I have gone to great lengths to make this novelized version of John Henry Hess’s actual civil war as authentic and realistic as possible. I do not claim this book is an academic dissertation, however. It is -- to stretch things a bit -- an author’s creative version of a true-life war experience. After all, we creative historians are in the business of re-creating the dead. We are writing hopefully impeccably researched dramatizations of actual people, places, events and scenarios -- and therefore require a small degree of imaginative reconstruction.
Imagine a skeleton found with no clues to its bodily appearance. This is what I began with, the bones of man who longer exists. His diary was equally skeletal, presenting me with only the bare-bones account of what must have been an incredible adventure.
My job was to play forensic scientist and rebuild the body muscle by muscle, organ by organ, sense by sense, memory by memory, until I had a model of the person whom I believe was John Henry Hess. I had to rebuild his hastily scribbled account by rebuilding the story hour by hour, place by place, event by event and insight by insight. At this point, I can only pray that I have at least partially brought this man back to life and somewhat reconstructed the startling chain of events that shaped his tour of duty with the Confederate army into a parable of our times.
Richard Lee Fulgham
The Hogs of Cold Harbor
Part One: 1861
Southwest Virginia was still a wilderness in 1861. There were more wild hogs than people, thousands of them in every county -- in the mountains and flatlands, roaming in family troops through forests, thickets, bushes, swamps, bogs, glades, valleys, ravines, hills, ridges, coves, caves and hollows. You could hike in the woods during the day and hear them crashing through the brush like clumsy blundering bears. You could canoe down the rivers and see them lounging on the shores or fighting over favors from their sexy young sows. They were barefaced, beady-eyed, bold and belligerent.