Drake Receives McCain Literary Award
On Saturday, June 8th, 2002, the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans presented Rebecca Drake the McCain Literary Award for her contributions toward preserving Mississippi's Civil War history. The award was presented at the 105th Reunion held in Vicksburg. Keynote speaker for the event was Parker Hills, historian and board member of Friends of Raymond.
The book that captured the 2002 award was In Their Own Words: Soldiers Tell The Story Of The Battle Of Raymond. In this book, Drake tells the story of the Battle of Raymond based on old diaries, letters, newspapers, magazine articles and the Official Records of the Civil War.
The McCain Literary Award is presented annually to a Mississippian who has published a Civil War-related book within the last two years. Drake has three books to her credit and all have been donated to Friends of Raymond to help with the preservation of the Raymond Battlefield.
The award is named for Dr. William D. McCain, who served as president of Mississippi Southern, now the University of Southern Mississippi, from 1955-1975. Dr. McCain was instrumental in reviving Sons of Confederate Veterans, an organization that thrived in post-war years but lost popularity during the early part of the century. Dr. McCain is remembered not only for his presidency at Mississippi Southern but also for his leadership in Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"It is a distinct honor to receive this award," Drake commented. "I am one of the few women to write Civil War-related books. Three years ago, I knew little about the Civil War and the history of the Battle of Raymond. However, after Friends of Raymond purchased forty acres of core battlefield, I felt compelled to do all that I could to help with the purchase of the battlefield. My first book, The Battle of Raymond and Other Collected Stories, was written not only to preserve Raymond's history but to also generate funding for the battlefield. A year later, after a great deal of in-depth research, I wrote my second book, In Their Own Words: Soldiers Tell The Story Of The Battle Of Raymond. This book is unique in that it tells the story of the battle from a humanistic point of view."
Drake is a graduate of Belhaven College and Louisiana State University, with a master's degree in piano performance. She moved to Raymond in 1965 to assume a position in the Music Department at Hinds, teaching piano and music history. In 1985, after a twenty-year stint at the college, she retired from teaching and began writing feature articles for the Hinds County Gazette on a volunteer basis. "Thanks to the Hinds County Gazette publishing my articles, I was able to gain footing as a writer and then expand to larger arenas," states Drake. "I owe a great deal to the Hinds County Gazette for giving voice to my ideas. And, I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to my husband, Jim Drake, who formatted and helped with the printing of all my books."
Drake has three books to her credit: The Battle Of Raymond And Other Collected Stories (1998); In Their Own Words: Soldiers Tell The Story Of The Battle Of Raymond (2000), and A Soldier's Story Of The Siege Of Vicksburg, (2001). She is currently working on her fourth book, Hiram B. Granbury: General From The Lone Star State. This book will be co-authored by Tom Holden, researcher from Fort Worth, Texas.
"It's so inspiring to receive this award," Drake commented. "When I started writing about the Battle of Raymond and the Civil War, I did so in order to give voice to the soldiers who fought and to help preserve our history through purchasing and developing the battlefield. I loved doing the research and I loved writing the books. To receive an award for doing something I have enjoyed so much is most gratifying."
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