Saturday, October 24, 2009


Novel, illustrated, endnotes, 60 pp., 2007. Independent Publisher Group, 814 Highland Drive, Sandy, Utah 84093, $12.95 plus shipping.

Has your son or daughter ever played dress-up? The young ladies usually want to be princesses or belles of the ball, while young men elect to be soldiers or cowboys. This precious time in their life is a very impressionable period where parents and other adults are heroes and have all the answers.

Robin Robinson conceived a great idea when she decided to write The Civil War Handbook, How to Dress, Talk, Eat and Command Like a Confederate Captain. This concept to give young people a book to help fuel their imagination and play time is priceless. Enclosing pictures within the pages allows real images to take the place of the made-up ones the child had visualized. Using soldiers’ actual words from letters and diaries help to tell the tale of that time.

Even though this is a children’s book, much research is need to portray the soldier correctly. This is where Ms. Robinson neglected her duty as a writer. She states many untruths, such as the Confederate States of America was formed upon the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Lincoln was elected as President in November of 1860 and the Confederacy was not formed until February 1861, three months later. Also she states that the correct term for the union of Southern states is “United States of the Confederacy.” Many other of her facts seem far-fetched and very unlikely. Without a bibliography or footnotes, it is hard to determine where she got her information.

The title of this book eludes that the information found within its pages would be about Confederate men serving their country. However, majority of the quotes are from Union soldiers, not Confederate. In fact Ms. Robinson uses very little Confederate references for any of her topics. In her listings of favorite songs for Southern boys, she does not list Dixie or the Bonnie Blue Flag. She lists Harper’s Weekly as a favorite read for soldiers but forgets to state it was mainly read by Northern armies. In the South there were many ladies that could have been highlighted in the section pertaining to women, yet Ms. Robinson chooses to write about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Even the pictures illustrating this manuscript are normally Yankees.

Ms. Robinson preys on the pocketbooks of the consumer by misleading them to the information she has published in her book. She asks for payment for a job where she has done little creditable research on Confederate soldiers. I hope all parents and grandparents avoid this book, no matter how tempting the title makes it.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow


Novel, illustrated, 545 pp., 2007. Arbor House, 1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403.

Generations of Warriors is a novel written by Perry Short about the events that lead up to and the Battle of Chickamauga. There are five primary characters, Spillsby Dryer of Walker County, Georgia, Thomas Benton Johnson of Morgan County, Alabama, Henry and Jabez Massey of Claiborne Parrish, Louisiana, and Drewy B. Short of Columbia County, Arkansas. They are among the 132,000 soldiers who will become a part of history. The key players of this battle are well known by historians, such as General Braxton Bragg and General Nathan Bedford Forrest; yet, this novel explores the life of the average soldiers who fight for many different reasons. “As most historical novels, it’s about what did happen and what could have been said,” states Mr. Short.

The reader sees the mental struggle a soldier had dealing with his duty to his country and his family, especially when close to home. In addition to this, the fear of survival was eminent daily. However, the main characters were more concerned with the welfare of his family more then himself, pondering if the war had made it to their doorsteps or if the family had been able to survive adequately.

There are several main story threads that take place simultaneously, intertwining with the other at some point. The reader is taken from Virginia, Tennessee, Atlanta and ultimately to Northwest Georgia. The novel engages the reader to continue the saga taking place. The characters are varying in age and personality, complimenting one other to establish a believable tale.

This is not another book about the battle, but more about the hardships of the soldiers and the citizens. The reader is exposed to the families who lived in and around the battlefield, with the Dryer family being the focal point. Faced with sometimes impossible circumstances, the reader sees these people coming together to handle the nightmare before them. In the Dryer family you have three generations of perspectives: Monroe who is ten, his father Spillsby who, at the age of thirty-five, is a soldier and scout for General Bragg, and Dr. Dryer is a pillar of the community at the age of sixty-four.

An interesting caveat of this historical fiction is that the five primary characters were real people. At the end, Mr. Short gives a brief genealogical history of the individual and their families. In many cases there is a picture of the actual person.

This is a great book to expose individuals to War Between the States. It allows a person to visualize a very bloody battle, but consider the feelings of the people involved. There are many punctuation errors and other grammatical issues. While this does not take away from the story, it does stand out to the reader. Overall, this is a great rainy day book to allow a person to lapse into history and away from today’s world.

Written by Cassie A. Barrow


Usually when someone hears the phrase “War Between the States POW Camps,” the first thought is normally of the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp Sumter, or more commonly known as Andersonville. Andersonville was built in February 1864 for 10,000 prisoners, but it eventually had around 45,000 men held within its walls. Captain Henry Wirz was appointed commandant of Camp Sumter in March of 1864. He ultimately would be tried and convicted of “conspiracy and murder” due to his command at Andersonville. During the 14 month existence, 28% of the Union prisoners, or approximately 12,910, is reported to have died. These numbers are staggering, but in many Northern books, it is never mentioned that Captain Wirz begged for food, medical supplies, and other provisions for the Northern prisoners. He was aware of the inadequate state of affairs, but had no way to fix the problem. The Confederate State government at this time was destitute and unable to even feed its own army. The blockade had taken its toll on the Southland. The United States refused to help their men for numerous political reasons. So Captain Wirz utilized what meager rations he could, which were the same for the prisoners as they were for the guards. Yet, Capt. Wirz was hung in the end.

For many who have studied this case, it is evident that Capt. Wirz was not given a fair trial. The politicians had to have someone to “answer” for all the deaths in Andersonville, so they found their scapegoat in Capt. Wirz. The public was pacified and the blood was off the hands of those that were responsible for the deaths. An innocent man died.

But what about the Northern POW camps? According to Georgia’s Confederate Soldiers Who Died as Prisoners of War 1861-65 by James Stallings, there were approximately 106 US prisons varying in size, used to incarcerate both political and military prisoners; however, the book discusses only nine main ones: Alton Federal Military Prison in Illinois, Camp Chase United States Prison in Ohio, Camp Chemung (Elmira) United States Prison in New York, Camp Douglas United States Prison in Illinois, Camp Hoffman (Point Lookout) United States Prison in Maryland, Camp Morton United States Prison in Indiana, Fort Delaware United States Prison in Delaware, Johnson’s Island Confederate Stockade in Ohio, and Rock Island Prison Barracks in Illinois.

Mr. Stallings’ research exposes the reader to the atrocities that take place within the walls of Northern prisons. He uses primary sources, from Northern viewpoints when possible, to describe the daily occurrences. The details included in the writings allow the reader to visualize the cruelty that occurs to Confederate soldiers. The sad truth is that Southern men died senseless deaths at the hands of Federal soldiers.

Many times the numbers recorded of those incarcerated and/ or interred at Northern POW camps were not accurate, if records were kept at all. Mr. Stallings tries to give the most precise figures, and notates when there are numerous accounts that differ from one another.

One aspect that Mr. Stallings reveals that majority of Federal POW camps had polluted water and improper drainage. In fact, Alton Federal Military Prison was a state penitentiary that was closed due to drainage issues, but the Federal government overlooked this aspect and placed Confederate prisoners in Alton. This issue would have dire affects on the quality of life for the captives.

Another concern for the prisoners was the extreme winters in the North, and the lack of clothes for the men. In one account it is stated that the detainees barley had shirts on their backs. In many of the camps outside gifts were forbidden, or limited. This was detrimental for the Southern men. There were times that the temperature was well below zero. Col. Robert Webb wrote, “Water froze in our canteens under our heads (being used as a pillow). I was afraid to walk from one end of the enclosure to the other for fear my blood would congeal and I would freeze to death.” Many of the buildings had been hastily constructed, with the workmanship being poor. Cracks in the walls and floors made it impossible to properly heat the buildings.

Food, in a land of plenty, was scarce in the camps. It is even reported that in a few prisons starvation was a used means to torture the prisoners. With the lack of food, especially fruits and vegetables, scurvy became an issue. Many times sutlers were not allowed to sell the needed food to the men who were lucky enough to have money. Dr. Wyeth of the 4th Alabama Cavalry best expresses the situation. “My comrades died by the hundreds amid healthful surroundings, almost all of these from the effects of starvation, and this in the midst of plenty. The official records show that at Camp Morton 12,082 prisoners were confined, of which number 1,763, or 14.6 percent perished. Excepting the few shot by the guards, the deaths from wounds were rare. The conditions were not malarial, for Indianapolis was not unhealthy. There were no epidemics during my imprisonment of about 15 months, and little cause for death had humane and reasonable care of the prisoners been exercised.”

General Grant is quoted as saying that he was against prisoner release because the Southern men would go back to their ranks and re-enlist. So instead, the Federal government kept them in concentration camps to starve and mistreat. Death is to be expected in small numbers; yet, the death rate in these Federal POW camps is appalling. Capt. Wirz was tried due to the atrocities of Andersonville, but no one was held accountable for Elmira.

Georgia’s Confederate Soldiers Who Died as Prisoners of War 1861-65 is ideal for those who would like to know more about the most infamous Northern Prisoner of War camps. In addition to the narratives about the history of the prisons, Mr. Stallings gives a listing of the known Georgians who perished and were to never return home to their loved ones. This added documentation is beneficial to genealogists and historians alike.

In closing, Sgt. George M. Brosheer, Landis Co, Missouri Light Artillery states, “And let not those who survive this struggle, forget those brave ones who languished, suffered and died, in those loathsome dens of many woes – they are indeed deserving of martyr’s crowns.”

By Cassie barrow


Non-fiction, 82 pp., 2006. Publishamerica,

Myths about a wide range of issues pertaining to the War Between the States circulate and are presented as facts to school children and the general population. Forward the Colors discusses many of these topics and presents a different side then what the average person is accustomed to seeing.

The book first examines the history of the Confederate Battle Flag, dispelling the negative ideas that surround it. An in depth review of why General Beauregard commissioned the flag shows the reader it was not created to be a symbol of hate. In fact the author condemns certain hate groups for the abuse of the embattled emblem.

To understand slavery, the author introduces the reader to the origins of American slavery. Facts, such as Mr. Anthony Johnson, a free black man who actually made slavery legal in the British colony of Virginia, are brought to light. By looking at the beginning to the end of slavery, the reader is able to better understand history through the eyes of that period of time.

The average American is taught about Abraham Lincoln, the myth, but Mr. Puissegur tells the reader about Abraham Lincoln, the real man. One section reviews Lincoln and Congress’s stance on the Crittenden Compromise. The author also brings forward the various different 13th amendments that were debated before the final one was approved. Many views and opinions of Lincoln that are left out of most textbooks are presented so that the reader is able to see what the President of the United States felt about the South, slavery and many other issues prevalent to that era in his own words.

The real reason for the War Between the States and other facts are revealed also. While revisionist historians state slavery was the only reason for the war, Forward the Colors looks at how a free South would impact the economics of the North. This is considered the main reason for the North to invade a peaceful South. There are other minor reasons noted, like the “philosophical and theological” differences between the North and South.

The NAACP and the KKK are exposed as the hate groups they are. Mr. Puissegur quotes the written history, objectives and mission statements of these organizations. By doing this, he shows the irregularities in both. They are condemned as enemies of Southern history and the reader is warned of their forked tongue approach to the liberal media.

The theory of this book is excellent. A practical book that is compact but has the answers and reasoning behind many arguments facing people who support the true history of the War Between the States; however, the main downfall to this publication is the lack of footnotes and a bibliography. Many quotes are used but references of the sources are not noted. On some occasions primary sources are not used, while the Internet is the only reference. In a debate, this book would be a good start on how to format your argument. Another book or reference would be required to state the location of the quotes and statements.

Though this book lacks some essential qualities, a reader may be intrigued to look deeper into particular arguments. Again, the negative delusion of Sothern history is common in today’s society, and Forward the Colors gives answers to these fables by the revisionist historians and media.

By Cassie A. Barrow

Friday, October 16, 2009


The book entitled “I Knew Frank…I Wish I Had Known Jesse,” Family, Friends and Neighbors in the Life and Times of the James Boys by Samuel Anderson Pence received the John Newman Edwards Literary Award in 2008. Frank James, Donnie Pence and Bud Pence fought under Quantrill’s Partisan command during their youth. Alexander Doniphan “Donnie” Pence and Thomas Edward “Bud” Pence were the great uncles of Samuel Pence. The author knew all three of these men who had been guerrillas.

On Page 456 & 457: “He (attorney J.M. Smith) was shot by a Federal soldier he had never seen, and the reason was never known. This was one of many reasons why there were guerrillas in Missouri to avenge such murders.”

This book verifies my contention that much Kentucky blood fertilized the fields, woods and hills of Missouri during our War for Southern Independence. On Page 265: “Clay County was just a transplanted chunk of Kentucky blue grass, and if there ever was a successful grafting and transfusion, time has proven this one to be.”

Samuel Pence was a walking encyclopedia of genealogy concerning the folks who settled his hometown of Kearney, Missouri. His own family tree was composed of the Pence and Anderson families who had migrated west to Missouri from Kentucky.

The author’s great grandfather, Adam Pence, was an early Clay County pioneer. The James and Pence farms were situated near each other. Samuel Pence knew Cole Younger and Jim Cummins as well as many less well-known Clay County residents. The author’s father, Samuel Adam Pence, had operated a drug store in Kearney.

Typical of small towns everywhere, local residents were tagged with nicknames for a lifetime, jokes were played and stories were repeated around the dinner table or “loafing” places. Samuel Pence was a talented reporter of these hometown events.

Both the mother and father of Frank and Jesse were natives of Kentucky. Their mother, the long suffering Zerelda Cole James, was educated at St. Catherine’s school in Lexington, Kentucky. The father of the boys, Robert James, attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, and became a preacher in Missouri. The stepfather of the James boys, Reuben Samuel, was a medical doctor from Owen County, Kentucky.

Within Frank and Jesse pulsed the blood of the aristocrat, not the diluted blood of the dregs of society. It is reported that Frank James often quoted Shakespeare to the surprise of some of his detractors. On Page 29: “He read Shakespeare and what one reads will show sooner or later in ones speech. His ancestors probably have a higher IQ rating than most of his deriders of the arched-eyebrow and disdainful set.”

The author unwinds all the tangled blood relationships within the James family. He connects all the dots between half brothers, half sisters, cousins, half aunts and uncles. It is quite a knot to unravel and understand.

After the War for Southern Independence ended, Frank and Jesse realized that the only thing that could be guaranteed upon their surrender to the authorities would be a hangman’s noose. The author covers various robberies the James boys were accused of committing. He explains the reasoning used for the Northfield, Minnesota, bank robbery while leaving the reader unsure whether Frank and Jesse participated. Several chapters record the lives of the Younger brothers and their time spent in jail after being captured.

Life on the run came to an end in 1882 after Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, a native of Shelby County, Kentucky, placed a large financial reward upon the capture of the James boys. This led to the murder of Jesse and the surrender of Frank that year.

The reason the James boys had not been caught sooner was blamed upon the fact that the area around Kearney was full of their relatives. On Page 35: “Some Clay County citizens thought that Patton (the sheriff) did not press down on his saddle stirrups hard enough to get his speedometer to register the necessary MPH to diminish his distance from the James Boys in a chase. Too much kin, it was thought; fear was not a factor.”

Today, the author’s two great uncles are buried in the Stoner Chapel Cemetery near to Samuels, Kentucky. They both followed the great Quantrill into Kentucky in January, 1865. Donnie and Bud were able to safely surrender at Samuels Depot after the War was over. Both brothers married Samuels sisters and became good citizens. Donnie Pence served as the sheriff of Nelson County for many years. Bud also served as a lawman.

Samuel Pence wrote his manuscript on a manual typewriter and completed it about 1960. His attempts to have it published were not fruitful. Samuel’s grandson, Daniel M. Pence, is to be commended for editing and having this wonderful book published in 2007.

The author had a knack for the retelling of humorous events that will make you laugh out loud. On Page 164: “…and if he made money he felt like getting drunk on account of his success, and if he lost money, he felt like getting drunk to drown his sorrow, so regardless of making or losing, he always got a drunk out of it.”

This book is a valuable resource for those interested in the Kentucky/Missouri guerrillas and their many convoluted Gordian Knot blood relationships to one another. “I Knew Frank…I Wish I Had Known Jesse” contains 501 pages. There are 30 pages of illustrations and photographs. The ISBN number is 9781929311606. The book lists for $28.00 at or you can phone Harold Dellinger at (816) 241-5315.

From a speech by John T. Barker, former Attorney General of Missouri, on Page 206: “They lost fighting for a lost cause. The loser always looks bad and the winners always look good. Victory made George Washington and his soldiers patriots and heroes, but had they lost the revolution they would have been hung. How would the James boys have looked had the South won?”

Nancy Hitt – 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our History Project Book Review: “I Called Him Grand Dad” by Thomas T. Fields, Jr.

“I Called Him Grand Dad” by Thomas T. Fields, Jr.

“I Called Him Grand Dad” is a Biography of Harvey Goodwin Fields written by his grandson Thomas T. Fields. The book itself is an exploration in not only Field’s life but also about America. It explores the behind the scenes politics at the levels of both state and federal levels. It delves into the everyday life, setting the stage for industry, work conditions, laws and ethics while giving us a rich insight about a man who was convicted by his own standards and who by his actions did what he thought was right. An advocate of the Law, Fields would rise to fame and notoriety of one of the greatest legal minds and Public Servants in American History.

This book covers our history from the late 1800’s until the mid 1900’s and is truly a chronicle of our America. Through two World Wars, the great depression, prohibition, unionizing, high profile court cases such as the Scopes Trail and his runs on State and Federal positions including the White House, Harvey G. Fields had a remarkable life that you can now be a part of too. This book, unlike many that draw conclusions by theory to what was thought and what was said is supported with dozens upon dozens of actual letters, memo’s and notes written by fields himself.

Fields himself was a Progressive Democrat and will appeal to the party of today in his thoughts, actions and legislation. For the opposition to the Democratic Party of today it will give you insights to the workings of, and the history of that party. However, no matter which side you fall on, pro or con in the political arena this is a book about our country and it is rich with our history as a nation and a biography of a great man.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project