69th Infantry Regiment

MAR 19 (1)

Many Irish and Scottish immigrants served in the Union Army during America’s Civil War. These soldiers proved themselves during every major campaign from the onset of the conflict in 1861 to the final surrender at Appomattox in 1865, but now faced a new enemy on the country’s western frontier. Their adversaries wore neither Yankee blue nor Confederate grey; they were the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho and the Apache.

Of the many immigrant units formed during the war,the most prominent was the 69th Infantry Regiment, one of five regiments comprising the Irish Brigade that fought for the Union. Renown for its courage and tenacity, it was always at the forefront of campaigns against the Confederacy suffering huge losses over the course of the war.

The number of dead and wounded led many to believe that Irish immigrants were being used as “cannon fodder.” Spearheading the Army of the Potomac’s advances resulted in casualties disproportionate to the rest of the service. By 1863 riots broke out in New York over new conscription laws that required the working-class to replenish the ranks. Irish immigrants felt that they were being forced to fight the “rich man’s war.” Federal troops would eventually be called in to quell the riots. However, while individual Irishmen would continue to serve, organized Irish participation on behalf of the Union effectively ended.

Those not killed, maimed, or ushered out of the Union Army at war’s end found themselves garrisoned in places like Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. They formed the backbone of the troops tasked with subduing the Southern Plains Indians.

Sergeant Major [Timothy] O’Shannon was a big man and a stereotypical Irishman if ever there was one. He could be gruff if the situation required, invoking “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary” as the circumstances dictated, but he was also fair and genuinely caring when it came to the men. He was the counterpoint to [Colonel Ranald] Mackenzie’s demanding and uncompromising leadership style. The Sergeant Major had served with the Sixty-Ninth Regiment, the Irish Brigade, during the war and had seen action  at the Battle of First Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. As a result he and Mackenzie shared a mutual respect for one another that only survivors of the carnage they had witnessed over the course of the war could possibly forge or understand. This respect even ignored what should have been a natural impediment to working well together… O’Shannon’s Irish and Mackenzie’s Scottish heritage. – excerpt from Palo Duro.

Texas Reads

My novel has been featured in the Texas Reads section of this week’s edition of Lone Star Literary Life, (Sunday, March 11th.)

Historical fiction: San Antonio author Max L. Knight covers a lot of colorful historical western characters and events in his novel, Palo Duro (Page Publishing, $16.50 paperback).

 Among them: Quanah Parker, Charles Goodnight, Billy Dixon, Ranald Mackenzie,  Geronimo, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and John Wesley Hardin.

“The characters that populate my book,” Knight writes, “are a composite of both real people and the products of my imagination… The dialogue, with very few exceptions, is strictly fictional but captures the essence of the events portrayed and the people involved.”

 “I’ve tried to portray the savage nature of the conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers, buffalo hunters, merchants and soldiers as evenly as possible without bias to either side, and I’ve tried to portray the difference between the lawman and the lawless as a fine line that was often crossed.”

 Readers of historical fiction will find much to savor in Knight’s novel.

For anyone unfamiliar with the online publication, Lone Star Literary Life is the best source of information for all things literary in the State of Texas. Its stated mission is “to connect Texas books and writers with those who want to discover them,” and they’ve certainly done this for me!

Each edition includes write-ups on authors and new book releases, bestseller lists, literary destinations and events including festivals, author appearances, readings and book signings, upcoming blog tours, biographies, author insights, news briefs, classified listings and so much more.

To read their full issue each week, be sure to check out their website.

 

The Roots of Evil

FEB 8 (1)

To date I have used this forum to promote discussion of my books Silver Taps and Palo Duro. However, a blog should also serve to engage readers’ interest in upcoming publications. Later this year I hope to release my next book, Tarnished Brass, which looks at America’s involvement in the brutal civil war fought in the small Central American country of El Salvador from 1980-1992, and the aftermath of that conflict to include the origins of the violent street gang MS-13.

The timeliness of this upcoming release coincides with recent news coverage and comments by the President and the U.S. Attorney General highlighting the growing threat posed by this organization.

Mostly made up of Salvadoran nationals who illegally entered the United States and settled in Los Angeles, California, MS-13 engages in a broad range of criminal activity characterized by extreme violence toward rival street gangs and those caught in the crossfire. The savagery of their attacks is the principal reason the organization has become the focus of Justice Department efforts to incarcerate or deport its members.

The gang’s mobility within the United States has resulted in increased violence not only in Los Angeles, but in the southeastern, central, and northeastern sectors of our country. Additionally, El Salvador remains one of the most dangerous places in all of Central America with the violence that characterized a war ravaged nation supplanted and exceeded by the violence perpetrated by MS-13 gang members.