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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

December 2015

Yankee Reconstructed: A Sneak Peek

Can't wait until Sunday to read "Yankee Reconstructed?
Here's a quick preview of what awaits you.


October 1867
Jonathan breathed deeply as he stared at the western sky. He had always loved South Carolina sunsets. Their purple clouds swirled across a background of gold, followed by curtains of navy blue. Darkness settled slowly over a city that seemed to be at peace, if only for a few nighttime hours. If he had ever had doubts about the wisdom of bringing his family back to Charleston after the war, they faded away in the soft, scented air. Flowers still bloomed, even in these months of autumn, and the night birds still chirped their sleepy calls. He closed his eyes, holding the memory against whatever challenges the next day might bring. Perhaps that was what made him miss the first flicker of torches from behind him.
“Damnation!”
“Sh-h-h-h!”
“Roses got thorns.”
“Hush!”
The mumbled comments, added to the shuffle of boots, jerked Jonathan from his reverie. Turning from the sunset toward the other end of the piazza, he was almost blinded by blazing torches carried by indistinct figures robed in dark clothing. He moved toward the door, open to catch the night breezes. He had left Susan sitting near the door with her tatting, and his first instinct was to protect her from whatever this invasion portended. But he was not quick enough to move back into the house.
“Grenville?”
The challenging voice froze his movements, his hand still on the latch. He eased the door closer to the frame as he turned to face the group of men now stomping up the gentlemen’s staircase. At the top, they stopped. “You Grenville?” the same voice asked again.
“I’m Jonathan Grenville, yes. What do you want with me?”
The ringleader took a single step onto the piazza. “We don’t want you. We want your nigger.”
“There are no Negroes here.”
“So you say. That’s not what we hear.”
“Who are you? Why do you come in darkness with your faces covered? I am an honest man, and I expect others to be honest as well. Identify yourselves, and then we can talk.”
“Our disguises are for our own protection. There are those who would prevent honest Southern gentlemen from doing everything they can to protect their families, their state, and their heritage. We hide our faces until we know the people we are talking to are not scalawags, carpetbaggers, Yankees, or nigger-lovers. Do you fall into any of those categories, Mr. Grenville?”
Jonathan tried his best not to react to the question. Truth be told, he thought to himself, I probably fit into all four groups. “You are Klansmen, then.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Ah, you have heard of the noble Ku Klux Klan, I see. Why is a fine, upstanding Southern gentleman like yourself not one of us?”
Jonathan refused to be baited. “I’ve heard of you, but I didn’t know you were active in South Carolina. We’ve never needed your kind of interference to manage our affairs. I repeat—What do you want with me?”
“We’re looking for Hector Moreau. Recognize the name, do you?”
“There’s no one else here, except for my family. We hire a woman to help with the cleaning and the children, but she goes to her own home every evening.”
“We’re not after a housemaid. We want Hector Moreau. He’s a fugitive from justice, and we understand he might be heading here to seek your protection. You do know him, although by his former name—Hector Gresham.” It, too, was a statement, not a question.
“Yes, I know Mr. Gresham, but I haven’t seen him in over a year, and I was not aware he had changed his name . . . He has never been a criminal, and he’s certainly not my . . . ‘nigger.’”
“Used to be your slave, didn’t he? That’s what we’ve been told.”
“Long before the war, yes. But I freed him, and he moved his family far south from here to start a new life.”
“Sure. Moved south to cause more trouble, more likely.”
“No, Hector’s not the type to cause trouble. Surely you have the wrong man.”
“Didn’t you own a plantation on Edisto Island?”
“Yes, but—”
“And that’s where he went—to join his father-in-law in stealing your property from you.”
“You’re wrong. His father-in-law, Thomas, purchased a piece of our land at the end of the war, as General Sherman’s Field Order #15 provided, and Hector went to help him turn it into a proper farm. They bought the property fairly. You have the story confused.”
“No, you are the one who is behind the times, Grenville. South Carolina no longer recognizes anything that damnable Sherman had to say. General Howard came to Edisto last October at the order of President Johnson and told the slaves they had to give their land back to its former owners. In February, agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau arrived to assure the peaceful transfer of land, only to find a bunch of sullen, defiant niggers standing their ground, armed with sticks and hoes. Your fellow Thomas was one of the ringleaders, until federal troops forcibly removed the protesters. Thomas and some of his lot armed themselves and declared they would die before they surrendered their land. So some of them did.”
A chuckle came from somewhere in the darkness. “Served them right, too, those damned niggers.”
Jonathan felt a chill ripple across his back, and although this was a conversation he certainly did not want to have, he could not help but ask, “You say you’re looking for Hector, so he was not one of those involved in the incident?”
“No, but that don’t say much about what’ll happen to him when we catch up with him. He’s made his own brand of trouble.”
Another chuckle responded, “String him up, I say. Ain’t fit to live.”
The ringleader held up a hand to quiet his followers and then turned back to Jonathan. “So you haven’t seen him?”
“No.”
“Well, keep your eyes on the lookout. He’s bound to turn up here sooner or later, and when he does . . .” The statement trailed off but left no doubt as to the threat it proffered. “We’ll be back, Grenville. We’re not through with him . . . or with you.”

. . . . . to be continued . . . . . .

Five Days and Counting

"Yankee Reconstructed" will launch in all electronic formats on January third. There are several reasons to pre-order your copy now.

1. You win! Order now and you pay just $3.99.  Wait until Sunday morning and you'll pay $5.99. And it doesn't matter whether you go to Kindle, Kobo, B&N or Apple iBooks. They are all offering the same deal.

2. You win! When the last ornament has been packed away and the last pine needle vacuumed into oblivion, you will deserve a break. If you order now, your copy will be waiting for you on Sunday when you hit the couch.

3. I win! No pre-order is counted until Sunday. Then all those numbers go together to help determine the book's relative starting rank in each best-seller list. Pre-order now, and the rank goes up.  Order next week and you won't make a dent in the rankings. Seriously, this has been proven to make a huge difference in total sales. The higher the rank, the more people buy the book. I appreciate your support.

Here are the links you'll need.



Less than Two Weeks Away


In less than  two weeks (just 13 days) it will all be over: the last cookie crumbs eaten, the fruitcake moved from table to doorstop, the pine needles transferred from tree to carpet, packages unwrapped, ribbon stolen by the cat, a pile of tinsel coughed up by the dog, last turkey leg gnawed, silly hats, confetti, and noisemakers put away for another year, resolutions made and already broken. The holidays come and go so fast that we hardly have time to sit and enjoy them.

But this year, when Sunday, January 3, rolls around, there will be one last shiny box under that scraggly tree  — a new box, just arrived. And inside? A whole new world to explore: the ragged destruction of the Civil War framed by new camellia blossoms, a forbidden inter-racial love affair, visits from the Ku Klux Klan, governmental corruption, prostitutes in the state house, the first impeachment of a president, economic collapse, street riots, midnight lynching parties,  wild horses, successful business partnerships, and dreams washed away by a tidal surge.

Make sure your copy of Yankee Reconstructed arrives safely on January 3rd to brighten your post-holiday gloom.  Pre-order it now, and save $2.00 over the Launch Day price.  Find it at:









And an update: If you want a trade paper edition, keep your eyes on Amazon.com  It may become available in the next couple of days!  I'll let you know!

Now for the Democrats in the 1870s

Northern Democrats were older than the upstart Republicans, at least in political years. They tended to be Catholics, Lutherans, or other no-evangelical Protestants. They favored low tariffs and minimal government. They were reluctant to take a stand against slavery, even at the height of the Civil War, because they supported the principle of States Rights. In places like New York State, they were also masterminds of the political machine. 

Their symbol, the donkey, originated in 1828 during the campaign of Andrew Jackson, whose opponents called him a jackass.  He exploited the label to emphasize their stubbornness.

In the South, the Democrats were the old Confederates. They were willing to humbly apologize for their roles in the Civil War and begged for forgiveness from President Andrew Johnson, especially when they meant they might get their old lands back again. But they never gave up their basic beliefs in states' rights, their devotion to the Old South, or their opposition to abolishing slavery. In their minds, blacks would always be inferior, 3/5th human beings, and their political goals centered on wrestling political control away from blacks to restore it to the hands of the old slave-based aristocracy.

In the 1870s, the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations became the terrorist arm of the Democratic party in the South. But they will need a post of their own.

The Republican Party in 1870s

While "Yankee Reconstructed" is making its way through the last hurdles of the publishing business, I thought we might use the time to fill in some historical background that will help you understand the political shenanigans going on in the story.

First, I worry a bit that with all the current political talk making the rounds, hearing the terms "Republican" and "Democrat" will lead to confusion. So please keep in mind that the political parties immediately after the Civil War bear no resemblance to their similarly-named counterparts today. What I outline below will give you a rough and dirty look at those making up the two sides.

The Republican Party (The Grand Old  Party) grew out of the remnants of the Whigs around 1856  and was often referred to as "The Party of Lincoln." In the North, its members were largely white evangelical Protestants, primarily Methodists and Baptists.) They had high moralistic standards and wanted a government that would control the use of alcohol and keep people from doing business on Sundays. They were industrialists, bankers, railroad magnates, and favored high tariffs to protect their businesses. They were generally (although not passionately) in favor of getting rid of slavery, and they supported Lincoln's goal of holding the Union together because they wanted a strong country with a strong government.

In the Southern states, the party looked quite different. White Republicans tended to be Scalawags (Southerners who opposed slavery and the  Confederacy) or Carpetbaggers (Northerners who came South hoping to make money from the crumbling economy.) Jonathan Grenville, in this book, was a dedicated Republican who supported abolition, emancipation, and giving Negroes full rights of citizenship.

The majority of the party, however, was made up of newly-emancipated slaves. Freed blacks made up a large majority of the population of the South, and when they worked together to achieve their political goals, they were almost invincible. Republican politicians sometimes exploited their numbers in order to gain support for themselves.  For example, in South Carolina, police and fire protection was almost non-existent after the war. The Republican governor created militias by recruiting blacks who needed work. He was quick to put weapons into their hands, but less eager to actually train them in the niceties of law enforcement.

Blacks ran for both state and national offices and brought a much different attitude toward government. They were quick to realize that political power also gave them economic advantages. And from there, a slippery slope of government corruption developed --- a trait that would weaken the Republican Party.