Friday, November 30, 2012

About the Dedication

The dedicatory page to the officers and men of the Fourth Regiment, North Carolina State Troops, is very similar to dedications made by surviving veterans in their own actual memoirs.

I made the conscious decision to use the Fourth NC because the regiment lost all its serving field officers in the Sunken Road during the Battle of Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862.

 Chapter 1 of the Prologue 

This chapter accomplishes three main goals. First, it helps set the actual historical situation prevelent in the Eastern Theater, and to some extent in the Western Theater, as viewed in the South by the time the Army of Northern Virginia is poised to enter Maryland. Second, it serves to educate the reader about the uniforming and equipment and other items carried by the soldiers in the ranks of both sides at this stage of the War. (Note: The illustration in the chapter of a typical CS soldier in the ranks is the author himself.) Third, the chapter serves to introduce Jacob "Jake" Thompson, the supposed author of the "memoir" about his adventures and experiences during the Maryland campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia 150 years ago.

Next blog: Discussing the actual letter which helped me construct Jake's own letter home to his father in North Carolina. Stay Tuned!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

About the cover of None But Heroes:

The link above will take you to the painting which is the cover art for the novel as well as forming the background for the title page. The painting is actually titled "Father to Son" but it was such a perfect illustration for the novel, since it could almost (also) be the "memoir's"  fictional author with his best friend Hank Johnson. The setting is the Fourth North Carolina in the sunken wagon road on the morning of September 17, 1862, before the fighting actually began and while there was still relative silence on the field of battle. The young soldier in the extreme right background of the painting is the artist's son Seth.

Charles H Marvil, of Sharpsburg, Maryland, is the artist behind the amazing image that is the cover for None But Heroes. Charlie and I served together as re-enactors in the Chesapeake Signals Detachment. He retired as a re-enactor at the beginning of this year (2012) and I returned as an active signalist a couple years ago. Together with his family, Charlie lives in a house on the southern outskirts of Sharpsburg that was standing at the time of the battle; the garret of the house was used by Confederate sharpshooters against advancing Federal troops of the Ninth US Army Corps during the mid afternoon of that bloody day in September 150 years ago.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Musings on the Novel's Title

My first blog post talked briefly about the reasons for this blog and its importance to understanding the history behind the novel, None But Heroes.

In this installment, I am going to show the actual historical quote and circumstances behind my choice of the words for the book's title.

In the second volume of his Lee's Lieutenants (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943), Douglas Southall Freeman concentrates the major focus of the book on Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. The book is, however, a treasure trove of other highly useful information about the Army of Northern Virginia and about many of the historical characters found in the novel, including James Longstreet and Daniel Harvey Hill.

In Chapter VIII, Freeman describes the many weighty matters that General Lee and other officers had to weigh as the Army of Northern Virginia prepared to move northward into Maryland. The many weeks of marching and fighting by the men of the army had worn them down to the point where straggling became a serious and major problem; the coming campaign in Maryland did little to alleviate the issue and concerns on all levels on how to effectively deal with it.

Alexander Cheves Haskell, a Captain at the time on the staff of Brigadier General Maxcy Gregg of Major General A P Hill's famed Light Division, wrote about the straggling issues in a letter to his sister (Louise Haskell Daly) that, as the campaign began and continued, the "weak solider fell away with the indifferent" as Freeman put it, until "none but heroes are left" (Volume II, Lee's Lieutenants, Chapter VIII "The Imponderables of Invasion", pg. 149, footnote 26.). There were many in the Army of Northern Virginia who justly claimed the very flower of General Lee's army made the crossing and campaign into Maryland in September, 1862.

Next post will talk about the choice of cover art and give you all some information about the very talented artist who did the original painting.