Arts Literature

Book Feature: The Bone Ring

The Civil War Journals of Colonel William James Leonard

Gari Carter, Author

Black Mountain author Gari Carter mined her family’s rich past for her latest book, The Bone Ring. Through journal entries, the book—annotated and supplemented with family lore and local history—tells the story of Carter’s great-grandfather Col. William Leonard’s time as a Civil War prisoner. “My family always told our stories, and it was the children’s job to remember and pass it on to the next generation,” Carter says. “For The Bone Ring and Troubled State [about her great-great-grandfather], I spent years researching history, localities, family tales and general background.”

An unexpected birthday present in difficult times gave the book its title and cover image. “While in Libby Prison in Richmond, VA, the men were given parts of cattle to eat, which they had to cook themselves in the basement of the old tobacco warehouse,” Carter says. “Col. Leonard’s men secretly carved the ring from the leftover cow bones and engraved the date of his 46th birthday, rubbing ashes from the fire into the letters to make them stand out. They gave it to him as his only birthday present that year.” The ring was found among his belongings when he died in 1901.

“There are many things that concern us in today’s world, and it can seem overwhelming,” Carter says. “My books carry a lot of personal history and emotions, making them deeply relatable and meaningful to readers.”

The Bone Ring, February 2023, Civil War/biography, paperback $14.99, eBook $8.99, by Gari Carter, and published by Donella Press, Worcester, MA. Learn more at

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