While my characters are all fictitious, parts of their back story are often based on real historical figures or events. For Jeremiah Ransom, I drew upon the tragic story of Tod Carter.
Theodrick Carter was born in 1844 in Franklin, Tennessee. Tod most likely received a classical education at Harpeth Academy in Franklin. He aspired to be a lawyer. In 1861, he joined Company H of the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment of the Confederate Army. The bright Tod was quickly promoted to the rank of Captain in the Quartermaster Department, according to records found in the National Archives in Washington. On October 24 he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster.
Tod also passed his time as War Correspondent from Middle Tennessee for The Chattanooga Daily Rebel, writing under the name, “Mint Julep” where he detailed camp life under his friend and (then) young colonel, Thomas Benton Smith.
In November, 1864 the 20,000 strong Army of Tennessee crossed the Tennessee River at Tuscumbia and Florence, Alabama, and marched toward Columbia, Tennessee. Captain Carter had not returned home to Franklin since that day three and one-half years before when he had enlisted in the Confederate Army so you can imagine how anxious he was to reunite with his family. He did not, however, expect to find the Union Army heavily entrenched outside his beloved home. Knowing his family was behind enemy lines, Tod Carter drew his sword and dashed forward on his horse, Rosencrantz. Despite orders from Smith he sought to lead the charge. His horse plunged and those near him knew he had been struck. He had been mortally wounded only about 525 feet southwest of his home.
After the battle, Tod was borne home on a litter carried by two soldiers from Alabama. Surgeons operated and removed the bullet from over his eye, but their efforts were in vain. As Tod slipped away, his sister was heard to remark, “Brother’s come home at last.”
Comparison to Jeremiah Ransom
Can a heart still love once it stops beating?
In Eternal, Jeremiah Ransom grew up on his family’s plantation. The youngest of three sons, he made a promise to his parents that he would remain home and study law while his older brothers went away to fight. After the death of his brothers, an enraged Jeremiah defied his parents and ran away to join the Confederate Army, catching up with Hood’s army just outside of Decatur, Alabama.
Here is an excerpt from Eternal where the heroine, Wren Darby, after having a brief encounter with the ghost of a young man, reads a magazine article about the history of her new home:
I brushed my fingers along his name. “Jeremiah Ransom,” I whispered. An unexplainable knowing trickled through me. Jeremiah Ransom was the ghost I had seen. I bit my bottom lip and continued reading.
Bedraggled and war-weary, the Army of Tennessee had passed through Mt. Pleasant and Columbia on their way north to the ill‑fated Battle of Franklin where they marched into virtual slaughter at the hands of Union forces. Jeremiah’s parents had pleaded with him to leave the army but he’d refused, determined to avenge the deaths of his brothers.
During the fighting in Franklin, Jeremiah had been struck in the temple with a minie ball, which I assumed was some sort of Civil War bullet. Delirious, he’d survived only long enough to be brought back home.
The next statement sent a shiver of shock through me. I read it aloud. “The surgeon operated on Jeremiah Ransom in the room where he’d been born.”
My gaze drifted to the threadbare braided rug that barely concealed the bloodstained floor.
Trembling, I squinted at the blur of black ink on the page and forced myself to focus in order to finish reading--even though I knew what the article would reveal next.
“After the bullet was removed, Jeremiah Ransom languished in his bed for two days before he died and was buried alongside his grandfather in the family plot.”