A quiet, wealthy, plantation owner, Jack Hinson watched the start of the Civil War with disinterest. Opposed to secession and a friend to Union and Confederate commanders alike, he did not want a war. After Union soldiers seized and murdered his sons, placing their decapitated heads on the gateposts of his estate, Hinson could remain indifferent no longer. He commissioned a special rifle for long-range accuracy, he took to the woods, and he set out for revenge. This remarkable biography presents the story of Jack Hinson, a lone Confederate sniper who, at the age of 57, waged a personal war on Grant's army and navy. The result of 15 years of scholarship, this meticulously researched work is the only account of Hinson's life ever recorded and involves an unbelievable cast of characters, including the Earp brothers, Jesse James, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.
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"Tom McKenney makes a major contribution to yet another dimension of our Civil War. Tennessee civilian-warrior Jack Hinson single-handedly fought a personal vendetta for home and family against Union forces of oppression and persecution. Whether he is perceived as patriot, freedom fighter, or terrorist, one cannot fail to be enthralled by his personal story, uncovered by McKenney in the best tradition of painstaking research and told with a flair for local history superimposed on the big screen of military occupation and strife. McKenney's study is an absolute 'must' for students of the Civil War in Tennessee."
--B. F. Cooling, author, Forts Henry and Donelson and Fort Donelson's Legacy
"Tom McKenney's work is richly detailed, informative, and engaging. His research is extensively supported by countless interviews and eyewitness reports; he even sheds new light on details about the 1862 battle for Fort Donelson and the subsequent Union occupation. McKenney's emphasis on local stories and the dynamics of the nineteenth-century wartime society only enriches our understanding of the events of Forts Henry, Heiman, and Donelson. Anyone who wants a better grasp on guerrilla warfare and the western theater should read this book."
--Susan M. Hawkins, park ranger, National Park Service
"Tom McKenney's intensive research and lively narrative strip away the nearly unbelievable mythology surrounding Confederate sniper Jack Hinson, only to reveal an even more striking real individual--a genuine hero, an expert marksman, and the complex embodiment of a war that pitted brother against brother and often one's self-interest against his own deeply held beliefs and loyalties. Along the way, McKenney excavates the unique story of one corner of the western theater's murky Civil War. This work makes a huge contribution to this poorly understood theater of America's greatest conflict."
--Scot Danforth, director, University of Tennessee Press
A quiet, unassuming, and wealthy plantation owner, Jack Hinson was focused on his family life and seasonal plantings when the Civil War started to permeate the isolated valleys of the Kentucky-Tennessee border area where he lived. He was uniquely neutral--friend to both Confederate and Union generals--and his family exemplified the genteel, educated, gracious, and hardworking qualities highly valued in their society. By the winter of 1862, the Hinsons' happy way of life would change forever.
Jack Hinson's neutrality was shattered the day Union patrols moved in on his land, captured two of his sons, accused them of being bushwhackers, and executed them on the roadside. The soldiers furthered the abuse by decapitating the Hinson boys and placing their heads on the gateposts of the family estate. The Civil War, now literally on Hinson's doorstep, had become painfully personal, and he could remain dispassionate no longer. He commissioned a special rifle, a heavy-barreled .50-caliber weapon designed for long-range accuracy. He said goodbye to his family, and he took to the wilderness seeking revenge.
Hinson, nearly sixty years of age, alone, and without formal military training, soon became a deadly threat to the Union. A Confederate sniper, he made history after single-handedly bringing down an armed Union transport and serving as a scout for Nathan Bedford Forrest. A tenacious and elusive figure, Hinson likely killed more than one hundred Union soldiers, recording the confirmed deaths on the barrel of his rifle with precision.
Despite the numbers of men sent to kill him, Hinson evaded all capture, and like his footsteps through the Kentucky and Tennessee underbrush, his story has been shrouded in silence--until now. The result of fifteen years of research, this remarkable biography presents the never-before-told history of Jack Hinson, his savage war on his country, and the brutal cost of vengeance and war.
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