Echoes From Gettysburg in Amazon’s Hot New Releases lists

2016-0815_HotNewGettysburgAmazonOn Amazon today, “Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images” is among Amazon’s Hot New Releases on two categories. It shows up as number number 96 in overall American Military History releases, but it shows up as number THREE in the Hot New Releases for Civil War Gettysburg History.


Hot New Releases in American Military History on Amazon – 08/15/2016

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Echoes From Gettysburg in top 100 Gettysburg books on first day of release

EchoesGettysburgSC_Front_lowerresIn the first full day of its release, “Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images” quickly climbed into the top 100 list of Gettysburg books on Amazon.

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Echoes From Gettysburg: SC now available on Amazon

EchoesGettysburgSC_Front_lowerresAs of this evening, the soft cover version of “Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images” is now available for order through Amazon.  The hard cover version will be available soon.  Check back for more on this.

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Echoes From Gettysburg – SC set for Aug. 15, 2016 release

EchoesGettysburgSC_Front_lowerresEchoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images is set for release on August 15.

Stay tuned for ordering information.  In the meantime, checkout the advance praise from the back cover:

Virginia often steals the public’s attention at Gettysburg, but J. Keith Jones’ research on the actions of all of the South Carolina units at that three-day battle brings that state to the forefront of battle accounts. This book fills in gaps for South Carolina descendants and history readers with letters, diaries and newspaper accounts. Get this book. You need it!
Clint Johnson – Author of numerous Civil War books including “A Vast and Fiendish Plot: The Confederate Attack on New York City”

EchoesSC_BackCoverJ. Keith Jones has assembled a comprehensive collection of first-person accounts, allowing these diverse South Carolinians to speak for themselves about what they did, thought, saw, and felt during the most iconic battle of the American Civil War. Their voices provide a rich and complex narrative of the individual soldier’s experience during those grueling July days in 1863. This volume belongs on the shelf of every student of South Carolina’s role in the war.
Michael C. Hardy – 2010 North Carolina Historian of the Year

With Echoes from Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images, author J. Keith Jones has compiled capsule histories of South Carolina’s contributions to the Battle of Gettysburg, as well as collecting the accounts of those veterans that fought there. Amply illustrated with images of the participants and with Phillip Laino’s excellent maps, Echoes from Gettysburg is a must-have for the bookshelf of anyone interested in the words of the veterans who fought at Gettysburg themselves.
Eric J. Wittenberg – Award winning Civil War historian

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A Company of Officers – My Latest Article in Gettysburg Magazine

CompanyOfCooks_titleI just got my copy of the latest Gettysburg Magazine, Issue 55, which contains my latest article, “A Company of Officers Commanded by a Cook.”  This is an interesting incident that happened in Northern Virginia during the retreat from Gettysburg and illustrates how seriously many commanders took Gen. Robert E. Lee’s General Order 73 prohibiting the violation of private property in the north.

GettysburgMag_CoOfCooksCoverAs a result of fence rails being stolen from a farm the Third South Carolina Infantry was camped near, Col. James Nance placed nearly all of his company commanders under arrest, including his own brother. They were forced to march at the rear of the regiment to the jeers of other soldiers, teamsters and laborers they passed. To compound their shame, Capt. John Nance’s cook was detailed to call cadence and convey orders to this group of captains and lieutenants. The piece is titled “A Company of Officers Commanded by a Cook.”

My previous piece “Angel of the Wheatfield” was published in Gettysburg Magazine Issue #52 in January, 2015.

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Legend of the Free State of Jones by Rudy Leverett

Legend of the Free State of Jones
By Rudy H. Leverett
University of Mississippi Press

Reviewed by Keith Jones

With Hollywood at it again producing harsh depictions of the South in the new movie, The Free State of Jones, I decided to investigate the actual story. The Legend of the Free State of Jones by Dr. Rudy H. Leverett is the full study of the real facts surrounding these events. Of course Hollywood produced a movie based on the popular legend of a county led by a band of deserters who had been pressed into Confederate service unwillingly. This county, Jones, then seceded from the Confederacy led by Captain Newt Knight to form an independent republic of its own where everyone loves everyone else and hates all of the evil people of the South. If, like Hollywood, you hate the South, its people and especially its history, then this is the movie for you. There’s one problem… the facts don’t entirely square with the story being told.

The narrative Newt Knight and his son, T. J. Knight told claims that Newt Knight reluctantly joined the Confederate army when pressed into service and only agreed if he could serve in a medical function such as a hospital orderly. The truth is that Newt Knight joined the army at the time of secession, long before the conscription acts, and attained the rank of Second Sergeant, a position of great responsibility and not one that someone serving under protest would ever be trusted with. Despite the fact that Knight would complain about Mississippi’s secession had been effected despite his county having opposed it and Knight himself opposing it, it appears that his real beef was with the “20 slave law”, the law which exempted from service any man owning 20 slaves or more. This ill-advised law gave rise to the term, “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” So, in short, it appears that Knight’s disaffection was more a product of good old fashioned class warfare.

Fun fact about Newt Knight, he was a natural born killer who committed his first murder while still a minor. His victim was a slave boy and Knight’s mother falsified his birth date to prevent his being prosecuted as an adult. This likely saved Newt Knight from the gallows. Knight would commit another murder before the war, this time he shot his brother-in-law over an alleged affair.

The swamps of Jones County provided a perfect hiding place for deserters from the Confederate army. There were several bands of deserters and a couple of others held a clearer claim to the true unionist title than Knight and his group. Knight’s group mostly faced local home guard groups in their fights, but despite what Hollywood depicts, his band was driven underground and nearly destroyed every time the Confederate government sent actual combat troops against them. Far from having the support of the local citizens, the deserters were instead feared. The locals frequently petitioned the government to send troops to protect them from Knight.

Knight’s first killing of a Confederate officer was Major Amos McLemore, who had been Knight’s captain when he had first enlisted in the army. McLemore was a very popular school teacher in Jones County before the war and an ardent opponent of secession. Like many in the South who opposed secession, however; once it was a fact, he quickly adapted and volunteered his services. McLemore’s killing did not come in a grand battle with the “brave” Knight.

McLemore’s mission was to recapture deserters and if possible to encourage any willing to surrender and voluntarily return to their units. He had been highly successful in this endeavor, having enticed about a thousand men to return to the army with little actual violence necessary. Knight was unhappy about this and decided that McLemore must die. Knight and a few of his men crept upon McLemore’s porch at night while he slept in his bed and shot him through his window.

If you want to know the true history of the so-called “Republic” or “Free State” of Jones, read this book.

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Johnnie Come Lately – Audio Version

If you have read my previous posts on the subject, you already know that I am a fan of Kathleen Rodgers‘ novels. I have had the pleasure of conducting two interviews with Kathy for these pages. First in 2012 and earlier this year.

Of course I have reviewed both of her books here. First “The Final Salute” then most recently “Johnnie Come Lately.”

When we were about to take a family trip recently, I decided to check out the audio version of her most recent work, “Johnnie Come Lately.”

I must say that the narrator, Leslie Ellis, does an excellent job of bringing this book to life. Reading and then listening to a dramatic rendering of a book can be a very different experience, but when done as professionally as by Ms. Ellis, it just rounds out the experience. We hung on the edge of each chapter and with some of the book remaining, we were eager each day to get back in the car to listen to some more. Even if you have read the book, you will enjoy this experience. If you find it difficult to find time to read, then this is the perfect way to experience this fine book. Don’t miss out. Rodgers is a rising star in the genre.

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Big Cover Reveal, Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina

Hello folks. This post will be short and sweet, here for your viewing pleasure is the front cover for my upcoming book, “Echoes From Gettysburg: South Carolina’s Memories and Images.” I will keep you posted when a release date has been decided. Now, back to working on the index. Cheers.

Click on the cover for a larger image.

Click on the cover for a closer look.

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Review of In Due Time and interview by Serious Reading

Recently the site,, reviewed “In Due Time” and conducted an interview with me about my writing.  You can access these by clicking on the links provided here:

Review of “In Due Time”


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Review of The Real Wizard of Oz by Rebecca Loncraine

The Real Wizard of Oz
By Rebecca Loncraine
Reviewed by J. Keith Jones

Think you know everything about L. Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz? Well, this book pulls back the curtain from the creator of The Wizard of Oz much the way that Toto did from the Wizard in the movie, revealing him as a “humbug.” Well, Baum was no “humbug,” but he was many things you likely did not know. For one thing, he was the son-in-law of one of the women most active in the women’s suffrage movement and was almost as active in the movement as his mother-in-law. He also eschewed traditional religion, instead he was deeply involved in spiritualism and other occult practices.

Throughout the book, Loncraine illustrates various life experiences that will show up later in Baum’s books. You see the influence of Baum’s time living on the plains of South Dakota. Much has been made about some newspaper editorials Baum wrote proposing genocide of the plains Indians, however; other writings show how deeply conflicted he was on the issue. On one hand, Baum was quite sympathetic for the plight of native tribes, but on the other, he would speak out of the same fear other settlers felt due to frontier attacks which were happening outside the cities, like his home in Aberdeen.

Ultimately Baum would give up on the mid-western plains experience and spend much of his life living in Chicago. There he would write many of his Oz books, and there would be many. Most people only know about the one from which the movie was produced, but Baum ended up writing far more Oz books with fresh new characters than he ever intended. The truth was that Baum would become bored with writing about Oz from time to time and pledge that the one he was working on would be his last. When his other books proved to be far less popular, he reconsidered and another Oz book was in the offing.

Toward the end of his life, Baum moved to Hollywood in the early days of the film industry and in fact established his own movie studio to produce movies about Oz. While Baum was a fine writer, he was a poor businessman and his movie business was largely unsuccessful, like his other businesses. Baum also went through money faster than he could make it, which played a role in forcing him – over and over – to write that next Oz book, almost against his will.

The original illustrator of the Oz books, William W. Denslow makes another interesting side story. Denslow’s iconic images played a key role in establishing the Oz franchise, but he always seemed to get the short end of the stick in the financial arrangements of the Oz world. He and Baum finally fell out over this causing Denslow to part ways with Baum. Eventually the two men were not even on speaking terms. Denslow had done well enough through the years, however; that he was able to buy a small island off the shore of Bermuda, which he declared to be the nation of Denslow Island and crowned himself King Denslow the first.

Baum died in 1919 at the age of 62, but Mrs. Baum, whom he always considered his intellectual equal, lived until 1953, having seen her husbands magnum opus receive the big screen treatment. Among the great pictures illustrating the book is one of Maude Baum posing for a publicity photo with Judy Garland as they perused an original copy of the Wizard of Oz. The Real Wizard of Oz is an entertaining and enlightening read well worth your time.

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