Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post: John J. Cline

The Last Confederate Battle, a novel by John J. Cline, is the purely American story of three brothers who were plantation raised in the Deep South and who subsequently fought for the Confederate States of America in the War of Northern Aggression, better known to the world today as the Civil War or as The War Between the States.  Although the story is fiction, the history isn’t. 

People who love to read a good story will find themselves wrapped up in the intricacies of fictional and historical people trying to find some degree normalcy in a wartime setting.  It is, after all, a war that didn’t have to be fought.  It occurred in a nation where common sense was spurned by military and political arrogance that beguiled nearly everyone into thinking that the conflict would end within a few weeks, and that each side, North and South, was superior to the other.  It is a fictional tale of murder, suspense, political intrigue, war mongering, profiteering, love and honor.  Most of all, however, it is a tale of federalism versus state’s rights, a conflict that continues in perpetuity.

Andrew Jefferson Davis, Andy to friends and family, is the youngest of three brothers who were raised on a plantation near the town of Madison, Georgia.  He was disillusioned by nearly four years of fighting and sat alone in the dark by a small campfire in what had been his plantation’s expansive front yard.  Uncharacteristically, he was sobbing uncontrollably.  During the war, he had seen unbelievable carnage and death, yet tears had never come.  It was only after he finally got home, after being released from a war prison, that he learned that his wife and young son had been tortured and murdered, and that the plantation had been burned to the ground; unusual because the plantation was only a few miles from Madison, one of only seven towns that had not been torched during Sherman’s March to the Sea.  So opens the saga of The Last Confederate Battle.

But this not a one-sided story!  Readers will glimpse into the human side of President Lincoln as he manages a war he doesn’t want to have to fight, while simultaneously digging through a myriad of political and criminal distractions that bleed much of his time and patience.   Readers will also meet Allan Pinkerton whose job it is to protect the President when he leaves the district, but who is also responsible for the collection of intelligence with which to prosecute the war.  Fictional character Franklin Stone is drafted by the president to investigate a series of murders and war profiteering because Washington D.C. at that time, had no police force.  He is pitted against some really ruthless and politically powerful people.  But who is really worse: the killer and war-profiteer or the shady consortium of big businesses who want to dominate the nation’s economy? 

The story behind the story!  Numerous readers have questioned me about the inspiration for writing The Last Confederate Battle, and the truth is just as bizarre as the story itself.  I was sitting on my patio waiting for the sun to rise (I’m an early riser) when this mental picture of a Confederate soldier squatting alone beside a late night campfire in the front yard of his burned-out shell of a plantation house came to mind.  At the time, I disregarded the image, wondering why I had thought of it in the first place.  But the image would not go away.  It kept coming back to the point where I finally had to start asking some questions.  Why was he there?  Why was he alone?  Where had he been?  What had happened to him?  Well, after asking a bunch of simple questions, it got more and more intriguing, and I just had to write the story that I was seeing in my mind’s eye. 

About the Author - Recognized as one of Idaho's Top Fifty Authors for 2011, John J. Cline has written several books, the most recent being "Sea Stories & Navy Tales," and "The Last Confederate Battle.  He is currently working on a book that is tentatively titled, "Rebuilding American Dreams;" a continuation of the stories told in "The Last Confederate Battle."   "Rebuilding American Dreams" should be available by early 2012. He has also composed music including, "Sunset in the Harbor," "American Bridal Waltz," and "Song of Idaho."  His website also has a number of short stories that can be viewed at

Before turning to writing, John spent 25 years in the United States Navy in both the enlisted ranks (Master Chief Petty Officer), and in the officer corps, as a Limited Duty Officer (Mustang).  He retired from the Navy in July 1993 as a Lieutenant Commander.  He was the Navy's first designated Physical Security Officer (649X), responsible for military law enforcement, physical security, antiterrorism and emergency management programs at naval facilities throughout the Southwest Region of the United States, the Caribbean, Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf, both at sea and ashore. 

He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (140th Session) and numerous antiterrorism, law enforcement and emergency management schools.  He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Workforce Education and Curriculum Development from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies: Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Following retirement from the Navy, John was the director of the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services, where he served the State of Idaho for ten years directing the State’s disaster mitigation and preparedness programs and coordinating the State’s response and recovery operations to overcome the effects of fire, flood, wind, ice and snow emergencies, landslides that isolated towns, and a most bizarre disaster, the escape of lions, tigers and hybrid wolves from a self-styled wild animal park.  During his ten years at the bureau, he directed the State’s response and recovery operations for over 50 local disasters, 25 state-declared major emergencies and disasters and four Presidentially-declared disasters, contributing to the overall physical and economic recovery of numerous Idaho communities.

John and his wife, Patricia, reside in Boise, Idaho.  They have three grown children, four grandchildren, and some really good friends.  

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