Everly Ryan

Historical Romance Author

The Tale of Two Cousins that Inspired Scarlet Widow

Debra GlassComment
Many good men who passed the spot
Would think of Jobe and the deal he got,
Or cross themselves like nuns.
And say, on nights when the dark clouds toss,
Can you hear the clatter of a runnin' hoss?
Oh, Lawdy!  What's the matter?  But nobody talks.
The clatter stops and the ghost hoss walks.
It's the Yankees teachin' Dee Jobe who's boss.
... At the point of 15 guns.

The story of DeWitt Smith Jobe and his cousin who bore a similar name, DeWitt Smith, inspired the character brothers Witt and Hardin Barksdale in my historical romance, Scarlet Widow.

Jobe, a member of the Coleman Scouts, a band of Confederates who ran messages through enemy lines, was captured by 115th Ohio Calvary near Triune, Tennessee, August 29, 1864. Shortly before being apprehended, Jobe attempted to destroy the message he carried. In order to get him to reveal the information, the Union soldiers bound his hands and neck with a leather strap and choked him, gouged out his eyes and eventually, cut off his tongue. The stalwart Jobe suffered severe beatings and torture before the Federals dragged him behind a horse until he strangled to death. The Yankees left his body  on the side of the road as a grisly example of the fate of captured spies. Dewitt Jobe’s mutilated body was discovered and buried in his family cemetery.
When his cousin, DeWitt Smith, heard of the atrocities Jobe suffered, he went on a killing spree, the details of which are steeped in legend and truth. Smith deserted John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee, vowing to kill every Yankee involved in his cousin’s death.  Legend implicates Smith in the murder of as many as fifty Yankees, but factual accounts attribute him with far fewer.
In a story appearing in the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, Tragic story of Jobe, Smith Seldom Told, by Dan Whittle Staff writer, a descendant of Jobe’s sister, John Moore, states - "Although not documented, because the Coleman Scouts left little if any paper trails, one report we've heard of the angry Dee Smith, lifelong friend and companion to Dewitt Smith Jobe dating back to when they fished in Overall Creek, is that he allegedly took a butcher knife and slit the throats of up to 14 Yankee soldiers sleeping in tents near Tullahoma. My Aunt Mary Floyd confirmed another story, that Dee (Smith) brought two Yankee prisoners to his home here near Smyrna. But his pistols were empty, with no bullets, which the Yankees didn't know. Dee (Smith) reportedly melted some lead and made new bullets. He then took the Yankees out to the road and shot them in the head. And then, he deposited the corpses in a sinkhole. My aunt said that as children, they often played and danced above that old sink hole, hollering down to the dead Yankees. She also confirmed Dee Smith some times left notes pinned to dead Yankee chests, telling why they were killed."
In Scarlet Widow, Hardin Barksdale seeks revenge on the soldiers who murdered his brother Witt.
Hardin flexed his fingers, examining the deep red imprint the wire had left on his palm. It occurred to him that his hand hurt. But that pain was the only thing reminding him that he was alive. Next time, he’d wear gloves. Not to avoid pain but rather to prevent the evidence the wire left behind. No. The pain, he welcomed.
He squatted and rolled the dead Union soldier over onto his back. The watery blue eyes stared, unseeing. Had those eyes gawked at Molly? Hardin looked away from the death stare.
He snorted, trying to dislodge the stench of the man mingled with piss and shit. The first time Hardin had seen a man die and shit himself, he’d been horrified. Had he grown so calloused that he looked upon another human being’s utter loss of life and dignity and feel nothing?
A deep indentation from the wire marred the man’s sunburned throat. His open mouth revealed a swollen, grayish tongue and a head full of rotted teeth. Hardin stared, expecting to feel something.
Remorse? Never.
Satisfaction? Not nearly enough.
When nothing more rose to the surface, Hardin rifled his pockets. Papers. A watch. Money.
This was the second man he’d killed in retaliation for what those bastards had done to Witt. Hardin had expected to feel excitement, at least some thrill of satisfaction at taking another one of them out but he didn’t. Witt was still gone.
And so many of the murdering sons of bitches were still out there. Still laughing about what they’d done. Still crowing about what they’d seen.
The story of Witt’s death had become the stuff of local legend. A spy caught and brutally tortured. He’d been hailed as a Confederate hero for not divulging information and saving his countrymen’s lives. He’d known he would die.
Hardin stood, trying to blot out the memory of finding Witt on the side of Nolensville Road, bloody and beaten beyond recognition—with his eyes gouged from their sockets and his tongue cut out.
Witt had known what would happen to him if he were caught. But Molly’s suffering was something altogether different—and equally painful. Word had gotten around that she’d kept silent no matter what the Yankees had done to her.
Hardin swallowed the bile in his throat. He should have known he couldn’t save Witt, that he should have stayed with Molly to protect her from the disgrace and prying hands meted out by Meshach January and his company of miscreants in blue who called themselves soldiers.
Witt would have wanted it that way. But in some ways, Hardin had known that Molly was far stronger than Witt.
That night, Hardin had made a promise to his dying brother. If it took him the rest of his life, he would see every last one of them dead.

scarletwidow_msr Tough…or tender? If she follows her heart, she won’t have to choose.

Molly has forever lusted for all three Barksdale brothers, but could never choose. Instead, scandal chose for her, and she married the youngest of the three. Then the brothers go to war, and Molly finds herself a grieving widow when her husband is murdered by a merciless band of Union soldiers.

Hardin Barksdale is hell-bent on avenging his brother. Greer Barksdale is honor-bound to protect his home. They both want Molly—and this time, they’re willing to share. The temptation is seductive, the passion sizzling. In harsh, post-war Tennessee, their nightly forbidden trysts wield the power to heal them all—if they can escape the twisted desires of a man bent on seeing all three of them dead.

Digital Ebook