Civil War Saga: Rough Enough Jumps on Amazon’s Charts!

I had an absolutely Great  visit to St. Louis, MO this past week to speak on my book, Rough Enough.

The saga of Richard Clow’s Civil War and Frontier life hit two large groups of extremely supportive history buffs at the U.S. Grant Historical Society in a talk sponsored by the Fontbonne University Book Club in St. Louis

The Book club is associated with the CBS Radio Station, KMOX and sponsored by KMOX’s own guru of the airways, Charlie Brennan…kmox-charlie-brennan-book-of…club.


In addition, the Military History Club at the Missouri Athletic Club(MAC)…/Military-History-Club.aspx gave me a resounding welcome for two talks: first at a luncheon talk inside the Down Town MAC followed by a super evening meal with the club at their monthly sit-down dinner event at the MAC West! Associated with this latter event was a Military History expert and student of Civil War History, David J. Newmann who demonstrated the loading and use of the British Enfield. This was most commonly used by the Confederate troops as they had a British war connection for supplies and was the British Pattern 1853 Enfield. This was a long barreled, three-band, single-shot, muzzle-loading, cap-primed, rifle musket.

It was a great two day event. More on the dynamic interview style of KMOX’s dynamic Charlie Brennan, the Military HIstory Club at the MAC and the U.S. Grant Site in later blogs! Enjoy!

Book SEOing: (Search Engine Optimization) for “Rough Enough”

I was run aground with ideas for ways of getting my book information out on the web!

Much like this 1913 postcard owned by the McBee family files , which was taken by my great grandfather, Richard H. Clow, of the Ship Anvil stranded on the Jetty off Florence Oregon in 1913!

S.S. Anvil aground - Florence Jetty background 001

Then I took a three day set of classes offered by John Ellis of <> at the Willamette Writer’s Conference. 

It was all about Search Engine Optimization on the web using key words that will associate you with the right terms, correct resources and other blogs to get you the most exposure possible!>))  WOW!

So how does this apply to my nonfiction book: Rough Enough?

Well, if nobody knows that Richard H. McBee Jr. published the book because they can’t find his name among a dozen other Richard McBee’s, on Google, then,  it’s pretty unlikely that anyone is going to ever run across the book in Googling that  name.  Likewise, if the short title of the book, Rough Enough doesn’t come up when someone Googles some key words like: Civil War Diary, or Civil War Sagas, or Fort Buford, ND …….   You get the gist: WHO IS EVER GOING TO FIND ME! Even at:

Depressing thought for an author : Buried under 100,000 other titles”?

So, SEO and John Ellis’s  ideas, recommendations and tools look like a Light at the end of a long dark tunnel. 

My first task: Decide on which Search Engine Words to Use!

Then to publish more Blogs on Rough Enough, and my other book Kalahari, and my current non fiction writings on Seashells and my fiction writing on Drug Wars.  Thus gaining Control of some key web space not already occupied by a Guru of incomparable STRENGTH.  

Thus I will gain my Power! Now! Off to my Google + account!  Awayyyyyy:>)))

More later from Rick McBee, aka Kalahari Rick!Book Cover Rough Enough jpg

Reader Questions for “Rough Enough” Set#11, Chapt 8: What Modern Spectacles compare to the Civil War Grand Review?

As I look at pictures of the Grand Review in Washington DC following the end of the Civil War, I try to imagine what it must have been like to be either in the crowds watching on that day or on the stands, in the windows, on the roof-tops and in the side streets as The Grand Army of the Potomac paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue 12 abreast. Eighty thousand men passing in review! Wow what a spectacle to have been a part of. What went through the minds of Richard Clow and those people on that day!

Then the next day we have the encore of Sherman’s Army of Georgia, some sixty-five thousand men strong parading with horses, bands, and flourishes, not to be outdone by the previous day’s hoopla!  And in this group is Richard’s brother, John Sherwin Clow probably thinking the same kinds of thoughts as those men of the previous day.

I have never been in that kind of a mass of humans during my entire life. I’ve been crowded and nearly squeezed to death in the masses of humanity celebrating in the city square in Munich during Oktoberfest, but I don’t think those numbers of humans were more than a five thousand.  I’ve been in massive stadiums with over twenty thousand people at once, I’ve seen parades personally in Europe, Africa and the Americas in which thousands watched and thousands marched to honor presidents, mourn state funerals, celebrate religious festivals and show off military might, but I don’t think even the armies and funerals gave us numbers like the Grand Review.  In fact, in several cases I felt almost claustrophobic and lost in the waves of humanity around me when I couldn’t see  a way out of the crush!

What giant human gatherings have you participated in during your life that would compare to the Grand Review? I don’t mean watched on TV, I mean been in with the mob! Were they military? religious? athletic?  How did you feel? Were you ever in a part of the mass where you knew you were completely at the whim of the movement of the mob?  What feelings go through your mind when that happens?

Review: Michael Crichton’s book Airframe

Crichton has a true best seller here that holds the attention all the way through the 400+ pages.

I like the fact that his protagonist is a gutsy lady who is working with a bunch of engineers in an aircraft plant. She knows how to hold her own and that takes a lot when you know how engineers manage their interpersonal relations and staff.

I like the portrayal of the television media for what many of them are; vampires for the latest blood and gore, willing to sacrifice the real explanation of a complex problem for the simple answer which brings off the instantaneous hype in 30 second bytes.

The story line is fleshed out with a few side trips to examine our heroine’s family life and extra curricular bedtime, but not so much that it detracts from a really great story about how we view airplane disasters, how little we as the general public really know about keeping a million pounds of steel in the air for 12 hours at a time and how blase’ we have become about safe comfortable aircraft travel.

The behind the scenes plant operations, the union actions and the administrative infighting for power are straight out of the jungle of human relations. I love the way Casey is finally able to turn the tables on the unscrupulous duo of Marder and Richman.  We’ll miss tha fact that Crichton is no longer with us and able to continue to stimulate our imaginations to such a high degree.

I didn’t put the book down for the last 200 pages despite the dishes piling up and the dog scratching at the door.  Read the first half in bits to absorb the data and then save the last half for when you have a real chance to break away and complete it in one marathon sitting!

Book Review: Harlan Coben’s “The Final Detail”

I love a book that starts off with a first sentence that is like a three pronged hook that just reaches out and grabs you and leaves you flopping like a carp on the line. Where else but in a Harlan Coben book do you get as starter like this: “Myron lay sprawled next to a knee-knockingly gorgeous brunette clad only in a Class-B-felony bikini….” You got me even though she really didn’t have a lot to do with the murder!

Then I love the hulk-sized lady wrestler, Big Cyndi, who is big, tough, ugly as sin, yet smart enough to save all Myron’s info when the cops snag his computers.  What a gal, faithful and willing to act as backup if Myron doesn’t have his alter-ego Win available.

Esmeralda is innocent from the start, Myron knows it, Big Cyndi knows it, yet she’s framed so completely that it really looks like she’s going to get fried for the murder of Myron’s baseball pitching client, Clu Haide. As a tag-team wrestling partner with Big Cyndi she can take care of herself.

Now the real character who kind of sends chills down your back is Myron’s alter-ego friend, Win. A man rich enough to find a guy hiding out in the Caribbean on a lonely island with the bikini girl. A guy who is passively aggressive to the point of your not knowing when he will take on the next couple of thugs in a pizza parlor, shoot up the town, intimidate a mobster, or just remove someone to clear the air a bit.

Coben has a knack for writing this kind of adventure, detective fiction and is well worth reading whether you are one a plane, at home or out with the lady in the B-Class felony bikini.

[[ASIN:1589827139 Rough Enough: Including Richard H. Clow’s Letters and Diary from the Civil and Indian Wars, 1865 – 1875]]

John Sherwin (Sher) Clow Civil War Vet. – Brother of Richard H. Clow

“John Sherwin Clow, 1836 – 1909, and the Civl War, Compiled by Catherine Clow, his daughter by the second wife. Closed Stacks: University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, E476.69.C55

John Sherwin (Sher) Clow, was a Civil War Veteran and one of the older brothers of CW Vet. Richard Headley Clow, about whom I have already written a ton, including a book.

“Sher” is the nick name he used to differentiate himself from his father , John Stevenet Clow and which is used by Richard in his letters when communicating with his sister during the war.

The manuscript is 33 pages long and documents daughter Catherine’s written history of her father. It adds original information about the war both from the front, but also from the side of the women who waited at home for their men.

For instance: John Clow’s wife was… Celinda Burnap Clow, sister to Colonel William Burnap.

JOhn Clow enlisted and was mustered into service in Rochester, Minnesota on Sept. 3, 1864 and was paid a bounty of $33.33 with $66.67 due. He went to Ft. Snelling, St. Paul, Minn. and was immediately mustered into Co. K., 4th Regt. Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. On Sept. 19, 1864 the 4th Minnesota Regt. was ordered to Altoona, GA and attached to the 1st Div, 15th Corps, Army of Tennessee. Initially assigned to gurad duty on a million rations in Altoona. they were attacked on Oct. 5th 1864 by French’s Division attempting to recapture the town.

John Clow’s letter of 18 “Grandma” (Sarah Wyman Redman), 1864 says: ” We left Altoona on the 12th of Nov. and arrived here (near Savannah) having marched a distance of nearly 250 miles. We came by way of Atlanta, McDonough, Clinton and Gordon, stopping occasionally to tear up railroads, burn buoldings, cotten, etc……The notes in my diary would fill a volume…There were 17 tons of mail came yesterday for Sherman’s army….”

A great long letter – you will want to read the whole thing.  Also another written by his older sister, Agnes, to his wife, Celinda about health of the family and other women’s concerns. Well worth reading. I’ll do a bote on parts of it in another blog.

The manuscript can be gotten in full from the university library in Oshkosh. Cost is $5.00. Well worth it!  The real point here as you look at the captivating photo of the man is to note his intensity as well as dress.

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Reader Questions for “Rough Enough,” Set #10, Chapter #7: How Bad Does the War have to be to be “Rough Enough?”

In Chapter 7 we follow Richard Clow beyond the intense shelling and attacks on April 1, 1865 into the second day of the assault in which Petersburg finally falls to the combined Union forces and General Lee begins the long painful flight to the West across much of the State of Virginia to end at Appomattox Court House and surrender.

Richard Clow only writes 6 lines to his sister on the 9th of April, giving some indication of his own state of exhaustion after following the Confederate retreat across the hills of Virginia.

“I am alive and in good health. We have been marching for some days and I have not had a chance to write. I can only say a few words now while the Regt. is in a large field waiting for orders.

I am quite well and just as leave fight as eat. Write and tell Father so I never heard from him since I enlisted. I expect to be home soon for we have done our part.

I was one of the first in the rebel fort April 2nd. It was rough enough.”

When I first read this letter, I was struck by those last two words “rough enough.”

I thought to myself, “What does it mean for a soldier who has been fairly verbal in describing his experiences to just say to his sister that it was “rough enough?”

Since he has already described some pretty difficult situations, What is it that he is not telling us?  Is it because he in fact is too exhausted? Doesn’t he have enough time? Or is it something that he has yet to come to terms with and put in enough perspective to be able to verbalize?

He doesn’t write another letter for six days (April 15), but when he does, it is a mixture of worry, hope and perhaps some despair as to what has happened and what will happen.  It begins with some optimism but you can see that there has been a lot of stress:

…”I am well and having a good time at foraging as the army has never been here before. The boys know how to relish good things as we have been cut very short rations for some time….”

Then we get the crux of the problem after another ten lines:

“I lost my best chumb in the battle of the 2nd of April. He was hit in the side of the neck….the only hope was to press forward amid the the shower of lead and iron…”

The letter end on another note that shows how his world view has changed:

…”I will be back on the old farm again some day, I hope.”

Nothing is completely sure in life after going through a war.

What would it take for you to say,”It was rough enough?”

Reader Questions for “Rough Enough” set #9, Chapter #6: How do you attack across these kinds of defenses?

2011 Gigi, Sierras, home, shell reatkes of Oct 132

On April 1, 1965, Richard Clow describes a part of one of the charges on probably Fort Mahone, often described as one of the strongest built forts on the Confederate line around Petersburg.

“We could hear each charge they made. The rebs would run with a kind of yelp like so many hounds and our boys would would rush on cheer and shout which could be heard for many miles around.”

A part of the charge would have been over open ground. But once the charge got close to the fort, they faced walls of abatis and fraises which consisted of sharpened brush and stakes respectively, in front of mud filled steep walled ditches.

The picture above only show a small portion of a defensive pattern outside a fort. Here you can see an approximation of the shape of Union Fort Steadman with those walls and trenches with cannon peeking out. A formidable obstacle.

2011 Gigi, Sierras, home, shell reatkes of Oct 158

The men looking out over the cannons had a different view.  Their flanks had obstakles over which the enemy had to climb or skirt, and their cannons peered right through various portals in the for to strafe the enemy as they came forward.  In seeing these on the battlefield of Petersburg, you realize why the battles became blood baths. 2011 Gigi, Sierras, home, shell reatkes of Oct 134

2011 Gigi, Sierras, home, shell reatkes of Oct 135

It is small wonder that Richard Clow in a later letter note that, “The streams flowed red…”

How do attack such defenses without loosing 1000 or 5000 men?

Reader Questions for “Rough Enough,” Set #8, Chapter #5: What Happens When Soldiers get too Accostumed to the Death and Destruction of War? Did These Men Develop PTSD Type Symptoms?

The brain of a person who is associated with the long term violence and death of warfare has to either come to terms with that situation and rationalize some of the things that they see, or they begin to go crazy.  This is seen as why soldiers returning from the front lines can have a hard time communicating what they experienced, saw, or did when relating to their non-combatant friends and families.

Consider the following point:

A. We hear Richard Clow trying to depersonalize the other side and ‘laugh it off’ in Chapter 4 when he notes, “It looks so funny to see the ditches full of dead Johneys (his spelling) as they call them.”

B. Several weeks later, around March 12,  we begin to hear some different things in Richard’s letters:

1.  He recognizes that he is in a vulnerable spot at Fort Alexander Hays on te front lines when he says, “…it is a rather weak place compared to the others (meaning the other forts) and we expect they will make a break here if they do anywhere.”

2. He recognizes that he is not immortal and invincible when he becomes careless on picket duty when sniping at the other side and was nearly killed, “…how the balls did sing around the pit was a caution. One struck the pit just a few inches above my head and fell down in some water. I fired 75 rounds of ammunition that night and it was then they fired at the flash of my gun.”

3. He realizes that the other guys, the Confederates, are also human beings who have human emotions, “…the rebels that come into our lines are dressed in gray uniforms all torn to pieces and they look very worn and discouraged.”

4. There is an almost cavalier attitude at times about death and the dead remains of the Confederate soldiers, “We go into the woods here and kick about solid shot and shell and skulls as many as we take a notion to.”

With these kinds of phrases being sent home in letters, it is probable that what the men were exposed to was significantly worse and these thoughts were putting things into a warrior perspective which may have not been healthy once they got back to civilization in Boston after the end of the war.

The documentation of the period would indicate that there may very well have been a number of men who developed what we today call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, except for a few keenly observant doctors of the time, for the most part battle fatigue was simply treated with rest, a few good meals and then back to the front lines.

What kinds of similarities do you find in today’s combat descriptions of men on the front lines when they suddenly realize that war is not all that the folks back home who glamorize and glorify it would have you believe?

Reader Questions for “Rough Enough” Set #7 – Chapter #4: Can You Empathize with Richard Clow on This Passage?

Here’s a passage from “Rough Enough,” my Civil War book detailing Richard Clow’s Enlistment, Training, Combat, Reenlistment for the Frontier, Indian Conflicts, Marriage, Life on the farm, Mining for Deadwood Gold and moving on to Oregon.

Do you empathize with this section of his letter dated Feb. 23, 1865 on board the Steamship De Molay?

    “I had rather a hard time on board the boat. They put 350 of us in the after hold. It was dark as pitch almost and only one small hole to get out by. There was just room for us all to stand up in it and when it came to lie down in it we were five tier deep and if you wanted to get out from the back of the crud you would have to crawl over all the rest of them and they would put a knife into you. A great many were served this way. I came through all right though.”

For me, although I can never truly understand the living “hell” that those men went through, it does bring back memories of two awful, yet very memorable   passages across the Atlantic: one in the Spring of 1960 (March),  and the other in the Fall of 1960  (October) aboard the Dutch Ship Maasdam and the German Ship Seven Seas respectively.

Our only source of escape from seasickness (the illness itself, the smell of the illness and the messes of puke left everywhere)  during the five days of storms on each of those 7 day voyages was to wake up, grab your clothes and get out into the cold and the rain on deck. Then nip into the dining room, wolf your food and get back out on deck again before you know what came up all over the place.

By standing in the rear of the ship out of the direct wind and rain and watching the horizon and waves we managed to hold things together, eat a couple more meals and wait until dark. Then it was a mad dash to the bunk in a tiny cabin with six of us in it and fall asleep to the rocking and not get sick. If you went into the toilet, you had to literally scream to prevent yourself from gagging due to the smell and shut your eyes while sitting on the can to prevent yourself from seeing the mess all around you.

The crew couldn’t keep up with the upchucks!

The only enjoyment during the day, once we got into the storms was to brave the wind and icy rain and follow the safety rope handrails to the open foredeck near the bow where a three foot high sheet metal rail stood fast against the storm.

There we would stand, faces into the wind, squinting our eyes, laughing, and watching the bow of the ship bury itself into the depths of a giant wave.      Then, watching as the bow rose up towards the sky and the ship plowed over the mighty crest, a wall of water was thrown back towards us. Across the decks it came rushing,  reaching higher than our heads. With grins like the fools we were at ages 16 and 11, my brother and I would wait until the last possible moment when the wall of water was almost upon us.

Then with shrieks of laughter we would duck down into the protective hollow behind the wall as the water roared and crashed into the wall and above our heads, leaving us unscathed. With fire in our eyes we would repeat the adventure for hours until a poorly timed duck soaked us to the skin or a passing crew member shepherded us back to safety with a warning.

Back to the acid stinking air of the hold, back to thoughts of seasickness and back to dreams of doing it again tomorrow.

So, You’ve heard from me.  How do you relate to Richard Clow’s experience?

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