If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

February Interviews

2/5 Heather Weidner, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband
2/12 Rhys Bowen, Above The Bay of Angels
2/19 Elizabeth Penney, Hems & Homicide
2/26 Annette Dashofy, Under The Radar

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
2/1 Valerie Burns
2/8 Jeannette de Beauvoir
2/15 Kathryn Lane

WWK Bloggers: 2/22 Kait Carson, 1/28 & 1/29 Special Interviews with Agatha Nominees by Paula Gail Benson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Kaye George's "Grist for the Mill" was published in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy on October 9th.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p


Friday, January 10, 2020

One man. One word. by Warren Bull

One man. One word. by Warren Bull

Image of the flag being lowered at sunset at Fort Sumter by Taylor Wilcox on Upsplash

Late in 1860, Major Robert Anderson on the United States Army was named to command the three American forts in Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. His official orders were to strengthen the harbor’s defenses against a theoretical attack by France or Great Britain, but everybody knew that the most likely attacker would be the state of South Carolina. 
Secretary of War John B. Floyd was opposed to any interference in the “peculiar institution” of slavery. Shortly after the Civil War broke out, Floyd became a Confederate Brigadier General. His department was a center for graft and corruption. He spent much of his time sending arms to support states that would soon secede from the Union.

Floyd selected Anderson because Anderson was known to sympathize with the South. His wife, the daughter of a wealthy George rice planter, sold the slaves she inherited from her father and became rich. 

What the Secretary of War did not know was that the new commander took his oath to the nation seriously. Although he rarely mentioned it, Anderson had fought against Black Hawk in Illinois and the Seminole Indians in Florida. During the Mexican-American War, serving under General Scott, he took a bullet in his shoulder but continued to lead his outnumbered regiment for two more hours before he collapsed from the loss of blood. His father fought in the American Revolutionary War. 

Anderson’s letters to family and friends earlier in the year describe his personal struggle to decide which side of the impending crisis he would take. He was a close friend of Jefferson Davis and a classmate of Robert E. Lee. But he could not force himself to ignore the oath he took to the nation. 

From the start of his assignment, Anderson recognized that the local militia could easily overrun his small force. The garrison was so small that at times the wives of the servicemen had to fill in as sentries. For months, the Major pleaded for more men and arms. He wrote to Washington that his command was woefully unprepared for the conflict that was certain to come. Of the three forts in his command, only Fort Sumter, situated on a man-made island, was defendable because it was on a man-made island. Anderson asked for permission to move his men there immediately. His pleas were downplayed or ignored. 

On December 23, 1860, a letter arrived from the Secretary of War. It was the first time Floyd had responded personally to Anderson’s letters. Dated the day after South Carolina announced its secession from the United States, Floyd advised Anderson in two paragraphs that he should defend himself if attacked but he should not sacrifice his men “upon a mere point of honor.” He was not expected to make “a hopeless conflict in defense of these forts.” Floyd instructed Anderson, “If they are attacked by a force so superior that resistance would, in your judgment, be a useless waste of life, it will be your duty to yield to necessity, and make the best terms [of surrender] in your power. This will be the conduct of an honorable, brave and humane officer, and you will be fully justified in such action.”

Obviously, the intent of the letter was to allow Anderson to make a sham defense and turn everything over to the Confederacy with minimal loss of life.  The forts would be intact for use by the enemies of the United States.  

Floyd had misjudged Anderson badly. Anderson saw a way to remain true to his personal morality in a single word. He seized upon the word “forts” rather than “fort.” Because he was ordered to defend all forts, there was no problem with moving men and supplies from one fort to another. During the night of December 26, Anderson gave his men twenty minutes to transfer themselves and all military supplies to Fort Sumter. A few men left behind spiked the guns so they could not be fired, burned the gun carriages, and took down the flagpole so that nothing but the stars and stripes would ever fly from it.  

The next morning secessionist riflemen swarmed over the abandoned fort. By noon the garrison flag was raised over Fort Sumter — Anderson’s father had given him that flag. Although Floyd fumed and sent off a stinging message by telegraph, the defiant red, white, and blue flew in the air in Charleston Harbor.

The Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Anderson 

surrendered the fort on April 13, 1861. That event made clear that the Confederacy

 was the aggressor in the Civil War. Firing on American troops enraged

large numbers of Americans of every political stripe who rushed to defend the

United States. A bloodless taking of the forts by swarming them with superior 

numbers of men would have been much less dramatic. How to respond would have

been uncertain. Anderson’s actions clarified the difference between the two sides 

and unified people who held widely varying views about states’ rights, slavery and 

other issues. 

One man and one word changed American history.


Kait said...

Fascinating, Warren. Lee has been quoted as saying that his decision to defend the South and abandon his oath was one of the hardest he ever made. Some scholars believe he remained conflicted to the end of his life. It's interesting to contrast the decisions of Anderson and Lee.

As writers, seeing the impact that one word can have is a true lesson.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Interesting! I've visited Fort Sumter. Sturdy, but with no geographical advantage other than its location in the middle of Charleston Harbor.

KM Rockwood said...

Provocative detail. So many people were fraught with indecision during this time. War is an appalling way to solve (or complicate) differences.