What would you do if in his shoes?

posted May 10, 2017, 4:15 PM by Edward Georgen   [ updated May 10, 2017, 4:32 PM ]
Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper by Thomas McKenney

To sum up this story, WOW! Makes you think, "What would I do?"

When I was young I had heard tales about a Father who went out for revenge against the Yankees, but I never did hear much beyond that. Of course I was a teen, fresh into reenacting and a certain little blonde haired girl... I didn't think much about the mystery back then...  And the years slowly passed.

Now fast forward to my moving to Kentucky. We live near LBL so being a "history nerd" as some lovingly call me, I happened upon the tale again exploring LBL with my Son. But the details I could get from the Parks Folks was sketchy to say the least and they couldn't back up any of what they were saying with anything beyond "so and so said". My appetite was up! I had to find out more!!!

I happened upon this book while doing a web search and immediately snatched it up (I paid way too much for it but wanted it then and there.)

So order a copy, (click the title above to go right to it at Amazon) get in your comfy reading chair and have at it! Have a nice cold drink handy too.

The book flows like you are standing in the wings watching it unfold. The author does a good job filling in details that help the story move along and not just a timeline in words. He states himself that he had to take some literary license to make the story flow, BUT all the facts are there. He did his research well! 

Yes, at times it goes seem to get bogged down in details, but soldier thru those bits. Those details help reveal the story as you go along. 

If you can get over to the Southern end of LBL just North of Dover and get a feel for how the land dips and flows it will give you an idea of the terrain them folks lived with. Also remember that the rivers were untamed back then so what you see along them now was WELL above water back then except for flood stages...  

One prime example is Fort Henry, back then it was built too close to the river and the rising water played heavily in its fall. Now the location of Fort Henry is underwater... What if the Fort was built back from the bank a bit more and did not flood? Could that have changed the outcome of the War? What if Fort Heiman on the opposite shore was completed and manned? Could that have been enough to keep the Federal Forces out of Tennessee long enough for Lincoln to stop pushing for war???

You will also be able to see how knowing the land played well to Johns survival. He know the area like the back of his hand. He knew the people as family. Using this knowledge of the land and its people you can easily see how John avoid patrols hunting for him and entire units of men (100+) out hunting for him.

I bet you see I love to play "What if?" a lot.  :)  And this book fueled that train of thinking for me BIG TIME!

But back to John Hinson, yes John Hinson was his name. Not Jack...

The author does a decent job of painting a picture that I believe is rather accurate. The character interactions are not forced or unbelievable. He has woven the facts and family stories well into the characters.

Would I like to have read more on the interactions with the Generals on both sides? Yes. But that would have taken away from the factual aspect of the book.

Would I like to have read more on the interactions between John and his People? Heck yes! I have long held that the treatment depicted by hollyweird and tv is NOT what it was like. Do yourself a favor and go to the Library of Congress and listen to the "slave narratives".  

If I have one complaint about the book, it would be the story after the war seemed rushed. The author went from sometimes too much detail to just enough to get facts across. Fleshing out Johns later years would have taken some away from my fascination with "What if" but I don't think it would have hurt to fill in the story a bit more.

This book fueled my wanting to know more about John so much I set my sights on doing a first person impression of John for our Camp education efforts. Even followed in Johns steps and had a rifle custom built as close to his as I could get.

How far would YOU go to avenge two of your sons deaths? In similar circumstances I can tell ya this old boy would be about the same...

So for my ratings:
  Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper by Thomas McKenney
Attention to detail8/10
Thought provoking9/10
Buy it New or UsedNew, its a keeper