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Bellwood man brings Civil War history to life through a series of books and articles

A Bellwood man continues to make his mark in the literary world with the latest in a series of books on the Civil War and its battles.
His latest effort was published in April by Mercer University Press of Macon Georgia and it has already been nominated for two literary awards.
Robert Paul Broadwater has written 10 books and more than 100 articles dealing with the Civil War, as well as writing a regular column on Civil War collectibles.
The 46-year-old Broadwater is a member of the Descendants of Civil War Veterans and Sons of the Confederate Veterans as well being involved with Civil War reenactments for more than a dozen years.
His latest book, “Battle of Despair” is about what Broadwater describes as one of the last and lesser-known battles of the Civil War.
According to a press release from Macon University Press, ‘“Battle of Despair: The Battle of Bentonville and the North Carolina Campaign” chronicles the skirmishes and battles between the Union and Confederate forces under General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston, respectively, which ultimately led to the capitulation of Johnston’s army.”
Broadwater explained the battle occurred in late March of 1865, shortly before Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
“It took place in what was considered to be the western theater, it was a large battle, (but) not by standards of Gettysburg or Antietam,” Broadwater told The Daily Herald. “It kind of got lost to history, it happened right at the end of the war, at the end of March 1865. On April 1, Richmond and Petersburg were evacuated, Lee started the retreat which ended with his surrender at Appomatax and then Lincoln was assassinated.
“You had a bunch of real big events that took place at the same time as the battle,” said Broadwater. So it got overshadowed and pushed aside.
“Nothing had ever been written about it at the time I wrote the book,” said Broadwater. “I felt it was an overlooked part of Civil War history that had its place.”
He noted 80,000 men were involved in the three-day battle.
“It seemed not right to me that nothing had ever been written about it, explained Broadwater.
The book relies heavily upon first-person accounts of the battle, with much of the action being related through the words of the actual participants.
The press release from Macon University Press also notes ‘“Battle of Despair” examines Johnston’s struggle to create an army with which to oppose Sherman, the long odds Johnston faced and the eventual surrender of that army-the largest body of Confederate men to surrender at the end of the war.”
The book has already been nominated for two literary awards, the Lincoln prize and the Douglas Southall Freeman award.
The Lincoln prize is awarded to the best Civil War book of the year which is about Lincoln or a study of Civil War soldiers. The Douglas Southall Freeman award is given to the best book of the year dealing with Southern history.
Broadwater has also written about the Revolutionary War, World War II, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War and other aspects of military history.
He says he is looking to have a book published soon which will detail the Battle of Perrysville. He also has a book at another publisher, under review, titled, “Different Roads to Glory.”
Broadwater is now working on a book about the largest battle to take place in Florida in the Civil War. He said Macon University Press in interested in publishing that book when it’s completed.
“(The publisher) said, ‘please’ three times to send it to him as soon as I got it done,” said Broadwater. “(They’re) out of Georgia, so a book about a battle in Florida would be of regional interest to them.
Broadwater attended Salisbury-Elk Lick High School in Salisbury before going to attend Penn State University. He first moved to the Tyrone area in the mid-70s and spent about 20 years in Tyrone. Although, Broadwater spent a few of the last 28 years out of the area, he eventually returned and as mentioned previously resides in Bellwood.
More details on his Macon University Press offering can be found at their web site: www.mupress.org.