Kindle version of the novel now 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

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.

Posted in "Knoxville 1863", Instapundit Plug | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Signal flags at Knoxville

Gen. Edward Porter Alexander was a colonel at Knoxville, in charge of Longstreet’s artillery, where he put to good use the signal flags he’d learned to use as a U.S. Army officer under Albert J. Myer, an army surgeon, before the war.

“I was one of the very few, if not the only Southern officer who knew Myer’s system of signals,” he wrote in his memoir Fighting For The Confederacy.

“Both the Union and the Confederacy,” writes Trevor at Fold3, an online archive of military records, “developed an army Signal Corps during the Civil War. The job of the Signal Corps in both the North and South was to quickly and accurately relay information and orders between the commanders of different units within the two forces (which was especially crucial during battles). The main way they did this was through the use of a flag system called wig-wag…”

At Knoxville Alexander used them for signaling his widely-spread artillery when to cease and recommence firing.

“Then,” recalled the novel’s fictional artillery Sergeant Pitchigru Pease of Parker’s Boy Battery, which was perched on Cherokee Heights above the battlefield, “we saw a flurry of signal flags down at the Bleak House, the red and white flags that Colonel Alexander had first used for instant communication at First Manassas. They seemed to be speaking to us, as well as the rest of the battalion, for then, to the dismay of all, Captain Parker ordered us to cease fire.”

But before long, the guns roared out again in support of the attacking Confederate infantry.

“Then the big red and white wig-wag flags of the battalion atop the Bleak House mansion fluttered into motion,” Pease continued. “The waving flags were sending signals to the batteries in the north, since the fog had lifted some more. I wished I had ever learned to read the flags, but they were awful complicated. Their meaning was hidden from me.”

Posted in "Knoxville 1863", Bleak House, Boy Battery, Edward Porter Alexander | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nashville’s Confederate Cleansing

In the novel, Knoxville’s Union-sympathizing Confederate widow Parthenia Leila Ellis’s slain husband Clayton bought his fancy Confederate uniform—with the gold braid “chicken guts” of a major on its coat sleeves—from a tailor in Nasvhville.

In the latest attempt to appease the 21st century’s ahistorical sensitive, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University recently decided to play “let’s pretend” and remove the word Confederate from one of its campus buildings.

“In 1935 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) constructed Confederate Memorial Hall as a residence for girls at Nashville’s Peabody College. Originally residents who were descendants of Confederate veterans and agreed to become teachers were granted free room and board. The school and dormitory were acquired by Vanderbilt University in 1979. Earlier this month university chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, announced that the name ‘Confederate’ will be sandblasted off of the building.”

It’s only the latest chapter in Tennessee’s contentious civil war history, in which the Eastern half of the state tended to be Union and the Western half Confederate.

“Tennessee had finally seceded, in June, 1861,” Leila relates in the novel, “though it took two elections and several months in between for the Secesh to put it over. In between, [Knoxville’s] Gay Street often hosted recruiting efforts for both armies.”

Via Poore Boys In Gray.

Posted in "Knoxville 1863" | Leave a comment

Rough Rider Joe Wheeler


Confederate cavalry attacking the city was the first thought of the novel’s fictional Parthenia Leila Ellis when the sounds of battle awakened her the night the Rebels drove in the pickets at Fort Sanders.

That cavalry was commanded by Gen. Joseph Wheeler of Georgia who was later captured in 1865 attempting to shield the fleeing President Jefferson Davis from pursuing Union soldiers. Wheeler became the highest-ranking Confederate prisoner at the Union’s Fort Delaware.

Wheeler also has the distinction (despite his Rebel service) of being buried in Arlington National Cemetery. It was due, in part, to his post-war election to the U.S. House of Representatives. But mainly to his volunteer service in the Spanish-American War, as a staff officer in the Rough Riders under President Theodore Roosevelt.

Posted in Gen. Joseph Wheeler, Parthenia Leila Ellis | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Colonel Solon Z. Ruff


SOLON Z. RUFF, colonel of the 18th Georgia which followed the Phillips Georgia Legion in the attack on Fort Sanders, was a graduate of the Georgia Military Institute and a professor there until the war began, according to the web site Men of Wofford’s Georgia Brigade. Ruff enlisted and was appointed lieutenant colonel. He would lead the 18th from the beginning with the Texas Brigade until its reorganization under General Wofford.

The Eighteenth Mississippi’s Captain Gart Johnson told Confederate Veteran Magazine years after the war that Ruff was shot down at the edge of the ditch along with Col. Kennon McElroy of the Thirteenth Mississippi. Johnson said they were standing there remonstrating over how to get their entangled commands separated into recognizable units for the fight. And so they die in the novel.

Posted in "Knoxville 1863", Confederate Veteran Magazine, Eighteenth Georgia, The Phillips Georgia Legion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tail coats

“Men in claw-hammer coats and tall, beaver hats and ladies in silk dresses and sunbonnets were standing looking down at us from above the red-clay walls we had tried so hard to climb…”

So says Private Lafayette Bolton of the Dalton Guards, of the Phillips Georgia Legion, one of the attacking Confederate units in the battle. He was on burial detail in Chapter 8. All of these items of clothing are self-explanatory except the claw-hammer coats, also called swallow-tail coats for the division of their cloth at the rear of the coat.

The coats were quite common in the 1860s, had been for decades, but nowadays are generally only seen in tuxedos, the white-tie-and-tails configuration of the men’s evening dress apparel. As Wikipedia relates at the link:  “The historical reason coats were cut this way was to make it easier for the wearer to ride a horse…”

Posted in Civil War clothing, Fort Sanders, The Phillips Georgia Legion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reprise:Susan Brownlow

Parson William Gannaway Brownlow was as popular in the North as he was despised in the South.

So when the Confederates finally kicked him out of Knoxville, he and his wife Elisa and their daughter, Susan, enjoyed great acclaim in Philadelphia. He gave speeches and wrote pamphlets.

There, this pamphlet was circulated, though who produced it and why Susan was dubbed Martha isn’t clear.

That she was a heroine to the Yankees is readily understandable. She was the daughter of a man who, though a slave-owner who was decidedly not an abolitionist, was nevertheless intensely loyal to the Union.

Posted in "Knoxville 1863" | Leave a comment

Find Fort Sanders


Curious caption, since I can’t figure out where Fort Sanders is, and this only a year or so after the battle. Given that the river would be more or less on the east side of Knoxville, I think the fort would be off to the left, out of the frame of the picture altogether. What do you think?

Posted in Fort Sanders, Knoxville | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Those sharpshooters

Sharpshooters, like the unknown Rebel one who felled Fort Sanders’ namesake, General William P. Sanders, from more than a mile away, were special troops with their own drill and esprit.

It helped that they often had special arms such as this 13-pound English Whitworth rifle which the Knoxville shooter employed. But there was more to them than their tools.

A newly revised 2006 nonfiction history has the details of these “shock troops” of the Confederacy. There’s also a new collection of papers and letters from Eugene Blackford, a contentious major who helped organize the first battalion of sharpshooters of the Army of Northern Virginia in January, 1863. Worth a look.


Posted in Bleak House, Civil War armament, Gen. William P. Sanders | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment