Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sim's War


 
I like to have a picture in my mind of the folks I  write about. I already showed you Polly Allen and her husband -- but when I'm making up a character, I look for his or her face in magazines or, increasingly, on the internet. My WIP (work in progress) has five important characters -- four of whom are real, historical people.

 But Sim, my East Tennessee farm boy/drover/wagoner's lad/conscripted Confederate soldier, is made up to fit the story I'm weaving.  So I went looking for him and found this picture on the internet -- unidentified Confederate soldier, with a bedroll, percussion rifle, and a kepi that says 4 SLG  (4th Sumter Light Guards.)

I really like the look of him -- poor fellow, I'm putting him through some hard times...

This below is from an early chapter about Sim.  




And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering
 but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
And Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell. . .
I am puzzling out the words in my daddy’s old Bible when a stranger sets down next to me by the fire. All the others here at the inn are busy drinking or gambling and Lathern, my particular friend, has gone off somewheres, most likely with that gap-toothed girl what was making eyes at him as she brought out the victuals.
            The stranger is a dark-complected feller, something like an Injun, and with a strong nose like an Injun, but his hair is kindly curly and he don’t talk like no Injun that I ever saw.
            “Name’s Aaron,” he says, looking me up and down, “Jacob Aaron, pack peddler working my way back to Greenville, South Carolina. Though had I a mite of sense, I’d head south to Mexico or north to Canada.”
            He takes a deep draft of his cider and stares into the fire. I close the Bible, keeping the place with my thumb.
            “They say Mexico’s right hot and full of bandits,” I tell him, “and I reckon Canada’s right cold and full of savages.  You’d be carrying that pack through snow and ice nine months of the year if my geography schoolbook had the right of it. What’s wrong with this country?”
            He screws his head around and looks at me like I ain’t got no sense. “Son,” he says, “haven’t you heard about Ft. Sumter? This is a fine country, none better, but it’s about to be torn asunder. And we are setting right at one of the ripping places. It’s going to be war, make no mistake.”

            We had heard something about Sumter and the cry of war when our wagon train stopped last night at Garrett’s – a feller there had a Tennessee newspaper and he was full of talk about South Carolina taking over the fort from the Union soldiers. I knew that a while back South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas along with several other states had voted to leave the Union. I even knew they had elected Jeff Davis to be the head of them but I hadn’t paid it much mind, figuring that it wouldn’t change my life none.
             Part of the year I drive a wagon on the Buncombe Turnpike, carrying goods between Greeneville in Tennessee to Greenville in South Carolina. Come fall I go with the droves of hogs along the same route when the packed dirt of the road turns to a mud slough. Hard work but a few more years and I’ll have enough saved to buy me a place near Maryville where Cora’s people are. 


            “Mr. Aaron,” says I, “I ain’t got no slaves nor do I want none. I just want to be left alone to tend a little piece of ground and raise up a family.  What South Carolina does ain’t none of my business.”

          

11 comments:

Martin Hodges said...

This is going to be something special, Vicki.

Jim Egerton said...

What a wonderful story is opening up for me with this post. I can't wait until I can walk with Sim down the Bumcombe trail and learn how the war effects him.

Until then I am reading OUT OF AFRICA by by Isak Dinesen. A beautiful book about a time and place that wants you to go there and see and feel that life. She paints wonderful pictures with words about the high planes of Kenya and the marvelous native tribes that lived with her on her coffee plantation.

Brian Miller said...

if only it could have stayed none of my business...but then again that war affected change on so many lives...and races...i dont know that we would have changed without it...very nice vicki

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Oooh goodie goodie, the words out of Sim's mouth. So glad you shared some of your current work. The map is great...I love thinking about how those early settlers had worked out their lives, only to have them rudely interrupted by a war not of their making. And what an impact it then had on them all! Good choice of portrait for Sims.

Lise said...

This is awesome for two reasons. First, it fills me with anticipation for this book. Maybe more importantly, it is a real example of how to write with the descriptions letting the reader feel/smell/see/taste the setting, as you discussed in class. Thank you for that. I hope every student is taking the opportunity to read your blog!

NCmountainwoman said...

Great appetizer. Sim's words reflect the feeling of most mountain folk, "I just want to be left alone to tend a little piece of ground and raise up a family." Too bad the war brought such havoc to the land.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Glad to see the mysterious Jacob Aaron again, Vicki. Looking forward to discovering his role at Shelton Laurel. Jim

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Whew! what fine research on your book -- the tintype has such character and surely adds to your story -- barbara

Deanna said...

Oh yea. Thank you for the teaser.

Darla said...

Nice! Can't wait…!

Brenda said...

Ahhh, a sneak preview, love it! And I was intrigued by the map of the Buncombe Turnpike. Have heard about that so often (and not just the group!). What are the green dots? I tried enlarging the pic but couldn't make it out.