Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Journey Begins....

The first main portion of the novel is titled "Maryland, My Maryland" for two principal reasons:

1. Most Confederate soldiers who did make the journey northward into Maryland at the start of the campaign in early September of 1862 truly did believe Maryland was waiting only for the victorious Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to show its colors on its own soil and it would rise up and join with its sister states to the south as part of the Confederate States of America.

In The Antietam Campaign (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999) which Gary Gallagher edited, there is an excellent eassy about how the experiences of pro-Southern Marylanders in 1861 and the coverage given to the Baltimore Riot as well as the arrest of many members of the Maryland lelegislature when it met in Frederick to debate whethre or not Maryland should secede from the Union colored Confederate expectations. I urge readers of the novel to check out the essay and the thoughts offered therein.

2. "Maryland, My Maryland!" was truly a Top 10 Billboard (if there would have been such a thing 150 years ago!) Song of the time.Originally composed by James R Randall as a poem of nne stanzas and today the official state song of the State of Maryland, the words were set to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" or "Lauriger Horatius" by the sister of Mrs Hetty Cary. (See the full Wikipedia article here.)

As Confederate troops forded the Potomac River north into Maryland from Virginia, they literally roared out the song. As I mention in the Chapter II, hopes were high indeed for success among the serried ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia. But, I fear I digress from what the first chapter of Part I of the novel accomplishes.

Anderson's Brigade Starts Its Movements

 As September 5, 1862 dawns in the novel, Jake and Hank awaken along with the rest of their comrades of Company H of the Fourth North Carolina State Troops Regiment. An example of the good-natured kidding and joking that went on in the camps is given in the episode of the "b'ar" in the first pages of Chapter I. This chapter also serves to introduce us to Lieutenant Jordan Chisholm, who is my fictional character used to give some of the larger story about the campaign, of which neither Jake nor Hank would have been aware.

At the start of its participation in the Maryland campaign, George B Andereson's North Carolina brigade of Daniel Harvey Hill's division (see my earlier mention of D H Hill in mySunday, December 02, 2012 blog post) receied special orders from General Hill to pay its compliments to the Yankees across the Potomac River and the Baltimore & Ohio Railway. As Jake and Hank along with their other pards made their decisions to remain with the regiment or not participate in the coming campaign due to illness or lack of shoes or out of conscience, we see how Confederate President Jefferson Davis receives word from Army or Northern Virginia headquarters that the move north into Maryland is about to commence.

The letter which Lieutenant Chisholm delivers to Davis can be found in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume XIX, pp.590-591. I quoted the original letter almost completely, but putting it within the context of the story as if Davis had received it and was reading it.

Burton Harrison, mentioned in the part of the chapter where Chisholm is at the Executive Mansion in Richmond and waiting the Confederate President's response to General Lee, was the official Private Secretary to Davis. Colonel James Jenkins was my fictional character to introduce and carry along Chisholm's mission to Richmond and the start of his own remarkable journey.

More about the historical setting in which Jenkins and Chisholm discuss the latter's relative inexperience with the War, the sights and sounds of Chisholm's first battle, etc will be discussed in the next blog post.

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