Jack Hinson was the patriarch of a prosperous family on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and at the start of the American Civil War was opposed to succession, and even helped Grant during the attack on Fort Donelson, but during the increasingly bitter guerrilla war that followed two of his sons were arrested while out hunting, executed, beheaded and their heads placed outside the family farm. Hinson's reaction to this was to become a lone sniper, killing the two men most responsible for the deed, before eventually becoming a full time marksman, taking a heavy toll of Union officers.
The historical introduction is very one-sided. Any subtly or controversy is swept aside in favour of the Confederate view of events, while the view of life on a Southern slave-owning farm is questionable at best. This bias fades when we reach the heart of the book - the casual atrocity that triggered Hinson's career as a sniper and the events that follow. Here McKenney goes out of his way to make it clear that both sides committed similar atrocities during the bitter guerrilla warfare that devastated large parts of the South during the Civil War, and the result is much more convincing.
The account of Hinson's activity as a sniper inevitably contains a certain amount of speculation, without which it would be a rather thin account. One quibble here - Hinson recorded his kills by making circular marks on his gun, and only recorded thirty-six victims. McKenney multiplies that by a factor of three with not attempt to justify it from Union documents or any other sources. There also appears to be something of a gap in the story when it comes to the Union attempts to catch Hinson.
Despite its flaws this is a fascinating account of the life of a remarkable man, a reluctant rebel who remained within the rules of civilised warfare despite being sorely provoked, limiting his attacks to the U.S. Military.
1 - The Hinsons of Bubbling Springs
2 - War Comes to Bubbling Springs
3 - Occupation and the Rise of Guerrilla Warfare
4 - Death Comes to Bubbling Springs
5 - A Time to Kill
6 - Twilight at Bubbling Springs
7 - The End of Bubbling Springs
8 - All-Out War
9 - Making Military History
10 - The Last Campaign
11 - The Twilight Years
Appendix A: Scenes in the Story, Then and Now
Appendix B: The Fourth Generation
Appendix C: Jack Hinson's Rifle, Chain of Possession
Appendix D: John W. 'Jack' Hinson Genealogy (Partial)
Appendix E: Documents
Author: Lt. Col. Tom C. McKenney
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military