Sunday, December 4, 2011

Judgment Tramp..."Where did that name come from?"

Everybody asks.

I knew it would happen when I decided to use this name for the second book, and I also know that, in some ways, it is a bad idea to come up with a name for a book that nobody understands. The title comes from this quote:

"And I felt the ground move under my feet, and I thought it was the Judgment Tramp of The Almighty, finally come to visit those who had started this terrible war...."

The quote is from the diary of a Union soldier serving in Virginia (with the 4th Michigan regiment) during the Civil War. General Grant had just been named commander of the Army of the Potomac, and he lead the army into Virginia to find Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The two armies collided in the wilderness area near Spotsylvania Court house in May, 1864. After a two day battle (The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864) Grant ordered the army to go on the march again.

Previously, under different commanders, the army had fought battles and then disengaged. Nobody in the 4th Michigan was surprised about the order to leave the battlefield and march--it had happened many times before. The 4th Michigan reached a junction of two country roads. They had been there during previous campaigns and they always turned north at the junction to head across the Potomac river to regroup. The same pattern had followed under many different commanders for three long years.
This time the regiment was ordered to go south, and a great cheer came from the men--they knew that this time they would stay in the fight until the war was won. It was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

Eb Maclean is, by his own description "an ex-army helicopter pilot who went to the well one too many times."  He's a guy trying to adjust to civilian life, and it isn't easy. Most of us have no idea what they go through, both in theater, and after coming home.  Eb hasn't had the "good" war that the soldier in that long ago 4th Michigan regiment had--and he feels the Judgment Tramp of The Almighty constantly as he deals with the aftermath of his military career.
The title works perfectly to illustrate his struggles to return to normalcy, and I never regret choosing it for the book.

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