Thoughts from the other side of the wall….
Tag Archives: William Ellis Jones
2 Comments | tags: American Civil War, Civil War, Immigrants to America, Jones, Poets & Authors, Richmond, Virginia, Wales, William Ellis Jones, Writing | posted in Jones, Musings, Printers, Publishers, Authors, Artists, Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect project, Uncategorized
From the Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect project…
From The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect project… never-ending research is bliss to me.
Well, I have been quiet for many months… revising drafts, making changes, editing, editing, getting distracted, traveling, research, reading, more revisions…. and the book promo web site “The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect“.
Hope you’ll follow the link, have a close look, and let me know what you think. Load up the comments either here or there. Share the link. Tell a friend. And please, if you see anything at all that needs to be corrected – LET ME KNOW. As important is general feedback. This is still in beta and it’s better to correct errors now before I start to really promote it.
I seriously hope you will leave me a comment – either good or bad. I REALLY want to know what you think.
Leave a comment | tags: American Civil War, Books, Civil War, Jones, Printers, Richmond, Richmond Virginia, Virginia, William Ellis Jones, William Ellis Jones III, Writing | posted in Jones, Printers, Publishers, Authors, Artists
As some of you may have noticed, I have been very quiet. That’s because I have been very busy.
Tonight I finished the last sentence of the last chapter of “The Book”; the Biography and Civil war Diary of my g-g-g-grandfather, William Ellis Jones, II. The book is going to be called “The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect”, which is an homage to a line in William’s Civil War Diary, and (I think at least) a perfect metaphor for the mythology of the Lost Cause.
There is much more work to do. I have to complete the footnotes, finish two Appendices, write an Acknowledgements page, and go through the thing with a fine tooth comb for style, grammar, etc. – but it’s damn close.
Monday morning I begin searching in earnest for publishers.
I am so happy, and so proud of this accomplishment (I started working on this project in 2006), that I could just dance a jig and then spit!
7 Comments | tags: American Civil War, Books, Civil War, Civil War Diary, Immigrants to America, Jones, Poets & Authors, Printers, Richmond, Richmond Virginia, Slavery, Wales, William Ellis Jones, Writing | posted in Famous Ancestors, Jones, Printers, Publishers, Authors, Artists, Slavery
From the diary of William Ellis Jones, II, of Crenshaw’s Battery, Pegram’s Battalion, Hill’s “Light Division”, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Thursday, December 25, 1862
Christmas Morn broke very threatening, but cleared off beautifully and warm. The boys started at seven o’clock to go on picket, after which the camp was dull and lonesome. During the morning we were called up and paid off until the 31st of October; $119.10, for clothes and wages. After dark the boys of ours and other batteries enjoyed themselves by having a battle with lighted port-fires, which presented a handsome pyrotechnic display.
Friday, December 26, 1862
Christmas has come and gone, and I sincerely hope I will never spend another in the army.
William, my great-great-great-grandfather, would endure two more Christmases in the Confederate Army. He was wounded at Spotsylvania in 1864, but miraculously survived the War, despite seeing hot action in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, including Gaines Mill, in May/June of 1862, Second Battle of Mananas in August of 1862, the Battle of Sharpsburg, September, 1862, the Battle of the “Crater”, in Petersburg, July, 1864, Vicksburg, Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and finally was present at the Fall of Richmond, in April, 1865.
2 Comments | tags: American Civil War, Army of Northern Virginia, Christmas, Civil War, Civil War Diary, Confederate Army, Jones, Light Division, Printers, Richmond, Richmond Virginia, William Ellis Jones, Writing | posted in Jones, Military Service, Printers, Publishers, Authors, Artists
A few days ago I began reading John Hennessy’s “Return to Bull Run” (1993, Simon & Schuster), which is considered by people who know about such things to be THE definitive work on the topic of the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) which occurred in August of 1862. Mr. Hennessy is a historian with the National Park Service at the Manassas National Battlefield. He’s authored several books on various Civil War topics and he is a regular staff contributor to the Civil War blog “Mysteries and Conundrums” – which is where I learned of him and his book.
The book, so far, is simply wonderful. It’s well-written, entertaining, and approachable in the same way that Shelby Foote’s “Narrative” is well-written and approachable. It differs dramatically from Foote in the aspect that Mr. Hennessy is a historian first, and a gifted story-teller only as a matter of the readers’ good fortune. (Hennessy is a gifted storyteller. Foote was a less-than-disciplined historian, IMHO.)
Just to get this in perfect context, this book consists of the following; 472 pages of thoroughly researched and documented prose narrative plus multiple maps; 88 pages of footnotes; 3 pages of “Order of Battle” (which provides the arrangement and ranking personnel and brigade units on the field); 24 pages of bibliography; and 10 pages of Index notes.
This book is about a single battle, composed of three major engagements, which occurred over the course of just three days. “Return to Bull Run” takes 607 pages to discuss and document the seminal events of just three days of a war that lasted four long, complicated years!
And I’m trying to place context to a War Diary that covers not only this battle (Manassas), but the whole nine months of William Ellis Jones’s service throughout the course of the 1862 Peninsular campaign, the Shenandoah Campaign, and Lee’s foray into Union territory when he takes his Army into Maryland? Before I was through the first chapter of “Return to Bull Run”, I was asking myself “What in the hell do I think I am doing?”
The people who tackle these subjects have spent their lives and the entirety of their careers studying the subject. I spent my life and career chasing the idea that the corporate world would eventually recognize and reward me for my creativity, hard work and unique contributions. Instead, I got a stern reminder that Capitalism is all about consumption. Once they consumed the best, most productive intellectual years of my life, they spit me out like the indigestible gristle on a well-gnawed chicken bone.
Indeed. What in the hell do I think I’m doing?
I’m taking a deep breath. I’m thinking.
I’m not a Civil War scholar – not a historian. I never will be. That decision was made for me when I was fifteen years old when my grandfather told me in no-uncertain terms that history majors and archeologists could not earn a living, could not live in homes of their own, were perpetually poor. I just cringe when I think of how he broke my heart with those words. I cringe to think about how wrong he was and how different my life might have been. It was the ONLY thing I think Papa was ever wrong about. He was so right about so many things – and so all-knowing – I just gave up my dreams and I did what he wanted me to do. I went into the dreamless, soul-crushing world of business.
And I was miserable. And today I am broke, and way under-employed. But despite all the wasted time, I am now doing what I wanted to do all my life. And I am happy, creatively and intellectually fulfilled. Finally.
But I digress. I’m still no historian.
Here’s the thing that I need to keep reminding myself. I don’t need to be a historian! God knows there are countless well-written, well-researched books about the Civil War. I don’t need to think that I am in any way competing with them. What I need to do is tell the truth – tell William’s side of the story. Tell the story he could not tell because of the social and political risk to his life, his family, his future. There’s probably not a historian around who can tell that story as truthfully as William’s own blood kin.
That’s my obligation to William. Tell his story. I don’t need to fight the whole damn Civil War all over again!
I just hope that the real historians out there will see it that way, and make room on their shelves for a little book about a great big man who lived in the conflicted middle ground between loyalty, morality, and the immobilizing power of intimidation. A man who went on to try to bring wisdom to future generations so that the Civil War would never have to be fought again. A man who still has a great deal to tell us, despite the passing of more than 150 years since he went completely silent on the subject of war, of slavery, of a social and civil fabric ripped wide open by fear and ignorance and arrogance. A man who still speaks to me every day and every night in my dreams. He wants his story told. Even if I’m hopelessly intimidated by him – and by all those insanely smart historians out there on the haunted battlefields where my great-great-great-great-grandfather huddled in the cold; shoeless and hungry, praying he survived another day – if only just to have a chance to have his story told.
Leave a comment | tags: American Civil War, Civil War, Civil War Diary, CivilWar, John Hennessy, Manassas, National Park Service, Second Battle of Bull Run, Second Battle of Manassas, Shelby Foote, Slavery, William Ellis Jones, Writing | posted in Jones, Musings, Printers, Publishers, Authors, Artists
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