They considered themselves “Lee’s Body Guard,” cavalrymen specifically recruited to serve as scouts, couriers and guides for General Robert E. Lee. Though their battle experiences might pale compared to those of soldiers under J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton, the men of the 39th Virginia served crucial roles in the Confederate army. From the fields of Second Manassas to Appomattox Court House, they were privy to the inner workings of the Confederate high command.
They were also firsthand witnesses to the army’s victories and triumphs and to its tragedies and trials, from losing Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville to losing the opportunity to win the war at Gettysburg. Award-winning author Michael C. Hardy chronicles the experiences of this unique group of Confederate cavalrymen.
About the Author, Michael C. Hardy:
Mention North Carolina’s role during the Civil War, and at some point, the conversation will include the name of award-winning author and historian Michael C. Hardy. Michael’s large body of work on the Old North State and the War Between the States includes numerous books, articles, and blog posts on topics ranging from specific battles, regiments, and personalities, to the experiences of North Carolinians before, during and after the war.
History has been a life-long passion for Michael. He participated in his first Civil War re-enactment at the age of ten in 1982. Since then, he has participated in hundreds of events in locations ranging from south Florida to Pennsylvania. Some of the highlights include the 125th Gettysburg; the 130th Murfreesboro; the 135th Antietam; the 135th Gettysburg, which was the largest re-enactment ever held; the 135th Nashville; the 135th Chickamauga; and the 140th Manassas. Michael has served in nearly every position imaginable, from medical steward, to color sergeant, to colonel of an infantry battalion.
He has also volunteered as an interpreter at local museums and state and national parks, and has presented hundreds of programs for schools, libraries, scout troops, and churches. Michael has spent a vast amount of time researching the day-to-day lives of mid-nineteenth-century Americans in an effort to effectively communicate the experiences of the past to people today.
Michael’s efforts to preserve, document, and teach history have grown far beyond re-enacting and living history.
He is a serious reader and book collector. His personal library contains hundreds of books on nineteenth-century American history. Two specific sections of the collection are nearly exhaustive, featuring virtually every text on Robert E. Lee and just about every book on North Carolina and the Civil War.
A graduate of the University of Alabama, Michael began his professional writing career in the mid-1990s; his first published piece was a biography on Brig. Gen. Collett Leventhorpe in North and South Magazine. Since then, Michael has continued to research and write about battles, people, and places. He has a particular passion for regimentals. So far, his regimentals have focused on two groups with very different histories and wartime experiences: the Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops was a Tar Heel regiment that fought in some of the most storied battles of the war’s Eastern Theater and lost more men to death than any other Tar heel regiment, while the Fifty-eighth north Carolina Troops, the largest infantry regiment from North Carolina, fought in the Western Theater and was plagued by record numbers of desertions.
His first brigade-level study was 2018’s General Lee’s Immortals: The Battles and Campaigns of the Branch-Lane Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia 1861-1865. Michael has also devoted his energies to crafting much-needed histories of battles, such as Hanover Court House (1862) and the Brooksville-Bayport Raid (1864).
He also has focused on the war’s impact on specific areas, such as western North Carolina and East Tennessee, with volumes like Kirk’s Civil War Raids along the Blue Ridge.
The subject of remembrance is one dear to Michael’s heart, and has been showcased in Remembering North Carolina’s Confederates, as well as in his 2011 books North Carolina Remembers Gettysburg and North Carolina in the Civil War.
In addition to his books, he has continued to contribute focused and meticulously researched articles to national publications such as America’s Civil War and Gettysburg Magazine.
Since 1995, Michael has lived in the mountains of western North Carolina, an ideal location for his work, as it places him about five hours from either Atlanta, the heart of the Western Theater of the War, or Richmond, Virginia, the heart of the Eastern Theater of the War.
Plus, western North Carolina, where some of Michael’s ancestors first settled in the 1770s, has plenty of its own stories, some of which Michael has been privileged to tell in books and articles.
Michael is a six-time winner of the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians.
In 2009 he was presented the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Superior Achievement Award from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, both for his work in preserving Confederate history.
In October 2010, Michael was honored as the North Carolina Historian of the Year by the North Carolina Society of Historians.
Michael consults with a number other authors and organizations in their work, answering a legion of emails from researchers ranging from amateur genealogists to scholars at major museums, libraries, and educational institutions.
He has assisted several museums with displays about the Civil War, and at times even loans articles from his own collection for display.
Michael has also worked as a historical consultant for several well-known fiction writers, including New York Times best-seller Sharyn McCrumb, answering questions about the Civil War or western North Carolina. Through his very popular North Carolina and the Civil War blog, Michael shares his research and insights and invites conversation from readers. In 2017, he was featured as one of the historians in The American Heroes Channel series Blood And Fury: The American Civil War.
Michael regularly volunteers with a number of local historical societies and associations. He is a member of numerous national organizations, like the Civil War Trust, The Society of Civil War Historians, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He lives with his wife Elizabeth, an English professor at Mayland Community College and acclaimed literary scholar, and their amazing children Nathaniel and Isabella high up on the side of a mountain.
To learn more about Michael, visit www.michaelchardy.com.
Title: Lee’s Body Guard
Author: Michael C. Hardy
Publisher: Barnes and Noble
Pages: 192, Piece: $17.00