Elaine F. Boatin, a great grandaughter of Private John Nicholas Ford of the Minutemen of Attala, is a distinguished novelist and short story writer whose work is published under the name Elaine Ford. She is finishing a new historical novel about her paternal ancestry’s 19th Century history in Alabama and Mississippi.
The novel, “God’s Red Clay,” includes a chapter on Private Ford’s participation in the 13th’s Leesburg fight in and around Ball’s Bluff in October, 1861, where the Minutemen were commanded by Captain Lorenzo Fletcher, a Mexican War veteran who had recruited most of them back home in Kosciusko, Mississippi.
Although she uses fiction techniques to make her story come alive, Elaine sticks to the known facts about her ancestor, including that he was wounded in the preliminaries to the Ball’s Bluff fight and rescued by a “devoted slave,” probably the 12-year-old boy, Major, held by his father.
There were other such relationships, slave/servants who, like Major, apparently were sent off to war (starting with the American Revolution) with their young masters and charged with their protection. How devoted they were is open to question.
Here is an excerpt of the story:
“When finally they reach the foot of the slope, they discover a deep ravine. It seems to be at right angles to the direction they’ve been heading. ‘With any luck,’ Fletcher says, ‘this will lead us east to the bluff and the 8th Virginia.’ They clamber down into it, mostly sliding on their bottoms. The going in the ravine is somewhat easier.
“However, they soon understand that it’s not one ravine only, but a series of intersecting ravines wending this way and that. For some reason, Fletcher’s pocket compass is of no use. He keeps staring at the thing, shaking it, swearing. ‘Could be the iron in these here clay walls is confounding it,’ Jim White says.”
Read the rest here. Elaine is a retired professor of writing and literature at the University of Maine. Her web site at the link also contains a compendium of her other books, including her latest, a collection of short stories reflecting her wide experiences.