Historical waiting game

Published 6:14 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mower County Historical Society Executive Director John Haymond’s first book, “The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law and the Judgement of History,” is a personal and professional achievement, but there’s still more work to be done.

The book takes a deeper look into The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and how some cases were pushed through in the face of contradictory evidence or very little of it.

It was an event that has divided historians on a basic level, but Haymond’s take brings a much different view of the history.

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The book also has Haymond feeling a mixture of emotions.HaymondCover FLIPPEr

“Excitement and fear,” he said. “Every time I look at it, I see one more thing that I could have changed or improved, but it’s now in its hard and fast form. There’s no more to change. Now it’s out there, especially in this contentious piece of history, there is a great deal of controversy and diametrically different points of view on it. I’m waiting to see what kind of reaction it generates.”

Many who have read the book have responded positively, citing how well balanced it is.

Haymond’s publisher, MacFarland and Company out of North Carolina have distributed the book for further peer review.

“It’s been sent out to journals and organizations for review including those that I’m directly disagreeing with,” Haymond said.

The book itself was released in May of this year, but already Haymond is moving ahead with a second book with the working title, “From Frontier to Empire: The U.S. Army in Transition, 1886 to 1914.”

That book’s final draft is expected to go to press this November, leaving him with a relatively small window to get it completed.

But unlike the first time around, Haymond doesn’t feel so pressured with the work.

“I feel a whole lot less pressure than I probably would have,” Haymond said. “The first book I wrote, I wrote the book first and hunted for a publisher later.”

“The research is all done, now it’s just a matter of writing it,” he added. “I’m just kind of looking forward to the process.”

This book will take a look at the United States Army coming out of the Civil War and leading up to World War I.

“The cyclical nature of the American history, the U.S. Army would be built up and then gutted afterward,” Haymond explained. “[At the end of the Civil War] there were one million men in uniform. One year later the army was down to 30,000 men, most of them on the frontier.”

In a relatively short time, that army was built back up again through the Spanish American War and the Philippine-American War up to the first World War.

However, this book, which opens the possibility of inter-related subjects and more books, is only the latest incarnation of what Haymond’s publisher originally wanted.

The initial idea was a series of six books on the U.S. Army from 1775 to Vietnam. It was more work than Haymond was able to do at the time.

“The hang-up, quite simply, I have three other projects I’ve started already or really want to get started on,” he explained. “I would have to put all this aside.”

“I think we’ve worked out an acceptable arrangement,” Haymond continued.

For now though, Haymond is happy with the progress and results the first book has generated, especially considering he was accepted for publication after only the fourth submission, a rarity for a first-time author. Already, the book has sold out at Austin’s new bookstore, Sweet Reads.

“I think it’s really incredible that it’s happening this way,” Haymond said.