Tennessee

MISSING IN ACTION, 1863 - New Title Published by Mark Lacy!

My book on Andrew Jackson Lacy in the Civil War is finally finished and published!
MISSING IN ACTION, 1863: Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Lacy and Tennessee's Confederate Cavalry.

In the summer of 1863, my great-great-grandfather, a young lieutenant in the Eighth (Dibrell’s) Tennessee Cavalry (CSA), disappeared and was never seen again. He left behind a grieving family, including a young wife and infant son (my great-grandfather). Once the war ended, and the remnants of the Confederate army headed home, including prisoners released from Union prisons, Lieutenant Lacy’s family waited anxiously to see if he might return. He did not.

This was a 150-year-old missing-persons cold case. I had to investigate. Did I find him?

(Spoiler alert!)

The honest answer is no. I have pursued this mystery for decades, searching for needles in all kinds of haystacks. I started with the many letters that Andrew Lacy wrote to his family during the war, and the letters they wrote to him. (How the family happens to have letters written to him is another mystery surrounding his disapperance.) I spent many hours (even days!) in front of microfilm readers at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, went cross-eyed following the tiniest bread crumbs across the internet, and searched through dozens of books on the Civil War. I researched the men he served with on the remote chance that one of them might lead me to him, and accumulated notes on over 2000 men in the process. I studied the movement of troops and the rise of guerrilla warfare in Middle Tennessee. My conclusion, as explained in the last chapter of the book, is that he probably died sometime in the last half of August 1863, within 25 miles of home, likely at the hands of guerrillas.

I must be an optimist because, while the book is finished, I can't help continuing to look for him. Someday maybe I'll stumble across what we need to know.

If you’re interested in the Civil War, historical detective work, or genealogy, you’ll be interested in reading MISSING IN ACTION, 1863: Lieutenant Andrew Jackson Lacy and Tennessee's Confederate Cavalry.

A Mountain and a Grave in "The Ban of Irsisri"

I've been sharing some of the real-life geography that inspired the landscapes in my novel, The Ban of Irsisri (release date T-24 days and counting!). Many of these landscapes were inspired by geographic features in Tennessee.

Visylon, one of the main characters in The Ban of Irsisri, begins his search for his friend Enkinor in the Parthulian Hills. There, as the sun sets, he is approached by Anquilon, the ghost of a historic warrior. Anquilon points to a nearby double-peak in the hills, and explains that on that peak Visylon will find the grave of an ancient king, and a small cedar growing from the grave. Visylon must cut down the tree with his sword in order to draw into his sword some important power critical in the development of the story.

The double-peak was modeled after the Chimney Tops, a prominent geological feature easily seen from the parkway crossing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and accessible by a steep 3.7-mile hike. In the early 1970s, my father and brother and I made the climb. The trail at that time ended at the base of the rocky pinnacles and a sign (long since gone) warned hikers about proceeding further. Naturally, having inherited a bit of my mother's rebelliousness, I scrambled up the first of the two peaks. I was rewarded with not only a view across the "saddle" to the second peak, but also a breathtaking view of the Sugarlands valley through which the parkway climbs on its way from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina.

The tree growing from a grave was inspired by a real-life grave in the woods of Jackson County, Tennessee. My step-great-great-grandfather's first wife, Lucinda Deatherage Matheny, is buried in an unusual above-ground brick-encircled grave. A tree once grew from the top of this grave. I always felt the grave was unusual; to see the tree growing from the grave, drawing nourishment from the dust of human remains, felt very Gothic to me.