author takes readers to Battle of Shiloh
many in this region think of the Civil War, they conjure up images
of battles in Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville
But instead of taking the beaten path, Centreville author Tim Johnston
gives readers a different perspective in his book "The Boys from
First, the book is historical fiction. And, second, he shows the battle
not as it was fought in Virginia or nearby, but in Tennessee.
Opening with the Battle of Shiloh, fought April 6-7, 1862, in western
Tennessee, Johnston tells the story of James Lockett, the eldest son
of a farming family in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Through flashback, Johnston describes how this boy on the verge of
becoming a man came to fight in the ninth most costly (in terms of
casualties) battle of the Civil War.
At the time, the battle's 23,741 casualties (13,047 Union and 10,694
Confederate) were more than all other previous American wars combined.
According to "The Atlas of the Civil War" by James M. McPherson,
the battle was nearly a complete surprise attack on Union forces by
Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston (no relation to Tim Johnston).
Gen. Ulysses Grant and the Union Army of West Tennessee were planning
an invasion along the Tennessee River to seize the Memphis & Charleston
Railroad, the Confederacy's only east-west all-weather supply route
that linked the lower Mississippi valley to cities on the Confederacy's
On the first day of battle, the 40,000 Confederate troops seemed to
be heading toward victory despite the death of Gen. Johnston.
But, as McPherson wrote, the Confederate Army was not able to break
through a Union stronghold dubbed "The Hornet's Nest" where
Union forces fought and held their ground for seven hours until reinforcements
arrived on the second day, carrying the Union to victory.
A native of Michigan, Johnston said he was always interested in the
Civil War. That interest grew when he visited the Shiloh battlegrounds
and when he saw the "Hornet's Nest" for himself.
"I realized there were a lot of good stories to be told,"
Johnston said, noting that he was taken by the power of the battleground.
"The courage on both sides, it grabs you," he said. Through
his words, Johnston attempts to capture how close to a complete surprise
the battle was for Grant and how different the outcome of the war
could have been had the Union lost the battle.
This is not the first novel Johnston has written, though it is the
first he has published. He already has written a sequel to this book.
When he is not writing, Johnston works for Exxon Mobil and spends
time with his wife, Wendy, and his 2-year-old twin daughters, Sophia
Johnston said he took great pains to keep the novel historically accurate.
Ironically, he said, the parts of the book that seem the most fantastic,
such as the chase on a railroad handcart, are fact, not fiction.
To help readers with the historical background, Johnston includes
a section at the back of the book to discuss its historical relevance
"While the Kalamazoo Sharpshooters are fictional (based loosely
on units with fanciful names like the Coldwater Cadets, Jackson Grays
and Michigan Hussars), Birge's Western Sharpshooters did exist and
experienced much of what the Kalamazoo Sharpshooters experienced."
The novel is available at area Barnes & Noble and can be ordered
from most other book stores and from Amazon.com.
A book signing is set for Saturday, March 8, from noon to 2 p.m. at
Barnes & Noble, 8117 Sudley Road in Manassas. For more information,
by Jennifer Cooper
Original URL: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=7283199&BRD=2553&PAG=461&dept_id=507593&rfi=8
War novel rings true
T. J. Johnston's new Civil War novel, The Boys
From Kalamazoo, (Burd Street Press, Beidel Printing House, Inc., 63
W. Burd Street, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0152; $29.95), proves the old
adage, "Don't choose a book by its cover."
Civil War story is much better than its Nancy Drew-like cover implies.
Johnston follows the fortunes of four young men from Kalamazoo County
who respond to the call by Congressman Charles Vincent to form a company
to be called the Kalamazoo Sharpshooters.
After receiving perfunctory military training, the company is shipped
to St. Louis, where it joins a force assigned to search out and destroy
Confederate guerilla fighters. The company stains its reputation when
it breaks down and runs in its first encounter with the enemy. The
unit moves on to take part in the siege of Fort Donelson and later
takes heavy casualties in Grant's defeat at Shiloh.
The fictitious Sharpshooters' roles are combined with the experiences
of the real Western Sharpshooters. Johnston has fashioned a story
that Civil War buffs and re-enactors will relish. The author, who
lives in Centerville, Va., is already at work on the second novel
in this promising series; one that will eventually resemble Sharpe's
wartime adventures on PBS's Masterpiece Theater.
by John Messer
Original URL: http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/features-0/104273379351661.xml
Set in 1862 during the American Civil War, The
Boys from Kalamazoo by t. J. Johnston is a fictional account of the
famous Kalamazoo Sharpshooters. Lending a vibrant freshness to a yesteryear
world of American history peopled with the heroes, villains, ordinary
soldiers, and citizenry who fought and died in the toils and turmoils
of a bloody civil war, The Boys From Kalamazoo is entertaining, thoughtful,
thought-provoking, and quite vivid in its portrayal of a war-torn