Book Title: Rebel Correspondent by Steve Procko
Category: Adult Non-Fiction 18+, 356 pages
Genre: Biography & Autobiography, Military and Nonfiction, History, United States, Civil War Period
Publisher: Steve Procko Productions, LLC
Release date: September 2021
Tour dates: September 1 to September 14
Content Rating: PG
Rebel Correspondent is the true story of a young man who joined the Confederate Army days after his eighteenth birthday and served bravely until the war ended. Wounded twice, he emerged a changed person. But he wasn't just a returning veteran; he was also a writer.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Arba F. Shaw was a fifty-seven-year-old farmer. On a chilly December day in 1901, he put pen to paper to write his memories of being a Rebel Private in the 4th Georgia Cavalry (Avery), C.S.A. He completed writing his account in February 1902. His local newspaper, the Walker County Messenger, in Lafayette, Georgia, published his account in more than fifty articles from 1901 to 1903. Then it was all but forgotten. Until Now. Rebel Correspondent presents Arba F. Shaw's account word-for-word, as first published in the Walker County Messenger almost 120 years ago. Procko annotates Shaw's account with in-depth research, verifying it and uncovering the back story of his life and the lives of his Rebel comrades. Procko's research offers a historical perspective on the many places and events Shaw so richly described.
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By: Steve Procko; Author, Rebel Correspondent - RebelCorrespondent.com
I traveled to Cooper Heights, Georgia, in the valley known as McClemore’s Cove several times while writing Rebel Correspondent. It was important to personally go to this peaceful valley and breath its fresh mountain air. I wanted to get a feel for the place my book’s main character lived. I wanted to meet his descendants. I wanted to stand next to his grave.
Located in the shadow of Lookout Mountain in northwestern Georgia, it is a beautiful place. It’s full of history, some of which was deadly violent. Today it’s just a sleepy little crossroads. A single intersection marks its GPS coordinates. Four stop signs and a blinking red light hanging over the intersection. This four-way stop features the ubiquitous Dollar General store and a “Yank’s Quick Stop” convenience store and gas station. I suppose since the Yankees won the Civil War, it’s somehow fitting that the local convenience store should be named “Yank’s”.
Arba F. Shaw (1844-1909) stayed close to home at Cooper Heights for his entire life, probably never venturing outside of a thirty-five mile radius surrounding his farmstead. Chattanooga was the big nearby city. LaFayette (pronounced Luh-FAY-et) the county seat. Then the Civil War came calling. He traveled to Dalton, Georgia just seven days past his 18th birthday to enlist, when he returned home after the war, he was changed young man.
I located the 160 acre parcel Arba farmed. It’s still being farmed, though a much smaller parcel of land, having been divided up into smaller pieces of the pie. No doubt, a pecan pie. A brand new church sits close to where his farmhouse would likely have been.
His grave is located in nearby Singleterry cemetery. I’ve been there twice. The second time was to meet a couple of his 2X great-grandkids. They are not actually kids, but grown men, and they brought family photos to savor. There were many photos of current generations from the Shaw family, but none of Arba. Photographs of him have seemed to have faded into the background, lost to time.
It’s telling how in just five generations, objects cherished become objects lost. At least we have the writings of Arba’s experiences in the Civil War. He likely wrote them by the glow of lantern light, at the kitchen table in his farmstead just down the road from today’s blinking red light at the intersection known as Cooper Heights.
There was a popular nineteenth century expression known as “seeing the elephant”. It meant gaining experience at a great cost, by traveling outside of your comfort-zone and seeing the world. In the military slang, it meant you had faced deadly combat. Arba F. Shaw survived the war, though he was wounded twice and faced down an illness that almost killed him.
Arba had definitely seen the elephant. Heck, he not only saw it, he vigorously shook its trunk and being a cavalry soldier, no doubt rode on its back.
Meet the Author:
Steve Procko never thought of himself as a Civil War history buff, let alone a biographer. He does love history, however, particularly learning about the small, everyday events in the lives of little-known people and the small towns they lived in.
A documentarian and cinematographer, Steve was sleuthing stories for a documentary series he has developed, “There’s History Around Every Bend,” currently available on YouTube, when he came across the writings of Private Arba F. Shaw.
The down-to-earth accounts of the everyday life of a lowly private just struggling to survive one of the greatest events in American history fascinated Steve. As he read the series of articles, mostly unread since they were published in a small, north Georgia newspaper in 1901-1903, he began to realize that this was a remarkable cache of history.
A native of Florida, Steve, with his Lauren and their dog Rigby, splits his time between a mountain log cabin nestled next to Stanley Creek near the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, and a home in Ocala, Florida.
He opened a commercial film production company with a partner in 1984. In 2003 the company became Steve Procko Productions (SPP). His Emmy-award-winning financial literacy program Talkin' Money Minutes is available on over 100 Public Television stations nationwide. SPP has also won three additional Emmys over fifty Addy Awards, Telly Awards, and two Promax awards.
When he’s not behind a video camera or researching the archives for his next documentary or book, Steve explores remote areas throughout the United States and Canada as a fine art photographer. He has had work displayed at The Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as well as solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States.
Steve’s second book, Captured Liberty, another Civil War story about nine POW Union officers and their amazing escape will be published in 2022. He also plans to develop documentaries about The Rebel Correspondent and Captured Liberty.
connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram `~ goodread
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