I have a character in Out of Control, book #1 of my Kincaid Bride’s series, the youngest brother Seth, who spent time in Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.
So I’m just researching Andersonville to find for sure where it was and when it opened and closed. No sense having poor old Seth stuck in a prison that had been closed down for two years before he got captured, right? And this is all backstory. This is NOT important. We’re talking maybe two or three sentences in the whole book. But little details like this, for writers, become maddening and fascinating. All I needed was the where and when. I could’ve gotten that in two minutes on Wikipedia. So did I give it two minutes and get back to my manuscript?
I ended up reading and reading and reading. It was horrible and engrossing. A real time sink for me, and yet I couldn’t tear myself away. I tell people that I hate research, but the REASON I hate it is because I get sucked in it, drawn deeper, lured down side trails, moving farther and farther from what I originally was hunting for. Such was Andersonville. And today I’m not even going to write about the prison, which could be ten posts on its own. The starvation, the brutality, awful.
No, what I found was a group called Mosby’s Raiders. I think I’d heard this term before. Mosby’s Raiders. But I didn’t connect it to Andersonville. If anything I’d have put the group in a category with Quantrill’s Raiders in Kansas who wreaked havoc after the war. Further research reveals a video game called Mosby’s Raiders and a singing group, so that’s maybe why I’ve heard of it.
Mosby’s Raiders was a group within the walls of Andersonville. They were thieves who attacked the other prisoners. Since everyone was starving it might be understandable that people would become savages in their fight for survival, but Mosby, who’s name was William “Mosby” Collins of the 144th New York was a thug.
He led a group of up to 700 men armed with clubs, slingshots, brass knuckles and homemade knives. And he wasn’t just surviving, he was getting rich.
But this STILL isn’t what I want to talk about today. Within Andersonville a group of men emerged who called themselves the Regulators, and they are the focus of today’s post. The Regulators were given police-like power by the head of Andersonville. They led a force of men who rounded up over 200 of these raiders and brought them to trial.
On July 11, 1864, six of the leading raiders were hanged, ending their control of the prison. So, six men are hanged, what of the other 194? And those are the ones they caught? There were rumors of up to 700 Raiders, remember?
After the executions the regulators, led by Key (this is the only name I could find for the leader of the regulators), knowing how many men were left that were loyal to the raiders, were in constant danger of assassination if they remained inside. The head of Andersonville found a way to protect them. He got them assigned as nurses and ward-masters in the hospital, which separated them from the general populations.
The accounts I read of the hanging were riveting. The prisoners loathed the men who were hanged. But it was also Yankee soldiers hanging other Yankee soldiers while the Confederate guards looked on. So much conflicting emotion was involved.
So this was my inspiration for my next book series. These Regulators. And remember this is all well after the war is over. But what if?………(Authors always use What If?) What if these men remained friends after the war? This would be a huge bond between them. These would be righteous men, men who would do what is right even when it was terribly hard. They would be used to having each other’s backs. They would trust each other completely.