederate apparently was still holding its own under Union occupation. To wit this item on page 3 of the Feb. 27, 1864 edition of the Charleston Mercury of Charleston, South Carolina:

“Spirit of the Knoxville Ladies.–The Federals in Knoxville are having no easy task in subjugating the rebel ladies, if we may judge by a few instances of spirit which have come to our knowledge.

“Mrs. H_____n, a remarkably handsome dark eyed widow lady, was required to leave without more than an hour’s notice, and no opportunity was offered her to dispose of her furniture for her own benefit.  The harpies were even besieging her door, with the expectation of appropriating the entire contents of the residence the moment she should vacate the premises.  Aware of this, by some little dexterity, she kept them at bay, whilst she manufactured a loblolly, consisting of her pickles, sweet meats, wines, marmalades, preserves, flour, vinegar, mustard, sugar, slops, &c., and deliberately spread this over her parlor carpets; broken mirrors and crockery were quickly added, whilst a bucket or two of ashes and suds completed the ruin of her household treasures, sacrificed within hearing of the enemy.
“It is beyond our power of description to portray, the rage, and astonishment of the Yankee crew, as they rushed in to seize upon the widow’s property, and became aware of the trick which had prevented them from satisfying their keenest appetite upon her “goodies.”

“Mrs. H_____n’s remark to the officer, who escorted her out of town, was an admonition to him, to make haste back to her residence before his brother officers appropriated his part of the plunder, and eat his share of the entertainment she had provided for them.”

Via  University of Texas at Tyler & Poore Boys in Gray.

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Reprise: Mrs Ellis’s copy of Lucile

I got the idea for the novel’s fictional Union sympathizer Leila Ellis to be reading Owen Meredith’s Lucile on the night the Rebs drove in the pickets at Fort Sanders from an old copy of the book I inherited from my Mississippi grandmother. Grandmother’s copy was published in 1888 in a poets’ series by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. of New York. TYC was regarded as little more than a pirate publisher at the time, according to The LUCILE Project at the University of Iowa.

From the project’s site I determined that Mrs. Parthenia Leila Ellis’s copy of the Owen Meredith poem would have been the Ticknor & Fields 1860 first edition in blue cloth with a gold title and cartouche on the spine. It was a gift from her Alabama mother who bought it in Mobile before the war began and mailed it to Leila’s new home in Knoxville.

According to the Iowa researchers, even the Ticknor & Fields first edition probably would not fetch more than $15 on eBay, and grandmother’s 1888 edition even less. Still and all, Lucile was a popular poem for many years, selling in one edition or another up until 1938 when it finally went out of paper print. It’s still available today, for free, in HTML format by Project Gutenberg, and for a price in other digital and print-on-demand formats by retailers. Just Google it and you’ll see.

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The Knoxville Whig & Rebel Ventilator


Parson William Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig newspaper added the words Rebel Ventilator to its flag in the runup to the Civil War. The fiery Union editor maintained it until the occupying Rebels drove him out of town, turning his steam presses from printing newspapers to making rifled gun barrels for the Confederacy.

He had settled in Philadelphia, Pa. when Union troops reoccupied Knoxville. He returned but soon fled again when Gen. Longstreet’s forces took the town under siege.

The novel’s fictional character Parthenia Leila Ellis was a close friend of the parson’s wife, the historical figure Eliza Brownlow. In an example of the war’s many dvivided families, she was the sister of another historical figure prominent in the novel: Confederate Col. Alfred G.W. O’Brien, a commander of the Thirteenth Mississippi Infantry Regiment which attacked Fort Sanders during the siege.

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Own Your Own Whitworth, part 2

There’s another opportunity to own a rare English Whitworth rifle, the preferred sniper rifle of the Confederacy. It begins on September 12th through the 14th online at the Rock Island Auction Company.

The Rebs fatally sharpshot Fort Sanders’ namesake Union Gen. William P. Sanders, with a thirteen-pound Whitworth. It was fired more than a mile away, from the tower  of the Bleak House mansion, Gen. Longstreet’s headquarters.

The muzzle-loading, percussion rifle fired a one-inch projectile powered by a three-inch powder charge.  It usually mounted a 14.5-inch sighting telescope. Reportedly even Queen Victoria could hit the bulls-eye with one at 400 yards.

In the 1860s, the Whitworth was terribly expensive at about $1,200. The Rock Island bidding starts at $6,500 but, since only 250 of the rifles are known to have been made for the Confederacy, they have been known to fetch $10,000 and more.

Via TOCWOC — A Civil War Blog

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