POST CIVIL WAR RECKONING
If I Were Alive Back Then
When I watch movies or documentaries about the Civil War, I rarely see much that deals with the Reconstruction Period that took place afterwards. It seems that whatever I do find has to do with the way slaves were treated and what happened to them when set free. Very little is said about the trials and tribulations that everyone else went through at that time.
Since I was born in the South, I guess I could think of myself as a Southerner in one sense of the word, but not truly one at heart as far as other things are concerned. I love the iconic culinary delights, bayou manifestations, Spanish Moss hanging from old oak trees, and the fact that I can lay claim to a family that had a legacy there which endures to the present day.
On the other hand, when I research my family roots, I also find that my great, great grandfather was a plantation owner who, I’m sure, treated slaves like chattel who had no rights what so ever. On top of that, a black line was created in the family tree that tells me the women were treated even worse than the men.
Since I can only conjecture what might have been, I often wonder what I would have done personally if I were born way back then some 180 years ago. Like, what would my mindset be towards the mistreatment of other human beings. Watching the beatings, witnessing the auctions of slaves take place, and the unregulated slaughtering of those that dared disobey.
I recently tried watching a movie entitled “Twelve Years A Slave” which chronicles the harrowing story of a well to do black gent who lived a Freeman in Saratoga, New York with his wife and children during the period of slavery that proliferated throughout the Southern States. He was tricked into making a trip to Washington DC by white businessmen who stated that they would support him performing his talents at a musical concert there. Before he knew it, he found himself being sold as a slave and beaten within an inch of his life.
When I saw what direction the movie was headed, even though it was a true story, I told my wife I could not watch any more of it. I told her that if I lived during that period, even as a Southerner, I just couldn’t engage in that kind of treatment of other human beings. I suppose that would have made me a renegade of sorts, but so be it.
When I actually did intensive research for my novel that centered it’s theme during the Reconstruction Period of the United States right after the American Civil War, I discovered a lot of facts that I didn’t know about beforehand. The destitute condition of the plantations and small towns, the lack of currency when Confederate dollars became worthless, the scarcity of available jobs, and the way the Union soldiers had to keep law and order in designated territories during that horrible time in history.
A Very Young Lad Learns How To Survive
When I wrote my novel “The Saga Of Heracles Penoit”, I put myself in the shoes of a 10 year old boy who became the protagonist of my story. To do that, I had to think like a young lad who was thrust into the unknown when kidnapped by pirates in the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans just after that War ended. I tried to picture myself trying to survive on my own lest death claim me as a victim if I didn’t succeed.
After being forced to serve illegal slave traders on a Mississippi River paddle wheeler, my Heracles only escaped that fate by the hand of God throwing him clear of the burning vessel after it exploded, caught fire, and sank with all the captive passengers onboard. He then had to learn all about the lifestyle of Cajun folks when two of them found him shortly thereafter and taught him everything they knew. It wasn’t the best experience for someone who had never left a city environment before then, but he learned how to live in the wild when all was said and done.
After that experience ran its course, he had to witness the execution of the disreputable mayor of a small town when the man got shot by the furious townsfolk, given a new lease on life by the mayor’s father, got entangled with a blind man deep in the woods, and risk his life saving a freed slave from a brutal hanging by the Ku Klux Klan.
After befriending the black man, he found himself caught up with moonshiners and riverboat hooligans who would just as soon slit his throat to achieve their nefarious ends. A monster in the woods attacking the boat he was on at night didn’t help matters any. Still, he plowed his way through with the help of those backwoods learning skills.
Union Soldiers And The General’s Granddaughter
What saved his neck from the aforementioned tribulations was the unexpected incursion of Union Soldiers hunting down illegal traffic in the woods and bayous that had become an intrinsic part of his life. After officers in charge sent his black companion up North, they took him to a Plantation which the Union Army had commandeered as stronghold and base of operations.
Now, at the age of 13 and having wiles that gave him a mindset way beyond his years, his cunning capabilities impressed the commanding officer, a General no less, to the point that he was expected to help quell a pending conspiracy in the compound and face the possibility of being exterminated while doing so.
He also came in contact with the General’s granddaughter while in the process, and this set the stage for a whole new series of adventures that challenged his survival skills to the max. I will not go into further details of his exploits for fear of revealing too much of the story, but suffice it to say it’s a doozy.
So Where Do I Fit In With All Of This
I actually placed myself in Heracles Penoit’s shoes when I travelled back in time for inspiration and pictured myself doing the things he did. I was very adventurous as a young boy and was always seeking out the next thrill or misdeed that would keep me entertained.
I felt that I could have lived a few years with Cajuns and learned how to fish, catch crawdads, and hunt gators the way they did. How to start a fire from scratch, build a canoe, cook a fresh caught meal, and create shelter for myself would be other traits I could have gleaned along the way which would have done me well.
But the two best attributes I think I would have laid claim to would have been the proper treatment of another human being in spite of the color of his skin and how to take care of a young girl who depended on me for her very existence when death stared her square in the face.
Maybe that’s a lot to surmise at this point of my life, but that’s the way I am, still searching for the next adventure with a wife willing to come along for the ride and support my efforts while doing so. The Saga Of Heracles Penoit is just an extension of that mantra as I live vicariously through the young man and sometime wish I was there instead.
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!