About the Author
Gary Chitwood Walker was born on May 24, 1946, in Wytheville.
He is the sixth and last child of Carl and Mary Walker.
Gary attended Spiller Elementary School. It was here in the
Seventh Grade that the war bug bit him. The study of Virginia
History exposed him to America's greatest war and started a fire in
him that time has not put out. He thrilled to learn about massive
battles and campaigns around Richmond, and in the Shenandoah. He
asked the teacher, "What happened around here?" (Meaning
Wytheville.) The teacher stuttered and stammered that she knew
something happened, but didn't know what. Twenty-five years later
Gary answered that question for himself and the rest of the world
when he wrote The War in Southwest Virginia 1861-65.
In high school Gary showed little aptitude for math, but a great
inclination toward social studies. Gary's fascination for Civil War
history was heightened when he studied United States History under
Miss Lelia Huddle. He graduated from George Wythe High School in
Gary wanted to study history in college but explained that "It
required three years of foreign language to graduate, and I knew I
could never get through three years, so I studied Business
Administration." Nearly all of his elective hours were in history or
political science. The blending of the two academic yields, history
and economics, gives Gary a unique ability to analyze economic,
historical, and political events. Coupled with his understanding of
human psychology and sociology, it allowed him to give a more
comprehensive evaluation of historical events. Gary graduated with
a Bachelor Degree in Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in
Shortly after graduation, Gary married his long time sweetheart,
Sue Adams. She originates from Max Meadows. Together they have
two fine sons, Christopher Ewell and Kevin Forrest. After graduating,
Gary continued his education studying among other things creative
writing and photography
Gary's love of history led him to investigate his family's history.
This was his first serious, independent, research. It resulted in Walker, Ben to Carl. Later he researched and wrote Footprints, a history of the Adams family. No attempt was made to do a mass production of the books, but they did allow him to sharpen his skills for his later endeavors.
One of the characters in Footprints was involved in a battle in Southwest Virginia. Gary was shocked to discover there was nothing reliable in print on the area. At that point in the seventies, he began researching the subject.
Gary had a wide variety of jobs after graduating college. He was a manager, a sales representative, and a truck driver. He worked in electronic communications, in insurance, in energy conservation, and in retail sales and service among other fields. With the great success of The War in Southwest Virginia 1861-65, Gary knew he had found his niche.
The book propelled him from obscurity. From 1985 until the present, one can often find Gary dressed in a Confederate uniform, speaking to audiences, granting interviews to radio and television and newspapers, at Civil War re-enactments, and at craft festivals autographing his books.
Encouraged by the success of The War in Southwest Virginia 1861-65, and by requests from the public for more, Gary researched and wrote Hunter's Fiery Raid through Virginia Valleys. It is the only detailed and accurate account of Union General David Hunters savage assault on Confederate military forces and on the Southern civilian population. Hunter fought many major and minor battles from Winchester to Lynchburg, then through the Roanoke-Salem area and back into West Virginia. Hunter left pretty towns, colleges, and fine plantation homes ransacked or in smoldering ashes.
The success of Hunter's Fiery Raid through Virginia Valleys increased Gary's fame and recognition of him as a force in the study of the war. Continuing good reviews and public requests inspired Gary to produce Civil War Tales. He sincerely hopes the public will accept this work as well as they have his previous books.
Gary is very pleased that so many people have been informed and entertained by his books. He enjoys hearing from students from grade school through the doctoral program in college, who have used his books as a resource material for their projects. He is pleased that nonacademics have used his books to help in genealogy research, or led them to uncover relics buried since the war. Others have used his work to write scene plays, and to produce carvings and sculptures. The Virginia Defense Force has used material from Gary's books in making a recruitment film.
Gary has received numerous accolades and citations for his work. One of the latest is a listing in "Who's Who in America" the South and Southwest edition.
His books have propelled him into leadership roles with both the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Civil War Round Table. He is also a member of many historic and preservation groups among others.
Gary served on the research and writing committee for the Wythe County Bicentennial Pageant Committee. A poem he wrote covered the back page of the play program. Dressed in a Colonial costume to represent the spirit of the county's namesake, George Wythe, he opened the play by reciting a portion of the poem. He also assisted in the mock Civil War battle scene that was part of the play.
Sustained by a loving family and backed by a beautiful wife with the patience of Job to help him work on the manuscripts, Gary is gratified that so many from such diverse backgrounds found his books to be so useful, entertaining, and informative.
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