A Union of Brothers
Firman Kirk, a young lumberman working in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, was recruited to join an elite unit of sharpshooters for the Union army shortly after confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter. His sense of duty to Country outweighed the trepidation he felt in exposing himself to the realities of war. More
I want to believe that my dad would have liked this book. It was, after all, about his grandfather. He was a voracious reader, especially after retirement. Unfortunately, he slowly lost his eyesight to macular degeneration, as he advanced in age. He never lost his love of the written word, though, and incorporated books on tape into his favorite pastime.
Knowing his love of reading, I decided to put together a story about Firman, a rifleman in the Civil war and his grandfather, hopefully to give him a personal link to an unknown but fascinating past. I had no experience in writing historical documents; in fact, I had no idea where to begin. I have written volumes about housing conditions, public facilities, and community development, but I would be a long way from my comfort zone. Even with all my concerns, I did eventually start this story. Fortunately, I had a sense that Firman’s story, once I completed some investigation, would write itself.
Unfortunately, dad passed away before I could finish it. Nevertheless, I think he would have wanted me to finish what I started so shortly after his passing I renewed my effort to finish the book. I am no expert on the Civil War. I had read several books on the subject, a biography on President Lincoln, and a story about the aftermath of his assassination. But I had limited knowledge on the subject matter at hand. I would have to educate myself before I could begin to write a book about this man’s life.
A “labor of love” is a term that gets tossed around more frequently than perhaps it should. Nevertheless, I think it’s a fitting portrayal of my effort with this book. My goal is to tell a story of my great–grandfather, and perhaps provide my family with some small sense of their history. If others find it an enjoyable ride, it’s all the better.
The pages are filled with historically accurate descriptions regarding the birth of the Bucktails, as well as their training, travels, and the battles they fought. Other portions of Firman’s life are lost to time; no record exists. During those periods of his life, I drew upon my own experience and imagination. A significant componant of the story is the importance love plays in his life. His boyhood sweetheart, Ophelia, was a source of inspiration for hime throughout the book. I only know Ophelia and Firman enjoyed a long marriage together. The love letters that Firm so looked forward to during his time away from home gave him hope he would have a future after the war.
I think both truth and fiction dovetail nicely to tell the story of a simple, honorable man trying to make his way in this world through arguably the most tumultuous time the United States has yet endured.