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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Camp Toccoa: First Home of the Airborne. 1942-1944

For those who haven't heard of Camp Toccoa, it was used as the original basic training site for Airborne volunteers during World War II. It is the home of such famous units as the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, made famous in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers."

Below. Airbone Memorial located at the site of Camp Toccoa, Georgia.

Find out more about Camp Toccoa by watching The Band of Brothers episode of National Geographic's Diggers.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Now Available!

Small town Coroner Lucretia Cook looks forward to the day when she can retire to a quiet life on some isolated lake nestled in snow-covered mountains. Special Agent Fireson Bay has a houseboat on Georgia's picturesque Lake Sydney Lanier - but he's busy hunting down a serial killer who has been targeting cops across the Southeast for the past twenty years. When the body of a murdered officer turns up on the banks of Georgia's Chattahoochee River, the two loners are thrown together in an investigation that turns up not one, but three serial killers - and their targets are Lucretia Cook and Fireson Bay!
Published by Charles River Press.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where to buy the Colonial Southeast Series

All of the books of the Colonial Southeast series are available over the counter at
Hall Book Exchange, 1854 Thompson Bridge Rd. Gainesville, GA.
Mt. Yonah Book Exchange, 3779 Helen Hwy., Cleveland, Ga.,
The Stephens County Historical Society, 160 North Alexander St., Toccoa, Ga.,
Books With A'Peal, 401 Cornelia Plaza Drive, Cornelia, Ga.
Millie and Eve's Used Books, 3197 Georgia Rd. Franklin NC.
Bookstand of Northeast Georiga, 337 Pottery Factory Drive, Commerce Crossing Shopping Ctr., Commerce, Ga.

Also available on:, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Norlights Press
Read a review of Letters For Catherine in South Carolina's Palmetto Patriot. (page 9)
To read the first pages at Smashwords ebook site, click here

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Massacre at Roanoke: The Destruction of a Georgia Town. An Incident in the Creek War of 1836.

On Sunday morning, May 15, 1836, Creek warriors led by a half-Creek leader, Jim Henry,slipped quietly across the Chattahoochee River and destroyed the Georgia town of Roanoke. Using information gleaned from eyewitness accounts, journals, period newspapers, and official records, the author has pieced together the true story of that incident in this thirty-four page history. Entertaining, informative, and an excellent resource for students, researchers, and history buffs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Historical Sites associated with the Colonial Southeast Series

A Lesser Form Of Patriotism: A Novel of the King's Carolina Rangers and the American Revolution in the South.

1. The mound at Little Chota survives today in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley just south of Helen, Georgia.
2. The Star Fort can be visited today at Ninety-Six National Historic Site in Ninety-Six, South Carolina.
3. The site of Long Swamp Village is currently under excavation. It is slated to be disturbed by highway construction.
4. You can stand in the redoubt defended by the King's Carolina Rangers today. It is located in Savannah's Battlefield Memorial Park.
5. Visit the website of artist Robert Wilson for prints of many of the people and events portrayed in A Lesser Form of Patriotism.
6. For in-depth information on the siege of Augusta, Georgia, including a depiction of the uniform of the King's Carolina Rangers, click here.
7. According to local lore, the site of the famous Chopped Oak where Cherokee war parties met before and after raids, was located under the asphalt of present-day Chopped Oak Church located on Chopped Oak road in the Midway Community of Habersham County, Georgia.
8. The Battle of Hammond's Store was fought in present-day Laurens County, South Carolina. An eyewitness account of the battle can be found here.
9. Today there is a reenacting group representing the King's Carolina Rangers.

Letters For Catherine: A Novel of Charleston during the American Revolution.

1. The remains of the Town of Dorchester are preserved at Old Dorchester State Park outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
2. The Old Exchange where Col. Isaac Hayne was kept before his execution is preserved and open to the public in Charleston, South Carolina.
3. Although destroyed by fire in 1773, and thus not historically accurate as a home for William Hunter in 1780, Bethesda Orphanage was a real place.
4. Although they did not actually meet until after the Revolution, William Hunter and Catherine DeLoach were actual people. William served with the Patriots and he was imprisoned on one of the Charleston Prison Ships. More information on the real William Hunter is available online.
5. Looking for an ancestor? Check the role of prisoners on the prison ships Torby and Packhorse.
6. The ruins of Biggin Church can still be visited today.
7. The widow of Edward Barnwell mentioned the takeover of the prison ship, Packhorse, in her pension deposition in 1849.
8. Eliza Wilkinson wrote of visiting the prison ships in her letters during the American Revolution.
9. In 1852, The New York Times published an account of the capture of the prison ship Packhorse.
10. There are several maps of Charleston during its 1780 siege.
11. Visit the publisher Norlight Press.
12. Read Hugh Howey's review for Letters For Catherine.

Loving Lynn Celia: A Novel of the French and Indian War in the South.

1. The mound on which the British established their field hospital is still in existence in Franklin, North Carolina.
2. The victory of the Cherokees over Col. Montgomerie is commemorated by a historical marker in Otto, North Carolina. A similar marker is located nearby commemorating the defeat of the Cherokees during the second invasion by the British.
3. The town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina has a long and colorful history, and it is still in existence today.
4. Today, the site of Fort Prince George is under the waters of Lake Keowee, South Carolina. But there were extensive excavations done prior to its inundation.
5. You can still walk the same streets that Lynn Celia and Thomas Simpson walked in Savannah, Georgia's historic center.
6. The killing of the Norris family and the massacre at Long Cane is a historical reality.
7. Two of the battle scenes in Loving Lynn Celia took place on the banks of the Little Tennessee River in present-day Macon County, North Carolina.

The Road to Bloody Marsh: A Novel of King George's War

1. The Castillo de San Marcos, in St. Augustine, Florida, is perhaps the most impressive structure still in existence that is associated with the Colonial Southeast Series.
2. Fort Frederica's remains are protected as Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
3. The fort at Mount Venture was located in today's Wayne County, Georgia.
4. To get a real feel for this time period, visit Fort King George historic site in Darien, Georgia.
5. For an historical overview of Georgia's Provincial Companies, such as the ones portrayed in The Road to Bloody Marsh, click here.
6. Visit the publisher NorLights Press.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The American Revolution and the prison ship "Packhorse"

I wrote Letters for Catherine after coming across an 1852 article from the NY Times. The article was about American POWs during the Revolution that had taken over their prison ship and sailed it into a North Carolina port.
Search as I could, I could find almost nothing about the incident, one that I feel deserves to be much better known. With this in mind, I started amassing what scant information was available on the Packhorse.
Once I was able to build a creditable timeline, I began to fill in the blanks using other sources and my best guesses. I chose as the hero of the story, William Hunter, a real person who served in the revolution and who was imprisoned on one of the prison ships in Charleston. Which one? I don't know. I do know that he married a Catherine DeLoach and that he died sometimes in the 1850's at the age of 106. Incidentally, he died on Christmas day along with his wife, Catherine. What are the odds of that?
If any readers of Letters for Catherine come across this post, and if they happen to have any information about the prison ship Packhorse that was not used in the writing of the novel, feel free to post that information on this blog. These men deserve to be remembered.
For the more lengthy, in-dept article about the prison ship Packhorse, see "The Disappearance of the Prison Ship Packhorse" on , or go to page 12 of the Palmetto Patriot.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Disappearance of the Prison Ship Pack Horse

A sultry day in August, 1782, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The cargo of humanity chained and sweltering in the hold of the prison-ship, Pack Horse, stirs and sits erect on their mattresses of mildewed and filthy straw. They cast anxious glances at one another as the sounds of the anchor being weighed fills the air. Their eyes, questioning and wondering, roam across the planking overhead where the pounding of bare feet on wood can be heard as British crewmen scurry along the deck and up into the rigging to unfurl the dingy, long unused sails of the prison schooner Pack Horse. Muffled orders, shouted from the bridge by an unknown Captain, float on the oppressive air of the harbor. Suddenly, there is the unmistakable feel of movement as the ship gets under way. A sense of dread fills the hold. After more than a year, the Pack Horse is moving. Under the escort of a British frigate, and as a part of a convoy of merchant ships, the Pack Horse sails quietly across Charleston Harbor, slips over the bar, and scurries out to sea. The convoy is heading for New York.
Three days later, as night falls, the prison ship quietly blends into the darkness and disappears from history. Not until August 20, 1852 does it resurface in a report made to the Senate of the 32nd Congress by a Mr. James. The next year, 1853, it appears in articles in The New York Times and The Charleston Courier before it again slips away from the national consciousness. In 1860 the story resurfaces in a pamphlet entitled A Brief Memoir of the Life and Revolutionary Services of Major William Hazzard Wigg of South Carolina. The pamphlet is an effort by the grandson of one of the prisoners to obtain compensation for the Revolutionary War losses of his grandfather, Major William Hazzard Wigg. Some of those losses involve slaves. Quietly, as Civil War threatens the nation, the memory of the Pack Horse once again sinks from sight.
In December, 2009 the Pack Horse reappears in the form of the novel, “Letters For Catherine.” The novel relates the story of semi-fictional seventeen-year-old William Hunter who rushes to defend Charleston from the British only to end up as one of the unfortunate prisoners rotting in the belly of the Pack Horse. While this novel relies on many historical facts, much of it is conjecture. No one seems to know what really happened to the prison-ship Pack Horse on that night in August, 1782. Incredibly, there are no first hand accounts of one of the greatest stories of the American Revolution, and no contemporary accounts as, it seems, for the next seventy years no one thought to record them. By then, the last of the prisoners had long since been laid to rest.
What is the story of the prison-ship Pack Horse? We know little about the early history of the unhappy vessel and even less of its finale. One day, if we are lucky, some dusty and disintegrating document will come to light that puts an ending to this story.
The Pack Horse began its career as a small coastal schooner. No one knows its measurements, but quite likely it was between twenty and thirty tons with a draft of no more than 6 feet. This would have made it ideal for transferring cargo up and down the rivers of South Carolina. Water, firewood, Loyalist prisoners, the Pack Horse is known to have carried them all. The Journal of the Commissioners of the Navy of South Carolina: July 22, 1779 – March 23, 1780, makes seventeen references to the Pack Horse and to at least one of its captains, John Hardy, but other than mundane, day to day, happenings little light is shed. With the fall of Charleston, the Pack Horse becomes a prize of the British. They continue using it as a prison ship. Now, its prisoners are Patriots, not Loyalists.
The Pack Horse was not an obscure ship in its day. Eliza Wilkinson, a patriotic young lady of Charleston refers to it in a letter as the “Wilful Murder” after going aboard for a visit. The prisoners were men of wealth and substance in the colony of South Carolina. Many of them would go on to become leaders of the future United States. In a letter written to General Nathaniel Greene by the inmates of another Charleston prison-ship, the Torby, the names of John Barnwell, George Mosse, and Charles Pinckney, Jr. appear on a list of the Pack Horse’s prisoners. So why did none of these educated and affluent men write of their sufferings aboard the Pack Horse? That is part of the mystery.
If a Google search of “prison ship pack horse” is done, a myriad of sites pops up. Unfortunately, all give the same information, often word for word. All citations will invariably lead back to the one common source.
What we know of the Pack Horse would fill less than a page. It was a coastal schooner used to carry supplies for the Patriots prior to the fall of Charleston in 1780. It, like the other prison ships that sailed in and out of Charleston Harbor was not a hulk, but was able to, and often did, crack on sail and roam the Southeastern coast. At least once the Pack Horse is known to have entered the harbor of St. Augustine, Florida to empty its hold of Patriot prisoners.
In May, 1781, the British rounded up over one hundred influential Patriots then on parole in the town and herded them onto the prison ships Pack Horse and Torby. There they stayed, most of them, although some, such as Charles Pinckney, Jr. seem to have been exchanged prior to the faithful voyage of 1782.
After more that a year, as the war draws to a close, the Pack Horse is ordered north for a prisoner exchange. Somewhere along the way, the prisoners escape from the hold and take over the ship without the loss of a single man. Evading their escort in the night, they head for the North Carolina Coast. No one knows where they came ashore, some versions of the tale claim Beaufort, North Carolina, others, Halifax, North Carolina. Perhaps they split into groups after reaching shore. This would be understandable, finding food and shelter for thirty-odd men would have been difficult in that worn torn country and the risk of being recaptured would have been a huge concern, for the penalty of attempted escape was death. Months later, the prisoners reappear in South Carolina and resume their lives, never bothering to record what exactly happened.
Research on the Pack Horse is at a dead end. Records that would identify the British frigate that escorted it on its final voyage may one day be found in British archives. If so, the British captain would surely have logged the incident. Arrival in New York harbor of the rest of the ships would also have been recorded. After all, how many convoys sailed from Charleston to New York in August 1782?
Many questions remain. Did the British retrieve the ship and sail it to New York, or was it wrecked and left to rot on the North Carolina coast? Was it returned to the South Carolina Navy from whence it came, or was it used for years afterwards by some North Carolina shipper or businessman? What of the British crewmen who were forced into the hold? Did they escape? Were they exchanged? Did the escape happen at all? The list of questions goes on and on, but the biggest question is: why did the story of the prisoners on the Pack Horse fade from the national consciousness? There was no other such Great Escape from the prison ships. This was unique. The loss of their story is truly a loss for our country, for this was heroism and patriotism at its highest level.
See this article in the Spring 2010 Palmetto Patriot, page 12.