Patron Saints of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland

There’s something intriguing about the saints. One movie that really made me think about the way saints attract and influence us is the movie, The Saint, with Val Kilmer. Anyway, I wanted to make this post about the patron saint of my three favorite countries: Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.  I intend to visit them all some day.


The patron saint of wales is St. David. He was born around Pembrokeshire and died about A.D. 601. March 1 is St. David’s Day and the Welsh traditionally wear a leek or a daffodil. (Shakespeare alludes to this practice in Henry V). St. David was abbot-bishop at Mynyw (St. David’s). He was known for his opposition to heretics and founded over a dozen monasteries known for their extreme asceticism. His shrine at St. David’s was an important pilgrammage destination.


St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. He was the brother of Peter, a fisherman. His symbol is the saltire. (St. Andrew’s Cross was the origin of the state flag of Alabama and of the Confederate Battle Flag. St. Andrews (the city and famous golfing site) became a destination for pilgrims. His day is Nov. 30.


The patron saint of Ireland is of course, St. Patrick. (A.D. 389-461) There is more to say about him than I can post, but here are the lyrics to a popular song about him, written by Henry Bennet. The song is said to date back to the 1820s.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman, he came from decent people
He built a church in Dublin town and on it put a steeple
His father was a Gallagher, his mother was a Grady
His aunt was an O’Shaughnessy and his uncle was a Brady

The Wicklow hills are very high and so’s the hill of Howth, sir
But there’s a hill much higher still, much higher than them both, sir
From the top of this high hill Saint Patrick preached a sermon
Drove the frogs into the bogs and banished all the vermin

There’s not a mile in Eireann’s isle where dirty vermin muster
But there he put his dear forefoot and murdered them in clusters
The frogs went plop, the toads went flop, slapdash into the water
The snakes committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter

Nine hundred thousand reptiles blue he charmed with sweet discourses
And dined on them at Killaloe in soups and second courses
Blind worms crawling on the grass disgusted all the nation
Down to hell with a holy spell he changed the situation

No wonder that them Irish lads should be so gay and frisky
Sure Saint Patrick taught them that as well as making whisky
No wonder that the saint himself should understand distilling
His mother had a shebeen shop in the town of Enniskillen

O was I but so fortunate as to be back in Munster
I’d rebound unto that ground and nevermore should want, sir
There Saint Patrick planted corn, cabbages and praties
He had pigs galore, a gra a stor, altar boys and ladies

Songs from a Southern Point of View

Something You May Not Know About Lincoln:

One of the first targets of Lincoln and his administration as the Civil War was getting underway was the state of Maryland. He arrested legislators, citizens, the mayor and police chiefs of Baltimore, censored newspapers and arrested editors, abolished habeas corpus,  suppressed all political opposition, suppressed free elections, occupied Baltimore and other areas of the state with the military, and placed Baltimore under marshal law. (He did this other places too. In fact, DiLorenzo says in his fine book, The Real Lincoln, that Lincoln arrested over 13,000 political prisoners in the North!)

Ironically, Maryland’s present state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” commemorates Lincoln’s invasion, purge of pro-South leaders, and his takeover of the state. Though formerly allied with the Union against the South, there were many regiments from the state who fought with the South. It should also be added that Maryland remained a slave state in the war.

This site says this about the background of the song (the same site is also the source of the lyrics):

“Maryland, My Maryland” was adopted as the State song in 1939 (Chapter 451, Acts of 1939; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-307).
The nine-stanza poem, “Maryland, My Maryland,” was written by James Ryder Randall in April 1861. A native of Maryland, Randall was teaching in Louisiana in the early days of the Civil War, and he was outraged at the news of Union troops being marched through Baltimore. The poem articulated Randall’s Confederate sympathies. Set to the traditional tune of “Lauriger Horatius” (“O, Tannenbaum”), the song achieved wide popularity in Maryland and throughout the South.

Here are the lyrics:

The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Hark to an exiled son’s appeal,
My mother State! to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust,-
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day,
Come with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain-
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back again,
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!
I see the blush upon thy cheek,
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!
I hear the distant thunder-hum,
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum,
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

Scots Whae Hae (Confederate Version)

I transcribed the lyrics from the 12th Louisiana String Band, a fine group of Confederate musicians. In my Scots-Irish program, I often do the original version written by Robert Burns that records the words of Robert the Bruce to his men at the battle of Bannockburn. As so many Southerners were of Scottish origin, a Confederate version of the song should come as no surprise.

Rally round our country’s flag
Rally, boys, haste, do not lag,
Come from every vale and crag,
Sons of liberty

Northern vandals tread our soil,
Forth they come for blood and spoil,
To the homes we’ve made with toil,
Shouting slavery

Traitorous Lincoln’s bloody band
Now invades the freeman’s land
Armed with sword and firebrand,
Against the brave and free

Arm ye then for fray and fight
March ye forth by day and night
stop not till the foe’s in sight
sons of chivalry

In your veins the blood still flows
Of brave men who once arose
Burst the shackles of their foes,
Honest men and free

Rise then in your power and might
See the spoiler, brave the fight,
Strike for God, for truth for right.
Strike for liberty.

A Short Story About Rebel Rose: Confederate Spy

Rose O’Neal Greenhow is one of the most interesting women of the Civil War. I encourage you to read more about her. She was a spy for the Confederate Government. Here is a short story I wrote about her and her daughter. I’ve included a photo of Rose and Little Rose. Let me know what you think of the story.

Little Rose and the Confederate Cipher

Sacred Hearts Convent, England, 1871

The nuns here taught me that a “cipher” is a dark secret. My life’s been filled with dark secrets, and most of them the world will never know, and some of them I’ll never understand.

My father died not long after I was born, and I’ve no memory of him. I was only nine years old when my mother drowned in 1864. She had left England on a blockade runner, but the ship grounded on a sandbar off the coast of Virginia. Fearing capture by the Yankees, she tried to escape, but her rowboat overturned and the Confederate gold she carried dragged her to the ocean’s bottom. I still miss Mama, but I don’t cry for her like I did. I know I’m not the only child who lost her mama in the war of the South’s secession, but it doesn’t make losing mine any easier.

Sometimes I dream of the day Mama and I were arrested and sent to Old Capitol Prison. I had just looked out the window. “Lincoln’s Pinkerton man is back, Mama,” I said.

My mother, also named Rose, had been writing on a small piece of paper. The handwriting was strange to me. Confederate cipher she called it. She set down her reading glasses and dropped the pen into the inkwell. “Tell me what you see, Little Rose.”

“He’s outside talking with two Yankee soldiers. You want me to open the door?” I heard the man knocking.

“You know they’ve come to take me to prison.”

I nodded.

“My friends warned me.” She blew the blotting sand off the paper and rolled it into a tiny cylinder. “So, I want you to take this. Put in your stocking, and promise me no one will ever see it. Tell me, Little Rose.”

“I will never show it to a living soul.”

When I opened the door, the Pinkerton man strode past me and said, “Rose Greenhow, you and your daughter are under arrest for treason.” He nodded to the soldiers with him. “Search the house.”

“You’re going to arrest Little Rose too?” mother asked.

“Those are my orders.” He grinned cruelly. “As General Sherman said, ‘There is a class of people—men, women, and children—who must be killed or banished before we can hope for peace and order. To the secessionist . . .’

“Death is mercy,” my mother said. “I know what General Sherman thinks. I’ve entertained him in this very house. What are you looking for?”

“Information you’re intending to pass to the enemy,” he replied.

My mother glanced at me and smiled. “You’ll find no evidence of that here, sir.” I wanted to spit on this man and his guards who had come to arrest my mama. My ill will must have shown on my face because my mother placed her hand on my shoulder and said, “Rosey. Shhh.”

Old Capitol Prison was a terrible, dilapidated place. Once it had been a grand boardinghouse where she had been courted by men like Congressman John C. Calhoun. It wasn’t grand when I saw it. I still recall the gallows I could see through the iron bars of our window and the others there with us—blockade runners, spies, and Confederate general. There were even newspaper editors from the North who had dared to criticize Lincoln or Stanton or Seward.

We weren’t given much food in the five months we were there. Without the help of some of the other prisoners and people on the street who would slip us food, we would surely have starved to death. At times I was so hungry and cold that I would cry myself to sleep on that hard prison bed. I knew my mother was hungry too, but she never complained. She would just pat my back and sing softly to me until I fell asleep. She had a toughness that most mothers don’t have.

One day, that Yankee photographer, Matthew Brady, came to Old Capitol Prison and photographed us. I’m told he did it because we were the most notorious Confederate prisoners there, and I guess it means something to be famous like that. Brady’s photograph is the only one I have of my mother. The photograph will tell you some things about us, but it won’t tell you of the hardships we endured there—the abusive guards, the bugs, the hunger, the cold, nor will it tell you about the cipher in my gray stocking.

Mother never told me what the cipher meant, nor if that little piece of paper was what the Yankees were looking for. I had always meant to ask her about it.

Years later, I stand outside the convent my sister had placed me in when Mama drowned and whispered my goodbye. I sighed and wondered what parts of me had been left in its cold stone walls, my home now for over six years. The nuns had been good to me, tutored me, cared for me, but they couldn’t take the place of my mama, the “Wild Rebel Rose.” Nor could they take away the anger and pain in my heart. My mama’s war had cheated me of my childhood and taken away my mother and sisters. I couldn’t decipher why it all had happened to me.

At my sister’s house, I retired early and found myself missing Mama. I removed my scuffed shoes and carefully peeled the gray stocking off my foot, waiting for the faded cipher to fall out and float to the floor like it had every night. It didn’t. I panicked and quickly turned the stocking inside-out. I realized that the little piece of paper was gone.

The cipher I never understood was lost. Just like my mother. Like my childhood. Just like the lost cause of the Confederacy. But I had kept my promise to my mama. I have never shown that piece of paper to a living soul.

Rickey Pittman
1105 N. 8th St.
Monroe, LA 71201
995 words

rebel rose

Weatherford, Texas: A Great Place

One of the most significant growing areas of the Dallas-Fort Worth Area has to be Weatherford. I was there Saturday. I was interviewed by Linda Brooks Bagwell at KYQX-FM at 10 a.m.  I found this beautiful lady interesting, literate, and skilled in her fields of study. Here is a photo of us after the interview:

linda bagwell

Here is a photo of me and Randy Cook at my book signing after the radio interview at the Lark Bookstore just outside of  Weatherford. Randy is the owner, a man devoted to books, reading, and the promotion of the arts. I predict you’ll hear more of him in the future.  Here is the store’s website: Do yourself a favor and check it out.

randy lark bookstore

A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova: A Review

A Short Review: A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova

I first met Ms. Porizkova this past January at Kathy Patrick’s Girlfriend Weekend. After listening to her speak, and conversing with her as she signed my book, I must say that I am most impressed with this lady—especially after having read her new novel, A Model Summer (Hyperion).  I mean, not only is this lady stunningly beautiful, but her writing reveals that she is sensitive and an acute observer of life.  And if you are as fortunate as I was to meet her in person, you will find her polite and caring.  If you’ve been following the reality shows, you know she was appointed a judge, replacing Twiggy, on America’s Top Model. She also had a short stint on Dancing with the Stars.  She has appeared in movies: Anna, Portfolio, Her Alibi, Arizona Dream, Thursday, Roommates and Knots. She is married to Ric Okasek and they have two sons. Model, actor, writer—how much talent can one woman have?

Now to her novel. A Model Summer is the story of Jirina, a fifteen-year-old model. The story is of her first summer as a professional model. You could read this as an expose of the modeling business, a tale of innocence lost, or just as a young lady’s rite of passage. I would say that this book could be helpful and would provide valuable life-insights to any young lady who aspires to be a model.  Being a successful model is harder than people think, and an industry that can cause an individual to crash and burn.  I’m not sure how much of the novel is auto-fiction, not that any writer would admit anything in a novel to be autobiographical, but the suggestion is there. At least, we know the author is someone who knows the fashion industry. Indeed, she knows secrets that the fashion industry has cloistered.  Her writing style is smooth, I found it had a distinct voice, the plot is captivating, and so many of the lines were superbly written. I feel fortunate to have met Ms. Porizkova, and even more fortunate to have read her novel. I truly wish her the best.

Here are photos of the author and of the novel’s cover.


model summer

Some Thoughts on Lincoln . . .

I’ve been researching some songs for my Civil War program, and I was rather shocked to find that in Lincoln’s administration, Septimus Winner, the man who wrote “Listen to the Mockingbird” (see earlier post) was arrested for treason during the Civil War because he wrote a song calling for the reinstatement of McClellan as commander of the Federal Army. I was shocked, not because Lincoln arrested someone who wrote and said things he didn’t like, but because the offense seems so harmless.  One site I found says this of Mr. Winner: “During the Civil War, Winner was greatly affected by the political atmosphere. His composition “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride,” was written in plea to President Lincoln for the return of Union General McClellan who had been removed from command. The song was considered anti-Union and Winner spent a brief time in jail on a charge of treason. Winner was released from jail only after agreeing to destroy all remaining copies of the song.” You can read Winner’s full biography and achievements here:

Unfortunately, the sanitized, revised, mythologized version of Abraham Lincoln is the only Lincoln that many people know. Lew Rockwell has an extensive list of free articles you can read about Abraham Lincoln. These articles make good reading for high school and college students. You can find that list here:

Here is a poster of Lincoln from a Confederate point of view:


Return from Oklahoma . . .

I’ve just returned from Oklahoma (a place without Internet and cell phone service) and am tired and overwhelmed; thus, the entry today will be short. My mother’s surgery was successful and she is doing well. Thank you readers for your kind prayers and well-wishes.

As a Civil War writer, I understand that my task is not only to reveal to you new information in my blog, but to direct you to sites where you can find interesting information about the Civil War in North Texas and Indian Territory. Here is a great site that is devoted to a family history during the Civil War. I found it absolutely fascinating, a site full of information. It is entitled, A Short History of the 22nd, 31st and 34th Texas Cavalries, with emphasis upon the Fannin County Texas McFarlands (and their neighbors and relations) in the Civil War. You can find it here:

I’m still waiting on some photos of last Saturday’s author event, but when I receive them, I’ll post them. I did get some reading accomplished during my trip, finishing A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova (review coming soon) and Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells.


I was delighted to learn yesterday that my children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House made the LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS’ CHOICE AWARD. I’ll post more information on that award later. If you don’t know, The Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award is a reading enrichment program of the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana. The purpose of the program is to foster a love of reading in the children of Louisiana by motivating them to participate in the selection and recognition of outstanding books.

Return from Author Event

Yesterday, I was at Author! Author! event in Shreveport. It was held at the Municipal auditorium, a haunted place, that was once the site of the famous Louisiana Hayride. I had a grand time, performing with my guitar and signing books. I met so many cool people. Here is a photo of Rosemary Thompson and Sandra Hadwin is on the right.  I need to mention that that were volunteer workers representing the Altrusa Club of Shreveport, which is a literacy focused service organization. These beautiful ladies are the kind of people who truly make the world a better place.

Rosemary & Sandra

Here is Aubri McHugh. In addition to the over 50 writers, their friends and fans, and the staff workers, there were present many wonderful librarians, teachers, and writers. Aubri is one of the many writers I met. I was able to read several of her poems, and I’m convinced the young lady has writing talent.


Of course, I also want to thank the Pulpwood Queens who work with the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, Lynn Laird and Teresa Micheels. These ladies are so talented and so committed to promoting literacy. I met several other authors and event workers that I hope to comment on later, and perhaps feature on my blog with a review or an interview.

For example, Here is Rebecca. Her smile and hard work certainly helped make the day a success.


And here I am, performing in the alcove they assigned to the children’s authors. The acoustics in this building are amazing! And to think–I performed in the same building as Elvis and other star performers. You can read more of the Louisiana Hayride and its fascinating history here:

alcove shreve municipal

Return from Cameron Parish

A short post today, as I must prepare for a very busy day tomorrow at the Shreveport, Louisiana Book Festival called, “Author! Author! Shreveport Celebration of the Written Word.” I’ll be speaking in the morning and part of a panel in the afternoon.  I returned from Cameron Parish late last night and crashed. This morning, I faced the usual trip-return ritual of unloading my Toyota RAV, attending to book business neglected during my week of travel, and to home chores like mowing the yard, going to the bank, laundry, etc.

Anyway, yesterday I went to Johnson Bayou Library in Cameron Parish. I dipped my toe in the Gulf of Mexico as I stood at the edge of Louisiana. (My friends have always said I like to go to the edge of anything.)  As I drove to this definitively Cajun parish community, I hit some construction, and I took a picture of something I had never seen before: A pilot car to guide us through the construction. Notice the sign in the back of the truck. It says, “Pilot Car: Follow Me!”

pilot car

Here is a photo of the large trailer used as a library at Johnson Bayou My program was actually in the Johnson Bayou Baptist Church. I’ll have a photo of me and the pastor posted later, as well as information about the history of some of these communities in Cameron Parish.

johnson bayou library

The Forgotten Louisiana: Cameron Parish After the Hurricane

Early this morning, I was interviewed by Evan Johnson, Sunrise Reporter for KPLC TV, Channel 7 in Lake Charles.  Johnson is a sharp television broadcaster. He is full of energy, and he is one of those people in whose eyes you can see future greatness. Evan’s photo is below. KPLC’s link is here:


Today, I presented programs at Grand Lake, Grand Cheniere, and Cameron Libraries. The kids were wonderful, and I can tell that the librarians and their staffs are working their hearts out.  Several parents were there and added much to the programs.  Tomorrow, I’ll be at the Hackberry and Johnson Bayou libraries. Back in the hurricanes Katrina and Rita days, I did not hear much about this parish.  The librarians showed me photos of the devastation, and even now, the land is scarred beyond imagination. I would say that the devastation would have to have been as great, if not worse, than what south Mississippi suffered.

In some ways, I felt I am at the end of the world–flat, beautiful marshes stretching as far as the eye can see. When I return to Monroe, I am going to reopen Bayou Farewell and see if that writer talks much of this part of the state. The area has a deep beauty, though after the hurricane, a sad beauty.  I love the people here with their Cajun accent, their love of life, and their strong work ethic. I hope I can come back. I’ve presented the programs a little differently than I did at schools. The presentations have been more kinesthetic, allowing the kids to touch and handle my Civil War artifacts and the other display items.

Jefferson Davis Statue at Beauvoir

I still can’t get the images of Beauvoir out of my head. As Jefferson Davis Parish is nearby, folks are quite interested in the Jim Limber story. Here is a statue of Jefferson Davis on the grounds:

jeff davis statue