Benton Barracks


This is a post not on writing, or self-publishing, but on history I’ve dug up during research for my books.

Benton Barracks appears in my current WIP Retreat. These barracks were constructed out of boards at the beginning of the war in St. Louis, Mo.

As you can kind of see from the above drawing, Benton barracks was arranged in what one soldier said was a ” big oblong square”. Barely visible, on the side facing outward are cookhouses.

I believe that the center two-story building was the sort of “command center” of Benton Barracks.

The different quarters were all connected together, with frame partitions dividing up the different companies.

Unfortunately, none of this barracks currently remains.

One of the commanders of Benton Barracks was a general later to become famous or infamous, depending on your side, William T. Sherman.


William T. Sherman

There was a controversy about paroled prisoners that took place at Benton Barracks. At times in the Civil War, prisoners from one side would be released on the promise that they would not fight against their captors until they were exchanged. After the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburgh Landing, some Union parolees were encamped at Benton Barracks.

The controversy erupted when a superior officer commanded them to stand guard duty. The troops thought doing guard duty was a violation of their parole and refused. Many were then promptly put in the guard house.

Some of those soldiers were from Iowa, my home state, and they sent a letter to the governor of Iowa, Samuel Kirkwood.

Necessity compels us, the undersigned, this Sabbath evening to state to you that we have orders this evening from General Schofield to be fully armed and equipped so that we can relieve the Twenty-third Missouri, now on duty. Guards to be detailed this evening to report at guard mounting tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock, and there is not a man who has signed this paper but would prefer to return to their Southern prisons before perjury.

The commander here has given orders for us to stand guard. This every one of us will not do even to a man, believing it to be a violation of our oath. Already forty of us are in the guard-house and the rest are ready to go at a moment’s notice to be tried by a court-martial. 

Their objection were overruled by Major-General Henry Halleck. He said that guard duty, policing of the camp, and fatigue duty were for the soldier’s own good.

I just thought that these little tidbits were interesting, if you want to learn more about Benton Barracks visit this site. Thanks for reading!




Sneak Peek into Retreat

Recently, I rewrote parts of an early chapter of my WIP Retreat. (Notice the hook sentence) This where I re-introduce readers to the MC, Ben, and introduce them to his interior conflict, as well as the setting.

Possible Retreat Cover Blurry Background With Words

Also, notice how much conflict there is.

I killed him. Ben glanced through the window at the swirling eddy of dead leaves. He stood, a twinge of pain darting up his leg. Fire spurted through his chest. He smacked the kitchen table with his open hand.

His mother turned from the stove. “Benjamin!” Her blue eyes widened. “What’s coming over you?”

Ben plopped into his chair and laid his head on the table, a headache blossoming in the back of his skull. If only he had been able to save Mr. Jim. He could have, he could have, but he had rescued Fred instead.


“I’m sorry, Mother. I’ve just not been myself lately.”

Cool hands kneaded his shoulders. “You haven’t been the same, ever since you got back from the war two months ago. I thought it would get better once your leg healed but ….”

“If we’d just hear from him. Mr. Jim’s still missing. I … I don’t know if he’s still alive.”

She kissed his head. “Just have faith.”

Ben nodded, more out of habit than belief. Faith in a fallacy wasn’t faith, but denial. And the time for denial had to end. Maybe John would have some advice. He stood, grabbed his coat from the back of his chair, and plodded toward the door.

“Where are you going?”

Ben dropped his head. Of course she would ask that. “John’s.”

“Going to ask him to go with you to deliver Shelby’s letter?”

A sigh hissed from Ben’s lips. “No, I don’t think so.”

“You really should.”

Ben turned his head around glaring at her, hoping that she’d stop. “Go ….” Her eyebrows drew together. Angry or hurt, really didn’t matter. His chest ached. If only he could just mourn in silence, without hurting anybody else.

What do you guys think? Would you keep on reading? Do you feel for Ben or is he too much of a jerk 🙂 ?

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Five Writing Podcasts

I’m not sure about you, but whenever I have to a chore, I like to listen to something. Here’s several writing podcasts that you should check out.

untitled-design-3-e1445105278110#1 is the Very Serious Writing Show

In all seriousness 😉 , this podcast is never always about writing, but it’s pretty much always entertaining. This is definitely my favorite podcast.


#2 is the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast

It’s hosted by K.M. Weiland (who has become one of my favorite authors). If you’re looking for tips on writing, check this one out. She is a plotter and story structure aficionado, so this podcast is slanted toward that style, but pantsers will learn things as well.

#3 is Writing Excuses


This is another show that explores the craft of writing. It’s jointly hosted by four authors, so you’re basically listening to them discuss. Certain episodes do contain bad language and other possibly objectionable content.


#4 is the Creative Pen

The predominant topics on this show are those that pertain to self-publishing, so if that’s the direction you want to take, this one’s for you. Some episodes contain bad language and objectionable content.

#5 is Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Wrting

I haven’t listened to this one as much as the previous four, but if you have a question about the nuts and bolts of sentences, listen to this podcast or visit her website.


Bonus Podcast: Verses in Vox

This last one isn’t really related to helping you write better, but if you’re a fan of classic poetry, you’ll enjoy these dramatized edition of these poems.

If you have any other writing related radio shows or podcasts please share in the comments below.

A Man Called Outlaw: Book Review

This is another book by K.M. Weiland, set in the wild, wild west.

51hqveud3nl-_sx320_bo1204203200_All his life Shane Lassiter had revered the man who stood in place of the father he had never known. Nathaniel Wilcock had taken Shane into his own home, loved him as a son, and placed within his grasp one of the largest ranches in the Wyoming Territory.

But Shane had heard the family saga. He knew the whispers about the fugitive gunman who stood against Wilcock during the land wars that had rocked the valley almost thirty years ago. In Nathaniel Wilcock’s eyes, the gunman was nothing better than a vigilante and an outlaw, and as such he had died. To the people of Hangtree, he was a hero—a martyr who had stood against corrupt power and injustice.

When Wilcock’s greed moves him against the only woman Shane has ever loved—a woman who holds the secret that could resurrect everything for which the outlaw fought—Shane finds himself forced into a place not so very different from that of the western outlaws thirty years ago. He must make a decision, the shadow of which will forever be cast over the lives of all those he loves. It is a decision between truth and power—between honor and life—between right and wrong.

Before I get into the review, I first have to say that there are two storylines, one twenty or so years before the other.


Andrew, the MC of the first storyline was a man with a violent past. Yet he settles down in Hangree and does his very best to do the right thing. He was definitely my favorite character.

Anna Cassidy, owner of the targeted ranch (during the second storyline) is stubborn, yet sweet.

Judge Wilcock is a man who will stop at nothing to grow his ranch, yet he loves his daughter and Shane.

Shane was an interesting character. He wanted to do the right thing, yet he didn’t want to be disloyal to Judge Wilcock.

4 stars


Like I wrote before, the plot is divided into different storylines. One twenty or so years before the other. K.M. Weiland did a good job of including the essential parts of story structure in both storylines (both had midpoints, climaxes, etc.).

In my personal opinion, I enjoyed the older storyline more, basically because of the climactic scene.

Much of the conflict in this story is between Judge Wilcock and the other ranchers in the area, with Anna Cassidy’s ranch, the Sundally, in particular.

The dual plotlines were vital for this story, but I’m not sure if I really liked it, though it was neat to see how the different characters fitted together.

3.5 stars


There were love stories in this book, something I’m absolutely fine with. There is some kissing but nothing really objectionable.

4 stars


This book wasn’t a constant gunfight, but when the characters came to blows, it was great.

K.M. Weiland uses what may be trope in Westerns, the good guy runinnng out of bullets in his six-shooter. But it’s different because the character thinks that he’s used his last shot, but he shoots once more before the revolver’s empty.

4.5 stars



This book is set in nineteenth century Wyoming, in a small town called Hangtree. I’ve not read a whole lot of Westerns, but the setting seemed to be pretty standard.

I thought the attention to detail in relation to horses and how they would be mounted, or their unsaddled was interesting. It added a sense of realism to the story, though I don’t know hardly a thing about horses.

The irony about the name of the town “Hangtree” was pretty cool, though you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what I’m talking about. 😉

4 stars


Standing for justice and making the decision to the right thing, even when you know that the whole system is rigged against you.

This is a serious book, with a bittersweet ending.

4.5 stars

Should You Read this Book?

Yes, I would rank it below Storming, but it’s still a very solid book. If you’re a fan of Westerns, then you should definitely read this book.

You can buy the book on Amazon or at K.M. Weiland’s website.

I received a free digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.