Who killed Confederate General Earl Van Dorn?

VICKSBURG, Miss.Sunbury Press has released Where Elephants Fought: A Story of Murder and Intrigue During the Civil War, Bridget Smith’s historical novel about the death of Confederate General Earl Van Dorn.

wef_fcFor 150 years, scholars and amateur Civil War buffs have misinterpreted the infamous murder of the well-known Confederate General Earl Van Dorn. Based on twenty years of intense research, the author suggests that all is not as it appears. The real motivation behind the doctor’s decision to murder Van Dorn is not a story of jealousy between a husband and wife, but of loyalty and sacrifice. This story reveals one woman’s struggle with the blame for another’s crime and the secret that fractured the Peters family forever. Perhaps most compelling is the impact the tragedy has had on the Peters family, with the continued perpetuation of the 150 year old lie to this day.

Excerpt:
The soldiers lay down a section of split-rail fence for use in repairing the Duck River Bridge and tied the rails end to end behind an old mule. When the mule got stuck in the frozen muddy road leading to Columbia, they walked on the planks to avoid the flooded roadbed, balancing themselves on the beams like delicate ballerinas. They avoided getting wet at all costs. They understood frostbite. Just keep out of the water was all a fellow had to do. The camp doctor had preached this ever since a bunch of them showed up with black toes after the last march from Ripley.

Crossing the washed-out road had taken more time than anticipated. Most of them were exhausted by the time they reached dry ground, and though he was eager to reach Columbia by evening, General Van Dorn announced they would rest there till morning. They had but a few hours’ march remaining, but complaints had been rumbling up the line since morning. The general knew well the repercussions of pushing the men beyond their limits. The train of men and horses stopped abruptly as orders were sent down the line. A few men grumbled from within the ranks about wasting time now with such a short distance remaining, but Van Dorn ignored them. Better listen to the ones who moaned and complained. Better to stop the procession. Corinth taught him that.

A handful of men from Company E, Third Texas Infantry, warmed their hands by the fire near a grove of trees at the far corner of an old cornfield. General Van Dorn floated from campfire to campfire, making small talk with the men. He stopped just as he reached Private James Thomas who sat at the base of a large elm tree. The private propped his journal against the mass of bark, pulled a pencil from his coat pocket, and scribbled across the top line of the page.

“Private?” Van Dorn smiled at him and leaned forward.

“Yes, sir!” Thomas shot up off the ground and saluted his commander. His face turned red with embarrassment.

“At ease, soldier.” The general leaned against the trunk of the tree. He picked at a blade of grass as he spoke. “About your brother,” he said in a whisper. “He was a fine soldier, son. I want you to know that.”

Private Thomas looked away and nodded. “Yes, sir. Will was a fine soldier indeed. Mighty nice of you to say so.”

Van Dorn put a hand on his shoulder. “You can tell your mama, too. In that letter you’re writing.”

Thomas turned to the general and smiled. “Yes, sir. I’ll tell her. He was mighty fond of you, sir, I’ll tell you that.”

“Thank you, soldier. It’s not often I hear—” But he stopped there. “Give your mother my condolences if you will.”

The private smiled. “Yes sir. I’ll do that right now.” He picked up the notebook and finished the letter as the general walked away toward another group of soldiers.

Van-DornFebruary 21, 1863

Last night we had some biscuits cooked at a house close to our camp. Consequently we fared finely today… The railroad is close to a town named Columbia. This is the place where General Pillow lives who built the fortifications at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi. M. D. Cooper and D. Frierson & Company also reside here. There is a large female Academy in town. We traveled all day in a very hard rain. The water run in my boots. The weather got very cold and I came very near freezing. The Yankee pickets are in fifteen miles of our camp.

General Van Dorn has just spent a private moment with me to let me know his sorrow over poor Will’s passing. He bids me tell my dear mother what a fine soldier Will was. I believe he is the finest soldier and man in the whole of the Confederate army.

From your loving son,
Jimmie

About the Author:
Bridget Smith was born and raised in Columbia, a lush Tennessee valley town filled with antebellum homes and sprawling farms, a setting that both haunted and intrigued her until she could give it life in her Civil War era novel Where Elephants Fought. From the first glimpse into the lives of Jessie McKissack Peters and General Earl Van Dorn, she felt a deep connection to the story and soon found herself immersed in the world of research, a task that what would span nearly twenty years. After receiving her MEd in English, she soon married and moved to a quaint Mississippi town, a town not unlike her beautiful Columbia and equally as steeped in Civil War history. She has taught English for over twenty years and currently teaches English Composition. Though her life is a whirlwind with her four children, she has begun writing her second novel, a modern tale of sin and eccentricities set in her beloved South.

Where Elephants Fought: A Story of Murder and Intrigue During the Civil War
List Price: $19.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
336 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620065983
ISBN-10: 1620065983
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Where-Elephants-Fought-9…

Abandoned baby found by Amish — murder suspected

LANCASTER, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Plain and Deadly, Barbara Workinger’s latest novel in the Life as a P.I. hasn’t always been what Ellerie March envisioned for herself. With a caseload mostly resembling the domestic scenarios on Jerry Springer, she’s not exactly working high-profile cases or helping to stop deadly criminals in their tracks. That is, until she meets Liddy and Annie Beiler—two Pennsylvania Amish women who have discovered an abandoned baby … or so they say. El takes the case in hopes of locating the baby’s missing mother, only to find herself in the midst of a homicide investigation and all too close to the family who might be responsible for this whole mess. Set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish country, city girl El casts her net for suspects—some of whom are the very people she needs to rely on to solve the case. Though she knows about keeping friends close and enemies closer, the lines of who is who become blurred in this “whodunit” escapade … especially when an unexpected romance springs up in the middle of everything, much to the delight of El’s grandmother and investigative “partner.”Through the course of the investigation, El uncovers not only secrets about the Amish and their friends, but also discovers special relationships she could have only found by following her instincts and her heart. The desperate search for the truth reaches its peak in a land where El thought the world would always be simple and safe, proving that even the most unsuspecting of places can be both Plain and Deadly.

pad_fcExcerpt:
“Care to elaborate on who is in the waiting room? And why they are here?” I suggested, trying to sound more patient than I felt.

“Two Amish ladies. Dressed Amish at least, of course they could be.”

“Tracy, cut the speculation. Let’s assume they are Amish. Did they say why they wanted to see me?”

“It’s something about a missing person. That was all they said.” Tracy narrowed her eyes. I could almost see the black and white 16-millimeter film running in her one-track mind. “What do you think?” she asked.

“I think you’d better show them in, Tracy.”

“OK,” she whispered, removing handfuls of papers from the two chairs that faced my desk.

A few minutes later, the two women were seated across from me. Amish they were. I’d seen enough Amish in my growing up years in Lancaster to know the real thing when I saw it. And knowing that, I was as surprised as Tracy was to have the pair in my office. It was a first for me and I’d venture it was a rarity for any investigator. The Amish had little need to frequent a domestic investigator’s office.

The elder of the two introduced herself as Liddy Beiler. Liddy was in her early forties, I guessed. Hard to tell. Amish women, without any help from cosmetics and beauticians usually looked older than the “English”—which was how they referred to the non-Amish. Despite, or maybe because of the natural look, Liddy was beautiful in a serene, clear-eyed way. Glossy dark hair was pulled away from her face and showed only slightly from its containment beneath her black bonnet. She was also very plump. Maybe that accounted for the absence of lines in her face.

The younger woman, twentyish Annie Beiler, was Liddy’s daughter-in-law. If Liddy was beautiful, Annie was drop-dead gorgeous. Huge luminous blue eyes stared out from a perfect oval face. Despite her attempt to tame her ash-blond hair beneath a traditional Amish prayer cap, it curled out in becoming tendrils around her face. Amish or not, I imagine every male from nine to ninety noticed Annie.

In Annie’s arms a rosy-faced baby of about two or three months of age slept peacefully, wrapped snugly in a miniature Amish patchwork quilt.

“What a sweet baby you have,” I said, my not-so-well-hidden maternal instincts turned on full blast.

“Oh, he’s not mine,” Annie said. I thought she looked momentarily sad when she said it. I had obviously been spending too much time around Tracy: everything seemed like a scene in an old movie.

“Oh?” I said to no one in particular.

“He—we call him Jeremiah—is why we are here,” Liddy said, answering what was to be my opening question if I hadn’t been too besotted with small Jeremiah to remember to ask it. Liddy spoke formally, using very few contractions and had a decided Pennsylvania Dutch accent, pronouncing the “J” in Jeremiah like a “Ch,” making the name sound like Cheremiah. Her voice was smooth, the tone soothing. Reminded me of a few shrinks I’d met in my work.

“He is?” I said. In a few moments I mentally examined and discarded several of possibilities as to why.

“Yes. It is Jeremiah why we are here … and this note.” She fished in her commodious black purse, coming out with a neatly folded piece of paper. She handed it over, carefully lifting it high over the clutter of my desk. I wondered how Liddy, with her Amish sense of neatness and order, could stand my office. I would learn later that the Amish don’t judge the English, although they do wonder about us.

“We want to hire you,” she continued in the direct, no-time-for-useless-preliminaries way the Amish have.

I read the note, which looked to be hastily but legibly printed on the kind of lined paper I’d noticed the Amish usually used for correspondence.

“To Liddy Beiler, midwife: I am leaving this Amish babe with you because it is the only safe place for an Amish child. You must keep him for just two weeks already. I am in danger and he will be, too, if he is found with me. If he is given to the English I will maybe be killed. I need to fix up some trouble and I will come for him. Bless you.”

The note was signed “A Mom.”

About the Author:
In writing her mysteries, Barbara Workinger draws on her background as a research journalist, an antique dealer, and an interest in the art of quilting. She combines them with a fascination for the Amish area where she lived for over twenty years. Ten of those years were spent in researching the Amish.

Plain and Deadly: An Ellerie March Mystery
Authored by Barbara Workinger
List Price: $16.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
214 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620064634
ISBN-10: 1620064634
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Plain-and-Deadly-9781620…