The Musings of a Civil War Buff

by John McGuire on March 18, 2012 · 0 comments

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jack McGuire, one of a number of new amateur Civil War bloggers here at TOCWOC.  Jack and the rest of the group are here to bring some fresh new perspectives to TOCWOC, a blog I founded back in late 2006.  My goal is to bring you the reader fresh content from a variety of perspectives five days a week.  I look forward to what Jack and the others will bring to the table.

The Musings of a Civil War Buff

By Jack McGuire

I truly believe growing up within sight of Brooklyn’s 14th Regimental Armory led to my lifelong interest in the Civil War.   This fortress like two story brick building with its two and three story towers was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1994.   As kids we played ball alongside the streets of that armory oblivious to the honking traffic.    At an early age I attended every event open to the public just to stroll those halls to view their Civil War artifacts.   The French style blue and red Kepi Hat with the short flat crown worn by the soldiers of the 14th fascinated me as did the red legged trousers they wore into battle.

They were baptized by fire and fought gallantly at the battle of Bull Run, distinguishing them at Henry Hill when they fought off a flank attack by Confederate Colonel J. E. B. Stuart.   On three occasions during the engagement of close to five hours the regiment occupied the site opposite the Henry House.  Upon gaining this position it recaptured the guns of the Rickett’s battery, but for lack of support was forced to abandon them.” I saw very little of the panic of Bull Run of which so much has been written about.” Said Colonel Harry W. Mitchell, “The Fourteenth Regiment kept a perfect formation and marched off the field in good order,” he stated.

While I always intended to write a Civil War novel, it was the story of twelve year old Drummer Boy Clarence D. McKenzie that led me to author the Civil War Fiction Novel entitled “Joining Up.”  As youngsters we often prowled through the ancient Greenwood Cemetery located in Prospect Park Brooklyn to read the inscriptions on tombstones dating back to the Revolutionary War.   The Monument dedicated to that drummer boy who served with New York’s 13th Regiment during the Civil War inspired me most.

Once I decided to write a historical fiction novel it set my imaginative juices flowing towards a painful youthful experience.    Having once fashioned myself a boxer I joined the Parish boxing team.   A match at Saint John’s home for boys was arranged.   They laced on my boxing gloves, led me to the ring where a tough looking boy my age named Bobby Hentz managed to end my boxing career by pummeling me for three two minute rounds.    After the bout I sat in the audience where another Orphan named Bill Whelan spent several hours informing me of the harsh living conditions he experienced at the hands of the headmaster of that institution.

This further influenced my imagination for two orphan boys named Bobby Hentz and Will Whelan to become the two fourteen year old boys who after suffering harsh treatment at the orphanage decided to run away to join the 14th Regiment to fight for the abolition of slavery.    The names are fictitious out of necessity of course, but my day spent peering up at the foreboding  towering walls topped with shards of broken glass plus the thumping I took in that ring and my conversation with another orphan boy are just as I remember them.   The Joining Up Novel in Paperback or on Kindle is available on Amazon and other internet book sites.


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