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October 2006

October 12 * Guest Speaker/Training for Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation Teachers, Evansville, IN

Several months ago Mr. Dennis Beadles of the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) asked me to perform a teachers training session/bus tour through some of the local sites associated with Thunder From a Clear Sky. Of course, I agreed. Since then, tragically, Mr. Beadles passed away. I never got to meet him face-to-face. He was a major force in preserving and presenting local history. He was a former Board Member, Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Vanderburgh County Historical Society. From the silence of my laptop, I thank him for the invitation that enabled me to share what I know about the Newburg raid at the event on October 12.
         This appearance was a first for me. I was a talking tour guide as the bus took about 15 teachers first to Henderson and then to Newburgh to follow in the steps of Adam Johnson. I talked for almost two hours about everything and anything I could think of regarding Kentucky, Indiana, the Civil War, the raid, Adam Johnson, and on and on. On the way home all I could think about was all the neat stuff I left out somehow. Anyone who reads these pages knows that I don't use notes to give my talks. That means that I never know what I'm going to say or how I'm going to start until the words come out.
          We piled onto the bus at 3:30 PM under the guidance of Wendy McNamara, the new leadership for the EVSC history department. I decided to start off by talking about Richard Henderson, the namesake for Adam Johnson's home town in Kentucky. I have never previously talked about Richard Henderson and the Transylvania Company. Its an interesting story and since the bus initially started for Henderson I just thought it was a good fit. While in Henderson we visited the site of Johnson's June 29, 1862, attack on the Union garrison. After that visit we headed for Newburgh. We got off the bus at Newburgh at Rivertown Antiques- the former Exchange Hotel during the Civil War. I hit the highlights of Adam Johnson's movements in Newburgh on July 18, 1862. I don't mind saying that was I having fun every step of the way.
          Wendy arranged for everyone to get a copy of Thunder at the end of the trip. All the teachers lined up and I signed each copy after we arrived back at the starting point. I felt great about the event. It was something I had never done before and I wasn't sure how it would all turn out. From the reaction I got, I think everyone (including me) was pleased at the outocme.

October 18 * Guest Speaker- Clarksville Civil War Roundtable, Clarksville, Tennessee
Borders
Borders Books at Clarksville, Tennessee, is the meeting location
for the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable and where I was on October 18

Greg Biggs, President of the Clarksville Civil War Roundtable, is an incredible military history authority. Notice I didn't designate an era specialty. Pick a war, any war, going back 3,000 years and Greg is a four star expert on it. Greg took me on a running three-hour tour through the Civil War sites, great and small, around Clarksville. I'm not sure if it would be possible for one person to know more about the Civil War. I quickly add that Greg is not just a repository for dates and events, but also expressed varied and interesting analytical ideas about Napoleonic war tactics and their relationship to the American Civil War, the condition of the Russian Army in 1944-45, and the great Roman Legion disaster at the Teutoburg Forest. Match this kind of mind with a gift for gab and you have a special person- Greg Biggs, a generous, outgoing historian of enormous stature.
          Greg is the type of person who intimidates me. He knows so much and I know so little that I was sincerely worried that I wouldn't have anything worthwhile to share with him and his roundtable. As usual, I'm hard on myself. Greg introduced me and as I walked up to the microphone at Borders Bookstore, the site of the Roundtable meetings in Clarksville, I was still unsure how I was going to approach things or what I was going to cover. Although I talked about Adam Johnson and the raid, as I always do, I felt I wanted to emphasize a more personal angle. Greg doesn't know that he casts a pretty big shadow, so I wanted to touch on the thought that everyone had a contribution to make.
Thunder From a Clear Sky was my contribution. As far as the Newburg raid is concerned, I think the book is a good place to start and I'm proud of it. Because I wasn't formally trained as a historian or writer, my book takes a style different than many others. I wanted to tell the story of the Newburgh Raid. I wanted to emphasize to others the immediacy of the events. I tried to convey a little of that during my presentation. That's about all I remember of it. I was exhausted afterwards and stayed in Clarksville overnight. I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. I think almost every person who was at the meeting purchased a book. It was fun. I look forward to being back in Clarksville some day. My thanks to Greg and the Roundtable.

October 28 * Book Vendor- 3rd Annual Western Kentucky Book Expo, Sturgis, Kentucky
Sturgis 06
Yours truly with Rick Reed, author of Blood Trail, at Sturgis, Kentucky

I had a ball at the Sturgis book fair this year. Once again I had the good fortune to sit next to Rick Reed, author of Blood Trail. Blood Trail is a true crime book and has been very successful. Its about a famous Evansville murder and Rick worked the case when he was an officer for the Evansville Police Department. Sometimes you just run across someone whom you seem to like instinctively. I like Rick. We had a great time filling the temporary downtimes between customers with jokes, conversation, and shared experiences with ours books. Between selling books and talking to Rick and his girlfriend, the entire day slipped away in what seemed like just a few minutes. The Sturgis book fair has developed a certain characteristic. The customer traffic is very heavy in the morning and by 2 O'clock things seem to be quiet. I had a wedding to attend in Evansville so I left at 3:00 PM. By that time the traffic was fairly thin. This didn't matter much as I sold a big pile of books by that time. It was a very successful event for me. Here is where you can pick up Blood Trail (Pinnacle True Crime).