A Certain Death cover reveal

battle of Corinth, At the Double Quick, Shiloh seriesBook 2 is about to be released, March 1st to be exact, so mark your calendars! A follow on to the story set during the battle of Shiloh, a battle that set the course for the rest of the war in the west. What follows is an excerpt from the Prologue and the teaser description.

The cover image is the bas relief prominent at the Corinth Interpretive Center, Corinth Mississippi and part of the Shiloh National Battlefield NPS park and cemetery.

The battle at Pittsburg Landing altered the course of the war in the west and changed the lives of thousands who fought there and survived.

Will Hunter’s pursuit of higher command has been interrupted by his capture, the fault of his jealous commanding officer. Stuck far behind enemy lines with little hope for exchange, escape seems improbable. Neither high prison walls nor hundreds of miles of Ohio backwoods trails will keep him from trying.

Philip Pearson survived Shiloh but wonders if his luck will hold much longer. Pursuing reinstatement in the Methodist Episcopal Church brings him full circle: his battlefield experience calling him back to the collar he left behind. Only convincing the bishop of Dayton and surviving the coming assaults on Corinth stand in his way of a chaplaincy.

Ohio, far from the theaters of war, will test both men’s ambitions and trust in their fellow man.

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A Certain Death (The Shiloh Series)

Book Excerpt

Prologue
Huntsville, Alabama, 1847

Will Hunter stole ever so close to his prey. He was dressed in pants and a shirt of old muslin, fading in color and too long in use. The boy’s sandy blond hair and wry smile finished the look of an Alabama backwater, son of a white-trash drunk with nothing better to do but get into shines. The day was bright and hot, his shirt hanging loosely upon his slim shoulders, his cuffs open and begrimed. He would strike a blow for his father or just for himself—what did it matter when the target was a black?

Excitement animated his hands as he looked one way, then the other, then back. The house stood by the side of the road, an old wooden shack not much different from many other rural homesteads. The target of Will’s attentions was not deserving of mischief, nor were its occupants beholden to him in any way. Perhaps that was what irked the boy the most: their total lack of the customary deference expected between people of certain classes and races. The law being in his favor was not enough to satisfy his caprice for the man known as Baxter. He needed to do this to satisfy his superiority in deed as well as station.

Youthful pride and ignorance were no exception for Will. It was mischief he wanted on this day, and what better way to do it than in secret? He was not so protected by the law as to be brazen with his destructive errand, but anonymity would give him his revenge and protection at the same time. He had picked a spot to run and hide where he could watch the shenanigans, and now he needed only strike the match and watch the fun, storing up the details to share with his chums. He wouldn’t burn down the house—just the fence surrounding it. He reasoned that Alabama did not need free blacks and therefore did not need to extend the rights of property to them either.

Baxter’s slave wife, June, was a house slave of one of the larger plantations around Huntsville belonging to the Kearns family. Baxter could visit her and the children now and again. He lived alone and worked his own land, having been freed years before and allowed to build his little home on land his former owner willed to him and a few other former slaves. No longer the possession of another, Baxter was not entirely free to do as he pleased, but he tried to make due with what life and the law would allow.

The house looked still and empty, and the field in the back where the man raised cotton and foodstuffs was lonely. Baxter himself was not to be seen. This was the perfect time.

Engrossed in his preparations, Will did not hear the land owner close up behind him.

“Whut you do there, boy?”

Will gave a cry of surprise and dropped his match. Caught, he had nothing to say.

****

Continue reading “A Certain Death cover reveal”

Rewriting History

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Battery Robinett fortification reconstruction, Corinth MIssissippi Interpretive Center

I’m one month into my rewrite of book #2 in the civil war series starting with the battle of Shiloh. Major General Henry W. Halleck set his plan in motion the beginning of May, 1862 a month later than he’d planned thanks to the untimely intervention of Albert Sidney Johnston’s surprise attack on Grant’s Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing or more commonly known as Shiloh. This campaign is little known, not important enough to rate a history of its own and of the fortifications built no longer exist around the modern town of Corinth, Mississippi. You can find a fine history of several battles part of the western Tennessee and northern Mississippi fighting in Peter Cozzen’s Iuka and Corinth book but otherwise this is just a foot note in the history of the region.

My writing on book #2 started around this time last year when I was only writing fitfully on the weekends when I made the time. I didn’t set any goal, I just started writing. It wasn’t until this year that I started applying a daily word count that I finished the WIP and began to make notes on a printout copy, small edits in sentence structure and overall plot. I won’t do a line edit (that’s for my editor to do) but I will do several passes looking for specific details. In my initial WIP at the beginning I trashed whole sections of the initial start because I just didn’t feel the story any longer. I write by listening to the story and sometimes I stop listening and go off on some other path and sometimes I stop myself. I wrote out two characters in those early chapters only, later on, to write them back in but with a different start. I even wrote in a new character, a former slave hunter to explore an obviously unlikable character who would be the center of much of the story to see if he could be rehabilitated.

My rewrite has entered the less boring stage of applying the notes and changes from the print out to the electronic file to the addition of brand new content. One character I excised early on is now back and on the brink of the beginning of the Corinth siege campaign. The Army of the Ohio will spend the next month (May 1st to May 29th) making short marches and digging in as Halleck cautiously moves and maneuvers his armies to within a mile of the Corinth fortifications and all the while promising Secretary of War Stanton he intends to take Corinth in one gallant rush. The truth is Halleck never intends to attack but to try and force Beauregard to either attack him or hole up in the city and eventually be cut off from his rail road supply lines. Other than skirmishing, there is no real major fighting.

So, why Corinth? Why is it important when no one else sees it as so? Because for a soldier in the Army of the Ohio at the time, as my Philip character is, it was deadly work and something they would have had to experience as time went on. It is part of the soldier narrative to experience the mundane and the trivial with the important and deadly. It is also something that has to happen to get my character from point A, the survival of Shiloh in book #1 and to where I needed him to be for future books. See, I had a problem with book #2, nothing was happening after Shiloh. The civil war in the west after Shiloh was one of maneuver and strategic movement over tactical battles like Shiloh. So, I thought I would be writing a novel about Stone’s River, something that happens late 1862 and early 1863 but one book has turned into six and the time frame needed for #2 was either going to leave out too much from this time period or be way to long.

I rely a lot on the War of the Rebellion collection of after action reports and correspondences between the field commanders and their superiors for the detail I weave into the story lines of these novels. I like to maintain a historical reality for my characters and have something of the mundane, like changing one’s campsite due to unhealthy conditions, as a framework for change. These are the details I can only find in these reports and correspondence during the war. The changes to the 2nd novel have been guided somewhat by these details that send the gears in my head turning as I attempt to follow some logical progression to tie things together. It has been an adventure, this second book through the multiple rewrites and changes with characters that I can only hope have been part of the making the novel better.
A short story for Kindle is out about these two armies:
Two Struck Images

We don’t count the Siege of Corinth as 1st Corinth

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At the Double Quick, a bronze relief at the Corinth Interpretive Center, Corinth Ms.

It was a long drive from Nashville today to get to Corinth Mississippi. For our battlefield excursion we have based ourselves out of Nashville as being a little more central to a few of the other places we intend to visit.

One of the rangers at Corinth said this line as we chatted in the bookstore over my purchases of two maps of the area, one of the siege operations and one of the confederate attack on Corinth. I mentioned that we were there to take photos for novel covers and that one was about 1st Corinth and the second about 2nd Corinth. I can see their point, there really wasn’t a battle per se the first time, just some fighting here and there as Halleck maneuvered around Beauregard’s forces to try to cut him off from his rail supply. Beauregard abandons the city and there is no bloody battle. Apparently they must get this a lot as she was quick on the draw. I still prefer to call it 2nd Corinth, but I won’t split hairs.

There is practically nothing left at Corinth but the remnants of the earthworks at Battery Robinette. Everything has been bulldozed for the city to grow over. It is fitting, though, that this one area was not churned to nothing due to the lone confederate unknown graves that are resting on a hill (the real earthwork (the interpretive center is built just a little beyond the real battery) and where the grave of Colonel Rogers used to be before being reinterred elsewhere.

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These grave markers were just a few of those killed from the 2nd Texas who stormed the parapets at Robinette and took the battery, if only briefly, before being forced to retreat after suffering galling losses.

There is also a walking tour through the site of a former contraband slave camp, established soon after the failed assault on Corinth and organized by several charitable organizations to socialize and educate former slaves into industry and self sufficiency. It was run for less than a year but was apparently used as a model for other camps to be set up elsewhere. The park is filled with bronze statues and this was one that caught my eye (though I do not believe the site was related to any USCT training or recruiting)

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It was a full day and we still had Shiloh to stomp around at. I met the person who runs the Shiloh Bookstore and gave her the Sell Sheet and bookmark we’d produced for They Met at Shiloh. We still do not know if the lead historian will approve the book or not, but Winston Groom’s novel on Shiloh was in prominent display (this person had informed me the historian only approves “classic” fiction to be sold in the store, Foote’s novel on Shiloh was also on display). It is their choice, but the person in charge of the bookstore is a pleasant person to chat with (several times on the phone and now in person). The bookstores are managed by a third party contractor but the content is up to the park historian. I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I did find it interesting seeing the other fiction works already on the shelves, and not all were “classic”.

They Met At Shiloh