Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell: A Short Review

There are several impressive reviews of Jennifer Lee Carrell’s novel, Interred with Their Bones, but having completed a read (via audio-book with 12 CDs) I felt compelled to give the book a good endorsement. If you are interested at all in Shakespeare, if you love books, if you like a good mystery, if you are into the Elizabethan Age with its cyphers, criminals, politics, and theatre, you will love this book.  The story begins on the eve of the modern Globe’s production of Hamlet and takes the central character, Kate, on a literary treasure hunt that you will not soon forget. The novel reveals extensive research and the language is so carefully crafted that it is a delight to read.  The novel ends with notes from the author detailing her sources and ideas on the themes, events, and people of the novel. I intend to follow up by reading more of this author’s works.

According to the CD set cover, Carrell, the author holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Harvard and is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox.  If addition to writing for Smithsonian magazine, Carrell has taught in the history and literature program at Harvard and directed Shakespeare for Harvard’s Hyperion Theatre Company. She lives in Tuscon, Arizona. To learn more of her, visit her website, here.

Part of the enjoyment of this audio book came from the wonderful reader selected, Kathleen McNenny. She is a skilled actor and audio-book performer. You can find her website and learn about her at her website:

I’ve to say that experiencing this book revived my interest in Shakespeare. I realize that there are reasons we consider him our greatest English author.

Two Irish Units during the War Between the States

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, my mind is on the Irish in the Civil War. I found a site devoted to the 7th & 30th Missouri Volunteers: Missouri Irish Brigade of Civil War Re-enactors. You can find the site here:

According to the website, the 30th were “Known as the “Shamrock Regiment”  the 30th Missouri Volunteer Infantry [and were] mustered into United States service, at St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1862.”  The unit was part of Sherman’s Army and saw action at Chickasaw Bluff, Vicksburg, Jackson, Clinton, Natches, Vidalia, Mobile, and were after the war were assigned guard duty in Texas.

The” Irish Seventh” were “mustered into United States service at St. Louis, Missouri in June of 1861.”

Both units were consolidated by the end of the War and the consolidation continues today in the reenactment unit. If you go to their site, you can see a photo of the regiment’s flag, a painting created and submitted to the site by Aaron Gilmore. Here is a description of the flag in the Boston Pilot, an Irish Newspaper that existed in Boston Mass. during the Civil War. The article was ran on July 12, 1862.

“A splendid standard for the 7th Missouri (Irish) Regiment, painted by Somerby was exhibited at the Pilot bookstore, last week. It is painted on green silk of beautiful color and texture, and measures six feet by six feet six inches, in one piece. On one side is the Irish harp, guarded by a savage looking wolf dog surrounded by a wreath of shamrocks, and mounted by an American eagle, and supported on either side by flags and implements of war. A golden halo shoots from out and over the whole. On the reverse is a sunburst in all its glory, with the Irish war cry for a motto – “Fag an Bealac!” A beautiful gold eagle mounts the staff; and nothing is lacking about it which constitutes a first class standard.

If you go to this site,  you can learn about the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 4th Regiment in the famous Irish Brigade. This site will tell you all about the regiment’s history, weapons, flags, battles, and casualties.  It will also inform you of the recreated 28th that in the world of Civil War reenacting, represents the unit. The site has pages that will tell you of the 28th today, some vital information about Civil War reenactment, uniforms and equipment, recommended sutlers, their campaign schedule and an image gallery. You can also find out how to join the unit should you have the desire and means to do so.

In case you’ve never seen them, here is a famous Civil War song entitled, “The Boys of the Irish Brigade.” It’s one I often do in my Civil War programs at schools and libraries.

What for should I sing you of Roman or Greek,
Or the boys we hear tell of in story?
Come match me for fighting, for frolic, or freak,
An Irishman’s reign in his glory;
For Ajax, and Hector, and bold Agamemnon,
Were up to the tricks of our trade, O,
But the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

What for should I sing you of Helen or Troy,
Or the mischief that came by her flirting?
There’s Biddy M’Clinchy the pride of Fermoy,
Twice as much of a Helen, that’s certain.
Then for Venus, so famous, or Queen Cleopatra,
Bad luck to the word should be said, O,
By the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The Boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

What for should I sing you of classical fun,
Or of games, whether Grecian or Persian?
Sure the Curragh’s the place where the knowing one’s done,
And Mallow that flogs for diversion.
For fighting, for drinking, for ladies and all,
No time like our times e’er was made, O,
By the rollicking boys, for war, ladies and noise,
The boys of the Irish Brigade, O!

From the Book of Irish Songs, by Samuel Lover
(Paul A.Winch, 1860)

A New Children’s Song by Rickey E. Pittman

Yesterday at the East Texas Library Summit, I met another author, Marvin S. Mayer, whose book, Sammy Squirrel and the Sunflower Seeds,  tells the story of Sammy the squirrel’s adventures after being captured and relocated to the Squirrel Relocation Center, and his courageous attempt to return home while his father searches for him at the same time.  I was so impressed with this author and his children’s story that I wrote a song on the spot. The conference videotaped the song and I think it will be YouTube soon. I’ll also post it on my blog and my Facebook page.  I like this song and plan to work it into my children’s program.


(A children’s song by Rickey E. Pittman)

Sammy the squirrel went out to play

A wire box trap was in his way

He started to just pass it by

But he saw the sunflower seeds inside.

He entered the cage at an open end,

The door slammed shut, trapping him in

Sammy cried “Mother, what will happen to me?”

Then they took him to the *SRC


Sammy the squirrel lived in a Texas town,

Climbing in trees and rolling on the ground

Leaping and flying so wild and free,

Sammy would work for sunflower seeds.

Sammy said enough of this SRC

I’m leaving here and you can’t stop me

It’s hard to survive when you’re on your own,

I’ve got to find my way back home.

Harriette the squirrel said, Listen to me.

Get off the ground if you want to be free.

Travel in the trees and telephone lines,

And move through the air so clean and fine.


*Squirrel Location Center

You can order or look at this children’s chapter book here:

Stonewall Jackson’s Black Sunday School

I’ve a new book that I’ve written to honor one of the great heroes of the Confederate South–Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The book is called, Stonewall Jackson’s Black Sunday School (Pelican Pub.) It can be preordered from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and in January printed copies will be available. I plan on telling this story to as many people as possible, not only to honor Jackson, but to show those who are determined to demonize the South and Southerners that the issue is really much more complex than the media, the politically correct, and enemies of the South have presented it. A history teacher I respect described those who have negative reactions to or who seek to minimize or dismiss the significance of Jackson’s Sunday school as people who “cannot allow a person at that time to be simply doing what God has called him to do. If the person is white, he must have another motive (a hateful one) for any good he does.” Jackson’s Sunday School, like the story of Jim Limber, undermines the stereotype people have in their minds about the South and race.

Here is the story of Jackson’s black Sunday school in a nutshell: In the autumn of 1855, Jackson began a colored Sunday school in Lexington, VA. He did this under the guidance of the Lexington Presbyterian Church and in spite of and defiance of social mores and laws. Not only did Jackson teach the black folks who came to the school the gospel, he also taught the students to read and write.

If you go here, (and please do) you can find a fine article telling the story of Jackson’s influence on that Lexington black community.  One of the students there became a pastor and wanted to honor Jackson, so he raised funds to construct a window in his congregation, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. in Roanoke, Virginia. You can see that window’s image in this post.  I’ve also posted images of a statue and gravestone honoring  this great Christian man.

To understand Jackson’s work and influence on the Lexington black community, I would recommend that you read, Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend by Richard G . Williams Jr.  Like Williams, I was inspired by Jackson’s life and love for people–whether they were black or white–and thought the story of Jackson’s work should be told.  I thought a children’s book would be the best medium to use. My artist is Lynn Hosegood and she did a fine job illustrating the story and her art reveals the sensitivity and historical research that the account deserves. I’ll have a future post with samples of her artwork.

Statue of Stonewall Jackson

Statue of Stonewall Jackson

Stonewall Jackson Gravestone

Stonewall Jackson Gravestone