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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Moccasin Trace


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Hawk MacKinney will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on he tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

It is July of 1859, a month of sweltering dog days and feverish emotional bombast. Life is good for widower Rundell Ingram and his hazel-eyed, roan-haired son, Hamilton. Between the two of them, they take care of Moccasin Hollow, their rustic dogtrot ancestral home, a sprawling non-slave plantation in the rolling farming country outside Queensborough Towne in east Georgia. Adjoining Ingram lands is Wisteria Bend, the vast slave-holding plantation of Andrew and Corinthia Greer, their daughter Sarah and son Benjamin.

Both families share generations of long-accepted traditions, and childhood playmates are no longer children. Against this rustic idyll of hard work and gracious living comes inflexible discord and divided loyalties that mutilate ties of blood and bond, tearing at their lives as smoke and battle no longer so faraway crashes and maims ever closer. Ahead of the on-coming ranks of Blue, foragers and bumlers burn, loot, scavenge and kill. Hamilton faces agonizing sacrifices with dreadful consequences. With little else than his wits, he tries anything to protect Sarah, their unborn child, his sickly father, and Sarah's family.

Read an Excerpt

Back at his post behind the oaks, it wasn't long before the Trace crowded up with a hodgepodge mishmash of wagons and carts headed as far from Augusta as they could get. As he silently watched, it seemed the whole of the Parish was on the move. His thoughts jarred by the hurried plunge of a rider coming toward him through the canebrake. He dropped to one knee, his rifle to the ready, just as Nat and one of Ben's mules busted into the clearing.

Nat hauled up, slid off the mule, "Mister Ben said to git the word to you -- Yankie patrols spotted this side of Sandersville. They burnin' ever'thing, barns, houses, killin' what they don't take. Tearin' Jericho out'a ever'thing they git their hands to."

Hamilton grabbed his mare's reins, pulled into the saddle, "Get back to the Bends. Tell Ben you found me, and Nat -- keep a sharp eye out. Advance lookouts could be anywhere."

Hamilton, off in a mad tear, nudged the mare faster. Wind whistled in his ears, low hanging limbs slashed his sweaty face, horses' hooves flinging clods high behind him. Yankies moving that fast wouldn't ask questions; they'd burn, move on, Sarah and their child be refugees like the pitiful wagons he'd seen. He reined up next to the porch, his horse skidding as he swung out of the saddle.

Bessie was on the front porch, "See you comin' fast." Pistol in her hand, she threw quick glance out across the fields. "Nat find you?"

"Yeh...he's on his way to let Ben know...they might be making a wide sweep into Augusta from this side."

"Missy's cramps reg'lar, an' you be the only help. Yankie or no Yankie, Missy an' that chil' in her belly need both of us."

"If it's their main bunch they'll have bummers way ahead of their army."

"Lordy mercy -- nobody gonna stop that ceptin' the Lord." Bessie shoved her pistol deep in her pocket. "Don't matter how many trompin' 'bout, ain't nobody gittin' twixt me'n Missy an' her chil'. When the Lord say that baby come, fightin' gonna wait, but Jehovah sure gonna have a handful."

"I'll keep watch out by the barns."

Bessie started inside and stopped, "Maybe watchin' from the barn ain't the best next thing. Mistress Corinth'a be upset we don't let her know her grandchil' comin' so she can come help. When she do, young Benjamin alone in that big house settin' there all big an' white. You knows what I means -- Yankies cain't miss it. Bein' hot-headed he won't budge, an' now ain't the time for bein' spiteful 'bout which soldiers got the most bullets -- git shot dead. You'n me both know how that cut down Mistress Corinth'a."

"Might be best to get Mother Greer here while we can," said Hamilton fighting his own fear.

"If Mistress Corinth'a come she best while it daylight. Missy's cramps likely won't be reg'lar for a spell. 'Fore things git busy, time is now to hotfoot over there, an' git back here quick-like."

"Tell Papa where I'm headed."

"Don't need tellin' Mister Rundell, he been up 'fore daybreak, his gun primed and ready. We make double-sure your butt git back here in one piece." Shook her head, "Sweet Lord…what a mixed-up world you bringin' this chil' into."

Hamilton was into the saddle. Gave the mare her head, didn't bother with gates, jumped the fences, pushed her to a full-out gallop. He stayed clear of the Trace, cleared hedgerows and fences, splashed through slough bogs. Before he realized it, he burst through a squatter's camp, scattering pots, pans, campfires, ramshackle shelters, and stampeded several horses. Startled poachers reached for rifles. He spurred the mare and disappeared into the brush, leaving them with nothing to aim at. Racing faster, he finally caught glimpses of the white unperturbed columns of the Bends. As he came out onto the wide buggy approach to the house, he glanced behind, making sure no one was on his tail.

About the Author:
In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk MacKinney has authored several works of fiction—historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his protagonist in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series: Hidden Chamber of Death, Westobou Gold, Dead Gold, Curse of the Ancients, and Blood of the Dragonfly.

Hawk’s science fiction novels include The Bleikovat Event, Vol I in The Cairns of Sainctuarie Science Fiction Series, followed by Vol II, The Missing Planets, and Vol III, Inanna Phantom.

Hawk MacKinney served in the US Navy for over 20 years. While serving as a Navy Commander, he also had a career as a full-time faculty member at several major state medical facilities. He earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history. He has taught postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel. He now makes his home in Augusta, Georgia, where he writes full-time.

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  1. Hope. Dreams. Life…Love – A genuine pleasure seeing you follow AND being a host for the Moccasin Trace title. Thank U…
    Hawk MacKinney