Archive for November, 2011

Her breath caught at the sight of Lieutenant Manning standing over Private Upwood’s cot. He leaned down and spoke softly to the lad. When he turned his head and straightened, his gaze caught hers.

“Miss Hirsch.” He patted the boy’s hand and stepped around the cot.

“Lieutenant, I hadn’t expected to see you back here today.”

He lifted his bandaged arm. “I’m supposed to see Doc tomorrow, but I had to see to the private. He said the boy’s taken a bad turn.”

Her heart burned at the raw pain in his eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been so worried about the lad. But it’s not your fault.”

He shook his head. “Everyone tells me that, but it’s not how I feel. Could I speak to you in private for a moment?”

Claire’s heart fluttered at the thought of being alone with him. But he obviously wanted to speak about the private out of his earshot. “Of course, Lieutenant.”

He reached for her arm and escorted her from the tent. She followed his glance. Men milled around conversing and sipping coffee. The lieutenant bit his lip.

“How about back here?” He gestured toward the rear of the hospital tent where it abutted the forest line.

Claire hesitated. “I-I suppose so.”

His gaze slid over her. “I promise to do you no harm, ma’am.”

His boyish smile reassured her. Of course he wouldn’t dare accost her in camp.

She allowed him to lead her to the rear. Great oak and hickory trees cooled the spot. A boulder sat just a few feet behind the rear of the tent. She turned toward him, thinking he’d meant for her to sit on the smooth top of the rock, but instead, he reached his good arm around her back and drew her close.

Her pulse raced. “Lieu—” Her question was cut short by his lips pressed against hers. His kiss was soft and sweet, not demanding. He pulled away, his gaze dancing over her, a small smile on his lips.

“I must apologize, Miss Hirsch, but after being in your company, I couldn’t resist tasting. I hope you don’t think me a complete scoundrel.”

Although Claire’s first impulse was to protest such improper behavior, she couldn’t resist grinning. “Not at all, unless you want me to think of you as a scoundrel,” she teased.

“In that case…” He kissed her again, more thoroughly this time.

Little moans escaped her lips as she returned his kiss. Her eyes closed, and the thrill of his touch sent her toes curling. Her knees turned to jelly in his strong grasp.

He released her lips but held her fast. “I must apologize again, I’m afraid.” His eyes smoldered, and Claire wondered what else he had in mind.

“Lieutenant, I—”

His mouth took her lips again, sending shivers down her spine.

“Call me Cole.”

“But, Lieutenant, it’s hardly proper…” Her protest died at his intense gaze.

“We’ve shared an intimate exchange, and I’d like to share much more with you. I suppose it puts us on a first name basis, at least in private.”

She hesitated, but nodded.

“I’d like to see you later, in private.”

“I-I, don’t know…”

“Miss Hirsch?” The stern voice of an older woman broke the spell. Claire’s face burned as she realized it was Mrs. Benson.

Cole’s Promise, part of the ‘Love Letters’ series, coming soon from The Wild Rose Press.

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My newest contracted novella with The Wild Rose Press, part of the ‘Love Letters’ historical series, was inspired by the main form of communication during the American Civil War.

I’m not talking about the telegraph, used mostly by the Union Army and newpapermen to communicate news from the warfront, but the main form of communication from soldier to family back home. Letter writing.

With e-mail, instant messaging, cellular phones, as well as land-line telephones, we of the 21st century don’t need to write letters to communicate and keep in touch with friends and family. But during the Victorian era, writing long letters was an important form of communication.

My story, Cole’s Promise had to include a letter that changed one of the main character’s lives. I instantly thought of the Civil War soldier, desperate for news from home. But what if the news he received broke his heart?

During the Civil War, with families being separated for long lengths of time, letters became vital for both the soldiers and their families back home.

According to Bell Irwin Wiley, author of: The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, “… letter writing was one of the most pervasive of camp diversions.” Civil War regiments sent out an average of 600 letters per day.

Letter writing soldiers often had to improvise. They wrote by candlelight, sitting on the ground, using another soldier’s back or a knapsack as a writing surface. They also used such things as “… knees, tin plates, books, cracker boxes or drumheads.” The Life of Billy Yank … p. 184.

Writing paper varied in quality from fancy stationery to ruled pages torn from record books. While men preferred to write with pen and ink, they often had to rely on lead pencils. Soldiers Blue and Gray … p. 105

They wrote about such things as battles, health, weather and new places and people they’d seen and met.

Soldiers also looked forward to receiving letters from home. One New Jersey soldier wrote in a letter to his family: “You can have no idea what a blessing letters from home are to the men in camp. They make us better men, better soldiers.” Soldiers Blue and Gray … p. 114

Men who felt they hadn’t received letters from their loved ones frequently enough would write angry letters home, demanding their loved ones write back to them.

Some of the most beautiful love letters were written by lonely soldiers to their wives and sweethearts.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Union soldier, Sullivan Ballou to his wife, dated July 14, 1861, while contemplating the possibility of his death in battle:

But O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night–amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours — always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.” http://www.civil-war.net/pages/sullivan_ballou.asp
Click the above link for the complete letter, plus samples of others.

Another site where you can find samples of actual Civil War letters is:

People of the Victorian period were sentimental and their letters show it.

Sources: The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union by Bell Irwin Wiley
Soldiers Blue and Gray by James I. Robertson, Jr.


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Stephanie Suesan Smith is the winner of the e-book copy of Confederate Rose. Congratulations to both winners and thanks to everyone who left a comment!

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The winner of yesterday’s contest is Sue B.!

Today I’m giving away an e-book copy of my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose.

And discussing the non-fiction book, All the Daring of the Soldier, Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth Leonard.

Sarah Emma Edmonds enlisted in Company F of the 2nd Michigan Infantry Volunteers on May 17, 1861 under the name Franklin Thompson. Before joining the army, she’d already been disguising herself as a man in order to earn better pay than a woman could earn during the mid-nineteenth century.

She was described as ‘effeminate looking’ by her commanders and detailed as a mail carrier. She carried two or three bushels of mail back and forth a distnace of fifty to sixty miles at a time.

In her own words: “I was often compelled to spend the nights alone by the roadside. It was reported that the bushwhackers 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 spot 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.”

Jennie Hodgers also served as a soldier under the name, Albert D. J. Cashier. Jennie was born in Ireland in 1844 and moved to the United States years before the war broke out, possibly as a stowaway aboard ship. She lived in Belvidere, Illinois and like Edmonds had worn male attire before joining the ranks. Despite being only five feet tall and having very small hands and feet, she was able to join the 95th Illinois Infantry Volunteers in August 1862. Although she contracted chronic diarrhea, she as able to avoid a physical exam that would have exposed her. She remained with the regiment earning an honorable discharge in August 1865.

According to a fellow soldier, “I never suspected at any time all through the service that Cashier was a woman.” Another recalled she “seemed to be able to do as much work as anyone in the Company.”

After the war, Hodgers returned to Illinois to the small commuity of Saunemin in 1869. She never married and worked as a handyman for many years.

Like Edmonds, Hodgers was able to collect a pension as a member of the Grand Army of the Repbulic.

These and the stories of other women Civil War soldier inspired me to create my heorines, Katie O’Reilly and Sara Brewster, both soldiers in the Union Army.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win an e-book copy of my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose.

Links to blog hop participants:

A Writer’s Life

Isabel Roman

Nicole McCaffrey

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In place of my regular Friday News and Reviews, I’m participating in Black Friday Blog Hop with my Victorian Lady friends. Visit Slip Into Something Victorian today for all the details.

My post is about a book that inspired me to write two of my Civil War romances–my award winning full length novel, Confederate Rose and the novella, The Christmas Ball, part of the historical anthology, An American Rose Christmas.

The book that inspired both stories is All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard. In her non-fiction book, the author details the stories of women who disguised themselves as men and fought in the armies on both sides of the American Civil War.

She also includes chapters on women who spied for either the Union or the Confederacy, but what interested me the most were the stories of women who slipped through the cracks and learned to be soldiers. A few were even promoted to serve as officers. How could this have happened?

Ms. Leonard highlights stories of some of the better known women who served, including those I used to craft my romance heroines: Sarah Emma Edmonds, Jennie Hodgers and Sarah Rosetta Wakeman. But she also includes those real life heroines whose names are not well known and tries to theorize why those women would abandon their lives and become men to fight for their respective sides.

In the chapter, ‘Half-Soldier Heroine’s’ the author starts with a quote from a Union soldier: “Poor, self-sacrificing Annie, you, I hope, will get your reward in heaven when your campaign and battles in this life are ended. For no one on this earth can recompense you for the good you have done in your four years’ service for the boys in blue, in the heat of battle, on the wearied marches, and in the hospitals and camps.” Union soldier Daniel G. Crotty, Four Years Campaigning in the Army of the Potomac, 1874

George Augustas Sala, a London Daily Telepgraph correspondent, reported in 1863 “on the abundance of women he encountered in a federal army camp at Brandy Station, Virginia.” He focused his attention on women who’d come to be with their husbands, both officers and enlisted men in the Union army. But it wasn’t only wives he found living in camp. Others included laundresses, cooks, provisioners (also known as “sulters” or “vivandieres”),  nurses, and women of questionable repute, known as “camp followers”.

But the group of women who have been hidden in the annals of history, were the ones who fought beside the men in battle, pretending to be male. These women participated in a tradition dating back in America to the Revolutionary armies.

In a quote from one of the better known women Civil War soldiers: “I felt called to go and do what I could for the defense of the right.” Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye, alias Private Franklin Thompson, 1886

Come back tomorrow for more discussion of this fascinating book. And I’ll draw one name from those who comment today to win an e-book copy of An American Rose Christmas.

Tomorrow, I’m giving away an e-book copy of my award winning Civil War romance, Confederate Rose.

Check out other links in the blog hop featuring more prizes:

Slip Into Something Victorian

A Writer’s Life

Isabel Roman

Nicole McCaffrey

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After settling her on the wicker settee, he sat beside her, enveloping her hand and rubbing it between his large, warm ones. His sandalwood and male scent invited her to lean into his warmth, but she held herself rigid, her emotions on guard.

She had so many questions she wanted answered, like where he’d been all these years and how he made his living.
“Cassie, I know you must hate me for leaving you.’
She narrowed her gaze. “It’s hard to think kindly on someone who leaves you, no matter what the reason. I know you were hurting, but we could have made a life together. Healed each other.”
He shook his head. “I would’ve held you back.”
“From what?”
“Well…you’re a doctor. That was your dream when I returned from prison camp.”
“And look what a fine mess I’ve made of that.” She bowed her head, studying his hand wrapped around hers. His warm touch sent tingles straight to her core. But what was he doing here? Did he really come back for her, or had something or someone else drawn him to Burkeville?
“George, what’s the real reason you’re here?” She held her breath, hoping for the answer she wanted to hear.
He withdrew his hand from hers, taking his warmth with it. “I thought I should come back and check on Pa.” His dark gaze settled on her. “I didn’t reckon you’d ever want to see me again, especially after the disaster I made of my life—and yours.”
She leaned back. “George, you’re wearing fine clothing, telling us about your adventures in New York and California.” She shook her head. “Doesn’t sound to me like your life’s a mess.”
He chewed his lower lip. “I haven’t told you all of it. After I left you, I wandered for a long time. I’m not really clear on all of it, because half the time I was so drunk I didn’t know who or where I was.”
Cassidy stood. “Well, I have to say, you look none the worse for wear after all you’ve been through.”
“Cassie, I…” George grinned, lifting his thumbs to the lapels of his coat. “I always had a knack for poker. Cleaned out many fellow soldiers during the war.”
“Are you telling me you’re a professional gambler?”
He grimaced, dropping his gaze. “I’m not the type of man a physician should associate with. To tell the truth, I figured you’d already forgotten me. I expected to find you with a husband and children by now.”
“There’s no one else, George, if that’s what you’re getting at. Since you left, I haven’t exactly had a slew of suitors at my door.” She eyed him, not sure why she’d told him.

Cassidy’s War coming January 13, 2012 from The Wild Rose Press. 

Find out about my other books complete with excerpts and blurbs at my website: http://susanmacatee.com

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The inspiration for my upcoming January 2012 release, Cassidy’s War, was a young adult Civil War novel I had published in 2002. I titled the book, Under the Guns.

The book has been out of print for about five years. I’d thought about editing and re-releasing the original story, but decided I’d rather write a whole new stories with the same characters taking place five years after the war ended.

The heroine of Under the Guns was 16 year old Cassidy Stuart. Her father was a small town physician and she worked as his assistant when her older brother, Quinn, left to join the Union army. Quinn aspired to follow his father into the medical profession and Cassidy found she liked working alongside her father.

As the war progresses, she accompanies her father to a military hospital in Washington, D.C. and later travels on her own to assist in the aftermath of the battle at Gettysurg, Pennsylvania.

The hero of the story is 18 year old George Masters. He’s looked down on in town, living in poverty with his alcholic father on the wrong side of town. He follows Cassidy’s two brothers into the Union army and is seriously wouded at Gettysburg and nursed back to health by Cassidy.

By the story’s end, George returns from Confederate prison camp and proposes to Cassidy.

But in order to write a new story, I had to create a conflict to break the happy couple up. In Cassidy’s War, George got cold feet on the eve of their wedding and left town. He wandered over the country, trying to forget the war, his childhood and Cassidy, believing he’s no good and she deserved so much better.

Here’s the blurb for Cassidy’s War:

The Civil War is over, but Cassidy’s War is just beginning.

Cassidy Stuart longs to attend medical school. Training beside her physician father and serving as a nurse during the war, have only increased her desire to be a doctor with her own practice.  When the man who’d left her at the altar returns, she’s determined not to let him upset the plans she’s set for herself.

Until his mission is accomplished, George Masters must hide his identity as a Pinkerton agent as he investigates a physician living in George’s former hometown, a short distance from Cassidy’s home. When he finds Cassidy hasn’t married, he hopes he can rekindle their love while trying to protect her and townsfolk from the evil Dr. Madison.

Can their love be renewed despite the villain’s desire for revenge against them both?

Cassidy’s War coming 1/13/12 from The Wild Rose Press.

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