An Inside Joke by Me for Myself

The first time I saw the boy, he had soiled his pants, and I says to him, I says, “Boy, you done soiled your pants” and he says to me, “I ain’t the only one that done that–they was others who did it under fire at Perryville cuz we was all green,” and I says,Continue reading “An Inside Joke by Me for Myself”

The Ballad of Johnny Mather Sloan

[Sing to the tune of the “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”] Young Johnny Mather Sloan Lived on the Texas range. Stole a horse when six years old; His brother thought him strange. Y’all never heard the tale of the boy soldier from the heart of Texas. Damn shame. That boy and his story are asContinue reading “The Ballad of Johnny Mather Sloan”

Angel Glow

As the light faded, so did the sound of artillery, and the musket fire was only sporadic. The sounds they had been masking all day now pierced the night–the moans, howls, screams, and curses. The man was sitting up against a tree, his left thigh useless from a wound, his right shoulder blade also immobileContinue reading “Angel Glow”

Send Ole Pinkerton Home

Billy Morgan couldn’t sleep. The night was pitch outside, and only a lantern now and again lit some of the rooms or corridors while cooks, nurses, and doctors kept doing their work. Of course, there were still moans coming from the sickest or most wounded patients. Sometimes, a man having a nightmare would scream out.Continue reading “Send Ole Pinkerton Home”

Resting at the Old Tishomingo Hotel

In the 1860s, Randolph County, Alabama, abutted the heart of the Black Belt of Alabama–a region of rich black soil that first produced food. In time, as the cotton market expanded, food crops were swapped for cotton, and enslaved people were brought to the plantations to cultivate the land, giving the regional nickname a tragicContinue reading “Resting at the Old Tishomingo Hotel”

To Defend One’s Home

At 5 am, the Confederate army had every reason to believe that they were on the cusp of a great victory. On April 6, 1862, they had caught the Union army under Grant unaware and had driven them to the edge of the Tennessee River. Twenty-seven-year-old John Ashby was in an ideal position. A memberContinue reading “To Defend One’s Home”

Bury Him Properly

They were traveling together toward the fight, all from Mobile and all headed toward Corinth. The whole region crackled with the news, and casualty reports and rumors were already swirling. The battle was still raging, and in fact, the tide had already turned. With reinforcements swarming off of Pittsburgh Landing, Grant and Sherman were alreadyContinue reading “Bury Him Properly”

Chronicling the Dead

I have lately finished the excellent Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse by Scotch-born and Alabama-bred Kate Cummings. I’ve marveled at her religiosity, fearlessness in going into the worst of the hospital scenes, compassion for the wounded, and her self-delusions at the righteousness of the Southern cause and the wickedness of the Northern cause.Continue reading “Chronicling the Dead”