- SurvivalBlog.com - https://survivalblog.com -

Letter: Notes from Jack Hinson’s One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper


I recently read Jack Hinson’s One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper [1] by Tom McKenney; I also like when I read JWR’s books, so I took down a few notes.

This is a story of prosperous happy times that degraded into pestilence, war, famine, and death. It is also a story of survival, in a very dangerous time.

Body, Mind, and Soul – Hinson had a good physical condition with great upper body strength, exceptionally long arms, and excellent eyesight. He was of pioneer mindset, sharp minded, had good business skills, yet soft spoken and reserved. There is little mentioned of church attendance, but it seems like his family was religious and they enthusiastically celebrated Christmas. They may have had homestead services? At times, they did some praying. like when a loved one left to return to the war.

Neutrality – Jack Hinson tried to stay neutral as long as he could, but the actions of the occupation soldiers forced him to take sides. So, many folks decide that they are just going to sit this one out, only to be drawn into events.

Martial Law – Occupation forces conducted summary executions, imprisonments without trial, and other atrocities. Martial law lasted for a long time, twelve years beyond the end of the war.

No Amnesty – Hinson was a fugitive from the occupations forces, even after the end of the war, when most combatants were pardoned and paroled.

Recognition – There were several examples of how the occupation forces were unable to identify folks they had in custody. Of course, this is before finger prints, voice and photo recognition, communications, databases, and DNA testing.

Homestead – The Hinson’s had a large tract of land, with a large staff, houses, barns, and shelters that facilitated food production, food preservation, food storage, cash crops, and lodging income. They were very self sufficient.

Bug out – The Hinson’s had a bug out plan that allowed them to escape execution and imprisonment after being warned of an impending raid by occupation forces. However, children died from pestilence, shortly thereafter at the bug out location.

Cover of night – When visiting friends and family, Hinson always arrived just after dark and departed before sunrise. He traveled at night while bugging out and sometimes while traveling to ambush sites. He didn’t have to contend with night vision, thermal imaging, electric lights, trail cameras, Dakota alerts, or aviation assets like drones, helicopters, gunships, and satellites, et cetera.

Cache – At several points, firearms, food, wealth, and valuables, were successfully cached away from buildings, quarters, and shelters to prevent seizure by occupation forces.

Marksmanship – Hinson had exceptional eyesight, excellent marksmanship skills, even in old age, and a long range capability that allowed him to engage forces when it was hard for them to counterattack, one against many. Although Hinson had no mentioned military training, he seemed to have a very good understanding of military tactics. Maybe back then, military history and training were considered to be part of a normal education, more so than today?

Scouting – Before the war, Hinson was a land speculator as well, so he traveled all over the countryside as well as on hunting trips. He had a great knowledge of the area, which he used to plan his operations and later used to help Gen. Forrest win the Battle of Johnsonville, Nov. 4–5, 1864.

Wealth – The Hinson’s retained their wealth in silver and gold coins, which were still valuable after the Confederate currency was destroyed. This allowed them to relocate after the war to a more remote location.

Holocaust – The period of time after the war that was one of great hardship under occupation and martial law. It is never referred to as the holocaust in TN, but the book mentions a twelve year period. My FL relatives mention a ten year period and refer to it as the Holocaust. Some folks called it Reconstruction, and others the Holocaust. Regardless, those 15 to 17 years were years of great hardship for those in occupied lands.

Shortened Life Expectancy – Hinson, his wife, and veteran son all died early deaths attributed to the strain of combat and the occupation.

It would be interesting to hear from other SurvivalBlog readers who have read this book, as to what they have gleaned from it. – T.J.