Courier Book Review by C. Reece Sexton, publisher and editor emeritus of the Civil War Courier, Camp Chase Gazette, and The Citizen’s Companion
In the Hills of Tennessee is a different perspective on the War Between the States. Author Rick Revel is a historian and an authority on the war. He filmed and produced a movie The Many Faces of War about the Battle of Shiloh. He has been a Civil War reenactor, private and general, promoter, public announcer, singer and musician. He has been there, done that.
Rick has been intrigued by the story of Captain Jack Hinson for several years. Tom C. McKenney wrote a book entitled, One Man War. A Civil War Sniper and was a friend and mentor. Rick wrote and recorded a song entitled The Battle of Captain Jack and played it for Tom at the Battle of Donelson in 2012. Tom challenged Rick to write a screenplay based on his book and then issued a second challenge to write a historical fiction booked based on his film treatment.
Now, Rick tells the story of Captain Jack Hinson. Rick’s style of writing is new, original and refreshing. The dialogue, quotations and comments he uses have been unique in Tennessee for over two hundred years.
Jack Hinson owned the twelve hundred acre Bubbling Springs Plantation in middle Tennessee. When the Civil War begins Jack wants to remain neutral. Life is good in Stewart County, and he wants nothing more than to be left alone. But it is not to be. The gathering clouds of war soon sweep over his plantation as battles raged at nearby Fort Donelson and Fort Henry and soldiers of both armies come to his plantation.
Ricks research of the battles and the true story of Captain Jack Hinson is remarkable. More than thirty historical resources were researched to establish the timeline and factual contest of the novel.
He has numerous Civil War illustrations, photographs, maps from the library of congress, Tennessee State Museum, Harper’s Weekly, and local collections. Rick is an accomplished artist and included several of his paintings in the book of Henson including the plantation home, grocery store, weapons, knife, watch, and the battlefields and towns.
Jack’s stories are interesting, and I will only mention a couple of my favorites and leave the others for you to discover and enjoy.
Jack met Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the general asked to purchase one of Jack’s country hams for his supper at his camp that night.
Union General Ulysses Grant comes to the plantation and Jack invites him to stay in his home. Grant is chewing on the stub of a cigar and Jack gives the general one of his special home-made cigars from tobacco grown on the plantation. The general loved it and asked for another each time they met.
Long story short: The Union army occupied the area, declared marshal law, and destroyed homes, barns, fields of Jack’s neighbors. Jack and his family were constantly harassed by a unit of Union Cavalry called the Irish Dragoons. They were determined to capture Jack and his sons with weapons and charge them with treason.
They arrested two of Jack’s sons and placed them in the prison camp. Jack appealed to his friend General Grant to get his sons released, which he did.
This infuriated the Irish Dragoons commander. When the first opportunity came the Dragoons shot and killed two of Jack’s sons.
Captain Jack was devastated and was determined to avenge the murder of his sons. It became a one-man war. He had a special sniper rifle made and tracked down and killed them one by one.
This book is a wealth of information about middle Tennessee and the war. It is the best civil war book I have read in 2019. I did not want to put it down, and I am pleased to add an autographed copy to my Civil War library.
In The Hills of Tennessee is available directly from Rick, and he will be pleased to autograph it if desired. Rick is also available to speak to Civil War groups: roundtables, SVC and Union camp meetings, reenactments and events.
Title: In the Hills of Tennessee
Author: Rick Revel
Publisher: Premium Press America