Jack Hinson’s One-Man War: A Civil War Sniper
Tom C. McKenney
Reviewed by Dr. Michael J. Deeb
|TITLE:||Jack Hinson’s One-Man War: A Civil War Sniper
|AUTHOR:||Tom C. McKenney|
|ORDERING:||Pelican Publishing Company|
Lt. Col McKenney’s book chronicles the Federal military occupation during the Civil War of a section of the Tennessee/Kentucky border called “Between the Rivers.”
Veterans of the Revolutionary War had settled in this land between the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in the late eighteenth century. They had received land grants there as a reward for their service in the war for independence. Because of their isolation the customs and attitudes of the people who lived there hadn’t changed much since. So, it is not surprising that others judged them to be “behind the times.”
In his introduction, the author tells us that he “filled in some blanks.” This means that he attributed thoughts and emotions to Jack Hinson and others for which there is no supportive record. What the reader has then, is a story in which this author weds informed fiction and researched fact.
McKenney tells the reader that, following the surrender of Fort Donaldson in 1861 Union forces dominated the area ‘tween the rivers’ through the remainder of the Civil War.
The author also reminds us that the occupation policies of General T. Sherman and his subordinates ignored the rule of law and the very Constitution they were at war to defend. Further, he insists that Union rule of the civilian population there was undisciplined, indiscriminate and cruel. Giving the reader many vivid examples of the savage acts perpetrated against a defenseless populace, the author creates the backdrop for his story; that of a respected landowner, Jack Hinson, reluctantly taking sides in the struggle when Union policies affected his family in a startling way.
Acting alone, this reluctant warrior carefully prepared for his war against the Union occupiers of the area between the rivers. He gathered his weapons, identified vantage points from which to fire and safe places in the hills in which he could live. With the harvest in the barns and the smokehouse full, he was ready to move his family out of the area to safety.
During his war of vengeance, we see that Hinson only kept track of the men in uniform he killed. The outlaws and bushwhackers he killed were so far beneath contempt he did not keep any record of their killing.
This biographical work of fact and fiction is well crafted. His descriptions of the seasons, the planting, harvesting and processing of the crops were all especially vivid and helpful to an understanding of the lives of the people who lived ‘between the rivers’. The maps the author provides early in his work do not give the reader a clear understanding of the geography. While some drawings helped, a map or two later in the work would have helped us better ‘see’ Jack Hinson’s war against the Union and his life after the Civil war was over. Never the less, “Jack Hinson’s One-Man War is an enjoyable read.
Reviewed by: Dr. Michael J. Deeb. Teacher of American History and author of Civil War era novels: Duty and Honor: Duty Accomplished: and Honor Restored.