Corrupt politician Paul Cantrell was in complete control of McMinn County, Tennessee, his whims enforced by the violent Sheriff Pat Mansfield and his deputies. On Election Day, Cantrell and the sheriff seized the ballot boxes and brought them to the jail "to be counted" in secret. Soldiers came home from World War II to find their community in the grips of this corrupt political machine.
These veteran soldiers, who became known as "The Fighting Bunch," armed themselves and lay siege to the jail as the National Guard closed in. Led by Bill White, a curmudgeonly marine sergeant who fought through hell in the Pacific and came home to learn his family had been terrorised by corrupt lawmen, these veterans were not to be denied. After six hours of gunfire and dynamite blasts, Boss Cantrell and Sheriff Mansfield fled the state. The deputies surrendered. The ballot boxes were opened and counted. The GI slate was elected, and the story buried.
This episode in U.S. history has never been more relevant, but has never been fully told. After years of research, including exclusive interviews with the remaining witnesses and participants of the battle, archival radio broadcast and interview tapes, scrapbooks, letters, diaries, and personal recollections from members of the community, author Chris DeRose has reconstructed one of the seminal - yet untold - events in American election history.
The Fighting Bunch: The Battle of Athens and How World War II Veterans Won the Only Successful Armed Rebellion Since the Revolution