Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Civil War Book Review: THE DAMNEDEST SET OF FELLOWS


Review: The Damnedest Set of Fellows

Review written by Robert A. Waters
The Damnedest Set of Fellows: A History of Georgia’s Cherokee Infantry
Authors: Garry D. Fisher and Zack C. Waters
Publisher: Mercer University Press
ISBN: 978-0-88146-739-0

My brother Zack has spent 70 years researching the so-called Civil War (Southerners used to call it the War for Southern Independence).  His award-winning book, A Small but Spartan Band, described the history of the Florida Brigade during that war.  His latest, The Damnedest Set of Fellows, co-written with Garry D. Fisher, “tells the story of one of the finest artillery batteries in the Confederate Army of Tennessee.”

The Army of Tennessee’s lack of success on the battlefield was directly attributed to its incompetent generals, not the grunts who fought in the actual battles. For example, the Cherokee Infantry, formed in the area around Rome, Georgia, fought from beginning to end.  They endured more than four years of misery, loss, and heartache, yet continued the fight until the army’s surrender.  While under command, they were independent thinkers who would disobey orders if it seemed that would achieve the goal of victory.

After months of tedious training and marching, or, as the authors write, “the daily grind of soldiering,” the infantry faced its first test under fire on March 22, 1862, at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.  There the Cherokee Artillery faced off against the 16th Ohio.  The Georgia boys acquitted themselves well, and soon learned the intricacies of actual combat.

From this point on throughout the war, the infantry seemed to march from battle to battle, most of which ended disastrously for the Confederates.  Still, like true soldiers, they plodded on.  Letters back home described their hardships, including low rations, disease, and tortuous marches, with deadly combat in between.  Some of the major battles the Cherokee Infantry fought in were the 1862 Invasion of Kentucky, the Battle at Champion Hill, the Battle of Resaca, the 1864 Nashville Campaign, and the Atlanta Campaign.

For Civil War historians and genealogists, one of the major contributions of The Damnedest Set of Fellows is a complete roster listing the fate of each soldier in the Cherokee Artillery, and, if they survived the war, what occurred afterwards.  For example, consider the sad case of Solomon J. Magnus, who “enlisted March 1, 1864 at Kingston, GA.  KIA (Killed in Action) at Resaca.  Jewish soldier.  Had moved to U. S. from Germany in 1849 or 1850 and was described as a ‘brave soldier for the South.’”

If you wish to understand why we Southerners still retain a reverence for our Confederate ancestors, read this book.


Saturday, February 8, 2020

"No Guns Allowed" Sign Startles Me


Trip to the Doctor
by Robert A. Waters

Today I drove my wife to a kidney specialist in the mid-sized city of Ocala, Florida.  This doctor was new to her, and after locating the place, I was surprised to see a huge “No Guns Allowed” decal on the entrance door.  My birthplace and hometown is a fairly conservative city filled with retirees, lots of transplants, and locals. (When Donald Trump ran for election in 2016, my wife and I saw literally thousands of Trump bumper stickers all over Ocala and Marion County, and exactly two Hillary Clinton bumper stickers.)

The unusual no-guns-allowed sign got me thinking: what kind of protective measures does the place have?  What if some maniac is angry enough with this doctor to come in with a gun and start blasting away?  He could kill everyone in the place within seconds.

People with concealed carry permits are the most law-abiding people on earth.  Their guns may be in holsters or in their pockets and no one ever knows.  In the church I attend, for example, out of 350-400 congregants, I personally know of 20 men and women who carry.  (There are probably more—I don’t know everyone there.)  Each Sunday, these carriers sit peacefully in their pews worshipping God.  Yet if someone were to threaten the church-goers, he would likely be met by a group of trained gun-owners.

So, sitting in the no-gun doctor’s office waiting while my wife saw the doctor, I looked around for signs of security.  I saw none.  Two clerks sat at desks signing patients in.  The waiting room had seats for about 25-30 people—a few patients sat waiting to be called.  I saw no video cameras (which are useless in stopping crimes, although helpful to cops in determining what happened after the fact) and no security guard.

I looked on my cellphone app and found the following case of an attack in a dentist’s office.

On February 19, 2019, Larry Seagroves, a permit holder, sat in the Sullivan County, Tennessee dental office of Dr. David Guy.  Several other patients were in the lobby while two clerks, including Kelly Weaver, worked behind the counter.

Suddenly, a man, later identified as Harry Weaver, entered and pointed a gun at his estranged wife, Kelly.  He fired, then aimed at the second clerk.

Seagroves explained in a court hearing what happened next.  “I got up,” he said, “spun around, and saw Mr. Weaver pointing his gun at Kelly and Sabrina, and I began firing.  I fired three times.”

Weaver went down.  Seagroves told the court that once he shot Weaver, “I looked for his gun immediately, and found it laying at my feet, and I kicked it down the hallway.”

Unfortunately, Kelly Weaver had been hit and died almost immediately.  Seagroves held Harry Weaver until deputies arrived.

Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy told reporters that the permit holder was a hero who saved many lives.  “[Seagroves] was flawless in his execution,” Cassidy said, “eliminating the threat, holding the threat down until law enforcement arrived.”

Back in the no-guns-allowed doctor’s lobby, I watched as my wife approached.  “Good news,” she said with a smile.  “Good news,” I agreed, helping her out the door.

As we drove away, I took one last glance at that large garish door decal.  I took my wife out for dinner and she told me how much she liked her new doctor.  “He’s very personable,” she said.  “We joked around a lot.  Oh yeah, he’s from Nigeria.  And he likes Diet Snapple just like I do.”

The restaurant didn’t have a no-guns-allowed sign and we had a great meal.


Please check out Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms.  Co-written with my son, Sim Waters, this book will keep you turning the pages.  It describes several accounts of concealed carry permit holders stopping deadly attacks.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Real Estate Agent Uses Gun to Survive Attack


Firearm trumps knife and bear spray
by Robert A. Waters

At 11:30 on the morning of August 4, 2019, realtor Dawna Hetzler was preparing to show a home at Aspen Hills Condominiums in Commerce City, Colorado.

Hetzler described the incident to a reporter at 9News.com.  “You train for something like that,” she said, “and you pray you never have to do it.  And then you find yourself in that situation and it’s very surreal.  If I did not have my firearm, I would not be here today…

“I was setting up for an open house and went into the place and turned on the lights.  Not too long after I got the lights on, [a man] knocked on the door.  He was asking the right questions about how long it had been on the market.  We talked about loans and what he might qualify for.”

The man, later identified as Ernest Robert Chrisman, 43, toured the kitchen and living room.  Then he asked to see the rooms upstairs.  Hetzler said, “We got into the master bedroom and he pulled a knife out and I could not believe it was happening.”

In addition to the knife, Chrisman had come armed with a can of bear spray tethered to a rope.  “He asked me to take off my ring,” she said, “and get in the closet and at that point, his intentions were deadly, in my opinion.  I have a license to conceal carry and I have the firearm and I drew my weapon.  As I drew my firearm and he saw that I had that, he doused me with bear spray.  At that point, I could…barely see.  My skin was burning, my eyes were on fire and so I fired.”

The gunshot sent Chrisman running.

Five days later, he was arrested. He had not been hit, merely frightened off by the gunfire.

On January 10, 2020, Chrisman pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“I want to believe the best in people,” Hetzler said.  “I don’t want to think there are terrible people out there that want to harm somebody and so [my] initial thought was disbelief, that this is not happening.  I don’t expect people coming to look at homes to have bad intentions, but you prepare for any situation.”

For those who are determined to ban firearms, what would you say to Dawna Hetzler?


Robert A. Waters is co-author, with Sim Waters, of the new book, Guns and Self-Defense:23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Don't Talk to Cops

Loose Lips Sink Ships
by Robert A. Waters

In Virginia, politicians are coming after your guns.  Even though you’ve never committed a crime in your life.  Even though you served honorably in the military and worked an honest job for decades.  Even though you’re not likely to ever commit an illegal act with your gun.

Here are a few suggestions for that day when law enforcement officials show up at your door.

First, don’t talk to cops.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals are in prison because they made the mistake of “sitting for an interview.”  That “interview” is actually an interrogation designed to break your will and make you admit to something prosecutors can use to convict you.  The courts have consistently ruled that you don’t have to say a single word to police.  Refer investigators to your attorney, if you have one.  But whatever you do, don’t get into a conversation with cops.  In that scenario, you’re the rabbit and the cop is the wolf.

Second, videotape and audiotape any dealings you have with police.  Lawmen (and women) are often portrayed as heroes in the movies and TV shows.  Some are, but too many aren’t.  If there is no recording of your encounter, the police can easily frame you.  If you don’t believe me, google Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who allegedly falsified a document to make Carter Page look like a Russian spy.  Or reread the story of the Duke Rape Hoax, and see what law enforcement officials can do.  Or check out this story about a college student falsely accused of lesbian rape.

Third, whatever you do, don’t agree to a polygraph.  This is one of the biggest scams law enforcement officials ever concocted.  Anywhere from 15% to 40% of polygraphs are wrong.  And even if you do “pass,” it’s legal for detectives to deceive you, to tell you that you failed.  It is your right not to take a “lie detector” test.

Fourth, do not threaten or use violence against law enforcement officials.  That is exactly what anti-gunners want.  If you’re still alive after you shoot it out with cops, you'll end up in prison for the rest of your life.  Regardless of what happens, the media will make you and all gun owners look like violent thugs whose guns should be confiscated.  You want to fight for your rights in the courts, not in prison.

Here is
an example of how the government of Virginia may try to confiscate your legally-owned weapons.

I invite you to check out my latest book, co-written with Sim Waters, entitled Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms.  

Friday, December 13, 2019

Viva la Cuba -- Or maybe not

Anthony Bryant

10 Skyjackers Who Found Life in an American Prison Better Than Life in Cuba
by Robert A. Waters

Between 1968 and 1979, one hundred seventy-eight American airplanes were hijacked to Cuba. This was the era of Vietnam war protests, the drug culture, hippies, free love, the civil rights movement, and racial violence.  Some who seized airliners were revolutionaries, while others were fugitives with criminal pasts.

Many skyjackers believed Cuba, ruled by their hero, Fidel Castro, was an egalitarian paradise.  What they found was squalid, overcrowded housing, sub-par transportation, rancid food, and few civil rights.  As soon as the hijacked planes landed on Cuban soil, most freedom-seekers were rounded up and interrogated with a brutality unheard of in the U. S.  Many political prisoners spent years performing back-breaking labor in the “Sugarcane Gulags.”  Michael Newton, in his book, The Encyclopedia of Kidnappings, wrote that “some [skyjackers] found their lot on the island unpleasant, later choosing to face prison in America rather than stay in Cuba.”

A Black Panther’s Nightmare

“Cuba is a nightmare,” Garland Grant told reporters in a phone call from the island nation. “Believe me, I’m all for the United States now.  I’d even wear a Nixon button.”  A member of the Black Panthers, on January 22, 1971, Grant skyjacked Northwest Airlines Flight 433 as it flew from Milwaukee to Washington, D. C.  He landed in Cuba, believing Castro’s claims that everyone there was treated equally, and that no racism existed in the communist country.

He was quickly disabused of those notions, spending five years in a brutal Cuban prison.  There he lost an eye while being beaten by sadistic guards and was stabbed repeatedly with bayonets.  Grant was eventually given a sixteen-square-foot putrid-smelling room in a hotel where he swept floors for a living.  “I just want to get back to the United States,” he whined.  “I’m living like a dog in Cuba.”  He also told reporters that “there are more racism problems here than in the worst part of Mississippi.”  After being sent back to the states, Grant was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  He was released after serving about three-fourths of his sentence.

Ready to go Home

On September 19, 1970, Richard Duwayne Witt boarded Allegheny Airlines Flight 730 in Pittsburgh and hijacked it to Havana.  There he faced the same problems as many American asylum-seekers.  In an interview, he complained about worn-out clothing, inedible food, police harassment, and racial discrimination.  The government even made him shave off his Afro.  He claimed he’d rather face the death penalty in America than stay in Cuba.

“I want to be in the U. S.—even in jail—as long as I can leave here,” Witt said.  “I’m ready to face the music in the United States—whatever the court decides.  I’d rather be in federal prison than this place.”  In 1978, after eight years in Cuba, Witt was allowed to return to the United States.  Convicted of air piracy, he got his wish—15 years in federal prison.

“They still have dungeons down there”

Lewis Cale (also known as Louis Moore) and two companions skyjacked a Southern Airways DC-9 on November 10, 1972, a flight en route from Birmingham to Memphis.  During the 24-hour-long hijacking, the plane made nine stops at different airports across the country.  Finally, authorities had had enough and FBI agents shot out the airliner’s tires.  In retaliation, one of the hijackers shot and wounded a co-pilot.  The long-suffering pilot, forced at gunpoint to fly to Havana on shredded tires, slid the plane along the runway, making a miraculous landing.

The skyjackers were immediately taken into custody by Cuban police.  They were placed in isolation for a month, then beaten nearly to death during a series of bloody interrogations.  Cale’s hair turned prematurely gray from the stress of the torture and a lack of food.  A Cuban guard struck him on the forehead with a machete, leaving a disfiguring scar.  If that was not enough, several of his teeth were pulled out without the use of anesthesia.  “They threw us into dungeons,” Cale said.  “They still have dungeons down there.”  He said he witnessed a prisoner’s ears being cut off, and two prisoners murdered by guards.

Cale had had enough.  When the Castro regime gave him a choice of twenty years in a Cuban prison or release to the United States, he jumped at the chance to return to his home country.  Cale said his release gave him the chance to “spread the evils of communism.”  He later served a 20-year sentence in America’s federal prison system.

Sugarcane Gulag

As National Airlines Flight 97 began its final touchdown for Miami International Airport on March 6, 1969, a small-time crook and communist named Anthony Bryant pulled out a pistol and hijacked the plane.  As the airliner flew toward Havana, Bryant robbed all the passengers, including a Cuban intelligence operative.  Bad mistake.

The skyjacker had dreamed of “a place where everyone was equal.”  Unfortunately, Cuba was not that place.  Bryant was immediately arrested and, without a trial, sentenced to 12 years in the “sugarcane gulag.”  There he labored day in and day out, and endured so many bayonet attacks from guards that he had scars all over his body.  After being released from prison, Bryant subsisted on maggot-filled bread.

Cuba eventually sent Bryant back to the United States.  “Communism is humanity’s vomit,” he said at his first hearing.  Possibly because of the persecution he had endured, Bryant was sentenced to only five years of probation.  He wrote a popular book that detailed his torturous stay in Cuba, and spent the rest of his life condemning totalitarian regimes.

“If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t do it”

On January 29, 1969, Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Everett White hijacked Eastern Air Lines Flight 121 and took it to Cuba.  He was joined by Larry Brooks and Noble Mason III.  The three were sent to the sugarcane gulags where they languished for five miserable years.  Eventually, White was released and found work in a bakery.

By this time, he was ready to go home.  Back in America, he pleaded guilty to hindering a flight crew and was given a ten-year suspended sentence.  After learning that a group of Cuban refugees in America had hijacked a plane back to Cuba, White said, “They don’t even have the right to protest over there.  If they lived in a prison here [in the United States], they’d have it better than they do in the streets over there.”

“I have missed my country”

Raymond Johnson, a well-known Black Panther, hijacked National Airlines Flight 186 to Cuba on November 4, 1968.  Expecting a hero’s welcome, he was surprised to find Jose Marti International Airport surrounded by tanks.  Armed military personnel stormed the plane and arrested Johnson.  After two years in prison, he was released.  Johnson spent the next 16 years in Cuba where he worked, got married, and had four children.

In 1987, he was allowed to return to the United States.  Johnson was a changed man.  “I want to thank God for enabling me to be back in my country after 18 years in exile in communist Cuba,” he said.  “I don’t regret coming back.  I have the consolation of knowing my kids have been saved from a life of communist indoctrination.  I would rather be in jail in America than free in Cuba.”

After pleading guilty to kidnapping, Johnson received 25 years in prison.  The judge said his harsh sentence was meant to be a deterrent to others.  The sentence was overturned on appeal, and Johnson ended up serving only 5 years.  He later earned a law degree.

Lt. Spartacus, the Homesick Hijacker

By the 1980s, stricter security at airports had nearly eliminated skyjackings to Cuba.  But on March 27, 1984, William Potts, who went by the name, “Lt. Spartacus, a soldier of the Black Liberation Army,” told a stewardess on Piedmont Flight 451 from New York to Miami that he had two bombs on board.  His destination, he informed her, was Havana.  Potts later said he thought he would be welcome there.  That didn’t happen.

Lt. Spartacus was tried for air piracy and spent 13 years in a Cuban prison.  After being released, he lived another 17 years as a Cuban citizen.  He married and had children, but he told reporters he was “the homesick hijacker.”  He wished to return to his home country, he said.  Even though he faced decades in American prisons, Potts declared he would take that chance.  After 30 years in Cuba, he was sent back home to America where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years.  However, the judge said he should be released after serving only seven.

Skyjacker and Young Daughter Return to U. S.

Jobless and estranged from his wife, Thomas George Washington told reporters he grew tired of American racism and capitalism.  On December 19, 1968, he kidnapped his three-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and hijacked Eastern Airlines Flight 47 to Cuba. Washington quickly became disenchanted with communism and begged Castro to let him return to America to face charges.  A year after landing in Cuba, Washington and Jennifer were kicked out.  They arrived in Montreal aboard a Cuban freighter where they were transferred to waiting FBI agents.

Jennifer was reunited with her mother and Washington convicted of interfering with a flight crew.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Disillusioned with Paradise

The first hijacker of an American airliner to Cuba was a U. S. citizen born in Puerto Rico named Antulio Ramirez Ortiz.  He had grown tired of life in America and was sympathetic to the Castro regime.  It was May 1, 1961, when Ortiz claimed he had a bomb on board National Airlines Flight 337, bound from Miami to Key West.  The pilots quickly turned the plane toward Havana.

As the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962, Ortiz became disillusioned with his adopted country.  He repeatedly tried to escape.  On one occasion, he attempted to float a raft to the U. S. but was caught and given six years in a Cuban prison.  Another time, he visited the Swiss Embassy hoping to arrange passage to the U. S.  He was again sentenced to prison.  During the times he wasn’t locked up, Ortiz worked as a general laborer.  Finally, Cuba agreed to send him back to the U. S. where he was arrested by the FBI.  He received a sentence of 20 years.

Dreams of a Worker’s Paradise

Maoist revolutionaries Charles Andrew Tuller, his teenaged sons Jonathan and Bryce, as well as William W. Graham, robbed a bank in Arlington, Virginia.  During the failed heist, they shot and killed the bank manager and a police officer.  With the FBI hot on their trail, the killers decided Castro and his “worker’s paradise” would be more inviting.

On October 30, 1972, as Eastern Airlines Flight 496 was boarding in Houston, Tuller and his gang rushed the plane.  Armed to the teeth, they shot and killed ticket agent Stanley Hubbard when he attempted to stop them. They also wounded a maintenance worker.  Once inside the Boeing 727, they forced the pilot to fly to Havana.

The group quickly grew disillusioned.  For three months, they were held in detention, interrogated endlessly, and accused of being spies.  After their release, Tuller and his sons found Cuba to be “a living hell,” nothing like the Utopia they had imagined.  Three years later, they voluntarily returned to the U. S. to face trial.  Convicted of air piracy and kidnapping, each was sentenced to 50 years in prison.  Graham, the fourth member of their group, remained in Cuba for a while longer, then snuck back into the U. S.  He lived under the law’s radar for 20 years before being caught and handed a life sentence.


If you have any interest in this subject, I recommend the following book: Hijack by Anthony Bryant, published in 1984. It is well-written, describing his life and eventual disillusionment with communism.

For my research into this project, I read hundreds of old newspapers from the 1960s to the 1980s.

I also recommend the following blog: “Skyjacker of the Day” by Brendan I. Koerner.


Friday, December 6, 2019

A Primer on Self-Defense

Self-Defense Tips Most People Forget About
By Jay Chambers

As crime rates increase by the day, you should make sure you are never caught unawares. Whether you are in a safe place or not, it is good to be always prepared for the worst scenarios. Simple self-defense readiness (or lack of it) could determine your staying alive or getting killed.

From simple to more aggressive self-defense techniques, none is too little or too much when it comes to staying safe before and during an attack. Keep reading to learn about great self-defense tips you probably don’t pay attention to.

Tip #1: Fight Back – Do So Only If You Can Handle the Situation

Learning to fight back during an attack is one of the techniques for self-defense. However, you must assess the situation and be very sure your attacker does not have a life-threatening device that would give him or her an upper hand over you.

So, once you have assessed the situation and determined it’s okay to fight back in physical combat, go ahead and scratch or jab the attacker in the eyes without delay. The essence is to weaken their vision so that you can take advantage of the situation to escape. 

Tip #2: Apply Head-butt when Necessary

Head-butting is especially helpful when an attacker grabs a victim from behind. Do not delay in head-butting backward, which will direct a blow from the back of your head to the assailant's nose. Make sure you apply the most force in head-butting your attacker. The culprit is very likely to let go of you as the pain from the head-butt weakens him.

Tip #3: Destabilize Your Attacker with a Pepper Spray

Having pepper spray with you most times when you are outdoors can be quite helpful in a life-threatening situation. It’s a great way to destabilize your opponent so that you can escape or use the opportunity to fish out a stronger weapon.

When you use pepper spray on an attacker, you should focus on the face and particularly the eyes. Remember, this is a matter of life and death, so you should be very swift in taking action. Once you have succeeded in destabilizing the assailant, escape as fast as possible, bearing in mind that the pepper spray effect would usually wear off after about 15 minutes or slightly more.

Tip #4: Learn to Exhibit Confidence and Awareness

When you notice a potential attack, exhibiting confidence and awareness is a great self-defense technique that can make your attacker think twice. Often, violent criminals such as muggers usually focus on easy targets – people who appear fearful and unaware of the potential danger in their environment.

So, don’t look down as you’re walking and being distracted by your mobile phone. Exhibit confidence and awareness by standing straight as you walk briskly, with your back, chin, and shoulders up.

Try not to make it obvious that you know someone is following you – so, don’t make eye contact with a suspect. But, ensure you are at alert, looking around intermittently for signs that may confirm your suspicion. Sometimes, a potential assailant would walk away if the person suspects you will be a difficult target.

Tip #5: Shout

In a potential attack situation, shouting at the aggressor can be a helpful self-defense technique. It can help prevent the assailant from attacking you. Knowing that your shout will attract the attention of people nearby, the assailant would hurry to leave the environment.

Usually, attackers do not want victims who draw attention and would take advantage of the situation to subdue them quietly. The majority of the attackers will hurry away from loud situations and shouts, knowing that could alert people nearby or even the police.

So, don’t hesitate to shout “back off!” when someone is suspiciously coming towards you. Don’t stop screaming and yelling until they back off. Also, it would be helpful to bring out your cell phone immediately and let them know you are dialing 911 since they’ve refused to back off.

Tip #6: Get Away from the Scene as Fast as You Can

Remember, a potential attack is a life-threatening situation and any quick action can help save your life. So, if there’s an opportunity to escape from a potential attacker, do it as fast as you can. If your vehicle is parked close by, quickly duck into it as a way of escape, and don’t hesitate to drive off.

You can also escape into any business outfit nearby such as a mall or restaurant. Look for a way to blend with the crowd so that the attacker can lose track of you. You don't always have to fight back when you have the opportunity to escape.

Escaping from potential harm includes letting go of your precious belongings such as your wallet, money or credit cards, especially if they ask for those items in a life-threatening situation. You can always bounce back from such losses, but may never bounce back from a life-threatening attack.

Tip #7: Be Armed

You should be ready for worst-case scenarios at all times by arming yourself. It is common for many people to use concealed handguns, including higher caliber options as a way of being armed and getting ready for the worst situations. Other self-defense devices that people adopt include mace and knives.

However, you should bear in mind that if you are unprepared to use dangerous weapons such as guns and knives, your attacker may deploy them against you. As a result, many people consider these self-defense devices carefully.

So, if you decide to adopt a proper weapon such as a pistol for self-defense, endeavor to be smart and very cautious. You should ensure you go through proper training on how to use such weapons safely. Also, you must carry a gun legally.

Finally, it is helpful to take self-defense lessons, especially if your neighborhood is a dangerous one and you are concerned about your life and that of your loved ones.

Jay is a pro free speech business owner based in Austin, Texas.  Jay writes over at Minuteman Review.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran's Day, 2019.  Today, I'm remembering Zack A. Crumpton, my grandfather on my mother's side of the family.  One hundred years ago (July, 1919), he came home from France.  He landed in New York blind in one eye and suffering from influenza.  After recovering from the flu, Grandfather Crumpton came back to Fellowship, Florida, the little farming community where he was born and raised.  My grandfather never received a penny from the government for the life-altering injury he suffered during WWI.  He never asked for any money.  He considered it his duty to serve his country.


I would encourage everyone who reads this to click into the following link and check out "The Heroes of an Ancient War," written by my brother Zack.  It is a moving tribute to Grandfather Crumpton and others who fought to keep our country free.
   

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Story of Sam Davis

"I would die a thousand deaths..."
Written by Robert A. Waters

The following true, much-documented tale portrays the humanity of Civil War soldiers on both sides.  The storyline is somewhat similar to the famous story by Ambrose Bierce entitled "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," which Kurt Vonnegut called the "greatest American short story." 

On November 27, 1863, an exhausted man dozed beneath the wintry skeleton of a live oak tree.  A thick tangle of brush surrounded him, making this spot a natural hiding place.  Below him, the icy Tennessee River gurgled and cracked.  The man intended to cross that river, but decided to rest for a while.  With a cold rain battering him and his worn-out horse, the man never heard the small group of Kansas Jayhawkers (7th Kansas Cavalry) circling his make-shift camp.

Sam Davis, a twenty-year-old scout, or courier, for the Confederate army, awoke to dozens of carbines trained on him.  The Union troops unceremoniously arrested Davis.

In her research paper, "The Coleman Scouts," Mabel Baxter Pittard wrote that Civil War-era "spies and scouts [were] sent into enemy territory to gather news concerning movements of troops, to secure newspapers, and to obtain any vital information about enemy resources."  Confederate scouts were used in Tennessee to send intelligence about USA General Ulysses Grant's military activities to CSA General Braxton Bragg, currently headquartered in Decatur, Alabama.

Sam Davis had been caught red-handed.

Davis grew up in Rutherford County, Tennessee and attended West Military Institute in Nashville.  Only 18 when the Union army invaded his Southern homeland, Davis joined the First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry.  "In the ensuing year," newspaperman James Cameron Phifer wrote in American Heritage magazine, "[Davis] served under Robert E. Lee, under Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah valley, under Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard in Mississippi.  In August of 1862, Sam, now battle-hardened and battle-scarred--he had been wounded at Shiloh--marched over the mountains into Kentucky, as General Braxton Bragg's army of Tennessee launched the invasion that was to end in disastrous defeat at Perryville on October 8."  At Perryville, Sam was wounded again, this time his injuries much more severe.

While recovering, the call went out from Coleman's Scouts for volunteers, led by Captain Henry B. Shaw, AKA "Dr. E. Coleman."  Davis applied and was accepted.

The Jayhawkers, sloshing through the rain, hurried Davis to Union General Grenville M. Dodge's headquarters in Pulaski, Tennessee.  There, searchers located a group of incriminating documents sewn into one of his boots.  Davis's saddle was then examined and soldiers located additional papers, including chillingly accurate maps of Grant's encampment.

To Dodge, Sam was small-fry.  He wanted to learn the identity of the elusive "Captain Coleman," not Davis.  Dodge met with his captive and informed him that if he (Davis) would reveal the name of the much-hated leader of the spy ring, he would be set free.  Davis adamantly refused.  Dodge, who spent hours interrogating Davis and was said to have developed a liking for the young man, begged him to spare his own life and give up his superior.  Davis replied, "The man who gave me the information is more important to the Confederacy than I."

Davis was then court-martialed and sentenced to death.

Phifer wrote that "Chaplain James Young of the 81st Ohio Infantry, the unit detailed to carry out the execution, spent much time with the doomed youngster."  They spoke of their homes and their experiences in the war and prayed together.  Young allowed the prisoner to write a note home.  Sam wrote: "Mother, do not grieve for me, I must bid you good-bye forevermore.  Mother--I do not hate to die."

The next morning dawned cold, with a heavy rain soaking the hanging ground.  As Davis sat on his coffin in a wagon awaiting execution, he was again reminded that he would be given a horse, a gun, and transferred safely by Union soldiers to Confederate lines in Alabama if he would identify the chief spy.  Davis responded, "I will not tell.  I would die a thousand deaths before I would betray a friend."

With that, he was led to the gallows.  Union troops later said that many soldiers turned their heads away so they wouldn't have to witness the well-liked prisoner's death.  After a final prayer by the chaplain, the trap was sprung and the rope snapped taut.  It took three minutes for Davis to die.

Captain W. F. Armstrong, the provost marshal who had also spent hours attempting to get Davis to reveal his secrets, wrote to Sam's parents.  "Tell them for me," the note read, "that he died the bravest of the brave, an honor to them, and with the respect of every man in this command."

After the war, General Dodge wrote about Davis: "I pleaded with him with all the power I possessed to give me some chance to save his life.  I discovered that he was a most admirable young fellow, with highest character and strictest integrity.  He replied, 'I know, General, I will have to die, but I cannot tell you where I got the information and there is no power on earth that can make me tell.  You are doing your duty as a soldier, and if I have to die, I shall be doing my duty to God and my country.'"

A statue of Sam Davis now sits outside his former home in Smyrna, Tennessee.  As you would expect in this era, its future is precarious.  Here's hoping it lasts another hundred years, a tribute to courage and honor. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Rights Reversal for Guns Save Lives
Written by Robert A. Waters

In 2002, my second book, Guns Save Lives, was published.  I hated the title, and still do.  My original working title was Shooting Back—I still like that title.  The publisher, Loompanics Unlimited, changed it.  I also didn’t much like the original cover either, but you go with the flow sometimes.  (Like my first book, this one described two dozen dramatic stories of people who used firearms to survive encounters with violent criminals.)

Now I’m not ripping on Loompanics.  They gave me a very nice advance and paid me royalties for years.  The publisher specialized in controversial “soldier-of-fortune” type books, as well as prepper titles and other politically incorrect subjects.  They had a humongous mailing list that paid off for me.

Ten or twelve years later, Loompanics went out of business.  They sold my book to Paladin Press.  Paladin was similar to Loompanics in its subject matter, but much more hardcore libertarian.  Paladin also had a great mailing list and I received royalty payments from them for a decade.

So a couple of years ago, the founder of Paladin died and the company went out of business.  My son Sim and I decided to attempt to get the rights reverted to me.  In that way, we could publish it on Kindle.  We contacted Paladin’s representative and they graciously gave us the full rights to the book.  The Kindle edition has done very well, so we decided to republish it in paperback as well.  That paperback edition is now available on Amazon.

Below, you can read the complete Chapter 1 of Guns Save Lives.  If you like it, I’d encourage you to buy the paperback edition.  Put it on your bookshelf and it can be a permanent reminder to you that heroic people do exist in America, and that firearms are often used to save lives.

Chapter 1 - Point Blank
http://kidnappingmurderandmayhem.blogspot.com/2019/05/guns-save-lives-chapter-1-point-blank_40.html

Guns Save Lives – Kindle eBook is $2.99.

Guns Save Lives – Paperback edition is $9.99.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Backstory
Written by Robert A. Waters

“It is [the] fact behind the facts that determines the meaning of all the other facts, creates a context for interpreting what our eyes are seeing and what our informants are telling us, and dictates the true syntax of a story.” Phillip Gerard (“The Facts Behind the Facts”).

All literature has backstory, in one form or another.  There can be one backstory, or many.

In Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms, by myself and my son, Sim Waters, a chapter called “Demise of the Cutthroat Committee” has an intriguing backstory.  This chapter describes a violent home invasion that was stopped by the residents, Foster Coker III, and his wife, Pamela.  After being nearly murdered, both Foster and Pam shot the home invader, killing him.

Here is a hint of the backstory from this chapter: the Coker family are Christians.  They attend church, and regularly have members of their congregation over to visit.  Because of this, several cars might be parked in their yard on various evenings.  (The relevance of their strong belief in God becomes evident near the end of the chapter.)

Now to the main story.  The “Cutthroat Committee” was a makeshift gang of about 15 convicted felons.  They lived near the neighborhood where Foster and Pam lived.  At some point, they began to case the Coker residence.  Having a totally different mindset than the average person, several of the gang members decided the home they passed with all the cars must be a drug house.  Because of that, three gang members and a girlfriend decided to rob the residents.  Being convicted felons, none of the gang members could legally own guns.  Yet all of them did.  Members of the gang made their living by selling drugs, committing thefts and robberies, and prostituting out their “girlfriends.”  Few, if any, of the gang had ever worked a steady job.

The grandson of Foster and Pam would often spend the night with them.  He was seven-years-old at the time and slept in a bedroom adjacent to his grandparents.  He was spending the night when the home invasion occurred.  One of the things most remembered (and appreciated) by Pam was a police officer shielding their grandson’s eyes from the bloody mess as he carried their grandson from the home.

There was no warning when one of the conspirators kicked in the back door.  One second, things were normal in the household, the next second Pam was being brutally assaulted.  She was knocked to the floor, incurring multiple long-term injuries.

Foster, sound asleep when he heard his wife scream, jumped out of bed and raced to her aid.  From there, a horrific fight ensued.  (Fortunately, the second gang member who was supposed to help with the robbery became frightened and ran away when he heard—on his cellphone—Foster and Pam fighting back.  More of the backstory, by the way.)

The local media documented the sensational aspects of the story: the gunfight that erupted inside the home; the victims being transported to the hospital and the gang member to the morgue; and later, the investigation.  The trials of the surviving conspirators provided reporters with concrete details of the events that occurred.

But the unreported backstory was there, always simmering in the background.

I won’t spoil the ending in this article, though it has to do with a world-view that gave strength to those fighting for their lives.

I guess this blog article is like a film trailer—the ghost of a story emerges, then vanishes.  But deep inside the chapter, “Demise of the Cutthroat Committee,” you’ll find two distinctly different perspectives on life that shaped the story.

Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms by Robert A. Waters and Sim Waters is available at Amazon.com.