A Good Week
Last week turned out to be a pretty good week for the book. I received some very important sources, learned more about the people involved, visited the site of the action, and got a lot of writing finished. I apologize for not getting this out earlier, but it was the last week of school before Christmas Break, and my wife and I celebrated our anniversary over the weekend. It was quite an eventful week.
The source material...I have to say that this was probably the most important development for this project last week. The short, but very important, Diary of James A. Munday finally met my eyes again after 14 years. Sergeant Munday enlisted in the 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers, which was being organized by Adam R. "Stovepipe" Johnson in the late summer and fall of 1862. Within a few days, he was elected sergeant, even though he was only 17 or 18 years old. He kept a diary from the time of his enlistment to a few days after the Battle of Panther Creek/Sutherland Hill, and for some reason abruptly stops writing. He would survive the war, and come home a lieutenant.
Here is an excerpt below:
The "diary" I received is not the original. Instead, it is a copy from a typewriter, that was made in 1940. It gives the owner of the diary, but obviously, that person has since passed. One of these copies resided with an older friend of mine, who let me borrow his copy when I was 16. I read with great enthusiasm, and since then, I have wanted to write the complete story of the events he describes. Unfortunately, I returned the copy to my friend, who passed away a couple years later. Not really knowing how to get a hold of that particular copy, I began a search. It would make sense that our local library would have a copy of it, since James Munday was a local soldier, who fought at the local battle. But, that was not to be. Instead, the nearest locatino was the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, roughly a 2 hour drive. Not knowing when I would actually be able to go see this copy in person, I decided to contact the Filson. They graciously helped me in making a scanned copy of the copy they had in their collection, and emailed me a PDF. Jenna at the Filson saved me so much time and travel money!
As I began diving into the mind of James Munday again, I am taken aback by all the details he describes that I had forgotten. It is a gold mine. It has helped me piece the story together for the Confederate side like no other source has. That's not to say it doesn't come without its problems. Like many sources, they tend to contradict themselves in very small ways. The overall narrative of the event is the same, but just little things are different that can make it difficult to piece together.
While looking for information on some of the people, I came across the sword of one of the Union commanders that he used after the battle while commanding USCT. It was an auction site, and the sword sold for $4,000! Pretty cool to see.
When coming back from a Sons of Union Veterans meeting, I stopped at the battle site for a few minutes. It was cold, windy, and about to rain, so i didn't stick around long. Plus, I wasn't for sure if I was trespassing or not. From on top of Sutherland Hill, the view is pretty cool. You can easily see why it was selected as a place to defend against an attack.
View from the Union positions.
View from Confederate positions.
This week I plan on visiting a few libraries and checking out the microfilm collections for the newspapers of 1862, and finding out all I can on some of the important people involved. Plus, as always, getting more written. Make sure you follow me on Twitter and Instagram @tornasunderbook to get daily updates and cool information!