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.