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The inspiration for my Civil War holiday romance novella, The Christmas Ball, came from stories I’d read of women who disguised themselves as men during the American Civil War. Most wanted to serve their respective side in the conflict, even though women weren’t allowed to serve in the army in any capacity at the start of the war.

Sarah Emma Edmonds was one of these women. Born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1841, she grew up on a farm. Along with her sisters, she participated alongside her one brother to perform the hard physical work of farming. She tended to the animals, chopped wood, milked cows, planted and harvested. She also learned to ride horses, hunted and fished.

Her upbringing caused her to develop a lean, masculine-looking physique.
In 1860, she was nineteen. She moved south into the United States dressed in men’s garb. Pretending to be a man, she called herself “Franklin Thompson.” She worked in Hartford, Connecticut as a publishing agent, selling Bibles in Canada and Michigan.

In 1861 the Civil War began. She enlisted in Company F of the 2nd Michigan Infantry Volunteers, signing up for three years.

As Franklin Thompson, Sarah spent her first months of military service at the regimental hospital, serving as a “male” nurse. She then became postmaster and then a mail carrier.

One of her superior officers, General O. M. Poe, recalled that “Frank Thompson was effeminate looking, and for that reason was detailed as a mail carrier, to avoid taking an efficient soldier from the ranks.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

As a mail carrier, Edmonds carried two or three bushels of mail over a distance of 50 or 60 miles.

In her own words: “I was often compelled to spend the nights alone by the roadside. It was reported that the bushwackers had murdered a mail carrier on that road and robbed the mail, and there seemed to be evidence of the fact, for, in the most lonely of spots of all the road the ground was still strewn with fragments of letters and papers, over which I often passed when it was so dark that I only knew it by the rustle of the letters under my horse’s feet.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

She was also engaged in combat starting with the battle of First Bull Run in July 1861.

According to a Congressional report: “Franklin Thompson, gave his heart and soul to the regiment, sharing in all its toil and privations, marching and fighting in the various engagements in which it participated… (He was) never absent from duty, obeying all orders with intelligence and alacrity, his whole aim and desire to render zealous and efficient aid to the Union cause.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

While serving, Sarah became good friends with a young medical steward and assistant surgeon for the 2nd Michigan. She fell in love with the man, confessing that she was female. She felt rebuffed when he told her he was betrothed.

Besides soldiering, Sarah also served the Union as a spy. She disguised herself as a male fugitive slave wearing a wig and coloring her skin with silver nitrate. At other times she portrayed a female Irish peddler by the name of Bridget O’Shea.

In Kentucky in the spring of 1863, Sarah fell ill with chills and fever. She feared a hospital stay would expose her sex, so, after a request for a leave of absence was denied, she deserted the army. She checked herself into a civilian hospital, planning to return to the army once she’d recovered.

On learning that Franklin Thompson was wanted for desertion, she donned women’s clothes, resumed using her real name and returned to the army to serve as a female nurse for the remainder of the war.

After the war ended, she published her autobiography, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army under the pen name of S. E. Edmonds. “In 1887, she married L. H. Seelye, a Canadian carpenter with whom she had three children.” All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

For more on Sarah Edmonds and other women soldiers of the American Civil War…

Sources: All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard

Take a peek at the ending of the first chapter of my Civil War holiday romance novella.

Excerpt:
thechristmasball_7289_7501She glanced at the corporal and nodded. “I’ll be all right,” she gasped. “Take him.” She inclined her head toward the man on the litter.

The corporal rose gingerly to a crouch, then nodded to the private and they lifted the litter, moving toward the ambulance on the far side of the trees.

Grasping her thigh, she felt a sticky substance. Blood! The other private knelt and looked at her thigh. He pulled out a neckerchief and tied it to stop the bloody flow.

“Hold on, Brewster. We’ll get you back to the doc.”

Sara gritted her teeth. Thoughts of Doc Ellison caused her pulse to race. While she longed to see him again, the thought of him examining her wound sent a jolt of fear through her.

What if he discovers my secret?

The Christmas Ball available from The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_135&products_id=5026

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Ball-ebook/dp/B00A5CF3SM/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1352744944&sr=1-3&keywords=the+christmas+ball

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-christmas-ball-susan-macatee/1113749511?ean=2940015922417

and All Romance Ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thechristmasball-995347-158.html

http://sneak-peek-sunday.blogspot.com/

Have another look at my paranormal romance novella.

Excerpt:
dreamingjosiecoverKyle paced his apartment. He had to be losing it. The woman—Josie, she’d said her name was—vanished into thin air. What the hell was going on?

Derek had told him he’d had too much to drink the night before, but Kyle knew that wasn’t true. Something strange had happened. Could his dream girl be a ghost?

He didn’t even want to entertain that thought.

After a shower, he took in a baseball game on cable, then decided to turn in. He still felt shaky after the encounter on the field. All the way home, he’d kept going over it in his mind. He must be going nuts.

He finally settled into bed and tried to clear his mind. Maybe a good night’s sleep would put the whole thing to rest. He doubted it, though.

An inviting scent of lavender and woman woke him from a deep sleep. Someone leaned over him. He opened his eyes and stared into Josie’s. He glanced around and found he was in a large canvas tent. Men lay all around him on cots.

Dreaming Josie available for 99 cents at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Josie-ebook/dp/B008FZSPLS/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341001818&sr=1-7

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreaming-josie-susan-macatee/1112136131?ean=2940044700420

And Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177360

During the four years of the American Civil War, soldiers by the thousands died. But not all were killed in battle or even died of battle inflicted wounds. Disease ran rampant with the lack of sanitation and so many bodies crowded together in camps. In this time period, there also was little understanding of how germs spread disease. This was the environment that spawned the sanitary commission.

In this Victorian age, women were looked on as weak and delicate creatures, who would shudder and faint at the mere exposure to the horrors of war. But in reality, women balked at the idea of sitting home and pining for their loved ones off fighting for the cause. They needed to do something constructive and many spent hours supplying food, clean clothing and providing nursing services hoping to decrease the fatality rate from diseases that spread throughout army camps.

At the start of the war, no unified services existed to aid soldiers. Women provided relief to relatives on an individual basis. But as the war intensified ladies’ aid and soldiers’ aid societies sprang up, followed in the North, by the establishment of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, providing organized aid for the first time.

In both the North and the South about two thousand women worked as volunteers in military hospitals. A few of those women, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Stuart Woolsey and Katherine Prescott Wormeley, recorded their experiences working as nurses. But most of the women who served remained virtually anonymous with no record, other than a list of their names on hospital muster rolls to show they’d ever served.

Although not much has been written in historical records about the role women served as war volunteers, the women’s wartime contributions were significant “…these women had notable impact upon the men they tended and served under; …the introduction of female personnel into responsible roles in a traditionally male military environment was one significant step in the progress of women toward a fuller involvement in American society.”

Prior to the Civil War, the ideals of American women were shaped by a call of “the Cult of True Womanhood”. Men’s work moved away from a rural enterprises into shops, offices and factories. So, women inherited the running of the household, a sheltered place where they created warmth and cleanliness for their husbands and children in order to nurture them.

But the Civil War changed all that. With the men engaged in warfare far from home, as in World War II, women turned their attention to work outside the home. In both the North and South, women joined volunteer brigades to work as nurses. For the first time in American history, “women played a significant role in a war effort. By the end of the war, these experiences had expanded many Americans’ definition of ‘true womanhood’.” http://www.history.com/topics/women-in-the-civil-war

For more on the Civil War’s impact on women’s roles, visit these sites:
http://money.howstuffworks.com/economics/volunteer/organizations/ladies-aid-society.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/women-in-the-civil-war

Short scene from my paranormal romance.

Excerpt:

dreamingjosiecover“Ah…could I trouble you for paper and a pencil?” Josie’s cheeks heated. She must be blushing.

The corporal produced a small pad and lead pencil.

She hastily scribbled her name and address.

“Josephine!”

Josie winced at her mother’s harsh tone.

“I’m coming, Mother.”” She shot the corporal an apologetic glance.

Edith strode over and cast a withering glare in Corporal Maguire’s direction. “I would thank you, sir, not to make yourself overly familiar with my daughter. It isn’t proper.”

To Josie, she added, “We really must be leaving. Now.”

Josie passed the pad to Maguire, hoping her mother was in too much of a huff to notice.

“Good day, Corporal.” Edith turned to the door, expecting Josie to follow.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

He winked and tucked the pad into his coat pocket. “It will be our secret.”

When Civil War reenactor, Kyle Dalton, keeps seeing a beautiful woman on the battlefield tending to soldiers, he thinks she’s another reenactor. But when she disappears into thin air, he starts to believe he’s seen a ghost. Did he have a past life with this woman?

Dreaming Josie available for 99 cents at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Josie-ebook/dp/B008FZSPLS/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341001818&sr=1-7

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreaming-josie-susan-macatee/1112136131?ean=2940044700420

And Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177360

Another look at the first chapter of my Civil War holiday romance.

Excerpt:
thechristmasball_7289_7501“Sniper,” the corporal yelled as he dove for the ground.

Sara lifted her pistol and fired off a few shots. The corporal did the same. After a few minutes, the other soldiers with them approached, crawling on their elbows.

“I think we hit that sniper,” one of them said.

“Any more out there?” the corporal asked.

“Not as far as we can tell.” The private’s glance flew between her and the corporal. “You need help?” the private asked.

“Brewster’s been wounded,” the corporal said. “Help me get this soldier off the field, then we’ll come back for him.”

The Christmas Ball available from The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_135&products_id=5026

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Ball-ebook/dp/B00A5CF3SM/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1352744944&sr=1-3&keywords=the+christmas+ball

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-christmas-ball-susan-macatee/1113749511?ean=2940015922417

and All Romance Ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thechristmasball-995347-158.html

http://sneak-peek-sunday.blogspot.com/

I’m over at Slip Into Something Victorian today posting on what happened 150 years ago during the Civil War. The topic is the first Union prisoners sent to Andersonville prison.

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