John P. Gatewood was one of the South’s most controversial and feared guerrilla fighters. He was raised against the backdrop of Southern neighbors with opposing views, as Confederate loyalists and Union supporters began to distinguish themselves. During the turbulent Civil War era, the mutual paranoia that permeated entire communities fueled the retribution, pitting neighbor against neighbor, shattering longstanding friendships, and creating some of the most vicious blood feuds in American history.
Nicknamed the “Red-headed Beast of Georgia” for his towering size and wild red hair, Gatewood fueled his ferocity with the memory of his family history and the communities he inhabited both as a civilian and as a soldier. The Gatewood family controlled extensive property in the East Tennessee Mountains in a region known as Lincoln Country—an area filled with Union sympathizers. His family, however, were loyal Confederates hailing from a long line of prosperous Virginia tobacco farmers and slaveholders. Once the war began and Tennessee split its allegiance, a fiercely loyal sixteen-year-old Gatewood enlisted, leaving his parents and younger sister behind. When he snuck away from camp to visit his family almost two years later, disaster had already struck. That pivotal moment determined Gatewood’s future.
Filled with well-researched and clearly documented information, this book provides insight into the story of one of the most notorious and mystifying characters of the Civil War. His brutal journey of revenge and his mysterious post-war years are chronicled here in fascinating details that read like a tragic novel, enhanced with hand drawn illustrations by Brian Barr.