Local author publishes his 23rd book | journal-news

CHARLES TOWN — Nationally recognized author Bob O’Connor, of Charles Town, recently published his 23rd book, a historical novel entitled, “The Trial of Jefferson Davis.”

Davis was arrested and incarcerated in Fortress Monroe for nearly two years following the Civil War, but he was never brought to trial. The federal government, at the time, feared trying the Confederate president. What would have happened if, in his trial, it would have been determined that a state had the right to secede from the Union? After four long years of war, that was an embarrassment the government was not willing to contend with.

When President Abraham Lincoln was asked if he wanted Davis, he said, “I might not mind if he got away.”

In this case, O’Connor sets up a fictional trial and brings charges of treason against the Confederate president. The author brings in witnesses, including several of the the Founding Fathers, figuring they certainly would be able to explain their intentions as to whether they intended secession to be legal or not. Several of other witnesses at this trial were Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, newspaper editor Horace Greeley, James Buchanan and Ben Franklin.

Davis’ defense attorney in his lifetime and for this trial is Charles O’Conor. O’Conor, a New York attorney and a Union man, volunteered as Davis’ attorney because he felt the government owed Davis a trial, as his right. In fact, Mr. O’Conor even put up $10,000 of his own money along with nine others, also Union men, including Greeley, to pay the Confederate President’s bail.

As a side note, the author’s father is also named Charles O’Connor, only with two “n’s” instead of one. This required the author to spell his own name wrong hundreds of times in writing this book.

The prosecuting attorney for this trial is Lucius Chandler, of Richmond. Chandler, a US attorney, filed the original indictment against Davis in court in 1866.

Through all the well-known and important political leaders who testify in this trial, it is a little-known servant girl, believed to be unable to read or write, who may have given the most important testimony into this courtroom. Her name was Mary Bowser.

The courtroom is in Heaven. The judge and jury is St. Peter.

The new book is the second in a trial series O’Connor has been working on. The first, published last fall, was “The Trial of John Wilkes Booth.” Booth was killed in Virginia before he could have been tried for killing the president.

“Believe it or not, I do not read Civil War books,” O’Connor said. “I don’t want to pick up a phrase or expression that accidentally shows up in my book. I tend to read trial books for entertainment. I started thinking about the person in the Civil War era and beyond who never went to trial and started imagining what might happen if they were tried today. My premise is: imagine if the court was able to bring in anyone from history to testify.”

Where does the trail series go next? “The Trial of Nathan Bedford Forrest” is next online. Confederate General Forrest is charged with war crimes after his men de el killed black Union soldiers (The United States Colored Troops) after they had laid down their arms, raised their hands in the air and surrendered while defending Fort Pillow in 1864.

The fourth trial book is “The Trial of Colonel Dixon Miles.” Colonel Miles is charged with incompetence and failure to follow orders prior to the surrender of 12,500 federal troops at Harpers Ferry. O’Connor also plans to go off his normal Civil War genre for another trial series book as he will publish “The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Each witness in these trials has given their opinion on the topics on the public record. O’Connor has examined a myriad of official documents so as to portray the witnesses as accurately as possible. That bodes on the credibility of the book. Every character in this book was a real person.

O’Connor is retired and a full-time author who is also available for historical presentations in schools or other organizations.

O’Connor’s Davis trial book is 272 pages and retails for $20.95. The book and several others are available at Patterson’s Drug Store in Martinsburg and at Four Season’s Books in Shepherdstown. All of his books by him may also be purchased at the author’s website, www.boboconnorbooks.com.

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