The 21st North Carolina Infantry at First Winchester


The 21st North Carolina Infantry was organized at Danville, VA in June of 1861. Its twelve companies were composed primarily of recruits from Davidson,  Forsyth, Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes, and Surry Counties. Commanded by Col. W. W. Kirkland, the unit left Danville on July 15th to join General Joseph Johnston’s army around Manassas Junction. They were positioned along Bull Run Creek but were not actively engaged in the subsequent Confederate victory there.

Kirkland’s Tar Heels remained in Northern Virginia throughout the balance of 1861 and in October were assigned to General Isaac Trimble’s brigade, which also included the 21st Georgia. The winter was spent doing routine camp chores and “arduous picket duty.” It was a relief to the regiment when orders were received in early March of 1862 to break camp and join the command of “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.

Jackson wasted no time in committing his force against an invading Federal army under the command of General Nathaniel P. Banks. Stationed near Strasburg, VA, Banks was fearful of the legendary Southern general. On May 23 the Union commander decided to retreat northward towards Winchester. Ever audacious, Jackson determined to cut off Bank’s withdrawal before the protective defenses of Winchester might be reached.

As part of General “Dick” Ewell’s division, Trimble’s brigade and the 21st North Carolina marched relentlessly in pursuit. Bank’s immense supply train was overtaken near Middletown by portions of Jackson’s force on May 24th. However, delay occasioned by the plundering of this rich prize enabled most of Banks’ army to reach Winchester safely. Jackson was furious but urged his infantry onward. The Confederates gamely marched all night and around 4 a.m., lay down in the cold dew to rest.

Battle-of-First-Winchester-ed_jpgDawn of May 25th found Banks’ forces defensively positioned on a range of protective hills just south of the town. Jackson launched assaults on both Federal flanks and immediately encountered fierce resistance. On the Confederate right, near the Front Royal road, Trimble ordered his “two Twenty Firsts” to charge a strongly positioned Union regiment. A member of the 21st North Carolina described the ensuing charge: “With a wild cheer the regiment moved swiftly towards the enemy’s line behind stone walls, and was met by a most terrific fire of infantry and grape shot. The regiment moved right on to the stone wall, from which the enemywere pouring forth a perfect storm of canister and minie balls from right and left–cross-firing upon us.” Despite initially wavering in the intense fire, the Carolinians regrouped and joined their brothers in the 21st Georgia in driving the Federals from the field.

Across the battlefield, Confederate forces were equally successful. The surrounding hills resounded with the Rebel Yell as retreating bluecoats fled through Winchester in what became a general stampede. They would not halt until safely crossing the Potomac, more than 30 miles distant. Despite Jackson’s most strenuous efforts, the exhausted and equally disorganized victors could only mount a half-hearted pursuit. The citizens of Winchester were overjoyed at the Union withdrawal and wildly greeted Jackson’s troops as “liberators.” For the time being at least, the Shenandoah Valley was safe.

The carnage on the field at Winchester was shocking despite the battle’s short duration.. “The sight which there presented itself can never be forgotten,” recalled a participant. “Around stood several pieces of artillery deserted by the enemy. Many Federals and Confederates lay dead, wounded and dying around me. Colonel Kirkland, while waving his sword and cheering on his men, was shot through the thigh but did not leave . . . Never were men more mangled or pierced with so many balls.” Indeed, its baptismal engagement cost the 21st North Carolina Regiment roughly 21 killed and 60 wounded.

For these gallant volunteers from the Piedmont, First Winchester was just the beginning of a long and bloody war.

By Bob Williams


A Walking Tour of Cold Harbor

Cold Harbor

In June of 2009 the reactivated 26th North Carolina Infantry held a living history event on Cold Harbor National Battlefield Park, located in Hanover County, VA,  a few miles east of Richmond. Here in June of 1864 the Federal armies under general Ulysses S. Grant were handed bloody and decisive repulse by Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. The regiment was allowed to camp just behind the well-preserved main line of Confederate earthworks at veritable “storm center” of the famous June 3rd assault. Weekend activities included living history in the trenches and the usual drill and firing demonstrations.

As part of the program I was asked to provide a walking tour of key points on the NPS property and relate events of the battle that occurred at those locations. More than 50 years studying and exploring the fields of this famous engagement provides me some credentialing. To assist in this interpretation I used as a primary map an excellent survey of the Cold Harbor trench lines rendered by author Earl Hess in his book Trench Warfare under Grant & Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign. This map was the basis of our guided walking tour. Quotations from actual participants highlight events at key stops on the tour.

Since that time I have had several unit members ask for copies of this map and descriptive text. Assuming this information may be of interest to newer members and blog readers who might wish to tour the Cold Harbor battlefield in the future, it is being reproduced here in its entirety. You won’t find this anywhere else. Please left click on map for enlarged view suitable for printing. Happy battlefield tramping!

26th NC Cold Harbor Tour

 (1.) CS TEMPORARY LINE (KERSHAW’S SALIENT): “On examining the line I found it bent back at almost a right angle the point of which rested on a body of heavy woods . . . The right face of the angle ran along a slope with a small marshy stream behind and higher ground in front . The works had evidently been built just where the troops found themselves at the close of the fight [on June 1st ] . . . I proposed to cut off the angle and build a new line across its base which would throw the marshy ground in front. I procured a hatchet  . . . with an armful of stakes [and] went out after dark located the line and drove every stake upon it. The troops were formed on it at once and before morning the  [new] works were finished . . . the men having leveled the [old] works as much as possible before leaving them.” Gen. E.M. Law

 (2.) FALLIGANT’S LONE GUN: “ One of Calloway’s guns . . . under the command of Lieutenant Robert Falligant [Pulaski Georgia Artillery] . . . held and carried the right flank of  [Kershaw’s] brigade . . . After Falligant’s horses were shot . . . it was considerably in advance of Wofford’s left with which it was not connected at all . . . There [was not] at any time a Confederate soldier to the right of this piece, nor a spadeful of dirt, except the little traverse we threw up to protect the right of the gun . . . I have never witnessed more gallant action than this of Lt. Falligant and his dauntless cannoneers.” Maj. Robt. Stiles, Cabell’s Arty. Bttn

 (3.) JUNE 3rd KILLING FIELD (MUDDY RUN): “So far as the 18thCorps is concerned in this mornings assault Gen. Martindale’s Division moved down a ravine in the center of the 18th Corps lines; Gen. Brooks  moved in on the left of Martindale connecting with the right of the 6th Corps . . . They charged into an angle  . . . and were badly cut up losing a thousand men . . .  The right of our Regiment [13th NHV] here rests near a muddy and very wet bit of swamp called Muddy Run . . . It is not fortified excepting by a few logs and to pass up and down the line there requires much care.”  Lt. S. M. Thompson, 13th NHV.

 (4.) US MAIN LINE: “The skirmishers and pickets who preceded us on this line holding it after the charge of  . . . June 3rd, had seized it and made little pits but no regular entrenchments . . . Our men add to these with tin dippers and bayonets . . . The bodies of the Rebel dead lying about and the bodies of some  Union men also are piled up for a barricade , but separately, [and] a few logs and sand thrown upon the whole – anything to keep the Rebel bullets back . . .  Muddy run at our right opens a gap . . . for the enemy’s fire and we run traverses across the ditch of our entrenchments for every few men to prevent his enfilading any part of the curving line of our trench. . .  We could count 170 dead bodies lying unburied in the open field close in front of our entrenchments  . . . Our trench is about five feet thick and more than that thick.”  Lt. S. M. Thompson, 13th NHV.

 (5.) THE PINE: “ The center and left of our Regt. rises and entrenches on a small knoll but quite high . . .  Our entrenchments bend around a large pine tree standing near the highest point of the knoll . . .  possibly it stands fifteen feet in rear of the parapet .This tree is about 75 feet high and 2 and ½ feet in diameter and the boys call it “Our Pine.” This pine . . . is struck by hundreds of bullets and is the special target for every Rebel gunner in this part of the Confederacy.” Lt. S. M. Thompson, 13th NHV.

 (6.) CHARGE OF THE HEAVIES: “The field in front of us . . . was indeed a sad site . . . The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, a new regiment 1800 strong, had joined us a few days before the battle. Its uniform was bright and fresh; therefore its dead were easily distinguished where they lay. They marked in a dotted line an obtuse angle, covering a wide front with its aped toward the enemy, and there upon his face, with his head towards the works . . . lay the brave and genial Col. Elisha S. Kellogg.” Gen. M. T. McMahon

 (7.) JUNE 1st BREAKTHROUGH (BLOODY RUN): “Everywhere [on June 1st] the enemy were driven back promptly & decidedly except at the 50 yard gap between Hoke & Kershaw through which flowed a small stream bordered with woods and thicket. The enemy’s dense columns filled this wood which sheltered them from our view entirely & penetrated the gap & suddenly appeared on the flanks of the brigades on each side. Here they captured about 500 prisoners & a little of each end of the breastwork.”  Col. E. P. Alexander

 “The Yankees charged us and our left was entirely unprotected by the moving of Hagood’s brigade to the right . . .  [and] the enemy got completely round our left in overwhelming numbers. The 8th North Carolina on our left was almost completely surrounded but managed to get off . . . I rallied some men about 100 yards in the rear . . . when I received a tremendous blow which struck me about the knee making me fall like an ox..” Captain W.H.S. Burgwyn, 35th North Carolina

 (8.) CS GUN POSITION:  “Every night each gun was ordered to be double shotted for instant use . . . One of Cabell’s Napoleons had its wheels so cut and torn by bullets one evening it was thought best to put on new ones. This was done & the breech of the gun was elevated and 37 musket balls fell out which had gone down the muzzle during the day.” Col.  E. P. Alexander

 “Artillery was placed at both ends of the new line abreast of the infantry.” Gen. E. M. Law

 (9.) CS COMMAND POST: “General Gregg’s headquarters . . . consisted of a hole in the ground about 3 feet deep and about 8 by 4 in dimension. It was located about 20 feet in the rear of our main line trench which was here only about 150 yards from the Federal line on the edge of a wood. . .  A little narrow trench from one end led obliquely into the infantry line in front.” Col. E. P. Alexander

 (10.) CS MAIN LINE: “We now entered into eight days of life in the trenches which I think were the greatest eight days of hardship the army ever endured . . . the baking down of the summer sun became so unbearable that the men would canopy the whole trench with their blankets . . . [every] four men would reverse their muskets  . . . and let the hammers pinch down on the four corners of a blanket . . . Imagine how thick four men with canteen, blankets, and haversacks must lie to one single blanket, conceive that vermin . . . and all the nuisances attendant upon a great & crowded aggregation of humanity . . . and you begin to have a picture of the Cold Harbor trenches. To pass along the lines . . . I would have to literally have to crawl under every blanket and over every set of fours.”  Col. E. P. Alexander


By Bob Williams



Cold Mountain Redux (Part II)

[Continued from Part I] Sometime after his return to Haywood County, Pinkney Inman met up with a man named James Swanger. He too was a deserter from the Confederate army. Swanger had enlisted early in 1861 at Waynesville and went off to fight with Co. L of the 16th North Carolina Troops. After serving in Virginia, Swanger’s company was transferred in October 1862 to Co. E of “Thomas Legion,” a famous unit of Cherokee Indian Confederate soldiers. However, by August 1863 Swanger found himself a deserter and outlier in Haywood County.

Being a deserter, outlier, or Union sympathizer in Haywood County at that time posed a fairly significant health risk. The local Home Guard, led by Captain Albert Teague, was notoriously efficient in rooting out deserters and disposing of Unionists. One story has survived that graphically details Teague’s ruthlessness in tracking down fugitives and Unionists. It tells of a fiddle player who was captured along with two other suspected Union sympathizers in the Big Creek area of Haywood County, which borders Tennessee and Madison County, NC. Big Creek was an extremely remote area of the county and regarded as a Unionist strong hold. Captain Teague, himself, had been fired upon numerous times while patrolling this inhospitable area and was determined to crush all resistance. During one such patrol Teague and his followers captured three suspects. Among them was a man named Anderson Grooms, renowned in the area for being an accomplished fiddle player. When apprehended, Grooms asked if he could bring his fiddle with him on the return trek back to Waynesville for imprisonment. Teague consented.

Bound together, the three prisoners were forced to cross over Sterling Gap to the Cataloochee side of Sterling Mountain, a distance of about 8 miles. Taking an unexpected turn deep into the forest, Teague ordered the men to stop, ostensibly for a rest. While resting, Teague ordered Grooms to pick up his fiddle and play a tune. At Teague’s instructions, Grooms began to play his favorite tune, “Bonaparte’s Retreat”. His performance was so stirring that it sincerely moved Teague and his men. The sound of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” was said to echo throughout the forest and valleys for miles. However, this would be the last song Grooms would ever play. Once completed, Teague had all three of the men summarily lined up and shot. Their dead bodies were left where they fell, Grooms still clutching his prized fiddle. From that day forward the tune of “Bonaparte’s Retreat” was known as “Grooms Tune” in that area of the county. Groom’s actual fiddle is now on display in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Former Confederates taking the Oath of Allegiance

Former Confederates taking the Oath of Allegiance

Meanwhile, shortly after meeting James Swanger, Pinkney Inman and he decided to go over the mountain to Tennessee and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. This does not mean they enlisted in the Union army. Rather, Inman and his cohort simply reaffirmed their allegiance to the United States and agreed to no longer bear arms against the Federal government. Back then, such action by an ex-Confederate soldier was often referred to as “swallowing the yellow dog.” Records indicate Inman indeed took the oath on December 12, 1864.

After swearing allegiance to the Union, Inman and Swanger began making their way back home from East Tennessee. They journeyed safely as far as an area near Bethel, North Carolina known as Big Stomp or Rice Mountain, a mere four miles from Inman’s home. At this point they encountered Captain Teague and his notorious Home Guard. Little is known about this incident except for its outcome: Teague shot and killed both Inman and Swanger. It is alleged that Teague possibly mistook them for Union soldiers, since they were said to be wearing “Yankee uniforms.” Considering the time of year, it is certainly plausible that Inman and Swanger were wearing blue Federal overcoats. These may have been acquired in East Tennessee or, more likely, during their previous war service. Such a garment would have been quite useful in the cold mountain climate.

Bethel Community Cemetery

Bethel Community Cemetery

Early the following morning word reached father Joshua Inman that his son had been killed by the home guard. Upon hearing this he and several other local men made their way up to Big Stomp. There they found the bodies of his son Pinkney Inman and his friend James Swanger. Legend has it that Joshua found them lying under a big white oak tree, near a “V” shaped rock. He gently wrapped the bodies in sheets and loaded them on sleds dragged by horses. Joshua took the bodies to the top of what is today Bethel Community Cemetery. It took the entire night to dig their graves. The graves were only marked with stones, with no indication of who lay buried in them.

History has lost the exact spot of Inman’s and Swanger’s graves. Legend has it that Pinkney Inman is buried beside his father, who passed away in 1872. Today Joshua Inman’s grave at Bethel Community Cemetery is well marked by a simple stone that has his name, date of birth and death on it; to his left lies wife Polly. If one visits Joshua Inman’s grave today, at his feet, a little further away than a foot stone should be, is a solid white stone. To the right of that stone is a black stone. These may mark the last resting places of Pinkney Inman and James Swanger.

The Inman family paid a high price during the war. Of the six sons who went off to defend North Carolina only two of them returned home alive. Lewis Hezekiah Inman successfully went across the mountain and took the Oath of Allegiance sometime before Pinkney did. Hezekiah and John made their way to Massachusetts and worked there until war’s end. The story of Pinkney Inman’s journey home and ultimate demise as told in “Cold Mountain” is truly a compelling one. However romanticized this story may be one must take into consideration it is but one instance of similar tragic scenarios played out amongst mountain families all over Western NC during this turbulent period.

View from supposed Inman and Swanger burial sites.

View from supposed Inman and Swanger burial sites.

Light and dark stones that may mark graves of Pinkney Inman and James Swanger

Light and dark stones that may mark graves of Pinkney Inman and James Swanger

Article and photos by Cody Fox


Cold Mountain Redux (Part I)

cold_mountainAnyone with even a passing interest in Civil War history is surely familiar author Charles Frazier’s best-selling novel “Cold Mountain.” The book and its subsequent popular Hollywood screen adaptation by the same name both richly describe and depict the struggles and adventures of protagonist Confederate soldier/deserter “Mr. Inman” on his homeward journey to reunite with love interest “Ada.” Not surprisingly, much of the story told by Frazier in his book and depicted Hollywood’s film version is fictional. Yet, research conducted by this writer has discovered that a significant amount of the story does indeed have some factual and historical bases. I offer below what I hope are some interesting contrasts between the fictional story of Cold Mountain and the historical facts surrounding this tale of war, survival, and renewal.

Cold Mountain, Haywood County, North Carolina

Cold Mountain, Haywood County, North Carolina

The “real” Cold Mountain is one of the highest peaks in Haywood County, North Carolina, rising to an altitude of 6040 feet. It is the 40th tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The county seat of Haywood County is nearby Waynesville, which is also the most populated city in North Carolina west of Asheville. While there is no actual town of Cold Mountain as represented in the film, Waynesville is likely the town depicted as such. Then as now, it is the largest urban area of Haywood County.

The lead character in Charles Frazier’s book, portrayed by actor Jude Law in the movie, is only elusively referred to as Inman. The actual person on whom this character is based was named William Pinkney Inman. This is alluded to in the film when Law introduces himself to Nicole Kidman (Ada) as “W.P. Inman.” For the rest of the film and book he is simply referred to by his last name: Inman. When speaking of this person today in Haywood County, locals refer to him simply as Pinkney Inman.

W. P. “Pinkney” Inman was born in 1840 in the small rural community of Bethel, NC, located just south of Waynesville in the shadow of Cold Mountain. He was the sixth child of Joshua and Mary “Polly” Inman. The Inman family had inhabited the western bank of the Pigeon River since moving there in 1825 from Newberry, SC. The Bethel area today is little changed from how it appeared in 1840. It is still a lush valley full of farms and scattered houses with plenty of good bottom land. As a young man Pinckney Inman worked alongside his father and brothers as a farmer.

When the call for volunteers came in 1861 came to this tiny rural, mountain community there was no hesitation among the men of Bethel to enlist. Nor did the Inmans shy away from providing their share of young men. All six of Joshua and Polly’s sons would eventually enlist in the Confederate army and march off to defend their homeland. Pinkney, Joseph, and Lewis Hezekiah Inman enlisted together on June 29, 1861 in the “Haywood Highlanders,” which soon became Company “F” of the 25th North Carolina Troops. In June 1862 they officially became a part of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Around this same time the remaining Inman sons, Daniel Logan, James Anderson, and Joshua Ervin, joined the 62nd North Carolina Troops and were stationed in East Tennessee.

Here the Inman family suffered their first loss of the war. While serving in Tennessee the 62nd NC would see fighting at Cumberland Gap in late 1862. There all three Inman boys were captured and sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago, IL. Joseph and Daniel Logan would succumb to disease in 1864 and die while imprisoned. Today their bodies are entombed in a mass grave just outside of Chicago. Fortunately James Anderson Inman survived this ordeal and lived to become a renowned pastor of the Universalist denomination of Christianity. To this day the Inman Chapel he helped create still stands in Haywood County.

Meanwhile, Pinckney Inman and his two brothers serving with the 25th NC were enduring fiery trials of their own in campaigns that would tatter the fields of Virginia. At the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1st 1862, Pinkney was first wounded. His injury seems not to have been severe since returned to duty two weeks later. On September 5, 1862, the same day Lee’s army crossed the Potomac into Maryland, Pinkney and Lewis deserted their unit. Why and where they deserted to is not known and actually the subject of some debate. Records show that Pinckney Inman returned to his unit on November 19, 1862 while the 25th North Carolina was stationed at Weldon. Some sources claim that Inman was nearly executed along with other deserters but eventually pardoned. Other local stories hold that Pinkney was captured at home after he had deserted his unit and was forced to go along with a detached company from the 25th NC to fight at the battle of Warm Springs in Madison County, NC. This appears to be mere oral tradition, however.

Confederate troops resolutely defend "The Crater" in Hollywood's version of "Cold Mountain."

Confederate troops resolutely defend “The Crater” in Hollywood’s version of “Cold Mountain.”

The Inman brothers seem to have served faithfully thereafter with 25th N.C. through the Battles of Fredericksburg, Drewry’s Bluff, and Plymouth, then onward to the Siege of Petersburg in 1864. According to an account from Lewis Hezekiah Inman, all three men saw action at the famous “Battle of the Crater” on July 30, 1864. This brutal engagement is vividly depicted in the opening scenes of the movie “Cold Mountain.” During the intense fighting brother Joseph was mortally wounded. He became, thus, the third Inman son to die during the war. Sometime in August, shortly after the Crater battle, Pinkney was wounded in the neck along the Petersburg siege lines. As of August 21, 1864 he was listed as wounded in a Hospital near Petersburg. Here is where the story on which Charles Frazier based his novel on begins.

In late-summer of 1864 Pinkney Inman was transported to a general hospital in Raleigh to recover from his wounds. While there, he decided that he had seen enough of the war and set out on his return journey home to Bethel. Although it is romantic to read about a 24 year old Confederate deserter nobly traveling hundreds of miles to reunite with his beautiful southern belle Ada Monroe, the truth is there was no Ada Monroe. This aspect of Frazier’s story is completely fictionalized. This does not, however, mean that love was not a motivation for Pinkney to return home. Apparently at some point, probably while absent without leave from the army, Inman took a wife. He was married to a woman named Margaret Henson, six years his senior. Together they had one daughter who was born on August 30, 1864, just days after Pinckney was severely wounded in the neck at Petersburg. The desire to see his recently born child may have been the motivating factor why Inman decided to leave the army that day. Maybe it was just that he was combat weary or had lost faith in the cause for which he was fighting. The true answer will likely never be known.

Sometime during the winter of 1864, Pinkney Inman successfully made it back to his beloved home.

[To be continued]

By Cody Fox


“Longstreet Moccasins”

On October 9, 1862 the Richmond Daily Dispatch made editorial comment on the subject of clothing in General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia following the Battle of Antietam: “Posterity will scarcely believe that the wonderful campaign which has just ended with it’s terrible marches and desperate battles, was made by men, sale one-fourth of whom were entirely barefooted, and one-half of whom were ragged as scarecrows . . . We cease to wonder at the number of stragglers, when we hear how many among them were shoeless, with stone bruises on their feet.” In North Carolina, Governor Zebulon Vance appealed directly to its citizens for shoes, blankets, and clothing of any kind for Lee’s destitute troops.James_Longstreet

The scarcity of footwear was so severe that individual soldiers in the field sought to alleviate their suffering by wrapping blankets, pieces of rug, straw, rags, and even old hats around their feet in cold weather and on cross country marches. But it was Major General General James Longstreet who at this time came up with a corporate improvisation for footwear that was often irreverently remembered by many veterans in post war years: using freshly skinned commissary hides for moccasins!

One member of the 1st North Carolina State Troops recalled: “We were commanded to cut up green cowhides and tie the hairy side to our feet. This was the latest novelty in footwear, and being the first exhibitors of the newest ‘fad,’ we were duly proud. Perhaps it may be interesting to know that, whereas some of the modern shoes are unendurable and adapted only to rug-clad floors, our ‘cowhides’ were both comfortable and serviceable.” A Virginian was lengthier but less flattering in his description: “They were made from the green hide of cattle killed for food, sewed up with thongs or strips cut from the hide, the hair side being inside, next to the foot. These moccosons (sic), or whatever you may call them, were about 16 inches long, and the beef was on them. The men put them on while green, and in a few days they dried, and there was no getting them off without cutting them. It was lucky there were no dogs in camp or they would have given us trouble.”
Mocs 001

While utilized by many, this mode of foot covering was quickly found to be impractical for the reason that “the moist, fresh skins slipped about in the mud and slush of Virginia roads as if on ice.” And, in a classic contemporary description, Confederate John D. Hancock noted a couple more drawbacks to the ersatz shoes in a letter to his parents dated November 11, 1862: “[They] stretch out at the heel . . . [and] whip me nearly to death they flop up and down they stink very bad and I have to keep a bush in my hand to keep the flies off them.”

Yet, however short lived their usefulness in waning months of 1862, the colorful (and aromatic) story of “Longstreet Moccasins” has become indelibly woven into the rich fabric of lore surrounding Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

 by Bob Williams