Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slightly off topic – new book!

Well, I have returned from the war. I actually split Saturday evening, and came home Sunday, but I did not feel like doing much on Monday. I had a great time. My 92-year-old grandmother fixed me breakfast on Friday! She lives in a mother-in-law apartment behind my mom and dad’s house. Mom and Dad were already gone, and when I went over to check in on her, she had already fried bacon and baked biscuits, and when I got there, she scrambled a couple of eggs for me. It’s not every day that you can say that your 92-year-old grandmother fixed you breakfast. We call her “Old Granny,” for obvious reasons. She was born in Wise County, Virginia, and spent many a year living in coal mining camps. She also lived in Elizabethton during WWII, working at a parachute manufacturing factory.

I was in the Sunshine state for the release of a new book that I co-wrote with my dad. The book is about the July 1864 Brooksville-Bayport Raid. The Raid was an attempt to cut the flow of cattle through Florida and into the Confederate armies in Georgia and South Carolina. Even more so, it was a raid in which several members of the Federal army were able exact a measure of revenge on those Hernando County Confederates that had driven them from their homes. The principals involved were two companies of the Second United States Colored Troops, two companies of the Second Florida Cavalry (US), and one company of the First Battalion, Special Cavalry (FL, CS). The raid started on the Anclote River, north of Tampa, and moved north, towards Brooksville. After dropping off the ground portion of the attack, the Federal navy moved on to Bayport, which they captured without a fight. The ground portion was involved in several skirmishes throughout the three days they were inland and burned several homes. They actually did not go to Brooksville, but turned off a mile from town and headed east to Bayport. Had they ventured on to Brooksville, they would have found the cannons from Bayport, and a shoe- manufacturing operation.

If you have ever been to the annual Brooksville Raid re-enactment, you know that it bears no resemblance to the above description. The actual raid involved about 240 Federals (not counting Navy), and an unknown amount of Confederates (70-100). The Raid celebrated its 29th anniversary this year, and drew approximately 3,500 re-enactors from all over the southeast. While the exact number of spectators is unknown, there were records set both days for attendance. I heard 4,000 for Saturday, and more on Sunday. We were all worried about the recession – but, it did not have an effect on the numbers we had.

It was a tremendous honor putting this book together with my dad. He commands one of the largest reenacting organizations in the south, with approximately 1,800 members.

The book is small, with just 58 pages, but includes a map and several illustrations. If you are interested in ordering a copy, please visit my web page.


Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

All the best to "Old Granny" - what a blessing to have a grandmother around that long. I wish I'd spoken more to my grandmothers about our family history. Don't let that precious resource go untapped Michael.


Michael Hardy said...

Thanks for the note. I’ve set down and interviewed “old granny” a half dozen times over as many years. Plus, I am always learning new things about her life. A couple of weeks ago, we were looking at a book of photos of where she was raised there in Virginia, and we came across a picture of Dr. Henson’s officer. She told me about the time a “miller” flew into her ear and she had to go see Henson. Took me a little while to figure out that a miller was a type of moth.