Company A Awarded

At July’s East Texas Writer’s Guild conference, COMPANY A was award First Place in the Western genre for its book cover.

The scene is sunlight washing over The Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The mountains were a constant part of the landscape of my growing up. Every time I looked out the window of my bedroom, the Superstitions stood as a silent sentinel.

I am very honored to receive this prestigious award and thank the East Texas Writer’s Guild for this recognition.

Custom Book Cover William Burgdorf Company A Ebook (1)first_place.png

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Company A

I wrote Company A as a bridge novella between The New Mexican and The Arizonan. After I’d written the first two books, I realized there was a noticeable gap between them and Company A rounds out the full picture.

The time period from Zep and Allie’s marriage to Byron and Braxton’s coming of age left me an eighteen-year window. During this time the Civil War in New Mexico, cattle ranches and drives, railroads, and dealing with final Indian solutions all consume the historical stage.

I couldn’t leave the stage vacant, so Company A steps into the gap.

There are rich historic stories to be told of each major event taking place in the novella.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the Civil War and the Arizona Rangers. This regiment served the Confederacy during the New Mexican conflict. When the CSA withdrew from the Southwest the regiment went with it a fought in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. When the war ended, the Rangers surrendered their flag at Galveston and the veterans headed back to Arizona.

I chose to have Zep retire early from the Rangers in order to introduce the cattle industry chapters.

Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving opened a cattle drive trail that followed the Pecos River from Texas through Eastern New Mexico and supplied beef to Colorado markets and railheads. John Chisum was among the first to drive herds up the Goodnight-Loving Trail into New Mexico with every intention of establishing a cattle kingdom in the grassy plains of the western Illano Estacado. He accomplished what he set out to do. Ultimately, he became a major rancher in the territory and there is much more to be read about his involvement in the Lincoln County Wars in New Mexico that introduced one of this ranch hands, William Bonney, to the rest of us. Zep, Miguel, and Guillo have a tale to tell about driving their herd to Chisum for sale.

Allie, has a position that many women of the frontier territories found themselves defending. Theirs was the ‘home front.’ Often, with absentee spouses, women became the protectors of their homeplace. In Company A what can happen does happen and Allie stands up to Yankee aggression as well as to abduction. Strong willed, driven, and capable, she represents with glue that holds civilization together on the frontier.

I hope that you enjoy Company A. I had a great time researching and writing it. If possible, share your comments and let me know what you like or don’t like. I’m always wanting to hear from you.

The Wire Road

Stretching from Fort Smith, AR, to St. Louis, MO, this well-worn trail provided communications and travel.

Beginning as the Osage Trail, a Native American path, it wound over and through the Ozark Mountains. A game trail originally it became the only way to traverse the Ozark area for many years.

Known to Indians, hunters, trappers, traders, and immigrants, this trail became called The Wire Road when telegraph wires were strung along the route. The telegraph connected Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis to Fort Smith. The military used the trail and kept the communication lines operating.

While touring Wilson’s Creek Battleground, I spied The Wire Road marker and visualized how horses and men once traveled through the Ozarks on a pathway barely as wide as a buckboard and team. I have the advantage of modern highways and open roadways to roll up and down the Ozark ridges today. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this path in front of me was called a ‘road’. I call it a pathway at best, yet history traveled this utilitarian road.

During the forced relocations of Native Americans during the Trail of Tears from the Southeastern part of the U.S. to Indian Territory past Fort Smith, this trail was utilized.

It was the connection for St. Louis, Springfield, Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith as well as other small mountain settlements along its way.

Also, during the Civil War, Confederate forces continually cut the telegraph lines which required constant patrolling by Federal troops.

From St. Louis to Springfield, The Wire Road (Telegraph Road) eventually became the route for U.S. 66 and today I-44.

 

Wilson’s Creek

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit a National Park at Wilson’s Creek Civil War Battlefield outside of Springfield, MO. My brother-in-law, an avid Civil War buff, and reenactor wanted to see the site and we accompanied him.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place on a scorching hot August 10, 1861, day. This engagement is referred to as the “Bull Run of the West.” Brig. General Nathaniel Lyon’s Federal troops surprised Brig. General Benjamin McCullough’s Missouri State Guard co-commanded by Maj. General Sterling Price at Wilson’s Creek about twelve miles southwest of Springfield, MO.

Union Col. Franz Sigel, subordinate to Lyon, led German St. Louis immigrant Federal forces around the Southerners to catch them between the main Union column and himself. Lyon’s Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and regular army force of 6,000 men marched upon McCullough’s Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana force of 12,000 men.

Both forces had skirmished around Springfield during the days leading up to August 10. Sterling Price wanted to attack Springfield and drive the Yankees back to St. Louis. McCullough, a Texan, a soldier in the Texas Revolution, a Texas Ranger, and veteran of the Mexican War doubted the effectiveness of the Missouri State Guard and advised caution.

At 5:00am on the morning of August 10th the battle commenced when Confederate foragers stumbled on Union forces approaching from Springfield. Sigel convinced Lyon that he could take his men and surprised the Rebel force by attacking from the opposite side and catching their enemy between them in a pincher movement.

Initially, when Sigel’s Germans burst out of the woods, they surprised the Confederate cavalry regiment encampment and drove them into the woods. He proceeded to join up with Lyon. Mistaking a Louisiana regiment for Union soldiers (their uniforms were blue) he allowed their approach which became a  Confederate counterattack, routing the Federals, and driving them from the field.

Lyon proceeded to occupy a hill overlooking the main Confederate encampment and unlimbering his artillery began shelling the camp. His shots devastated Southerners approaching the hill through a massive cornfield.

McCullough sent three waves of soldiers up the hill to seize it without success. Around 11:00am during the last assault, Brig. General Lyon was killed (the first General to perish in the Civil War). The Federals, low on ammunition and exhausted, decided to withdraw and began their orderly retreat back toward Springfield.

The Confederates, unaware of the Federal withdrawal, launched a final assault on “Bloody Hill.” They walked to the top only to see their Union foes well on their way home. Too disorganized and ill-equipt McCullough didn’t press the attack.

A Southern victory? The Confederates held the field.

Just over twenty-five hundred died in the first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

During our tour of the battlefield, a marker caught my attention. It was beside a path that transected the site and called ‘The Wire Road’. It was wide enough for a small wagon and team and worn into the ground from constant usage. I wanted to know more. Why ‘Wire’ and certainly not much of a ‘Road’.

Next: The Wire Road

COMPANY A is available for pre-orders

YaaaaaHooooo!!!! COMPANY A is available on Amazon for a preorder of the ebook. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071NT4FP6/ref=sr_1_1…

May 24, COMPANY A, the 2nd book of The Bierman Saga, will be available for downloading. Wow, two books on Amazon!

Also! THE NEW MEXICAN paperback version will be available for purchase by the end of May. It just gets better and better.                                                                                                       
THE ARIZONAN (3rd book of The Bierman Saga) is still roaring toward a September release. Keep posted.

Camp Verde, Texas

The setting for Humps & Hooves is Camp Verde. Today, this location is a couple of reconstructed stores. The original structures washed away in a flood around 1900. This spot in the Texas Hill Country began to provide supplies to the U.S. Army post located one mile to the west.

Over the years, the general store and post office became important to the scattered ranches dotting the landscape. When the army deactivated Fort Camp Verde following the Civil War, the general store continued to hang on. A steady revitalization is taking place since 2003.

In 1854, Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, intended to conduct an experiment that will move more military supplies, further distances, with less trouble than using conventional beasts of burden (i.e. donkeys, mules, horses). He wants to prove that the camel is serviceable in the southwest.

Major Henry Wayne and Lieutenant David Porter were assigned to purchase and ship camels from the Mideast to Texas. The first shipment of 33 camels arrived in Indianola, Texas, May 1855. Along with the animals, four native camel handler walked ashore as well. They were given ‘Americanize’ corruptions of their Arabic names: Greek George, Long Tom, Micro, and Hi-Jolly.

Wanting to ensure a sufficient number of camels, Lieutenant Porter immediately returned to the Levant and purchased an additional 40 camels that arrived the spring of 1857.

By the time of the Civil War, 1861, fifty camels provided delivery services at Fort Verde. There are numerous tales of the acceptance of camels on the frontier, as well as the expeditions to the Big Bend area of Texas, and blazing a new trail across northern Arizona to California (future route of Hwy. 66).

Humps & Hooves will share a historical fiction with you about the Camel Corps. Hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

 

Camels

Interestingly, the first known species of camels was during the Eocene period of earth history – about 40 to 50 million years ago. This animal, no larger than a rabbit, lived in what became North America. Scientists believe that camels evolved in North America and spread from there to the rest of the world.

Today, there are two dominant breeds of camels – Dromedary and Bactrian. Another way of stating this is one-hump and two-hump.

A camel’s hump is a reservoir of fatty tissue and dispositing it in a mass on its back positions its weight distribution for the body as well as assisting with heat dissipation in hot climates. A uniqueness about camels is that they only lose 1.3 liters of fluid intake daily versus 30-40 liters that other livestock lose. So, while it appears they can go longer without water, it really is regulated by the volume of fluid that is lost daily.

In my upcoming novel, Humps and Hooves, you will be introduced to both breeds of camels. A mid-nineteenth century experiment conducted by the U.S. Army on using camels as pack animals in the Southwest originated in 1836. Following the Indian wars in Florida, some in the army were searching for more reliable beasts of burden for conveying army supplies. Discussion and ideas continued into 1845 and caught the attention of Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. When Davis became Secretary of War in 1853 in the cabinet of President Franklin Pierce; expansion, communications, and transportation in the Southwest brought utilization of camels to the forefront. In 1856, at the insistence of the Secretary of War, Congress votes appropriations of $30,000 to initiate the camel experiment.

My novel begins with the acquisition of camels from the Ottoman Turk Empire. Stops in Tunisia, Malta, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt acquired 33 Dromedary and Bactrian camels. Transported across the Mediterranean and Atlantic by the U.S.S. Supply, these animals landed on May 14, 1856, at Indianola, Texas.

Corporals William Roberts and Sam Johnson wait at the pier for their new arrivals.

“What do you know about camels, Billy,” asks Sam.

“Ain’t much to know. Four legs, stink like hell, ornery beasts I hear tell, and I don’t know who hates me enough to give me this assignment.”

“Well, it ain’t but you and me and them five Arabs they hired to herd this bunch of critters from here through San Antonio to Camp Verde. Lordy, that’s almost two hundred and fifty miles.”

“If we point ’em that direction and just follow along maybe them Arabs will do the work,” says Billy. “They should be glad to get off that boat and have solid ground under them.”

“We can only hope, Billy. We can only hope.”

More coming soon. Enjoy the journey.