Am currently reading a great dectective novel (by my standards) by James Lee Burke, "Into the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead." In it, Dave Robicheaux, a dectective based in New Iberia, LA west of New Orleans, tracks a serial killer. The plot is complex, but what particularly distinquishes it from other of Burke's Dave Robicheaux detective adventures is that in this one, he and another character have mysterious encounters with...you guessed it...Confederate dead including General John Bell Hood!
Therein lies the rub. I'm wondering about the accuracy of some of the visions. Well, of course, fictional visions don't need to be historically accurate. But I do have to wonder about some facts. I'm hoping you experts here can help me out.
1. John Bell Hood died of yellow fever in New Orleans after the war. But did he actually FIGHT in Lousiana during the war, specifically near New Iberia?
2. Was there a battle between Hood's army and General Banks in or near New Iberia?
3. The Confederates had some balloons made of silk, but did they ever fly these observation balloons in Lousiana?
4. Did John Bell Hood himself ever go up in said balloon to do observations of enemy troop movements? If so, did he do it near New Iberia, LA?
I appreciate your answers.
In all respect to James Lee Burke, whose books I do especially enjoy and highly recommend his most recent "Tin Roof Blowdown" to all lovers of detective novels, I'm not criticizing him for the John Bell Hood references. Maybe they are all accurate. I just can't find any information confirming them.
Four noes in a row--at least not that I'm aware of. Hood was in the east long before Banks was in Louisiana. Balloons were used almost exclusively during the Peninsula Campaign. (Interesting side-bar on that: southern ladies gave their silk dresses so the Confederacy could float a balloon or two. Little came of the effort.)
Burke is either taking extreme poetic license, or is extending the fact of Hood's death in Louisiana to place him in the story. After all, who remembers Loring?
From Frommer's Guide to New Iberia During the Civil War, New Iberia was a Confederate training center and was attacked again and again. Some say that Confederate and Union soldiers alike plundered the land to such an extent that local Acadians threatened to declare war on both sides if any more of their chickens, cattle, and produce were appropriated
Typical Civil War nuts, nitpicking the facts and totally blowing past the fact the book has a ghost in it
That said, I'm with you and yes all four of those are a gross violation of historical reality. I hope Hood and/or his ghost takes the tour of McIlhenny's Pepper factory on Avery Island. Of course if he went there during the war, it was a salt works, the Tobasco operations began after the war. But I bet that wouldn't slow this author down one bit.
David, you are so right. I did what you said. I allowed my Civil War studies to jump up and salute when I realized that police detective Dave Robicheaux was seeing visions of John Bell Hood and his Texan troops. I couldn't just read the novel "straight" as one who enjoys Burke's books.
No, Hood does not tour the Tabasco works. Nor does he take any of New Orleans' ghost tours. Wouldn't that be cool!
I loved the idea of seeing visions of any Confederates at all, but grew suspicious about references to silk spy balloons in Louisiana, etc. I certainly couldn't imagine a general with one bad arm and only leg would ascend in one to do Signal Corps work.
Maybe I am envious. I'd be tickled pink to see Union or Confederate troops in the mists.
I have a question for Burke, the author of the book. Why did he choose John Bell Hood and not PGT Beauregarde who was born and raised in Louisiana and returned there after the war? PGT Beauregarde would make a very interesting ghost.